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"Humboldtian ideals and practical benefits: the foundation of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute"
In 1848 the Utrecht professor of mathematics established a meteorological observatory. If this in itself seems improbable, so was the subsequent history of the undertaking. In 1854 the Dutch government overcame its usual restraint in matters scientific and raised its status to that of a public institution: the Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute. Within a few years Buys Ballots, the said professor, acquired international fame as the discoverer of the law that has since been named after him. In my talk I will discuss the background of his motivation to venture upon what was originally a private enterprise, and the ways he managed to draw local and, eventually, government support .
"Henry Ford's Aviation Ventures"
Air travel has become an important means of transportation in the industrialized world. Both people and cargo can be carried to any part of the globe in less than a day. In the 1920's, the commercial use of aircraft was met with skepticism due to high costs and reliability issues. Among the contributors to the successful implementation of commercial air travel is Henry Ford. This paper will examine the personal vision of Henry Ford toward aviation in his own writings, present contributions and advances in the science of aero-engineering made by Ford's Engineers, review the evolution of aircraft manufactured by Ford Motor Company, and discuss the use of Ford manufacturing techniques as applied to aircraft for the reduction of cost and complexity while improving reliability and durability. Also included in the paper will be a review of the commercial deployment of aircraft manufactured by Ford Motor Company.
"Learning to Observe: The Development of Tycho's Observing Program"
Before the end of the 16th century, astronomy was far more an intellectual pursuit than an empirical science. Though instruments, such as astrolabes, armillaries, and quadrants, were described in the astronomical literature and brought to a high level of perfection as objets de vertu, one can scarcely speak of a tradition of astronomical observing prior to the final decades of the 16th century. Hence observational criteria played little role in the development of astronomical hypothesis. Tycho Brahe not only revolutionized the accuracy of astronomical observation but in some sense invented observational astronomy. By examining the evolution of Tycho's observational practice in his observing logs and the simultaneous development of his instrumentation, I show how Tycho learned to observe. Encountering practical difficulties and subtle effects for which the extant astronomical literature provided little guidance, he developed the tacit knowledge necessary for serious observation, both in practice and in instrumental design. His Mechanica and Progynasmata provided the model for future practitioners of positional astronomy during the Scientific Revolution must take into account that Tycho not only refined but created the observational tradition of 17th century astronomy.
"Subjective visual phenomena and the "optical" revolution around 1830"
In (popular) pre-cinema histories, John Paris and Joseph Plateu appear invariably as the inventors of the thaumatrope (1827) respectively the phenakistiscope (1832). Plateau's studies on the persistence of vision are often presented as one beginning in a (linear) story, which via the chrono photography of E. Muybridge and E.-J. Marey eventually led to cinematographic practice. The rather smooth stories in pre-cinema history tend to pass over the fascinating history of scientific and philosophical problems dealt with by scholars studying the persistence of vision, and more generally subjective visual phenomena. Although such phenomena were known before-a fact often not acknowledged in pre-cinema histories-the 1830s and 1840s were a flourishing period for subjective vision studies. Around 1830, next to Plateau, Brewster and Wheatsonte in Britain, Chevreul in France and Purkyne and Fechner in Germany got highly involved in the study of subjective visual phenomena. However the study of subjective visual phenomena by e.g. Newton (1717), Buffon (1743) or Erasmus Darwin (1786). The mechanisms called upon to explain phenomena, the terminology used to describe them and the conclusions inferred from them changed. This paper aims to describe and to analyse changes in the field of subjective vision studies around 1830. Among others, around that time the previous separate phenomena of "persistence of vision" and "accidental colours" merged into one field. I suggest several factors that conditioned or influenced that fusion: 1. the acceptance of a mathematical wave theory of light 2. the categories introduced by the chemist M. E. Chevreul 3. practical experimental problems. The emergence of a new, more coherent field of subjective vision studies was, in my opinion, greatly encouraged by new instruments, as Plateau's phenakistiscope. Just these instruments made a new experimental and more quantitative approach of subjective visual phenomena possible.
Johann von Justi, the Adam Smith of cameralism, served as Chief Police Commissioner in the Hanoverian university town of Gottingen between 1755 and 1757. I draw on sources from Gottingen's University and City Archives to reconstruct his activities as a police official in this German home town, and I connect that activity to the development of Justi's chemistry. His efforts to synthesize the perfect blue from woad, to improve the efficiency of copper smelting techniques, and even his first principles about matter were caught up in the larger framework of Justi's police cameralism. My story connects the everyday life of a small-town police commissioner-arresting vagrants, prosecuting gamblers, administering the wood magazine-with the development of chemistry in the Central-European Enlightenment.
"The Adaptive Landscape: an Evolving Metaphor"
In 1932, Sewall Wright introduced the adaptive landscape as a way of visualizing evolutionary processes. His landscape and its descendants (e.g. G. G. Simpson's phenotypic landscape and C. H. Waddington's epigenetic landscape)are widely believed to be among evolutionary biology's most heuristically useful diagrams. Ruse gave adaptive landscapes as an example of a visual representation that has been essential to the progress of evolutionary biology; however, Provine has argued that the landscapes are conceptually incoherent. In this talk, I examine the role that the Wright's and Simpson's landscapes played in their thinking about evolution from the 1930s through the 1960s. I will use reconstructions of their metaphors to examine how their landscape metaphors changed over time. To validate my reconstructions, I will show modifications of their diagrams based on alternative readings of their texts. The modified diagrams make clear the problems with these alternative readings. My analysis highlights the symbolic nature of the landscape.
"Banking on Technological Skepticism: American Scientists and Public Policy during the Cold War"
Technological skepticism denotes the critique of technological fixism, especially in the arms race and space race, by an elite group of American scientists as represented by the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC), who also capitalized on technological limitations to justify federal funding for basic research. To accomplish this, these scientists had to engage in boundary work in defining science and technology, cultivate a network of allies among policy-makers, and tap into a strong undercurrent of anxiety in the age of technological optimism, which peaked in the decade following Sputnik of 1957. The paper uses PSAC's experience to explore several models of science and state, including the rational choice theory and "interest-group liberalism" as defined by the political scientist Theodore Lowi.
"Exoticism, the Body, and Missionary Medicine: American Women Medical Missionaries to China, 1875-1949"
This paper explores the encounter between American women medical missionaries and their Chinese women patients during the period between the heyday of American Foreign Mission movement and the coming of the Chinese communist rule. Driven by a religious desire to uplift degraded heathen womanhood, and in pursuit of a medical career, many American medical women went abroad to "save" the heathen soul and body. Their religious and cultural as well as preconceptions shaped their medical practice, particularly their views of Chinese women's illness and the treatments they prescribed for it. American medical women imposed on their patients a set of regimens that were unknown to Chinese women and new to their bodies. Chinese women, on the other hand, perceived the foreign women doctors with tremendous curiosity. The American women's bodies appeared to them exotic and even laughable. Drawing on sources in both Chinese and English, this paper seeks to contribute to an understanding of exoticism and medical practice in missionary medicine.
"The Aggression Debate and the Ethics of Science Popularization"
This paper will examine the debate over the origins and nature of human aggression that took place in the 1960s and 1970s between the ethologist Konrad Lorenz and the social anthropologist M. F. Ashley Montagu. Lorenz, Tinbergen and their followers, including Robert Ardrey, Anthony Storr and Desmond Morris, argued that aggressive behavior was an "instinct" that the invention of weapons had brought about the transition from proto-human to human civilization and that aggressiveness must periodically be discharged through non-destructive outlets. Ashley Montagu became the most outspoken critic of these views, refuting the doctrine of innate aggressiveness in a wide variety of disciplines, from ethology, to psychoanalysis and psychiatry, to neurobiology, to anthropology. I shall argue that the aggression debate was as much over the nature of human nature as it was about how to popularize science responsibly: about what the public should know and how they should know it about the proper and improper uses of scientific authority and about the relationship between the "sober" science and its representation to a lay audience. This paper is part of a larger project on the history of aggression research in 20th century America.
"Between the Laboratory and Space: Three Visions of Plasma Physics"
Plasma physics was born of two events in the years 1957-58: the first satellite launches of the International Geophysical Year and the declassification of research on controlled thermonuclear fusion. Since that time, plasma physics has demonstrated an unstable disciplinary identity due to the fact that it combines many fields of physics, which range from the study of laboratory plasmas to the study of space plasmas. This paper will investigate the varied ways that the three main subcommunities of plasma physics-astrophysics, fusion research, and plasma engineering-have visualized the discipline. The careers of three plasma scientists will serve as exemplars of each subcommunity: Hannes Alfven (astrophysics), Richard F. Post (fusion research), and Francis Chen (plasma engineering). The paper will highlight the relationship that each scientist posited between laboratory and space plasmas, in terms of the flow of experimental results and the theoretical foundations of the discipline. To establish the historical context of these differing visions, the paper will provide information regarding changes in funding to the three subcommunities and the migration of scientists between them.
"Weaving Science and Politics in History of Recent Science"
The historian of recent science necessarily confronts issues of science policy and of raw politics this is especially the case with big-science projects. History that focuses on the scientific ideas, even with extensive contextualization, is inadequate, but so is analysis that reduces the epistemic frame of the work to a simple calculus of institutional and political interests. From its conception in 1983 through congressional cancellation in 1993, the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) was certainly at the frontier of scientific research. But the project and its scientific goals were inextricably intertwined with science policy, with politics, with the divergent concerns of the high-energy-physics community, of the Department of Energy, and of elected officials. The history of the SSC cannot be triumphalist only by tracing the interrelations of all these elements can we understand the project's demise. Writing this history, I must weave these threads together, giving each the dominant role as the project evolved and as control of it-ownership-passed from one community to another. Thus, historical resources drawn from several communities are critical. Interviews, a defining feature of history of recent science, have proved especially important for the SSC: beyond their factual content they reveal the various communities' motives, aims, and values that framed the struggle for project ownership. Though the SSC still evokes powerful opinions and emotions within each community, the policy community especially remains unsettled about the collider. Consequently, research in the policy community exemplifies-by amplifying-the general methodological problems of conducting interviews and integrating them with other evidence.
"Secret science: A classified community and the national labs"
Secrecy contradicts the ideals of both science and democracy. In the context of the Cold War scientists and policymakers sacrificed these ideals to the goal of national security. Historians of post-WWII American science have noted the development of a classified community, modeled on and parallel to the open, self-regulating scientific community, but, in part due to the nature of the subject and its archival records, have not studied it in detail. This paper will examine the classified community that developed in the national laboratory system of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Security barriers reinforced the organizational and geographical separation of the national labs. The AEC sponsored classified conferences and publications and evolved interlocking advisory committees at both the lab and AEC levels to ensure the free flow of information among the labs. In this facsimile of the scientific community within the confines of classification, the exchange of information about research programs made possible the competition and cooperation that characterized the national lab system.
"Postwar Establishment of Plutonium Exposure Limits"
This paper will examine the postwar establishment by the AEC of limits for plutonium exposure. The establishment of such a limit was the underlying justification for human radiation experiments conducted during the war. However, the experimental data was only one of several factors influencing the actual establishment of such a limit. The AEC rejected as too low the limit established by an international conference and established its own higher level. An examination of this process reveals not only disagreements over the analysis of scientific data and the influence of Cold War attitudes towards the need for nuclear weapon development, but also the persistence of prewar attitudes of employers towards worker safety and control of data gathered from workplace.
"Faith and Human Science: Reconsidering Anticlericalism in French Medicine and Anthropology"
A truism in the history of the human sciences is that from the Enlightenment forward scientific inquiry into questions of human origins and behavior has been linked to an assault on religious belief and authority. Without disputing the widespread evidence for this view, this paper examines an important counter-current in two domains of human science-medicine and anthropology-in France, the country traditionally regarded as the center of European anticlericalism and secularism. The paper explores selected moments in the confrontation between faith and science in medicine and anthropology. These include the elaboration of a scientized discourse of the soul within medical vitalism of the late Enlightenment and early nineteenth century, the emergence of a school of "social-Christian" anthropology that emphasized the shared role of religion and human science in solving moral problems created by the industrial age, and Protestant anthropologists' use, in the 1860s debate over "man's place in nature," of faith as the principal distinguishing characteristic of humanity. The paper concludes that the traditional historiographical emphasis on the anticlerical cast of French medicine and anthropology has obscured important domains of interchange, accommodation, and reciprocal borrowing, and that a more nuanced understanding of the historical encounter between faith and human science in France is necessary to explain the emergence of a pluralist framework of cultural authority in the twentieth century.
"The Science of Survival: Sir Oliver Lodge and Psychical Research"
From the 1880s until his death in 1940, the physicist Sir Oliver Lodge was involved in psychic research. He believed psychical phenomena were a category of physical phenomena that as yet had not been satisfactorily explored, in part because those who did not believe refused to withhold judgment and examine the "facts" of psychic phenomena. Maintaining his belief in the ether while other physicists abandoned it at the turn of the century, he believed that a future understanding of the ether would show that the living human was composed of a material body, and an etheric body, and that the etheric body constituted or contained the true self, i.e., the soul. Lodge believed that this etheric body survived the separation from the material body at death, and that the personality or soul was entirely conserved. The (immortal) etheric self could temporarily re-establish communication with the embodied by "borrowing" the material body of a medium. In this talk, I will examine Lodge's construction of psychical research as a science. Lodge pointed out that psychical phenomena, like magnetism, depend on the immaterial ether and can only be experienced through their action on the physical, be that iron filings or a psychical medium. Along with other psychical researchers and spiritists (those who interpreted psychical phenomena religiously), Lodge employed models derived from science, religion, and philosophy to establish the credibility of the "evidence" for psychical phenomena. I will explore how Lodge employed the language and concepts of both religion and science, sometimes in striking combinations such as "scientific doctrine," or in speaking of spiritual hypotheses. I will also discuss how Lodge and others worked to establish standards of evidence for the heterodox psychical research comparable to those of what they termed "orthodox science."
"Forming the Gordian Knot: The establishment of a genetic etiology for Tourette syndrome 1960s - 1990s"
Tourette syndrome is a condition most commonly characterized by multiple tics associated with involuntary vocalizations such as shouting, barking, and cursing. Over the past century, the syndrome has been associated with a striking variety of causes-infantile sexuality, bacterial infection, and defective neurotransmitters among them. And these shifts in causal theory have, for the most part, reflected the etiological history of behavioral disorders in general. Most intriguing, each of these causal theories was obvious to researchers of the time, for each explained all aspects of the condition, each was supported by substantial empirical evidence, and most even boasted therapeutic success. This paper will focus on the development of a genetic etiology for Tourette syndrome over the period from the 1960s to the 1990s. During the 1960s, a substantial number of researchers had accepted that Tourette syndrome was an organic condition, and family studies sprang up to determine whether its cause was genetic. Yet despite several large-scale searches for family histories in those afflicted with Tourette syndrome, all attempts to find evidence that could support a genetic etiology were fruitless throughout the sixties and most of the seventies. Yet in the eighties and certainly by the nineties, nearly all interested individuals-physicians, biologists, and patients alike-were certain that Tourette syndrome had a genetic etiology and, moreover, that it was caused by an single, dominant, and rather common gene. Most intriguing, a researcher of the nineties would say that this genetic etiology was evident upon simple visual inspection of a TS pedigree. How did a TS gene, unreal to observers of the sixties and seventies, become among the most visible aspects of the condition in the eighties and nineties? The Tourette syndrome gene was entirely a statistical construct-no biochemical evidence for its existence has ever been found. Furthermore, it took researchers two decades of experimental and theoretical manipulations to achieve a genetic etiology for Tourette syndrome. Most important, clinicians re-defined Tourette syndrome to include a stunning array of new symptoms that had not historically been associated with the disorder. The result was that the genetic etiology of Tourette syndrome became perfectly obvious to nearly all who worked with the disorder in the 1990s.
"Surveys, Studies, and Standardization: Methods and Ideals in Field Biology in the Early Twentieth Century"
The fruitful historiographical debate over the development and expansion of biology in America has focused primarily on the increasing importance of laboratory methods and experimental ideals in the early twentieth century. One result of this focus has been the neglect of the continuing naturalist tradition in biology. As much to complement that focus as to correct it, I examine methods and ideals of field biology during this period. These include the much-heralded techniques of plant and animal ecology as well as lesser-known research in such fields as forestry and mammalogy. Frederic Clements and Victor Shelford represented part of the cutting edge in ecological research, while among their students and colleagues there existed a variety of approaches that ranged from traditional natural history to experimental field biology. Their researches probed the complex worlds of natural landscapes, more diverse than any laboratory environment. I suggest that understanding the work of these biologists unveils a convergence of methods in response to changing ideals within the scientific community. In this paper, the story of how naturalists and scientists coped with diverse and complex field subjects reveals how they adapted to changing demands on their methods and ideals.
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