149 votes
Accepted

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Lyon's theory is rather flawed. First of all, the Etymologiae was written in the 7th century. Just because one paragraph from one chapter in the book might possibly be construed as implying a flat ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.6k
87 votes

Did Albert Einstein really receive this rejection letter from the University of Bern?

Einstein was born in Germany, speaking German. The Universität Bern is a university in Switzerland. The local language in Bern at the time was Swiss German, the written language in use was German. ...
Peter's user avatar
  • 1,324
86 votes
Accepted

Did Albert Einstein really receive this rejection letter from the University of Bern?

As pointed out by tohuwawohu in a comment to the question (later moved to chat), the University of Bern has publicly rebutted this as a forgery, and not even a very good one (also Internet Archive ...
user's user avatar
  • 1,016
75 votes

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Thomas Aquinas wrote a number of works in the 13th century, some of which were introductory (at least to medieval students - less so to today's students, who are not familiar with scholastic ...
Stephan Kolassa's user avatar
65 votes
Accepted

Why was uranium mined in the 1500s, but only "discovered" in 1789?

Uranium oxide in the form of the mineral pitchblende was known and mined - as the Wikipedia article says. So the short answer is that as far as anyone in the 1500s was concerned, they were mining ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
51 votes

How and when did the word "nuclear" replace the word "atomic"?

At least regarding when, we can see with Google Books Ngrams. First let's look at "atomic energy" vs. "nuclear energy": In the 1940s, both terms were in use, but "atomic ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 20.8k
47 votes

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Well, it isn't exactly true that medieval scholars understood the world to be round. They were much, much more subtle in their thinking that that. You see, it was quite clear that the world couldn't ...
pokep's user avatar
  • 1,815
46 votes
Accepted

Were the first sonic booms predicted?

Yes, and no. A 2003 survey paper "Sonic Boom Research: History and Future" by Plotkin and Maglieri says they were predicted by Mach in the 1870s, were known as "ballistic waves" when caused by ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
  • 5,922
45 votes

Did ancient peoples ever hide their treasure behind puzzles?

One man's lock is another man's puzzle. Combination locks have been used since at least ancient Rome. Whether the lock uses numbers or letters (or other symbols), the combination to be entered may be ...
called2voyage's user avatar
43 votes

Did ancient peoples ever hide their treasure behind puzzles?

The Copper Scroll The Copper Scroll is a Dead Sea scroll found in 1952, unique in that it is of copper (with a little tin), has a list of 63 or 64 locations of treasure with "obscure hints of the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
40 votes
Accepted

Why did the Royal Society in 1771 believe that a continent further south than Australia should exist?

The claim was made by Alexander Dalrymple in his book An Account of the Discoveries Made in The South Pacifick Ocean, Previous to 1764 (An ebook version is available from Google Books). Dalrymple's ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
40 votes
Accepted

Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's?

SHORT ANSWER Jodrell Bank's first 'coup', tracking Sputnik 1 in 1957 (without Soviet assistance), put it in the news and helped secure funding. It also led to a congratulatory telegram from the ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
39 votes
Accepted

How did Hedy Lamarr acquire scientific education?

Hedy Lamarr's father was a key inspiration, and she later learnt much from her first husband's social and business acquaintances. She was also highly intelligent, creative and motivated to help combat ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
38 votes

Why would graphite have been confused with lead?

Theses minerals were confused because they are quite similar in appearance, attributes and possible usage. Graphite was previously called plumbago meaning the mineral Galena also called lead glance, ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
37 votes
Accepted

What did the top minds of the late 17th century have to say about Salem witch trials?

As Stephen Burnap has already explained, it is unlikely that Newton would even have heard of the Salem Witch Trials. As for Newton's personal beliefs on the subject of witchcraft, I think most people ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
36 votes

What language did Brahe talk with Kepler?

I have struggled to find a contemporary account of the meeting between Brahe and Kepler that mentions the languages used, though with further research I may be able to come up with something. The ...
ed.hank's user avatar
  • 6,685
34 votes

What did the top minds of the late 17th century have to say about Salem witch trials?

It's a big assumption that they knew. At the time, Salem was the middle of nowhere, with a colony founded specifically to keep to itself. The trials themselves would likely not have attracted much ...
Gort the Robot's user avatar
31 votes

What caused this cratering pattern at Hiroshima?

This photo is again used in recent CNN.com article "The bombing of Hiroshima" posted in Apr 26 2020: CNN But this is not the one of Hiroshima after the A-Bomb. This photo was taken from ...
TaroNakano's user avatar
30 votes
Accepted

How wide-spread was antisemitism in the USA during WWII?

How often were Jews barred from academic and social clubs in the early 20th century? Feynman's experience was hardly unique: At the turn of the twentieth century, quota requirements limited Jews’...
Wad Cheber's user avatar
  • 4,269
29 votes
Accepted

Did pre-Columbian Americans know the spherical shape of the Earth?

Firstly, it is important to be aware that our understanding of the civilisations and culture of Pre-Columbian America is far from complete. Secondly, I don't propose to attempt to cover every ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
27 votes
Accepted

Origin of scientific racism?

There's no universally recognised "father of scientific racism", though a number of names could be suggested. One example is the French noble Arthur de Gobineau, best remembered today for pioneering ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.6k
27 votes

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

You can see De sphaera mundi by the astronomer Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195 – c. 1256) : "it was one of the most influential works of pre-Copernican astronomy in Europe. Though principally ...
Mauro ALLEGRANZA's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

In the first half of 20th century, how was gold inspected for authenticity?

As Denis observed in the comments above, for many countries, gold would have been traded through securities in the first half of the twentieth century. In those cases the physical transfer of the gold ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
23 votes
Accepted

What caused this cratering pattern at Hiroshima?

This isn't exactly an answer (yet), but for comparison, look at this aerial photograph of the damage from a conventional bombing raid over Osaka (Taken from Reports of the United States Strategic ...
PhillS's user avatar
  • 3,204
23 votes

Is there any science behind this graph that suggests we'd be exploring new galaxies if not for the dark ages?

I was wondering if there was any actual science behind it: Is there anywhere a measure of scientific discovery per unit time? Do we have anywhere a scale of scientific knowledge and if so, what is ...
Luís Henrique's user avatar
23 votes

Did medieval scholars believe the Earth was round?

Medieval Scholars were much more sophisticated than they are usually given credit for. Knowledge of the shape of the Earth were never really "lost". Apart from their own observations, there were ...
andejons's user avatar
  • 5,661
23 votes

What language did Brahe talk with Kepler?

To expand on Ed's answer: In speaking about astronomy or mathematics the two scholars would inevitably have done so in Latin. It is not only that both wrote all their books in Latin; at the time in ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 9,790
22 votes
Accepted

What is/was a 'cardsetting engine'?

To get a possible difficulty with translations out of the way, here is the original footnote by Marx in German. As you can see, he does not translate the names of the machines. Erst seit ungefähr ...
ccprog's user avatar
  • 5,239
19 votes

Why was Copernicus not persecuted by the church, but Galileo was?

In 1559, Copernicus's De Revolutionibus was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books (source). Before Copernicus, Bishop Nicole Oresme (d. 1382) advanced the hypothesis that the earth, not the heavens, ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 2,277

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible