Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

Royally Cool Science

L0012087 A double sheet showing various ophthalmology instrument

Fantastic gift from the Royal Society of England, the oldest group of scientists in the world: they have started putting up their back archives of seminal research papers on a special historical timeline.

Here, for example, is an account of using willow to cure fevers from the charming days when their journal was called Philosophical Transactions.┬áLater we figured out it was in fact salicylic acid in the bark that did the trick. And here’s the first two they’ve released, a grisly pair of experiments on puppies. Different kind of bark, I guess.

A lot of gems there, and I’m sure many more to come.

Just browsing a few highlights of the extraordinary discoveries of the last centuries has to make you pause and wonder at what the scientific method has done for the human race. (Reminder: scientific method = idea, test to prove, have another person repeat test. New idea that builds on the first, lather, rinse, repeat. Next thing you know: 3D TV!)

Of all the things that scary me about modern political discourse in America, one of the most frightening is the idea that science has become a partisan thing, as if one gets to choose one’s facts. I guess when it’s considered a bummer that the president is smart, this is where you end up.

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