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History of Science

This guide lists some starting points for doing research in the history of science, including article databases, reference works like encyclopedias and dictionaries, and web resources for biographical information on scientists

Nature PastCasts

Nature produces a weekly podcast, including a monthly feature in the history of science called Nature PastCast.   Descriptions of and links to selected PastCasts appear below.

Nature PastCast - January 1896:
Physics in the late nineteenth century was increasingly concerned with things that couldn't be seen. From these invisible realms shot x-rays, discovered by accident by the German scientist William Röntgen.

Nature PastCast - December 1920:
In the early twentieth century physicists had become deeply entangled in the implications of the quantum theory. Was the world at its smallest scales continuous, or built of discrete units?

Nature PastCast - November 1869:
The first issue of Nature looked very different from today's magazine. It opened with poetry and was written for a general audience. We hear how Nature began, and how it became the iconic science journal it is today.

Nature PastCast - October 1993:
In the early 1990s, a team of astrophysicists saw signs of life on a planet in our galaxy. Astronomy experts tell the story, and discuss how we can tell if there is life beyond the Earth.

Nature PastCast - September 1963:
When a German geologist first suggested that continents move, people dismissed it as a wild idea. In this podcast, we hear how a 'wild idea' became plate tectonics, the unifying theory of earth sciences.

Nature PastCast - August 1975:
Six out of ten of the world's best-selling drugs are based on molecules called monoclonal antibodies. But their high impact comes with a low profile. This is a story of how basic science quietly became blockbuster medicine.

Nature PastCast - July 1942:
Scientists were put to good use during the Second World War. John Westcott's secret project was to design radars. His work not only helped the war effort – it also led to new branches of science.

Nature PastCast - June 1876:
In the late 1800s, Europe was gripped by 'gorilla fever'. Were these beasts man's closest relative in the animal kingdom? Getting a gorilla to Europe was a rare event, and in 1876 Nature heralds the arrival of a young specimen.

Nature PastCast - May 1985:
Jonathan Shanklin was sifting through a backlog of data when he made the startling discovery of a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica. In this podcast, he and others recall events in the mid-1980s and discuss how the 'ozone hole' became the poster child for environmentalism.

Nature PastCast - April 1953:
Everyone knows that Watson and Crick published a seminal paper on the structure of DNA. But fewer know that two other papers on DNA were published in the same issue of Nature. Learn more in the first of a new podcast series: the Nature PastCast.


BBC In Our Time Archive

BBC Radio 4's Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas and the evolution of the sciences - from ancient astronomy to particle physics.

Lectures from the Royal Society

Audio recordings of past history of science events at the Royal Society.

Museum of the History of Science

A full archive of the Museum’s lecture podcasts.

Engines of Our Ingenuity

The Engines of Our Ingenuity is a radio program that tells the story of how our culture is formed by human creativity. Written and hosted by John Lienhard and other contributors, it is heard nationally on Public Radio and produced by KUHF-FM Houston. Among other features, this web site houses the transcripts for every episode heard since the show's inception in 1988.   Recent episodes are available as audio podcasts from iTunes and SoundCloud.

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