Category Archives: history of science

An Underground map of science

I may have put this up before, but can’t be arsed to look it up. This map, first published in 2010, is worth seeing again, and of course we have a new generation of readers. Crispian Jago’s “Modern Science Map” first appeared on his website The Reason Stick, and can be seen in larger and clickable […]

Monument to Wallace unveiled in Indonesia

by Greg Mayer George Beccaloni, fellow Wallaceophile, has sent word that a monument to Alfred Russel Wallace has been erected on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. As described at the Alfred Russel Wallace Website of the Wallace Memorial Fund by George and Simon Purser, the monument is a full bust, greater than life size (about […]

Feynman memorabilia for auction, including his Nobel Prize! (Also, Darwiniana and Einstein’s palm print)

This is sad, and I’m not sure why Richard Feynman’s papers and even his Nobel Prize medal are up for auction rather than going to a museum or an archive (does the family need money?). But if you want some Feynmania, Sotheby’s auction house can accommodate you. You have to have a lot of dosh, […]

The Great Sacred Ibis Debate: an episode in the history of evolutionary biology

While evolution became a big deal in 1859 with the publication of Darwin’s Origin, there were of course people who had the idea of evolutionary change before him. One of these was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1839), who suggested that organisms had evolved over long periods of time, but who has become infamous for suggesting that that evolution […]

A field-trip course in England on Darwin and evolution

Every year my friend Andrew Berry, a lecturer and student advisor at Harvard, teaches a summer course at Oxford for Harvard undergrads. Its theme is Darwin and evolution, and the best part is that since the course takes place in DarwinLand, he can take the students to various historical sites and show them the science […]

Matthew’s lecture on “What makes great biology?”

I’m out of the office this morning, so Readers’ Wildlife will take a one-day hiatus. But we do have a nice half-hour video lecture from Matthew on “What makes great biology?”.  It’s largely based, as the YouTube notes say, on his interviewing or knowing personally several of the people who have done “great biology”, including […]

Sydney Brenner: A revolutionary biologist. New BBC radio programme

by Matthew Cobb Earlier this year I went to Singapore to record a series of interviews with Sydney Brenner, one of the greatest biologists of the 20th century. This was part of a Sydney Brenner Research Fellowship from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which I was awarded to study how Brenner and Francis Crick collaborated. I […]

Now they want to demonize Francis Crick

The Statue-Removing Squad has finally jumped the shark. I can sympathize—and even agree—with people’s desire to remove statues honoring the Confederacy, though I quail a bit at taking down statues of Robert E. Lee, who did fight for the Union before secession. But now, it seems, everyone from the past who uttered an offensive remark, […]

Happy 60th birthday, central dogma!

JAC Intro: Today is precisely 60 years after Francis Crick, more of a genius than you realize, gave a famous lecture in London laying out what’s been called the “Central Dogma” of biology—about how information gets from genes to proteins via RNA intermediates. I asked Matthew, who wrote a very nice book  about the history […]

Steve Gould’s last class

Matthew found this on his Twi**er feed, which recounts Stephen Jay Gould’s last classes at Harvard before he died of cancer on May 20, 2002 at age 60.  As you may know, Gould had survived peritoneal mesothelioma, an almost invariably fatal form of cancer that struck him in 1982. Amazingly, he beat the odds on […]