Science stories

The mysterious disappearance of Ettore Majorana

The Italian genius of physics, Ettore Majorana, boarded a ship to Naples in Palermo on March 26 1938 and disappeared without trace. At the...

The rocky road to finding a cure for cholesterol

In the cafeteria at the Japanese University Tohoku, a bell rang every evening at about eight o'clock, and whoever came running quickly enough received...

Nature gave us four kinds of happiness

In 1953, two postdoctoral researchers, Peter Milner and James Olds, worked in the laboratory of the acclaimed Canadian neuropsychologist Donald Hebb. Their research involved...

The man who could not forget

We have all probably wished for better powers of recall at certain points in our lives. When we couldn't remember our credit card pin...

Scientists on vacation

It is said that the world’s top scientists are always working, even while on vacation; although not of course in the same way as...

The war of images

1906 was the first time a Nobel Prize was awarded to two scientists. The prize for medicine was shared by the Spanish Santiago Ramon...

How babies learn languages

It is well known that a person who has been raised in Japan and whose mother tongue is Japanese cannot tell the sound r...

Cannibals, insomnia and mad cow disease

Not long after the Second World War, Australian colonial officials assigned to the remote plains of Papua New Guinea noticed an unusual disease among...

What can we know about the world of atoms?

At the end of April 1926, the then only twenty-five-year-old Werner Heisenberg gave a lecture at the prestigious Physics Symposium at the University of...

How can I tell you’re not a robot?

In the virtual world of the Internet, identities often get blurred. Senior citizens easily pass themselves for teenagers, and timid geeks, normally hiding behind...

The man who believed machines could think

In 1952, the mathematician Alan Turing called the police to report that his house in Manchester had been burgled. The thieves did not take...

The hermit of the Pyrenees

In August of 1991, Alexander Grothendieck, generally regarded as one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century and whose influence is often...

The bioethics of conception

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family - a panel appointed to advise the Pope on family matters...

A deadly virus from the heart of Africa

At the end of August 1976, Mabalo Lokela, a forty-four-year-old teacher, returned from his travels, with a high fever. He had been travelling in...

Feral children

In 1996, Ivan Mishukov left home. Even though he was only four years old, he felt that the situation at home was far too...

Brain plasticity

Researchers of the brain have long believed that once fully grown, it no longer changes. Only the young brain was thought to be “plastic”,...

Paracelsus – Martin Luther of medicine

The life of Paracelsus, one of medicine’s greatest reformers, ranks among the most peculiar stories in the history of science. Born as Philippus Aureolus...

The man with no memory

When Clive Wearing developed an excruciating headache on March 26th 1985, it would not have been surprising if the cause had been mental overwork:...

What wiped out the dinosaurs?

When American geologist Walter Alvarez started studying rock formations near the Italian medieval town of Gubbio, Umbria, in the 1970s, he had no idea...

Watching the birth of a new language

In 1769 the Berlin Academy of Sciences offered a prize for the best response to the following question about the origin of language: "Supposing...

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