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27 Reasons Why "Scientific Gossip" Is The Best Newspaper Column Of All Time

Published over a hundred years ago in the New York Times, this weird and wonderful column was basically the peak of journalism. Come for the knowledge, stay for the whimsy.

Posted on November 20, 2012, at 4:58 p.m. ET

1. 'Scientific Gossip' was a short column that ran starting in the 1870s. It was a great way to keep up with science, of course, but also lots of other things. Like mythical camels:

2. State-of-the-art electric footwear:

3. The latest advances in toe surgery:

4. And the stuggles of the silk industry:

5. There was no subject too difficult for 'Scientific Gossip.' Its writers tackled such challenging subjects as 'using prisoners as telephone batteries':

6. The enigmatic beauty of a perfectly adjusted picture frame:

7. And racist fish:

8. The column was pioneering in its coverage of the early anti-vaccination movement:

9. Unflinching in its coverage of the earwig epidemic:

10. Fearless in its coverage of the plague:

11. And ruthless in its pursuit of the truth about green peas:

12. It was the best place to keep up with the discovery of new oily liquids:

13. The establishment of new colonies:

14. And the discovery of lost cities:

15. Its writers cared about public safety:

16. Even in Russia:

17. And treated tragedy with sensitivity:

18. True to its name, 'Scientific Gossip' had an ear for conflict:

19. A would never ignore a story for being too obvious:

20. It respected its audience, wherever they might be from (in America):


22. And respected animals, too:

23. 'Scientific Gossip' had a sense of history, and venerated the world's great thinkers:

24. But was unafraid to think and write for itself. 'Scientific Gossip' could handle the spiritual:

25. It was often poetic:

26. And, at its best, actual poetry:

27. But the real reason this is the best column of all time is because, even if it got distracted at times, it always came back to its roots. Weird, weird things that nobody could ever need to know:

RIP, 'Scientific Gossip.' The world is a worse place without you.

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