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Meiji Meth: the Deep History of Illicit Drugs

Robert Hooke, the short-tempered genius who discovered cells, was also the author of the first academic paper on cannabis. In the fall of 1689, Hooke ducked into a London coffee shop to purchase the drug from an East Indies merchant, and proceeded to test it on an unnamed “Patient.” It was evidently a large dose. …

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Tempora Mutantur

Narrative and Experimental History On a brisk April morning two years ago, I followed winding medieval streets to the Edinburgh University Library, an imposing concrete slab that houses some of the rarest and oldest books in Scotland. I was there to consult a set of letters between two 17th century natural philosophers and physicians, Sir Hans Sloane and Sir …

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Sharp-eyed stargazers on the night of October 4, 1957, would have noticed a tiny unblinking point of light moving silently across the night sky, its glow waxing and waning. The world in those days was far less polluted by background light than it is today: interstate freeways were still a theoretical idea, electric lighting had …

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