Illustration: Angelica Alzona/Gizmodo

How Do People Actually ‘Die From Old Age’?

Thousands are currently engaged in solving the problem of death. Maybe they’ll succeed, and out of sheer boredom I’ll reread this sentence when I’m 900 years old, reflecting fondly on the first wasted century of my life. In the meantime, billions are going to die — some from disease, some…

A physician wearing a 17th-century plague-preventive head covering. (Illustration: Wellcome Collection)

A Brief History of Medical Face Masks

If you happened to find yourself in 17th-century Naples, you were in for a rough time. The Plague of 1656 was in full swing and would claim an estimated 300,000 lives in Naples alone. If you were one of the unlucky souls to come down with the buboes and high…