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Stories by Mary Karmelek

Collapsible Summer Fun: The Berthon Folding Canoe

Summer is officially upon us, and that means a bevy of outdoor activities lay waiting for our enjoyment. Whether you’re a hiker, swimmer, boater, biker or picnicker, one thing is certain: the more portable the necessary equipment is to lug around, the better—especially for those of us who rely on public transportation to get from place to place.

June 30, 2013 — Mary Karmelek

We Build, We Fight : The Role of the Seabees in the Invasion of Normandy

Today marks the 69th anniversary of D-day, when the Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Whereas all branches of the Armed Forces who took place in the invasion deserve recognition, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to a group that I hadn’t heard of until I read about them in Scientific American’s archive: the Seabees.The Scientific American article from February 1943 described the Seabees as “the newest branch of the Navy, and one of our most dramatic and romantic services.” The name is derived from the phonetic spelling of “CB”, or “Construction Battalion.” Officially created by Rear Adm.

June 6, 2013 — Mary Karmelek

A Cycle for all Seasons

So far, the weather this spring has brought us all sorts of dashed hopes, with warm, “normal” days immediately followed by chilly, windy, rainy weeks.

April 11, 2013 — Mary Karmelek

A Horse Is a Horse, of Course, of (Main) Course

Let’s talk about horses. With news of Europe’s horse meat scandal grabbing headlines last month, it’s hard not to have equine on the mind. In 1875 Scientific American published an article, “Shall We Eat the Horse?” hypothesizing the economic benefits of consuming horse meat in the U.S.

March 8, 2013 — Mary Karmelek

Over 100 Years Later, an Old Invention Takes a New Spin

In many parts of the U.S. and here in New York City, we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing above-normal temperatures, and the sunshine has brought hibernating city-dwellers outdoors to soak up the warm rays while enjoying a number of activities—jogging, playing basketball, riding bicycles, or just lounging on park benches.

March 19, 2012 — Mary Karmelek

A Peek Inside the Crypt of Civilization

One of the things I love most about archives is the way they allow us to connect directly with the past. When I come across something interesting, I feel as though I’ve discovered a piece of hidden truth or insight that has been left just for me.

December 2, 2011 — Mary Karmelek

A Very Happy Birthday to a Very Special Lady

The Statue of Liberty. She is a symbol of freedom, an icon of New York City, and today is her birthday. In honor to celebrate, I’d like to share some images from an article from the August 14th, 1886 Scientific American that highlighted the methods of assembling Lady Liberty.

October 28, 2011 — Mary Karmelek

Cycling through the Archives: Trick Riding

What better way to get back into the archives than on two wheels? I’ve been inspired by tomorrow’s NYC Tweed Run, an event that celebrates a bygone era of bicycling culture, to present one of my favorite finds from Scientific American’s past: trick riding.Trick riding became widely popular in the late 1880s and 1890s in Europe and America.

October 14, 2011 — Mary Karmelek

Picture the Moon: A Look Back at Lunar Photographs

While astrophotography has become more detailed and enriched in the last 50 years with the invention of things like color filters and digital processing, early lunar images offer more beauty and sense of wonder to the viewer.

July 5, 2011 — Mary Karmelek

Hold Your Horses with Electricity


Since its discovery, electricity has helped humans make labor and tools more efficient. From lighting to toothbrushes, electricity has aided us in making our lives simpler and more convenient.

June 22, 2011 — Mary Karmelek

Why Do Facts Fail?

Why Do Facts Fail?

Deconstructing Denial