Abstracts Archive

While polymath and first Russian member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences Mikhail Lomonosov’s research interests were famously broad, he began and ended his career as a mineral scientist. After initial study and work in mining science and mineralogy, he dropped the subject, returning to it only 15 years later with a radically new approach...

Aspects of Scientific Practice/OrganizationOrganized Session

During the first half of the nineteenth century, a debate took place amongst British mathematicians concerning the nature of the symbols used in algebra: did they necessarily stand for numbers, or could they simply be manipulated according to specified rules, with interpretation (if any) coming later? Critics of the former point of view decried the...

MathematicsOrganized Session

This paper examines the materiality and functions of butterfly nature printing, so called lepidochromy, in early 20th-­‐century Japan. This technique complicates the relationship between specimen and image as well as between entomology and the decorative arts, but has to date remained on the margins of scholarly attention. In lepidochromy, the c...

BiologyOrganized Session

Crowning the career of the Munich Latinist Eduard Wölfflin (1831-1908) was his role in founding the Thesaurus linguae Latinae, a massive lexicon that aimed to deliver an unprecedently complete history of the words it treated. The work, begun in the 1890s and still in progress today, is a standard research tool for philologists. For Wölfflin it re...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

This paper will explore the correspondence of women botanical collectors in the U.S. Frontier West and will discuss the hidden histories of women’s scientific work taking place in the nation’s mining, mountain, and border outposts. Letters exchanged both between women in the West, and between these women and their eastern, generally male corres...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Mineral commodities were an important topic of inquiry in early modern earth sciences that have largely been overshadowed by debates over the age of the earth. Besides fossils, many other minerals stimulated profound questions about the earth’s material composition and provided evidence for theories of matter formation and the distribution of val...

Earth and Environmental SciencesFlashtalk

“When I saw it, I began to scream.” Thus Miriam Menkin recalled her reaction, at the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1944, on observing what she believed was the first human egg ever fertilized in vitro. “Shaking like a leaf,” she “felt like—who was the first man to look at the Pacific—Balboa?” Such a precious...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Informed by the recent achievements of bacteriology, doctors and scientists started researches on the last decades of the 19th century aiming to find a therapeutic serum against snakebites. Among then, one can mention Albert Calmette, a French doctor in duty in Indochina, and Vital Brazil, a Brazilian doctor based in São Paulo. Other than the simi...

Medicine and HealthContributed Paper

This article examines the text and context of elephant mantras used in shamanic modes of healing in early modern Malaya to elucidate an historical ethnography of the relationship between humans and elephants. It offers a methodological intervention in terms of how such sources can be read as well as a historiographical argument that complicates not...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

An intriguing, but little noticed, puzzle exists in the historiography of science in modern China: While Tianyanlun (On Heavenly Evolution), the Chinese translation of Thomas Huxley’s Evolution and Ethics, is widely celebrated as THE most influential book in modern Chinese intellectual history, it received little credit in the history of science....

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

The presentation will focus on the mutagenesis program in agriculture implemented by the Italian Atomic Energy Commission (CNRN-CNEN), starting from 1956, through the establishment of a specific technological and experimental system: the so-called “gamma field”, a piece of agricultural land with a radioisotope of Cobalt-60 at the center. The Co...

TechnologyOrganized Session

Histories of the German psychiatric reform usually identify the origin of this process with the so-called Psychiatrie-Enquete. The Enquete, published in 1975, consisted of a comprehensive report of the status quo and concrete recommendations for a structural reorganization of the West German psychiatric care system: community orientation; patient-c...

Medicine and HealthOrganized Session

Since Janice Neri’s magisterial book „The insect and the image“, insects and their images have been put firmly on the map of the histories of science, visual culture and education. Further studies in the field have appeared recently but we are still lacking a comprehensive account of the importance of illustration in entomological studies. Ou...

BiologyOrganized Session

Between 1858 and 1859, Emperor Napoleon III’s government determined a national pitch to which musicians should tune their instruments. The following year, the British Society of Arts attempted to emulate this standard. Amid tense Anglo-French relations, however, British audiences interpreted the French pitch as a measure of the country’s politi...

Physical SciencesContributed Paper

In 1820 the radical journalist Richard Carlile declared in the pages of his 'Republican' that science had for centuries been "continually at war" with religion. While historians have tended to locate the conflict thesis as the product of debates much later in the nineteenth century, in this paper I show how a militant, scientifically-inflected irre...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceContributed Paper

Between 1862 and 1881, the director of the Zoological Section of the Museu Nacional de Lisboa, José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage (1823-1907), launched and consolidated a research program to study national fauna supported by the addition of new collections. The characteristic fauna of Portuguese land and seas should no longer be unknown in the rest of...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

In one of the six perspectival projections in The Practice of Painting and Perspective Made Easy (1756), Thomas Bardwell includes an ancient sculpture of an elaborately curved pair of ram’s horns. His long study of the rules of perspective and “puzzling after this mathematical Truth” notwithstanding, Bardwell was unable to render the form of ...

Theoretical Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

The paper explores the intellectual and ideological underpinnings of Evgeny Konstantinovich Fedorov's pronouncements on the future of communist climate policies during his 1979 plenary at the World Climate Conference (Geneva). Fedorov (1910-81), a Hero of the Soviet Union and Stalin Prize winner, was a Russian geophysicist, polar explorer, academic...

Earth and Environmental SciencesOrganized Session

We struggle with time! Popular lines like: “do things in your own time”, “time heals all wounds”, “live in the here and now”, suggest that time is important to the way we live our lives in the 21st century. Simultaneously, these wisdoms have a history. Without knowledge of this past such statements turn into empty and meaningless clich...

Tools for Historians of ScienceContributed Paper

In 1770, a Mexican criollo naturalist and antiquary, Jose Antonio Alzate, published the first selenography in the Americas: this map of the moon was a small engraving inserted at the end of a pamphlet entitled Eclypse de Luna, dedicated to Charles III of Spain. The print was a copy of a widely circulated lunar image popularised in the annual epheme...

Theoretical Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

Following the model of the Bureau of Entomology of the United States Department of Agriculture, Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Entomology was founded in 1922 by western-trained Chinese entomologists with support from agricultural merchants, the provincial government and American specialists. As the first Chinese research institute and governmental ag...

BiologyOrganized Session

Arising from the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, the Pugwash Conferences brought elite scientists together across ideological divides to confront the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Powered by ideas about scientific social responsibility and claiming political neutrality, Pugwash developed an approach to disarmament based on the shared language ...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

While recent scholarship on the history of science publishing has focused on scientific journals, self-confessed ‘journal publishers’ only came into being in the latter half of the 20th century. This poses the question how this shift towards periodicals as core products was brought about: What other formats were publishers invested in and how d...

Aspects of Scientific Practice/OrganizationOrganized Session

After World War II, as science became attached to the discourse of international development, analyses of the scientific literature became a key source for producing national comparisons of scientific productivity. This paper will focus on the rise of the Science Citation Index and will suggest that the uptake of this new tool was connected as much...

Aspects of Scientific Practice/OrganizationOrganized Session

Johan Baptista van Helmont’s famous willow tree experiment purported to demonstrate that “164 pounds of wood, bark, and roots had come up from water alone,” suggesting the preeminence of water as the foundation for botanical growth. This experiment has a long afterlife among agricultural reformers in seventeenth-century England, but rather th...

ChemistryContributed Paper

The historiography of Richard Owen has focused on certain aspects of his character; from his difficult personality, rivalries, keenness on power to his museum enterprise and his standing-point on transmutation. However, an integral understanding of him still lacks in the literature. More specifically, of his years in the Royal College of Surgeons (...

Aspects of Scientific Practice/OrganizationFlashtalk

Partha Chatterjee in 'Texts of Power' emphasizes the need to track institutional practices while tracing the emergence of disciplines in colonial Bengal. In his account of the processes of hybridization of the natural sciences however, the role of popular periodicals is limited to merely translating science for the common public. In my paper I ar...

Aspects of Scientific Practice/OrganizationOrganized Session

In 1980, Starehe School in Nairobi became the first Kenyan second-level institution to introduce computer education. From a small pilot-scheme reliant on the University of Nairobi’s mainframe computer, Starehe’s program expanded rapidly. Student enthusiasm and an ambitious school leadership convinced international donors to provide mini-compute...

TechnologyOrganized Session

This paper tackles philosopher Carl Stumpf’s contributions to founding the discipline of musicology from the vantage point of his musicianship. In an autobiographical essay of 1924, the philosopher and experimental psychologist wrote that he had considered becoming a professional violin player before taking up the study of philosophy. Against thi...

Tools for Historians of ScienceOrganized Session

In the seventeenth century, a particular sort of early modern scholarship arose that privileged experience in integrating foreign sources of knowledge both in European and Ottoman contexts. These early modern scholars expounded the idea that a certain truth can be reached through conversations among individuals across religions, only if each person...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session