The Royal Society has recently made available 60,000 historical scientific papers from the past 350 years, sorted by date to 1887 here and thereafter divided into A (mathematics, physics, engineering) and B (biological and life sciences). If those pages are a little daunting, you can digest it all as a historical timeline here. Unfortunately I don’t have about five consecutive years to sit and read everything and the STEM papers definitely sail about six feet over my head, but I’ve spent a few hours reading through the scans of some of the older contributions. There’s a gruesome fascination in reading about experiments from the 1600s: descriptions of deformed animals, accounts of experimental blood transfusions in sheep and a rather useful paragraph on how to kill a rattlesnake.
Anyway, grotesque science aside I found some real treasures in the archives, and there are probably dozens more I skimmed over. Here are the highlights of my little adventure into historical science:
Rob. Gourdon, “A Receipt to Cure Mad Dogs, or Men or Beasts Bitten by Mad Dogs“, 1686.
“Of the Posture-Master“, 1698.
Peter Camper, “Account of the Organs of Speech of the Orang Outang“, 1779.
See anything else interesting? Tell me in the comments!