The Map That Changed the World

In 1815, a surveyor named William Smith published a huge, 10-by-16-foot map of England, Wales, and part of Scotland titled A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales. Up until then, explorers had sketched fairly accurate maps of land’s extent and contours. Smith’s hand-colored map indicated the geologic units … Continue reading

Remembering Loren Miller

Loren Miller (1903-1967) was a Los Angeles-based attorney and civil rights activist who drafted most of the briefs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), which ended legal segregation in public schools. He also specialized in housing discrimination cases, owned the California Eagle—one of … Continue reading

Sir Isaac Newton, Alchemist?

Is it possible that the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest theorists in the history of science, practiced alchemy? That a giant of the scientific revolution shared a dream common among charlatans of his age—to turn lead into gold? William R. Newman, professor of history … Continue reading

Fantasy Aloe Hybrids

When it comes to aloe collecting, Karen Zimmerman’s hybrids are real show-stoppers. As The Huntington’s propagator of succulent plants, Zimmerman has had amazing success breeding striking, jagged-toothed specimens permeated with red, orange, or yellow that produce delectable contrasts with the aloes’ green to bluish-green leaves. Take her Aloe ‘DZ’. A … Continue reading

Organizing an Encyclopedia, Chinese Style

Even by the standards of the day, the task the 15th-century Yongle emperor in China gave to his scholars was unreasonable: compile and organize a book containing all the knowledge of the world, and make sure the information was easy to access. Remarkably, they succeeded in the mission, producing the … Continue reading