Was the U.S. War of Independence caused by a bad harvest? Were hallucinations the cause of the Salem Witch Trials?
These are both examples of how science can not only lend insight but also change the way we view major events in history. This type of perspective also changes our view of the way that history is made. History is not necessarily a grand parade of heroic individuals touting big ideas that ultimately win out. Rather, science can go a long way to explain what otherwise might seem to be the randomness of historical events.
In today's lesson, we will look at Napoleon's catastrophic defeat in Russia, an event that happened 200 years ago but which historians are still debating the causes of today. How can science help us understand what happened, and how some of the same factors involved -- the use of the material tin -- still impact our lives today?