Winter’s coming, so wrap up and discover the history of home insulation.
How hard can it be to make a gemstone? Plenty hard. People have been trying for almost 2,000 years, but success finally beckoned in 19th-century France.
Do you think of poison ivy as a scurrilous weed to be avoided at all costs? Think again! There was a time when the daring and curious found promise in poison ivy and its rash-inducing relatives.
Neon is a dull and invisible gas until it’s trapped in a tube and zapped with electricity. Literally pulled out of thin air, neon became the bright light of the modern world, a symbol of progress, and an essential component of the electronic age.
Before becoming a synonym for cinema, celluloid was never quite a star attraction. But the first successful synthetic plastic played a subtle role in shaping consumer culture.
In the 19th century chemical oblivion replaced liquor, opiates, and bleeding as the numbing agent of choice in the surgeon’s toolkit.
A legislator, a showman, and an inventor together created the first practical way to catch the world and the people in it in the strange and beautiful chemistry of the photograph.
The first balloons, both hot air and hydrogen powered, drew spectacular crowds and set off a craze—balloonomania!