Why Birth Control Dispensers Look the Way They Do

The first working model of the now-iconic birth control pill dispenser is in the Smithsonian’s history collection. It’s built out of clear plastic, paper, and double-sided tape, held together by a snap from a child’s toy, with slices of wooden dowel standing in for pills. It was created to solve a vexing problem. » 7/01/15 3:00pm Yesterday 3:00pm

This Book Got The Author Sentenced to Three Months Hard Labor

Charles Knowlton didn’t think much of the laws of Massachusetts, at least when they interfered with his medical practice. By the time he opened a practice in the town of Ashfield, he had already been arrested in Amherst, MA for selling “infidel” books and had spent two months in the Worcester County Jail for grave… » 6/19/15 9:33am 6/19/15 9:33am

The Ancestor Of The Menstrual Cup Was More Like A Menstrual Canteen

The first modern-style menstrual cup was patented in 1932, but that wasn’t the first time inventors turned their skills to the problem of keeping bloody goo off women’s clothes. Take, for example, this little gem from 1884. It’s a menstrual cup, attached to a reservoir big enough to last for days. » 6/12/15 1:02am 6/12/15 1:02am

The First Person Who Ever Saw Sperm Cells Collected Them From His Wife

It’s a bright day in 1677, in the city of Delft, and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is making love to his wife. But moments after he shudders with orgasm, he hurries out of bed to grab his microscope. After all, he’s not just spending time with his wife: he’s running an important scientific experiment at the request of the… » 6/01/15 3:13pm 6/01/15 3:13pm

When the FAA Blasted Oklahoma City with Sonic Booms For 6 Months

Have you ever experienced a sonic boom? A sonic boom so forceful that your dishes fell from the cupboards, your photos fell off the walls, and maybe your ceiling even started to crack? This was the reality that residents of Oklahoma City endured for six months in 1964 — eight times per day. » 4/28/15 3:11pm 4/28/15 3:11pm

How Lord Byron's Scandals Led Ada Lovelace To Become A Mathematician

Ada Lovelace is now most famously known as the mother of computer science, but during her lifetime, she was also well known on account of her famous father: Lord Byron. Although Ada never met her father, his scandalous behavior had a profound effect on how she was raised — on a strict diet of mathematics. » 4/17/15 11:35am 4/17/15 11:35am

Some Of The Strangest Flying Machines Ever Built

It’s been just over a century and change since the first airplane flight. And an amazing amount of innovation has happened to aviation since then. Along with quite a bit of weird experiments, that didn’t entirely pan out. Here are fascinating videos of some of the strangest flying machines ever invented! » 4/02/15 8:05pm 4/02/15 8:05pm

Hilarious TV Ads From The Dawn Of The Home Computer Era

The computer revolution didn't come into people's homes overnight. There was a long period when the public was still discovering all the things they could do if they owned a computer — and this led to some truly outrageous TV ads. Check out the most hilarious and creative classic home computer ads ever made. » 3/27/15 12:05am 3/27/15 12:05am

7 Ways That People Died Trying To Become Immortal

41

Would you risk your life if you thought it might mean extending it? Would you die now if you thought you could be revived at some point in the future? Here are cases of people who went to extremes for immortality or their very own fountains of youth — and killed themselves in the process. » 3/17/15 2:19pm 3/17/15 2:19pm

These Scientific Names Were Chosen Purely To Insult Certain People

What is the best way to make sure your insult lasts a really, really long time? Well, if you're a scientist who has the pleasure of naming a newly described genus or species, you might be able to get away with inserting your insult into biological nomenclature. After the rise of modern taxonomy, a few people did… » 3/13/15 5:06pm 3/13/15 5:06pm

The "Harvard Sentences" Secretly Shaped the Development of Audio Tech

During World War II, the boiler room under Harvard's Memorial Hall was turned into a secretive wartime research lab. Here, volunteers were subjected to hours of noise as scientists tested military communications systems. Out of this came the Harvard sentences, a set of standardized phrases still widely used to test… » 3/09/15 1:45pm 3/09/15 1:45pm