Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric

Science and the Supernatural in the 17th Century

Travel back in time with us and find out what the world was like when science and the supernatural weren’t so far apart.

Painting of two men in an alchemical laboratory examining a flask.

Most of us are familiar with the achievements of Galileo and Newton, but who were their peers? And what was it like to practice science in the 16th and 17th centuries? Come geek out with us as we travel back in time and explore what the world was like when science and the supernatural were not so far apart.

We talk to two historians of science, Deborah Harkness and James Voelkel. Harkness is the author of The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution, as well as the All Souls Trilogy, a popular fantasy series filled with witches, vampires, demons, scientists, and historians. Voelkel is our curator of rare books and an expert on Johannes Kepler, a 17th-century astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer.

Though we were unable to time travel for this show (much to our dismay), we did get to visit The Making and Knowing Project’s laboratory at Columbia University, where a group of historians of science are reconstructing a 16th-century workshop and re-creating recipes from an anonymous craftsperson’s manuscript.

And we made this video.

Credits

Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guests: Deborah Harkness and James Voelkel
Producer: Mariel Carr
Music: Courtesy of the Audio Network

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