ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network

Posts Tagged "history of science"

Anecdotes from the Archive

From Patents to Poetry: A Breakdown of Scientific American‘s Very First Issue

i1 header

Earlier this month, Nature Publishing Group and Scientific American proudly launched the completion of Scientific American‘s archives, dating back to the first issue from August 28, 1845. As America’s longest-running consecutively published magazine, it’s no surprise the content of the publication underwent several changes since its debut. What appeared in 1845 shows a periodical aimed [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Anecdotes from the Archive: Taking On the Monocle Problem

Eyewear has always carried both positive and negative consequences for those who wear it either out of necessity or fashion. This article from March 11, 1911 gives a bit of background on one of the more prevalent eyewear options of the time, the monocle: "The ridicule which was cast upon the wearers of spectacles and [...]

Keep reading »
Anecdotes from the Archive

Anecdotes from the Archive: Bed bugs are vintage, and vintage is in

According to the June 1924 issue, bed bugs weren’t always considered to be a pest worthy of professional extermination. It wasn’t until scientists warned the bugs were “dangerous” for having the potential to spread diseases such as typhoid fever and influenza that the little guys were able to produce feelings of fear and despair in [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

Grappling with the angry-making history of human subjects research, because we need to.

composite-square-01

Teaching about the history of scientific research with human subjects bums me out. Indeed, I get fairly regular indications from students in my “Ethics in Science” course that reading about and discussing the Nazi medical experiments and the U.S. Public Health Service’s Tuskegee syphilis experiment leaves them feeling grumpy, too. Their grumpiness varies a bit [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

Careers (not just jobs) for Ph.D.s outside the academy.

composite-square-01

A week ago I was in Boston for the 2013 annual meeting of the History of Science Society. Immediately after the session in which I was a speaker, I attended a session (Sa31 in this program) called “Happiness beyond the Professoriate — Advising and Embracing Careers Outside the Academy.” The discussion there was specifically pitched [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

Building a scientific method around the ideal of objectivity.

composite-square-02

While modern science seems committed to the idea that seeking verifiable facts that are accessible to anyone is a good strategy for building a reliable picture of the world as it really is, historically, these two ideas have not always gone together. Peter Machamer describes a historical moment when these two senses of objectivity were [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

The challenges of objectivity: lessons from anatomy.

composite-square-01

In the last post, we talked about objectivity as a scientific ideal aimed at building a reliable picture of what the world is actually like. We also noted that this goal travels closely with the notion of objectivity as what anyone applying the appropriate methodology could see. But, as we saw, it takes a great [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

The ideal of objectivity.

composite-square-02

In trying to figure out what ethics ought to guide scientists in their activities, we’re really asking a question about what values scientists are committed to. Arguably, something that a scientist values may not be valued as much (if at all) by the average person in that scientist’s society. Objectivity is a value – perhaps [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

Ada Lovelace Day book review: Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science.

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Last year, I shared my reflections on Ada herself. This year, I’d like to celebrate the day by pointing you to a book about another pioneering woman of science, Maria Mitchell. Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science: An Astronomer among the American Romantics by Renée Bergland Boston: Beacon Press [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

Book review: The Radioactive Boy Scout.

When I and my three younger siblings were growing up, our parents had a habit of muttering, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” The muttering that followed that aphorism usually had to do with the danger coming from the “little” amount of knowledge rather than a more comprehensive understanding of whatever field of endeavor [...]

Keep reading »
Doing Good Science

Ada Lovelace and the Luddites.

composite-square-02

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. If you are not a regular reader of my other blog, you may not know that I am a tremendous Luddite. I prefer hand-drawn histograms and flowcharts to anything I can make with a graphics program. I prefer LPs to CDs. (What’s an LP? Ask your grandparents.) I find it [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Blood Lust: The Early History of Transfusion

Medea, the sensual and ravishing sorceress of Greek mythology, enters the royal chambers. Knife in hand, she commands the servants to bring her an old sheep. Plunging her knife into the animal, she bleeds it nearly dry and then casts the limp sheep into a bubbling cauldron.  Its feeble bleating is soon replaced by the [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

What Bats, Bombs and Sharks Taught Us about Hearing [Video]

The most surprising part of this story was that they managed to record brainwave activity from the sharks. This tale is about one of the most fascinating figures in the history of neuroscience: Dr. Robert Galambos. This is his story. Right: Robert Galambos, MD, PhD  Source: The New York Times Decades ago, Dr. Galambos discovered [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Climate research in the geologic past

"Fire and Ice" Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice. Robert [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

Words, pictures, and the visual display of scientific information: Getting back to the basics of information design

Data visualization. Infographics. Ooh, better yet, make that interactive infographics. The recent buzz around the visual display of information makes it seem like everyone should be rushing to whip up some multi-colored cartogram, bubble chart or word cloud. Never before have we had both the tools and the vast amounts of raw data to play [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

The discovery of the ruins of ice: The birth of glacier research

"It has already been said, that no small part of the present work refers to the nature and phenomena of glaciers. It may be well, therefore, before proceeding to details, to explain a little the state of our present knowledge respecting these great ice-masses, which are objects of a kind to interest even those who [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

The explosion of Iguanodon , part 3: Hypselospinus, Wadhurstia, Dakotadon, Proplanicoxa …. When will it all end?

Welcome to the third (and final) article in my little series on the dinosaur(s) once known as Iguanodon. As we’ve seen in the previous parts, Iguanodon of traditional usage – Iguanodon sensu lato – has recently been blasted into numerous separate genera. As we’ll see here, while some of these taxonomic changes are likely to [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

The explosion of Iguanodon , part 2: Iguanodontians of the Hastings Group

Iguanodon of tradition (or Iguanodon sensu lato, if you will) was a huge, sprawling monster, containing numerous species spread across about 40 million years of geological history. Welcome to the second article in this series (part 1 here). In the previous article we looked at the Purbeck Limestone iguanodontian Owenodon – originally named as a [...]

Keep reading »
Guest Blog

The Iguanodon explosion: How scientists are rescuing the name of a “classic” ornithopod dinosaur, part 1

One of the most familiar and historically significant of dinosaur names is Iguanodon, named in 1825 for teeth and bones discovered in the Lower Cretaceous rocks of the Cuckfield region of East Sussex, southern England. Everyone who’s ever picked up a dinosaur book will be familiar with the legendary – yet mostly apocryphal – tale [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Scopes Monkey Trial: Guilty

Clarence Darrow, noted lawyer for civil liberties, working on the Scopes Monkey Trial, 1925. Image: Scientific American, Vol. 200, No. 1, January 1959

July 21 is verdict day in the infamous Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925. The verdict came in from a jury in Dayton, Tenn., that John Thomas Scopes had committed the crime of teaching evolution to students at his high school, for which transgression he was fined $100. After Scopes had originally been charged with the [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

A Presidential Pythagorean Proof

James Abram Garfield was born on this day, November 19, in 1831. Had an unstable, delusional stalker’s bullets and nineteenth-century medical “care” not cut short his life just six months into his presidency, he would be 181 today (more on that later). Garfield was an intelligent man who studied some math in college, but contemporary [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

“Wikithon” Honors Ada Lovelace and Other Women in Science

A Wikipedia edit-a-thon seems like a fitting tribute to the woman many consider to be the first computer programmer. October 16 is Ada Lovelace Day, an annual observation designed to raise awareness of the contributions of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Groups in the U.S., U.K., Sweden and India are marking [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Which of the Basic Assumptions of Modern Physics are Wrong? Announcing the 4th Foundational Questions Institute Essay Contest

FQXI logo

There’s something unnerving about unifying physics. The two theories that need to be unified, quantum field theory and Einstein’s general theory of relativity, are both highly successful. Both make predictions good to as many decimal places as experimentalists can manage. Both are grounded in compelling principles. Both do have flaws — including an unfortunate tendency to [...]

Keep reading »
Observations

Circadian clock without DNA–History and the power of metaphor

ResearchBlogging.org

Last week, two intriguing and excellent articles appeared in the journal Nature, demonstrating that the transcription and translation of genes, or even the presence of DNA in the cell, are not necessary for the daily ("circadian") rhythms to occur (O’Neill & Reddy 2011, O’Neill et al., 2011). (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

Fire Over Ahwahnee: John Muir and the Decline of Yosemite

"Totuya" by Nathaniel Gold

In July 1929 a frail, elderly woman quietly processed acorns on the floor of the Yosemite Valley. Her weather worn face appeared thin, yet firm like crumpled paper. She was a living record of the trials her people had suffered ever since they were herded into open air prisons at the point of a bayonet. [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

Helen’s Choice: Female Multiple Mating in the Natural World

“Helen would never have yielded herself to a man from a foreign country, if she had known that the sons of Achaeans would come after her and bring her back. Heaven put it in her heart to do wrong, and she gave no thought to that sin, which has been the source of all our [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

We Contain Multitudes: Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, and the Song of Empathy

"Speech" by Nathaniel Gold

In the struggle for existence how do we herald the better angels of our nature? Author’s Note: On Tuesday I will be traveling to Manchester, England for the International Conference for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine where I’ll be giving my talk entitled “A Historical Epistemology of Empathy from Darwin to De Waal.” [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

Macaque and Dagger in the Simian Space Race

Iranian Space Monkey Square

Why does the U.S. suspect Iran of faking their monkey space flight? Because we did it first. It was a blistering hot summer, as it usually is in that part of the world. The monkey’s arms and legs were tightly strapped to a metal chair as the forlorn creature was pushed into the narrow confines [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

Ayn Rand on Human Nature

"Rand" by Nathaniel Gold

“Every political philosophy has to begin with a theory of human nature,” wrote Harvard evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin in his book Biology as Ideology. Thomas Hobbes, for example, believed that humans in a “state of nature,” or what today we would call hunter-gatherer societies, lived a life that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

The Good Fight

"Debate" by Nathaniel Gold

Prominent scientists are in a bitter struggle over the origins of kindness. But the root of this conflict may be the most ironic part of all. What would it take for you to give your life to save another? The answer of course is two siblings or eight cousins, that is, if you’re thinking like [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

The Better Bonobos of Our Nature

Bonobo Square.jpg

In contrast to “killer-apes,” the latest evidence suggests our peaceful primate cousins may be a better model for human origins. Author’s note: A new study published in the journal Nature has sequenced the genome of bonobos and compared them to chimpanzees as well as humans finding some surprising results. The following is an article I [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

The Failed Synthesis: Eduard Kolchinsky on the Dangers of Mixing Science and Politics

Kolchinsky Square

Science is social, but when political ideology takes precedence over experimental evidence the results can be fatal. The United States is in the midst of a partisan political battle over science. Whether the issue is evolution, global warming, stem cell research, or HPV vaccines, conservative politicians either disregard the evidence that would undermine their position [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

Women and Children First

Tantrum

For decades the science of child-rearing was guided by patriarchal ideas, but now the cradle rocks to an older rhythm. The infants had been arranged into neat rows, swaddled in aseptic white cloth the way precision instruments would be secured for shipping. Masked, hooded and gloved nurses cautiously moved down the aisle to record vital [...]

Keep reading »
The Primate Diaries

The Uses of the Past: Why Science Writers Should Care About the History of Science – And Why Scientists Should Too

"The Anatomy Lesson of Homo sylvestris" by Nathaniel Gold

Whether we are exploring our family genealogy or the genetic tree of our primate ancestors, all of us have a common yearning to know from whence we came. Origin stories captivate our imagination and offer a narrative structure for better understanding where we are today. The reality is that a knowledge of the history of [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

Felix Klein on Mathematical Progress

I just finished reading a set of lectures the great mathematician Felix Klein delivered at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The lectures are now in the public domain, and you can download them for free here. (Unfortunately, not all the mathematical notation survived digitization, so a good amount of creative interpretation—also known as [...]

Keep reading »
Roots of Unity

Lord Kelvin and the Age of the Earth

William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin. Image: Smithsonian Libraries, via Wikimedia Commons. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright has expired.

Today is the 189th anniversary of the birth of William Thomson, better known as Lord Kelvin. I don’t usually make a big deal about 189th birthdays, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Lord Kelvin recently. Yesterday I came across this quote of his on Pat Ballew’s blog, which reminded me that it’s his birthday: [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

ScienceArt Exhibits Through September and Beyond

14-029FEATURE

The inside scoop on the best science art exhibitions around the country: EXHIBITS: NORTHEAST REGION LIFE: Magnified June – November 2014 Gateway Gallery Between Concourse C and the AeroTrain C-Gates station Washington Dulles International Airport Washington, D.C. Life: Magnified is an exhibit of scientific images showing cells and other scenes of life magnified by as [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

ScienceArt Exhibits Heat Up This Summer

14-021FEATURE

Take a break from the heat this summer to step into some cool galleries exhibiting scienceart. If the exhibits keep pouring in at this rate, I’ll have to split up this post by region. There are five scienceart exhibits in New York alone! But for those of you who are not in the NY-region, don’t [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Can Machines Produce Art that Moves Us?

14-018FEATURE

This happens more often than you’d think: You tell someone you are an illustrator. They ask you a few questions and then get to what’s really on their mind: “So, do you do all your work on the computer or do you draw everything by hand?” When you respond that you do some (or all) [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

ScienceArt on View in March/April 2014

14-007FEATURE

A fresh batch of exhibits combining science and art are going up around the country, plus, there’s still time to catch some of the longer running exhibits that go through the middle of 2014. From John J. Audubon to dark matter to hybrid bodies created with modern transplant technology, there’s something in here for everyone. [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

SciArt on the Scene in Nov/Dec. 2013

13-049FEATURE

Ahhh, fall. Time to look for more indoor activities. And aren’t you lucky? Here’s a list of sciart exhibits that will warm your heart while you warm your toes. EXHIBITS: NORTHEAST REGION CLIMATE CHANGE IN OUR WORLD: Photographs by Gary Braasch October 16, 2013 – July 6, 2014 Museum of Science 1 Science Park Boston, [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

What Did You Miss?

Last month, we posted a wide variety of science-art here at Symbiartic. We thought it’d be nice to post an overview in case you missed or wanted to revisit any. Enjoy!

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

SciArt of the Day: Hyperdimensional Suffering

Dali-Hypercubemini

As our month of SciArt of the Day winds down, I had to share this image. For me, this is a touchstone of what makes wonderful science-art: marrying metaphors from past and present, science and myth. The idea that art and science represent two cultures, as C.P. Snow described is a curious one. Art, or [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

Windows on Evolution – can you outdo “March of Progress” imagery?

WoE-mini

  Charles Darwin’s grand discovery of evolution by natural selection (oh and hey – what’s up, Wallace!) has been with us for over 150 years and transformed medicine, society and any number of scientific disciplines. Paleoart and nature illustration are thriving, lively fields. So why are we still stuck with the Ascent of Man, March [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

SciArt of the Day: The Seizure

MaxKlinger-Seizuremini

The great Symbolist draughtsman Max Klinger created this image as one of ten in a narrative series of etchings called, Paraphrase on the Discovery of a Glove, which follows the dreamy travels of a single lost glove. This second-last panel, The Seizure is remarkable in a couple of ways. Symbolists, like their artistic descendants the [...]

Keep reading »
Symbiartic

SciArt Plugs 5: Lectures, Exhibits, News and more

© Lynn Fellman

New this week: a New York City gallery is featuring three-dimensional topographic maps designed by cartographer Jeffrey Ambroziak; science artist Lynn Fellman hosts an open studio in Minneapolis; the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Greater New York Chapter’s member show closes; and ScienceOnline2012 nears registration time (Nov. 1st!) SCIART LECTURES/EVENTS **NEW** Artists’ Studio Open House: [...]

Keep reading »

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Back To School

Back to School Sale!

12 Digital Issues + 4 Years of Archive Access just $19.99

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X