Category Archives: history of science

Scientific fame—Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin: the Wikipedia page hit data

JAC:  Last week my friend Andrew Berry, a lecturer at Harvard and expert on Darwin and, especially, Alfred Russel Wallace, was telling me about some interesting data he’d gleaned from Wikipedia about the two Fathers of Evolution. I suggested he write it up as a post for this site, and he kindly obliged: Scientific Fame […]

Matthew visits Newton’s house

Matthew emailed me that he was lecturing at Isaac Newton’s house today, and would send a picture of the apple tree that supposedly inspired the theory of gravity. I responded that I thought the story was apocryphal, and here was Matthew’s response (along with two photos): “Yes, the tree. And here’s the window the light […]

Happy birthday, Max Delbrück!

by Matthew Cobb As Jerry pointed out earlier, the scientist Max Delbrück was born 110 years ago today. Because many readers will never have heard of him, Jerry asked me to sketch his life. Here you are: Max Delbrück (1906-1981) was a key figure in the history of post-war genetics, pioneering the molecular investigation of […]

What if Wilkins and Franklin had been able to work together?

by Matthew Cobb Today I was interviewed by the French radio station, France-Culture (colloquially known as France-Cul), for a programme about Rosalind Franklin, the King’s College, London, researcher whose data were used by Watson and Crick as the basis of their double helix model of the structure of DNA. Much of the discussion, inevitably, revolved […]

An accommodationist recommends five accommodationist books

Q: Why are accommodationist historians of science like Reza Aslan? A: The historians say the Galileo episode had nothing to do with Catholicism, while Aslan says that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. And this is by way of introducing a new Five Books piece in which a religionist recommends books on science and religion. As you […]

Happy 100th birthday, Francis Crick (1916-2004)

by Matthew Cobb Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA with Jim Watson, was born 100 years ago today, on 8 June 1916. He was one of the most remarkable scientists of the 20th century, and, in my opinion, had one of the greatest scientific minds ever. As Jerry put it here […]

Matthew Cobb chooses the five best books on the history of science

Our own Matthew Cobb has just appeared on the Five Books site, where Jo Marchant interviews him about his five choices for “best books in the history of science”. (I think he really means the five best books that are accessible to the layperson.) It’s a good interview, and Matthew sounds very smart, which he […]

Unique artwork: Darwin on the Beagle, painted during the voyage

The Torygraph has published a jocular painting and the story behind it: it’s apparently the only depiction of the young Charles Darwin on his five-year H. M. S. Beagle voyage beginning in 1831. It was created by the official Beagle artist. Hannah Furness, the art correspondent, gives the tale. But first, the painting and its title: The […]

Darwin confirms his nonbelief in a letter up for auction

There are two scientific figures who are repeatedly accused by theists of being covert believers. One is Albert Einstein, who was clearly someone who didn’t believe in a personal God, said so repeatedly, and was at best a pantheist who saw the laws of nature and the universe as a kind of Ultimate Truth—but not a […]

A gynandromorph moth comes to the light – and tells a story about science

by Matthew Cobb This tw**t popped up in my feed the other night, from “wildlife illustrator and invertebrate enthusiast” Richard Lewington [Richard has a website showing his art here]. Richard was running a moth trap in the night when he found this beauty: Very weird moth last night, bilateral gynandromorph Turnip. Male left, female right […]