Featured Archives

Archival excerpts:

Darwin on the Origin of Species (July 1860 )
by Asa Gray
Several months after the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the Harvard botany professor Asa Gray, a friend of Darwin’s, defended the book’s controversial theory of evolution.

Mars (May 1895)
by Percival Lowell
Following an Italian astronomer’s 1877 discovery of what appeared to be canals on the planet Mars, the astronomer Percival Lowell (brother of the poet Amy Lowell) began to investigate the possibility of Martian life. In a four-part Atlantic series, he laid out the evidence. Lowell later went on to predict the existence of Pluto, and to initiate the investigation that led to its discovery after his death.

In the Noon of Science (September 1912)
by John Burroughs
John Burroughs, a naturalist and popular essayist whose circle of friends included Walt Whitman, John Muir, and Theodore Roosevelt, noted in 1912 that the growing primacy of science was bringing about a new, more dispassionate and mechanistic view of the world.

From Plato to Max Planck: The Philosophical Problems of Atomic Physics
(November 1959)
by Werner Heisenberg
In 1959, the physicist and philosopher Werner Heisenberg—developer of the uncertainty principle and winner of a 1932 Nobel Prize—explained how atomic physics was reshaping modern notions of reality.

The Double Helix (January 1968)
by James Watson
Fifteen years after James D. Watson (then only twenty-five) and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, Watson wrote an in-depth, and often humorous, account of the experience.