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Category: Science

Color closeup of an intricate art deco design

The Adams Building Turns 85!

Posted by: Neely Tucker

-This is a guest post by Jennifer Harbster, head of the science section. The year was 1939. Pan American Airways’ Yankee Clipper made its first transatlantic passenger flight. The technology company Hewlett-Packard was founded in a garage in Palo Alto, California. Scientists at Iowa State College developed the prototype for the first digital computer. And …

Carl Sagan: Childhood Dreams of Space Flight

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Carl Sagan's dreams of space flight took root as a child as some of his enthusiastic artwork shows, particularly a drawing he called “The Evolution of Interstellar Flight.” It's in the Library's Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive, composed of more than 595,000 items from throughout the astrophysicist's life.

Black and white photo of several men, some in military uniform, inspecting a pile of ashes

Oppenheimer: The Library’s Collection Chronicles His Life

Posted by: Neely Tucker

The stunningly complete, intellectually voracious files of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, are preserved at the Library. The files fill more than 300 boxes that occupy a line of files that would stretch, if stacked end to end, more than 120 feet. That’s not including more than 70 boxes of research files compiled over 20 years by Martin J. Sherwin for his part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” (Kai Bird shared the Pulitzer as a co-writer.) Those stretch another 27 feet. The files tell his epic life story in granular detail.

Medium close up photo of Liz, eyes upturned and hair pulled back neatly, blowing into a clear flute. The wall behind her is white, part of the Library's flute vault.

Fabulous Flutes

Posted by: Mark Hartsell

Lizzo set the social media world afire last fall by playing, in concert, a short solo on a rare crystal flute that once belonged to President James Madison. The flute is one of the Library's most prized musical instruments and a showpiece of the collection of Dayton C. Miller, the famed physicist, astronomer and major flute aficionado. The collection, preserved in a vault at the Library, is not just the world’s largest of flute-related material, it is perhaps the largest collection on a single music subject ever assembled — and it’s what drew Lizzo to the Library in the first place.

Jacqueline Katz, Library’s Einstein Scholar

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

Jacqueline Katz is the Library’s 2022–23 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator. The fellowship program appoints accomplished K–12 teachers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM fields — to collaborate with federal agencies and congressional offices in advancing STEM education. She has taught biology and chemistry at Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey, for the …

Image of an ornate clock showing 2:05 with sculpted male figures sitting on each side of the clock face

Johannes Kepler and COVID-19: 400 Years of Mathematical Modeling

Posted by: Neely Tucker

In 1619, German astronomer Johannes Kepler wrote “Harmonices Mundi” (“Harmony of the Worlds”), a book that tried to understand the mystery of the polyhedral designs of viruses. Four centuries later, the same designs are seen in the building blocks of COVID-19. The Library has copies of Kepler's work in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division.