The first direct observation of the cosmic microwave background was made inadvertently in 1964 by American physicists Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson of Bell Telephone Laboratories, the research branch of AT&T. In the 1960s everyone knew about microwaves, but almost…Read more

What happens to butterfly specimens when their owners die or grow bored with them? In modern times the answer is often depressingly simple: they get thrown away – though the cabinet that contained them may be rescued. Probably only a…Read more

We’re all pretty experienced at doing things like talking and walking, right? But have you ever gotten tongue-tied and mispronounced a word like anonymity, or mixed up two syllables and said something like “fight the liar” instead of “light the…Read more

Of course, scientists often disagree with each other. But they are proud to agree on what new evidence it would take to change their minds. The route to any discovery will be published and whoever follows the same route should…Read more

Before we begin our exploration, it may help to consider the other end of this equation and its evolution—toxicology, the ancient science of poisons and poisoning, and the modern science we rely on for protection today. We know that humans…Read more

Islands are full of oddities. But of all the crazy species that have evolved on islands, my favorite example of insular idiosyncrasy is straight out of Bedrock. Bedrock, Cobblestone County, that is, home of Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble. Knowledgeable…Read more

Aerogels were not of alien origin, I found out, but they nevertheless had a very strange back-story: they were invented in the 1930s by a man called Samuel Kistler, an American farmer turned chemist, who conjured them into existence solely…Read more

Even if you delete an e-mail the moment you read it on your computer or mobile phone, that doesn’t necessarily erase the content. There’s still a copy of it somewhere. Web mail is cloud-based, so in order to be able…Read more