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Using stories from science’s past to understand our world
The science of H2O in its many forms
By monitoring sewage, scientists can track disease outbreaks in near real time. But will the technology leave long-term privacy risks in its wake?
A centuries-old sailor’s hack enters the ecologist’s toolkit.
In showing that cholera spreads through tainted water, an English doctor helped lay epidemiology’s foundations.
How ancient (and not so ancient) cultures thought about water purity and contamination.
The groundbreaking ecologist showed that the biological diversity within a stream can be used to diagnose its health.
How a radio pioneer transformed life at sea.
Remember the fire-fighting mascot Smokey Bear? Meet Johnny Horizon, his little-remembered, pollution-fighting counterpart.
What happens when an earth-shattering discovery runs up against the scientifically impossible?
The way the city tackled its water pollution problems has made it an unexpected pioneer.
The blaze that sparked the modern environmental movement . . . or did it?
Harnessing nature to deliver us from drought.
An archives collection at the Science History Institute gives a glimpse of Americans’ early efforts at desalination, a technology that nations around the globe have come to depend on.
Eleanor Roosevelt thanks a chemical engineering firm in Philadelphia for manufacturing water for the king and queen of England on their visit to the United States.
An animation drawn from episode 217 of Distillations podcast, Fizzy Water: The Unnatural History of a Carbonated Drink.
A novel swimsuit reveals that faster isn’t necessarily better.
Take a trip down the Gowanus Canal with cartographer and citizen scientist Eymund Diegel.
Is recycled wastewater too much to swallow?
The fight for Brooklyn’s coolest Superfund site.
Have you ever visited a new place and noticed that the water was different?
What would your neighborhood look like if sea levels rose by 10 feet?
The genius of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring lay in pulling together already existing data from many areas and synthesizing it to create the first coherent account of the effects persistent chemicals had on the environment.
How did a seemingly benign chemical and a near-miraculous public-health initiative spark decades and decades debate?
When the EPA needed a way to identify and measure pollutants, Robert Finnigan, an ex–Cold War engineer, offered his computerized mass spectrometer for the job.
A natural plastic found in tree sap allowed the expansion of the 19th century’s global communications network.
In the 18th century Joseph Priestley and others developed processes for manufacturing artificially carbonated mineral water, uniting the therapeutic powers of an ancient natural restorative with the emerging science of modern chemistry.