General Science

General medieval sciences, including astronomy, alchemy, metrology, geology, natural philosophy, and similar studies.

The physics of medieval archery

Science meets the martial arts in the Stortford Archery Club's online article The Physics of Medieval Archery. The piece was written by Gareth Rees.

Some relics of St. Francis probably did not belong to the saint

Carbon dating done on relics of St. Francis of Assisi have given mixed results. While a tunic, belt and mortuary cushion were dated to the right time period, another tunic, which the church attributes to the saint, did not.

Birkana Coded Decimal Slide Rule

A web page blending modern-ish mathematics with period writing systems will amuse the technically-inclined among us: the Birkana Coded Decimal Slide Rule.

Mary Rose besieged by bacteria

The Mary Rose, flagship to King Henry VIII, is facing a much more devious enemy than French warships: bacteria which produce a corrosive acid.

Researchers hope modern science will solve mystery deaths

Researchers working in St Mark's Basilica in Florence, Italy have exhumed the bodies of two Medici-era literary figures hoping that they can solve the mystery of the men's deaths.

European winter warmest since Middle Ages

According to New Scientist website, last year's exceptional European winter was the warmest since 1289, when unusual temperatures were caused by a large volcanic eruption in the tropics.

Earliest gunshot victim found in Peru

The skull of what is believed to be the earliest gunshot victim in the western hemisphere has been discovered near Lima, Peru.

Roman farmers leave agricultural legacy

Archaeologists working in the Tron­çais forest of France have discovered over 100 Roman settlements, the legacy of which continue to affect the ecology of the area.

SCA Bladesmith on The Discovery Science Channel

Njall Olaf Hagarson (Scott B. Jaqua), of the kingdom of Caid, has announced that he will appear crafting weapons on the Discovery Science Channel's Faces of Earth program on August 9, 2007.

"Lost" Roanoke settlers could be identified by DNA

Historians are hoping that science will help discover the fate of the settlers of Virginia's lost Roanoke colony. Using DNA and genealogy sources, they they hope to trace the genetics of those who might have survived.

Air pollution controls may affect the Tower of London

Science Daily reports that the Tower of London may soon be affected by changes in air pollution regulations that have decreased the amount of sulfur dioxide in the air. The sulfur keeps organisms from growing and darkening the Tower's stonework.

Frescos cleaned with salad dressing?

Fine art met culinary art in Siena, Italy recently when delicate frescos by Renaissance painter Lorenzo di Pietro were cleaned with a salad-dressing-like mixture of oil and water.

Fencing sharpens mathematics skills

Sports psychologists believe that fencing can actually improve math skills, perhaps because it improves a perception of geometric shapes.

Rib bone NOT Joan of Arc's

John Leicester of the Globe and Mail reports on the ongoing controversy over the remains of Joan of Arc. The verdict: It is a rib bone, but it did not belong to Joan of Arc.

Piece of 14th Century Clock Found in York

Researchers in York have discovered a small copper-alloy disc dating back to around 1300 that was part of an early mechanical clock.

Easter Island archaeologists conclude statues are petrified peeps

Archaeologists working at Easter Island have determined that the large statues are not volcanic rock, as once believed, but are, in fact, petrified peeps. Says project head Rock Newton, "Yes, we have verified that the statues are actually petrified Easter candy."

14th century astrolabe brings record price

A rare 14th century astrolade quadrant has been auctioned off to an anonymous bidder for UK£138,000. The instrument was crafted of brass in 1388 and was used "for telling time, mapping the stars and taking measurements."

Forensic photography used to determine color of ancient textiles

Archaeologists at the Ohio State University are using crime scene techniques to try to determine the color of ancient fabrics. Forensic photography can use ultraviolet and infrared light to look for stains or fingerprints. In this case, they are seeking the original colors of prehistoric Indian fabrics.

Muslim tiles herald early mathematical breakthroughs

A new study of Islamic tile art indicates that the designers had made stunning breakthroughs in mathematics. The quasicrystalline designs, produced in the 15th century, were not created until 500 years later in the western world.

"Sunstones" aid in Viking navigation

Hungarian researchers report that viking sailor used special crystals they called "sunstones" to aid in navigation. These stones helped polarize sunlight that was obscured by clouds and fog common to sea travel in Arctic climates.

14th century astrolabe to be auctioned

A 14th century astrolabe quadrant, discovered beneath the clay floors of a 17th century building in Kent, England, has been listed for auction March 21, 2007 with hopes to bring between UK£60,000 and UK£100,000.

1607 flood in Wales and England studied by scientists at Newport forum

One of the worst natural disasters to ever hit Great Britain occurred 400 years ago last month. On January 30, 1607, a storm flooded over 200 square miles of south Wales and southwest England. Now a risk management company is looking at the modern costs of recovery from such a storm.

Ancient texts of interest to modern medical researchers

A new report from the Mayo Clinic, reported by Science Daily, shows how researchers at the Clinic used data-mining techniques to discover new cures from ancient texts. The reports cites the anti-bacterial properties of the Atun tree as discussed by Dutch herbalist Georg Eberhard Rumpf in his mid-17th century work Ambonese Herbal.

Bones probably not those of Joan of Arc

Eighteen experts, working to determine if a rib bone and a piece of cloth belonged to St. Joan of Arc, have not completely finished their task but now feel that "there is relatively little chance that the remnants are hers."

Epact offers catalog of medieval and renaissance scientific instruments

A digital catalog of scientific instruments from the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Florence, the British Museum, London, and the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden is now available to view online. The instruments are described and include photographs.

The Fine Art of Mushroom Dyeing

Dorothy M. Beebee shares her research on the history and art of using mushrooms for fabric dyeing.

Optics Scholar Offers Discussion of Use of Projectors by Renaissance Painters

Dr. David G. Stork, Chief Scientist of Ricoh Innovations, heads up a discussion of a theory by David Hockney that painters, as far back as 1420, used projection devices to enable them to trace images onto canvas.

"Nanotubes" Discovered in Saracen Swords

The November 15, 2006 issue of New Scientist magazine contains a story on the technology of the Damascus steel swords used by the Saracens during the Crusades. A new study shows that forged steel techology was very modern.

Science Helps Understand "Ultramarine Sickness"

Two chemists have discovered the reason why the lapis-lazuli-based blue pigment prized by medieval painters fades so drastically over time. Ultramarine, more precious than gold, was often used for portrayals of the robes of the Virgin Mary, and Michelangelo used it in the Sistine Chapel.

Royal Archive Journals Online

The Journals of the Royal Society are now available to read online. The submissions date back to 1665 and include scientific works from Halley's description of his comet to the first paper published by Stephen Hawking.