Shellfish Sherlock

Shellfish are tasty. But can they illuminate the past? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. Professor Pupa Gilbert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studies pen shells. That’s a large, clam-like shellfish commonly found in Florida. Specifically, she studies their nacre, or mother-of-pearl. It’s that iridescent

The Tooth is Out There

Hey…do I have something in my teeth? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. Dental records are often used for identification. What other tales can our teeth tell about us?? Christina Warinner at the Max Planck Institute and fellow researchers picked through some plaque history. While

Ancient Inkers

Hey kids – tattoos have ALWAYS been cool – even before you were born! This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. Ancient humans tattooed themselves both as a means of self expression, and to fit in with the gang. It was a permanent way of demonstrating

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, a tale as OLD as time was created. This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, with a story about stories. What is the origin of our beloved fantastical folk tales? The nineteenth century Brothers Grimm got most of the credit and lived

Life Before Tequila

Before there was Tequila, there was … pulque? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, and possibly the earliest alcohol of Mesoamerica: Pulque. Like Tequila, pulque is distilled from the sap of agave plants. The Aztecs drank it in the 1400s. And it’s still consumed in

Climate of Conquest

Were Genghis Khan’s conquests a product of . . . nice weather? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. The Mongols were bad dudes, but they kind of came out of nowhere. One day they were a bunch of warring tribes, the next they conquered Korea,

Nordic Adventure

Vikings! Grab your helmets! And your, MAGIC CRYSTALS? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. Centuries ago, Vikings ruled the North Atlantic without compasses. Instead of following north, legends say they chased the sun using CRYSTALS, known as sunstones! These chunks of pure calcite split light

Grecian Formula

Was the first Grecian formula actually Roman? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. When it came to coloring hair, Ancient Rome was startlingly advanced. Its recipe for hair dye combines lead sulphide and lime. These create nanocrystals, which grow not just inside hair strands but

Oh, the Humanities!

The humanities! Not so HUMAN? This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. Long ago, homo sapiens weren’t the only people on the block. Before modern humans arrived from Africa, Europe was home to Neanderthals. We usually think of this sister species as brutish and uncultured. And

String Theory

Think filing your taxes is a pain? Imagine doing it in macramé! This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. It may sound far-fetched but that’s exactly how the ancient Incas kept records. With colored, knotted strings called khipu. Colonial documents verify that khipu were used in