The Science of Monsters

The edges of old maps, the gateways to parts unknown, are often said1 to have carried the words “Here Be Dragons”. At the dawn of the Scientific Revolution, there was plenty of room for those dragons to roam. Each human culture around the globe was surrounded by a fog of geographic and metaphysical unknowns. Since that time, science has destroyed the habitat of those dragons in a steadily process 2.

The central question of Matt Kaplan’s book, The Science of Monsters, is really focused, not on the monsters, but on us. Why did we populate that fog of unknowns with fabulous creatures that evoked fear and awe? Do we still tell similar stories after the fog has been lifted? If we do, how have the stories changed to reflect our new reality? The Science of Monsters is ultimately about our favorite monster – us. Continue reading “The Science of Monsters”

Science for the People: Amazons

sftpThis week, Science for the People is learning how science can shed light on the stories told by our ancestors. They’re joined by folklorist and science historian Adrienne Mayor, author of The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World, to learn what archaeology can tell us about legendary warrior women in cultures from around the world. They also talk to anthropologist John Hawks to learn how researchers gain insights from ancient human remains.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.