Science History


Alexander von Humboldt. Self portrait

By Richard Gunderman, Indiana University-Purdue University

Due to a loss of scientific relevance, which has led to scarcity of personnel
and thus decreasing government funding, Italian natural history museums are on the verge of collapse. 

A new paper in Zookeys proposes that the existing museums associate and collaborate to form a diffused structure, able to better manage their scientific collections and share resources and personnel. Basically, they need to be a little more corporate and start consolidating rather than relying on government to some day boost funding.



Instead of dying out, Anti-Semitic myths have withstood the test of time.

By Asa Simon Mittman, California State University, Chico


Abraham Lincoln. Wikipedia

By Joanna Cohen, Queen Mary University of London


Not the one we have fixed in our imaginations. Peter Paul Rubens, 1638

By Helen King, The Open University

Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine, enemy of superstition, pioneer of rationality and fount of eternal wisdom.

Statues and drawings show him with a furrowed brow, thinking hard about how to heal his patients.


Since the dawn of time, man has interacted with the environment. Observation without interaction is and always was a logical impossibility. Questions ensue; answers have not always been forthcoming, although they do emerge through incremental shifts and the occasional bout of sudden inspiration. Scientists and researchers look for answers every day. It is the very pervading core and definition of our vocation; much like that of a Philosopher. We pursue an almost primal need to understand the universe and thereby make people’s lives easier.

The Tambora volcanic eruption in 1915 is famous for its impact on climate worldwide. As a result, the year 1816 was given memorable names such as 'Eighteen-Hundred-and-Froze-to-Death', the 'Year of the Beggar' and the 'Year Without a Summer' because of cold weather and unseasonable frosts, crop failure and famine across Europe and North America. 

Some even claim the conditions inspired literary works such as Byron's 'Darkness' and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.



Or abandon hope? Credit: chrisdorney

By Tim Crook, Goldsmiths, University of London

The Old Bailey’s Central Criminal Court is an Edwardian building that bears the inscription “Defend the children of the poor and Punish the wrongdoer.”

An Italian visitor more than 100 years ago suggested it should be replaced with an aphorism from Dante’s Inferno: “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter here.”

By Mark Beeson, Murdoch University

Like him or loathe him, the late Samuel Huntington was one of the towering figures in political science and international relations. Even those who disagreed with his ideas were forced to engage with them. He helped shape a number of key debates about areas as diverse as civil-military relations, political order, institutional development and the spread of democracy.

But if there is one ‘big idea’ for which he is likely to be remembered more than any other it is the now infamous claim that the future was going to be defined by a looming ‘clash of civilizations’.