Learning science through history

History of science helps us develop a fuller and richer understanding of scientific knowledge. The stories of experiments, controversies and discarded theories from the past make us examine the knowledge that we take for granted today. This leads to a better appreciation of the reasons for accepting the validity of the current theories.

Forgotten science is a whimsical collection of interesting snippets from the history of science. Here you will read about how scientists in the past tried to answer the questions you might have had while learning science. You will find out how to repeat some of the historical experiments with common materials and equipment lying around. There are also excerpts from old books and papers, and summaries of archaic scientific literature transcribed for a modern reader.

Featured articles

When Young Faraday’s First Discovery Led to Charges of Plagiarism

Two Faradays and two electromagnetic discoveries Michael Faraday is one of the most well known names in science, probably even for people outside science. He made two landmark... Read

Read more stories from the history of science

'Electrochemistry: History and Theory' by Wilhelm Ostwald

Wilhelm Ostwald, after whom the nitric acid manufacturing process is named, wrote an exhaustive history of electrochemistry in 1896. The book was in German, and was titled Elektrochemie,... Read

Discover more books on the history of science

Making a Leyden jar

"Leyden jar" is the name by which the first capacitor was known, named after the city in Holland where it was invented. Its accidental discovery by Dutch professor Pieter van Musschenbroek is a fascinating story of scientific... Read

Find more experiments to recreate

How much does air weigh?

In the classic book 'Dialogues concerning two new sciences' written in the form of a captivating conversation between the two characters Simplicio and Salviati, Galileo discusses the question of the density of air in the... Read

More puzzling questions to ponder

Eunice Newton Foote: the Woman who Foresaw Global Warming

A short paper titled “Circumstances affecting the Heat of Sun’s rays” appeared in the 1856 edition of the American Journal of Science and Arts. It was only a page and a half long, and had a... Read

Become better acquainted with early scientists

Electrolysis as Evidence that Water is an Element

As weird ideas go in the history of science, it probably cannot get weirder than this. Or so it might seem to us today, since we have been taught that during electrolysis, water is broken down into... Read

Explore weird and wonderful ideas from the past

Nahum Kipnis on the 7 Benefits of a Historical-Investigative Approach to Science Teaching

In the introduction to his book Rediscovering Optics, physics educator and history of science scholar Nahum Kipnis lucidly summaries what he considers to be... Read

More thoughts on the use of history in science teaching

Ampere's Astatic Needle

When Oersted discovered in 1820 that an electric current deflected a magnetic needle, many of the details of the direction of the magnetic effect were left to be worked out. Oersted's needle was under the influence of a... Read

Learn about more historical instruments