History of Science


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This year the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is celebrating the centennial of two major achievements: the discoveries of vitamin B and the link between goiter and iodine. These two important scientific achievements, as well as the stories, personalities, and controversies that accompanied them changed the field of […]

Looking back 100 years at two major biochemistry discoveries



Planetary nebula NGC 2818, a gaseous shroud of a dying, sun-like star in the southern constellation Pyxis.
Putting telescopes and astronomical instruments in space has long been a UW-Madison specialty. Since at least the early 1960s, when the late Wisconsin astronomer Arthur D. Code devised a cigar-box sized photometer for the X-15, the first rocket-powered plane to soar briefly in space, UW-Madison has been developing hardware – […]

Hubble and beyond




Pluto from New Horizons
For nearly 10 years, the New Horizons spacecraft has been charging through space – the fastest spacecraft ever launched – on track to reach the icy outer edge of our solar system. The Kuiper Belt, as this area is known, is full of objects from icy boulder-sized rocks to dwarf planets […]

New Horizons takes a portrait of Pluto


Papers, brochures, cups, calendars on table
MADISON – Thursday, July 2, 2015 Articles and objects representing the University of Wisconsin-Madison circa 2015 were boxed and buried under the new maple floor in the center of the rotunda in Bascom Hall. Bascom, the third-oldest building at UW-Madison, is University headquarters. Carpenters for Bachmann Construction, Madison, sealed the box […]

Time capsule entombed in Bascom Hall at UW-Madison



Mastodon skull on cart
Many of Wisconsin’s most charismatic fossils are of Ice Age megafauna. The Boaz mastodon is Exhibit A. On display at the UW-Madison Geology Museum since 1915, the elephant like mastodon was recently discovered to be a composite of fossil material collected not only at Boaz, a sleepy town just off […]

A Legacy of Pleistocene Megafauna


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Late last week, a well-known science writer and scientist revealed he’d duped the science communication community (and in effect, the public, too) by publishing a terribly conducted study in an illegitimate, pay-to-play scientific journal on the health benefits of consuming chocolate. John Bohannon, the “Gonzo scientist” as he likes to call […]

Chocolate, for better or for worse


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Thinking a lot about the Hubble Space Telescope this week. Friday, April 24, 2015, marks twenty-five years in orbit for the telescope whose glorious imagery has changed the way humans think about astronomy and space. I was lucky to be a UW-Madison science writer all those years ago and had […]

Covering Hubble: A Reminder from Deep in the Closet