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

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

“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

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

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

This paper explores a 1925 meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika, during which the British colonial administrations of eastern Africa agreed upon the dialectical basis for Standard Swahili. If examined from the standpoint of the 1920s, this decision seems a typical story of imperial appropriation and imposition, a moment in which the colonizer decid...

Social SciencesOrganized Session

This paper explores the view of Nature expounded by the tenth-century Muslim philosopher Abū al-Ḥasan al-ʿĀmirī (d. 992). al-ʿĀmirī’s understanding of Nature—concerning both its identity and its activity—is a hybridization of Aristotelian natural philosophy and Neoplatonic metaphysics. This background understanding informs his modal ...

Medicine and HealthOrganized Session

Large-scale exploitation of new gold ore reservoirs in Russia, California, and Australia from the 1830s onwards shifted the relative prices of silver and gold, disturbed monetary systems around world, and fanned interest both in retrospective statistics and prospective geology. This paper uses German philologist Adolph Soetbeer's publication Precio...

Earth and Environmental SciencesOrganized Session

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

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

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

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

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

In the desert of south-eastern Spain, the development of horticulture has resulted in a landscape of plastic greenhouses known as ‘the Plastic Sea’. In this area, a complete transformation of the landscape has been taking place – not merely changing aspects of it, but a radical rethinking of its shapes, meanings and functions. Producing tomat...

TechnologyOrganized Session

Upon seeing Lord Rosse’s rendition of a nebula in 1845, John F. W. Herschel declared to a large audience that “he could not explain to the section the strong feelings and emotion with which he saw this old and familiar acquaintance in the very new dress.” Previously, when at his own telescope, Herschel had acquired strong feelings and become ...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session

In the 20th century, agrarian change was dominated by the industrial ideal, in which both farms and farmers were made Modern—rational, efficient, technologically-sophisticated—spurred by ideologies of productivism and progress. These transformations were buttressed by a constellation of collaboration between research scientists, extension agent...

TechnologyOrganized 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

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

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

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

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

In the nineteenth century, air started to be considered not just as an element, but as a techno-scientific resource. The laws of thermodynamics provided an instrument to exploit air power (specifically, pressured air), and scientists and engineers thought about using it, among others, for the transport of mail, goods, and persons. The product of su...

TechnologyOrganized Session

British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace was a freelance collector. During his expedition to the Malay Archipelago he had collected 125,000 specimens, mostly insects and birds, thousands of them previously unfamiliar to European naturalists. Wallace dried, labeled, preserved and packed the specimens and periodically shipped them to his London agen...

BiologyOrganized Session

The seventeenth century was an intense period of study of volcanoes and earthquakes. Major European thinkers such as Johannes Kepler, Athanasius Kircher, and René Descartes all had something to say about the causes of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. While none of their theories proved completely right, the fact that an astronomer, a Jesuit pol...

Thematic Approaches to the Study of ScienceOrganized Session