In this issue we explore the environmental toll of uranium mining on the Navajo lands and people. We duck back into the 19th century to reexamine the forensic evidence in a famous trial and find that deciding guilt or innocence is trickier than it looks. And we take a look at the life of paint innovator, art detective, and all-around Renaissance man Maximilian Toch. Plus treasures from CHF’s collections, book and museum reviews, and more.
Coal fueled the cities of the Industrial Revolution. But coal did far more than power steam engines and heat homes.
Calendar of Rain
What can an artist do with rain? Stacy Levy gives readers a sneak peak into the Museum at CHF’s upcoming exhibit, Sensing Change.
Wars are often fought over resources, but as far as we know only one war has ever been fought over fertilizer. What happened before humans could produce fertilizer from the air itself, courtesy of the Haber-Bosch process?
In 1667 Margaret Cavendish was the first woman allowed to visit the all-male bastion of the Royal Society, a newly formed scientific society. Who was this woman?
Scotland’s historic contributions to science have been far greater than its size might suggest. The National Museum of Scotland has collected some of the nation’s scientific highpoints, from Dolly the sheep to Alexander Fleming’s penicillin.
Life in Translation
In 1959 a car accident left Nathalie Dusoulier unable to stand for any length of time. What was a pharmaceutical researcher who spoke French, English, German, Russian, and Spanish to do?
Meeting the Miner’s Friend
Art and advertising have always been bed fellows. Advertising art must be quickly comprehensible to its audience and make an immediate impact, even when the object being advertised makes its own bang.
On Poisoned Ground
The largest accidental release of radioactivity in the United States did not occur in 1979 at Three Mile Island. That very same year a collapsing dam released a flood of radioactive debris into the Navajo Nation. Uranium has plagued Native Americans since long before 1979 and to this day continues to contaminate the land and its people.
What happens when a 1880s cartoonist mixes science and politics to skewer his political enemies?
Not many people get to create a whole new field in science after winning a Nobel Prize and hitting their fifties. Meet J. J. Thomson, the man who disproved Einstein’s dictum that the man “who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of thirty will never do so.”
Quest for Permanence
Innovative industrialist, camouflage artist, and art detective, Maximilian Toch was a quintessential Renaissance man. He also symbolized the changing place of chemistry and chemists in turn-of-the-20th-century America.
In his new book author Sam Kean switches from the periodic table to DNA.
Return to the Scene: Forensics at the Haymarket Trial
In 1886 a bomb exploded during a labor protest in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. Eight anarchists were tried and found guilty; some were executed. In 2003 researchers reassessed the forensic evidence using modern technology. Yet sometimes even CSI-level equipment cannot fully answer the fundamental question: guilty or not guilty?
Rocks in space! Yeah, we know space is filled with rocks, but until now no one had any plans to mine them for their metals.
Marc Abrahams has a license to play with science. In this issue the creator of the Ig Nobels tells us what he really thinks about science.
A hundred years ago smoky factories meant far more than pollution. Artists painted them and chemistry companies proudly displayed the results.
To Dye For
Kelli Caldwell is using an abandoned lot in West Philadelphia to grow an unusual garden, one that provides the raw materials for her dyes.