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Science & Technology

Here’s looking at you: the anatomy of an eye, from Opticae Thesaurus (1572), German, woodcut.

The father of modern optics could not have succeeded had he not feigned madness.

Interior of the passenger car used in Alfred Beach’s subway, 1870.

Problems with public transport are almost as old as New York itself. One proposed solution was nothing but hot air.

Sir Isaac Newton.

In this episode Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science at the University of Cambridge, visits three events pivotal to the genesis of Isaac Newton's paradigm-shattering book the Principia Mathematica.

For most of history, different peoples, cultures and religious groups have lived according to their own calendars. Then, in the 11th century, a Persian scholar attempted to create a single, universal timeline for all humanity. 

Talos of Crete

Autocrats have deployed automatons as weapons since antiquity, not just in myth but in reality. 

These walls have ears: telephone exchange, Holborn, London, 1968.

As technology changes, so do ideas about the borders of the self and the nature of privacy. 

The frontispiece to Thomas Sprat’s History of the Royal Society, 1667.

A microhistory offers new insights into the creation of the Royal Society amid the intellectual brilliance of Restoration England.

Child genius, engineer, inventor and physicist, Nikola Tesla died on 7 January 1943.

The Antikythera mechanism

Since its surprising discovery on the Aegean seabed over a century ago, the Antikythera mechanism has intrigued astrologers, classicists and historians of science. 

The idea that the ancients believed in Antipodean lands to balance  the globe is a modern invention – and wrong.