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Questions tagged [history-of-science]

for questions about claims related to the history of science.

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23 votes
2 answers
25k views

Did the precedence of operations in arithmetic change since 1917?

The internet has been so bored lately that it spent most of the week arguing about a simple math statement. That statement: 8 ÷ 2(2+2) = ? Mostly, people are arguing that the answer is either 16 or ...
0 votes
2 answers
289 views

Is Leon Eisenberg the "inventor" (or the "scientific father") of ADHD?

Related to this Q it's pretty easy to confirm from the meme the part that claim that Leon Eisenberg said what he said about ADHD, using e.g. his Wikipedia page where Der Spiegel is given as source for ...
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Did the Catholic church prosecute Galileo because he was teaching unproven ideas?

There is a popular Youtube video, Priest Debunks Common Catholic Myths, in which Casey Cole, a Catholic and Franciscan, "debunks" the idea that the church wrongly tried Galileo. The Church ...
6 votes
0 answers
931 views

Was the ELIZA effect real?

ELIZA is an oft referenced early chatbot developed in the 1960's. The legend behind it is that the simplistic chatbot was so convincingly human to early users that they supposedly forgot it was a ...
9 votes
0 answers
452 views

Did Archimedes really prove a goldsmith stole gold from Hiero II?

Skeptics, I'm tossing you a very old chestnut indeed. This is the story of "Eureka!", and how Archimedes sent a thieving goldsmith to the executioner. Every introductory chem class re-...
21 votes
3 answers
8k views

Was ape tool use "well known and not the least bit controversial" in 1735?

Before Jane Goodall's discoveries in the 1960s, it had been widely asserted/believed that Man was the only animal that made and used tools. However, Frans de Waal (2016) states that in 1735, Ape tool ...
8 votes
2 answers
604 views

Was the 1755 Cape Ann earthquake widely ascribed to Benjamin Franklin’s lightning rod?

Andrew Dickinson White’s book “A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom” contains the following anecdote In America the earthquake of 1755 was widely ascribed, especially in ...
37 votes
2 answers
6k views

Did Rudolf Steiner prove the contagiousness of varicella in 1875?

Pages like those from the National Vaccine Information Center NVIC or the Centers for Disease Control CDC make the following claim: In 1875, Rudolf Steiner discovered that chickenpox was infectious ...
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Which typically comes first: basic science or technological advance?

Matt Ridley claims in The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (and also in an article in the Wall Street Journal): In his book he argues: Again and again, once you examine the history of ...
2 votes
2 answers
430 views

Was X-ray crystallography used in DNA sequencing mostly developed by the wool industry?

In The Myth of Basic Science Matt Ridley writes: The discovery of the structure of DNA depended heavily on X-ray crystallography of biological molecules, a technique developed in the wool industry ...
15 votes
2 answers
41k views

Did a turkish man invent a steam engine 200 years before the industrial revolution and only made it to spin doner kebab? [closed]

I've seen this picture being reposted in many different places recently: Is it true? Where can this machine be seen? What is it if it's not a steam engine? Update: The pictures posted above show ...
1 vote
2 answers
579 views

Did Newton "invent" Physics to perform better spells? [closed]

I know Atomic Robo is not exactly an authority on real history, but there's also some truth and interesting details intermingled. How true is the statement "Newton invented Physics so he could ...
42 votes
1 answer
7k views

Did Louis Pasteur keep a gun in the laboratory while developing the rabies vaccine?

Is it true that while developing the vaccine for rabies Louis Pasteur kept a gun in his laboratory and had instructed all his lab assistants to shoot anyone in the head who accidentally got infected ...
6 votes
2 answers
970 views

Did the Wright brothers fly 105 times in 1904?

According to the Wright brothers, the two inventors flew 105 times in 1904 (near a streetcar station called Simms, situated at the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio). O. Wright, “Letter to Carl Dienstbach”, ...
78 votes
2 answers
18k views

Did Euler make the elementary mistake √-2 √-3 = √6?

The following extract is from Tristan Needham's Visual Complex Analysis, Even in 1770 the situation was still sufficiently confused that it was possible for so great a mathematician as Euler to ...
0 votes
1 answer
355 views

Did farmers adopt cars faster than inhabitants of cities?

I learned from this post: Start with a niche that: Cars are almost among the lucky exception to the niche rule. However, there was still one group of people in the USA that moved from horses to cars ...
72 votes
1 answer
12k views

Are the claims made by Indian Ministers / personalities regarding ancient Indian inventions true?

In the past couple of years, several Indian Ministers / personalities have made claims regarding existence of modern inventions in Ancient India. Prime Minister Modi claimed that genetic science ...
1 vote
1 answer
757 views

Was Thales the first to show that the year contained 365 days?

The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, in his 2004 book A New History of Western Philosophy v. 1, Ancient Philosophy claims that Thales of Miletus, an ancient Greek astronomer, was the first to show ...
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did Feynman write 'Orange Juice' as a response to Pauling's advisory on Vitamin C?

Apparently, according to the Nobel Prize's official Facebook, Richard Feynman composed a song on the congas known as 'orange juice' after fellow Nobel-laureate Linus Pauling wrote to him claiming that ...
31 votes
2 answers
7k views

Did Alexander Graham Bell write "the unchecked burning of fossil fuels would have a sort of greenhouse effect" in 1917?

Quoting from a clearly low-quality journal: In 1917 Alexander Graham Bell wrote. The unchecked burning of fossil fuels] would have a sort of greenhouse effect", and "The net result is the ...
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Whose account of the response to Michael Mann's original "hockey stick" analysis is correct?

New York has filed a lawsuit against several Big Oil firms on the grounds that they fomented contrarian opinion to undermine some findings in climate science. In one part of the suit they claim the ...
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Was Albert Einsten's wife, Mileva Marić, the co-author of the Theory of Relativity?

This Tesla Society article is one of many websites claiming that some scientific discoveries attributed to Albert Einstein were in part or in full done by his first wife, Mileva Marić. There is ...
5 votes
1 answer
654 views

Are the various claims regarding Ancient Indian Science made in the AICTE/MHRD new book "Bharatiya Vidya Sar" for a Indian Elective Course true?

This question is based on the following petition and this and this news article. Background The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has proposed a new textbook that will discuss the ‘...
14 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is the fossil KNM-ER 1470 evidence that other dating methods other than the fossil record are inaccurate?

The skull was originally dated to be almost 3 million years old. This led Richard Leakey, the son of famed archeologist Louis Leakey to comment, "Either We toss out this skull or we toss out our ...
57 votes
1 answer
8k views

Did Robert Hooke publish his spring force law as an anagram?

Did Robert Hooke (and other contemporary scientists) ever publish their discoveries as anagrams? This Wikipedia article claims that Robert Hooke published his spring force law as a anagram. It also ...
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Was there a ML-backed algorithm that learnt to delete list instead of sorting it

Here's a quote from an article which was discussed pretty heavily a while ago: Well, it’s not unsorted: For example, there was an algorithm that was supposed to sort a list of numbers. Instead, ...
-1 votes
1 answer
611 views

What evidence would remain of the use of atomic/nuclear weapons 26,000 years ago? [closed]

In his 1998 book, Yellow Sky: an alternative perspective about the human condition and history, Kenneth Lipton argues that high radon levels in southeastern Pennsylvania may provide evidence of prior ...
11 votes
2 answers
932 views

Did thirteenth century scholars attempt to determine the congealing of oil by reading Aristotle?

In "The Production of Knowledge" William Starbuck presents the following anecdote (without providing its source). Is this anecdote based on a real historically traceable incidence? During the ...
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did Marconi steal and patent Jagadeesh Chandra Bose's wireless technology?

https://web.archive.org/web/20161026225031/http://indiainnings.in/108Facts/marconi This is an excerpt from a books called 108 Facts eternally India As early as 1885, J. C. Bose had demonstrated ...
4 votes
0 answers
239 views

Was the Inquisition a threat to science? [closed]

Jeffrey Beall states here (immediately under the heading "Predatory publishers and the threat to science" that he believes that "predatory publishers pose the biggest threat to science since the ...
2 votes
0 answers
212 views

Were the works of Greek and Roman thinkers available to the West during the Middle Ages? [closed]

The conventional wisdom, repeated recently in How the Middle Ages Really Were, claims (the quote is "composite"): ...the works of Greek and Roman thinkers like Aristotle, Galen, Ptolemy, Archimedes ...
8 votes
1 answer
456 views

Do peer-reviewed journals enhance the quality of scientific research?

It's a quite popular claim among scientific communities that real science is that which is published in peer-reviewed journals. However, good science is about theories that can be tested, evidence ...
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Did Patrick Matthew came up with the theory of natural selection before Charles Darwin?

Daniel Engber writes in Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?: Sutton thinks that story has it wrong, that natural selection wasn’t an idea in need of a “great man” to propagate it. After all his months of ...
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was Ignaz Semmelweis ignored by the medical community when he advocated hand washing?

Daniel Engber writes in Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?: Ignaz Semmelweis, the Hungarian physician who noticed in the 1840s that doctors were themselves the source of childbed fever in his hospital’s ...
18 votes
1 answer
3k views

Was a misplaced decimal point responsible for the popular belief that spinach has a lot of iron?

Daniel Engber writes in Who Will Debunk The Debunkers?: Popeye loved his leafy greens and used them to obtain his super strength, Arbesman’s book explained, because the cartoon’s creators knew that ...
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there a letter from Bohr about the 1950 Nobel prize?

César Lattes had some important participation in the discovery of the the pi meson, but the Nobel prize was awarded to Cecil Powell alone. There are claims that Niels Bohr left a letter explaining ...