In 1861, the Confederate fortress at the mouth of the Savannah River was captured by Federal troops in a nearly bloodless battle, made possible by a technological advance that would change the way warfare was done.
The indoor shopping mall is an American icon. They can be found in nearly every suburban area in the US. But these temples of consumerism were first designed by a socialist, who wanted to create a common community. And today, the “mall” is quietly fading from the scene.
During the reign of Joseph Stalin, Soviet science was dominated by Trofim Lysenko, who rejected modern science and replaced it with a mishmash of pseudoscience and ideology. His thirty-year reign led to the imprisonment or death of hundreds of scientists and illustrated the dangers of placing “science” under ideological control–but also demonstrated that, in the end, real science simply cannot be repressed.
In 2012, a pasture full of cows were killed by cyanide poison. But this was not the result of a malicious human act–the poison came from the grass they were eating. And the “killer cyanide grass” became an Internet sensation.
Science shows that most of today’s “traditional Chinese medicine” is simple quackery. But another consequence of the global “traditional medicine” industry that has not been as widely discussed is the enormous destructive effect it has had on some of the most endangered species on the planet.
One of the most important events in the history of life on Earth was the appearance of an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Initially, this event was a disaster–free oxygen was a deadly poison and led to a massive die-off. But for one group of single-celled organisms, oxygen opened the door to a pathway that led to life as we know it, and eventually to us.
If you’ve ever spent some time outside in Florida, then you’ve probably met the Fire Ant. The numerous sandy mounds, often several to a colony, are a familiar site in rural fields and urban lawns, and encounters often end with a painful raised welt that lasts for several days. The Fire Ant may be our most unwelcome invader of all. 🙂