Episode 5: The Philosopher’s Study

In the 16th century, alchemy became a victim of its own success. The more it achieved, the more its reputation suffered.

For more information on the transition from alchemy to chemistry, and the interesting characters we encountered in the episode, check out Bruce T. Moran’s Distilling Knowledge.

Prefer to read along? Click here to view the transcript!

Episode 4: Between Skin and Bones

In the 16th century, great advances were made in anatomy. Amazingly, this didn’t lead to a single improvement in surgery, which remained crude, cruel, and lethal.

Be sure to check out the beautiful pictures in Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica, including the original skeleton that serves as mascot of this show.

For more information on the stories of Vesalius and Paré, and the harm medieval medicine did, check out David Wootton’s Bad Medicine.

Prefer to read along? Click here to view the transcript!

Episode 3: Enchanting Numbers

Computing began long before the twentieth century. Mechanical calculators ran on cogs, wheels, and steam engines.

You can view a model of how the Pascaline worked here. A demonstration of the Difference Engine, along with a detailed explanation of how it works, is shown here.

Sydney Padua’s great drawing of the Analytical Engine can be seen here, from her graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.

Prefer to read along? Click here to view the transcript!

Episode 2: Beyond the Edge of the World

Columbus discovers America. But more importantly, he discovers discovery itself.

The worldviews discussed in this episode can be a little difficult to visualize. These pictures should clarify them somewhat.

An example of ‘epicycles’, that were used in the Ptolemaic System to explain the planets’ differences in movement and distance as seen from the earth.

A representation of the sphere of earth floating in the sphere of water. The point of this image was to show that an antipode was not possible because the sphere of earth is not big enough to pop out of the water’s surface on both the north and the south. The landmass on the bottom of the orb is shown as an example of land that cannot exist.

Enjoyed this episode? Read more about the impact of Columbus’ discovery of America on the medieval worldview in David Wootton’s The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution.

Prefer to read along? Click here to view the transcript!

Episode 1: Bloody Beginnings

Daring 17th century doctors try their hand at blood transfusion. With fatal consequences.

Enjoyed this episode? Read more about early blood transfusion in Holly Tucker’s Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution.

Prefer to read along? Click here to view the transcript!