Nixon signing the 26th amendment.

America’s Age-Based Laws Are Archaic

Our age-based laws have never made sense. With modern science, they make even less sense.
Photo of a blue bin filled with recyclable garbage.

Petrochemical Companies Have Known for 40 Years that Plastics Recycling Wouldn't Work

Despite knowing that plastic recycling wouldn't work, new documents show how petrochemical companies promoted it anyway.
Coral polyps.

Will the Sun Ever Set on the Colony?

Tracking the history of a curious scientific term.
Mead reading a book, against a psychedelic background.

One of Our Most Respected 20th-Century Scientists Was LSD-Curious. What Happened?

A document in her papers in the Library of Congress sheds new light on postwar research on psychedelics.
Photos and newspaper clippings connected with red string

How We Lost Our Minds About UFOs

No, aliens haven’t visited the Earth. Why are so many smart people insisting otherwise?
People hiding under bed in fear

The 100-Year Extinction Panic Is Back, Right on Schedule

The current polycrisis is real, but what happened a century ago may show us a way out.
A scene from "Time Bomb Y2K" depicting a situation room filled with computers.

Heritage 2000

Some years wield such power that you must comply with them.
Green frog with white circles and squiggly lines surrounding it denoting sound

The Many Lives of ‘Sounds of North American Frogs’

This metamorphic record is a teaching tool, a flirtation device, a college radio favorite, a nostalgic object, and more. BOOP!
Psychedelic images coming from a chemical flask.

When America First Dropped Acid

Well before the hippies arrived, LSD and other hallucinogens were poised to enter the American mainstream.
Black doctor tending to a Black patient in a bed with family nearby

How Tens of Thousands of Black U.S. Doctors Simply Vanished

My mother was a beloved doctor. She is also a reminder, to me, of every Black doctor who is not here with us but should be.
Woman and man looking at the fiji mermaid

Nineteenth-Century Clickbait

The exhibition “Mermaids and Monsters” explores hoaxes of yore.
Train cars between drifts of snow up to the top of the engine, with onlookers watching

The Monster Blizzard That Turned Kansas Into a Frozen Wasteland

The 1886 blizzard imperiled settlers and left fields of dead cattle in its wake.
Margaret Mead examines a ritual mask.

Could LSD Have Achieved World Peace? Ask Margaret Mead.

In “Tripping on Utopia,” Benjamin Breen chronicles the legendary anthropologist’s doomed effort to save the world through hallucinogens.
The fur of the woolly dog Mutton

What Happened to the Extinct Woolly Dog?

Researchers studying the 160-year-old fur of a dog named Mutton found that the breed existed for at least 5,000 years before European colonizers eradicated it.
A participant in the Tuskegee syphilis study sits on steps in front of a house in Tuskegee.

The US Once Withheld Syphilis Treatment From Hundreds of Black Men in the Name of Science

The archival trove chronicles the extreme measures administrators took to ensure Black sharecroppers did not receive treatment for the venereal disease.
Photo of "Madness: Race and insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum" with photo of author Antonia Hylton alongside it.

What It Was Like to Be a Black Patient in a Jim Crow Asylum?

In March 1911, the segregated Crownsville asylum opened outside Baltimore, Maryland, admitting only Black patients.
Young boy receiving polio vaccine from doctor

Hesitancy Against Hope: Reactions to the First Polio Vaccine

Hesitancy and opposition to vaccines has existed in the past, and such awareness provides needed context to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine within American history.
Pneumatic tube station

Something Old, Something Pneu

Pneumatic tubes offered a leap forward in business and communications, in the office and across the city.
Robert Millikan and Albert Einstein standing side by side.

The Posthumous Trials of Robert A. Millikan

Robert A. Millikan was once a beloved figure in American science. In 2021, his name was removed from buildings and awards. What happened?
Man holding a rare Razorback Sucker fish from the Colorado River.

At 50 the Endangered Species Act is Worth Celebrating

Before the Endangered Species Act, the federal government had actually encouraged the killing of certain species.
Chickens and eggs.

The Unending Quest To Build A Better Chicken

Maybe what we need is not just a new form of poultry farming but a complete revolution in how we relate to meat.
Margaretta Hare Morris.

The Mischievous Morris Sisters

Two gifted sisters in Philadelphia helped to transform early American science.
Reconstruction of a woolly dog.

Mutton, an Indigenous Woolly Dog, Died in 1859

New analysis confirms precolonial lineage of this extinct breed, once kept for their wool.
A drawing of the 1833 Leonid meteor shower above a village.

The Massive Meteor Shower That Convinced People the World Was Ending

Wednesday night will bring a brilliant meteor shower, but the far bigger Leonid shower 190 years ago had people believing Judgment Day was at hand.
Operatives using air defense systems.

The Two Chomskys

The US military’s greatest enemy worked in an institution saturated with military funding. How did it shape his thought?

Slavery and the Journal — Reckoning with History and Complicity

Reexamining biases and injustices that the New England Journal of Medicine has historically helped to perpetuate.
An advertisement from P.T. Barnum’s American Museum promoting a show called "Wild African Savages."

How U.S. Institutions Took an African Teen’s Life, Then Lost His Remains

Sturmann Yanghis, a 17-year-old South African, was put on stage in America as a “wild savage.” Harvard claimed his remains when he died. Then they disappeared.
Painting of an owl superimposed on a painting of its range around Puget Sound.

The Epic History of the Endangered Species Act

The two-volume ‘Codex of the Endangered Species Act’ takes a long look back — and forward.
A group of Black medical students outside Howard University's medical school

The History Behind America’s Shortage of Black Doctors

Decisions about medical training and licensing in the 19th and early 20th century are still having an impact today.
The cult-like aesthetic of technocracy, 1942.

Margaret Mead, Technocracy, and the Origins of AI's Ideological Divide

The anthropologist helped popularize both techno-optimism and the concept of existential risk.