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HSS 2000 Abstracts
These are arranged alphabetically.

A-B  |  C-E  |  F-H |  I-K  |  L-M  |  N-P  |  R-S |  T-V  |  W-Z

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Ann F. La Berge Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Dirty Stories: Investigative Reporting as Scientific Practice on the 19th-Century French Health Councils

The French health councils are one of the more interesting, yet neglected, scientific institutions of the nineteenth century. They were one of the main sites for the practice of public hygiene. The regular work of the hygienists was investigative reporting: investigating public health problems and then writing narrative accounts of their findings and recommendations. This paper will recount some of the hygienists' stories in their own words, drawn from both manuscript and printed reports of on-site visits and their analyses of public health problems, including epidemics, vaccination, secret remedies, dumps, sewers, public baths, private dwellings, and a host of industrial/occupational concerns. An analysis of these stories will allow us to reappraise the practice of public hygiene in light of recent scholarship and new historiographic orientations in the history of science. The work of the hygienists will be analyzed within the context of the political culture of hygienism, a medical imperialism whose goal was to civilize the urban and rural poor in the dwellings and places or work in the interest of public order and national security. More broadly, hygienic science was a key feature of the civilizing mission of the French bourgeoisie both at home and abroad.

Sofie Lachapelle University of Notre Dame
Materializing Authority: The 1922 Psychical Experiments at the Sorbonne

The apparent rejection of the supernatural by scientists conceals a complex interaction between science and the pseudo-science of the paranormal. I will discuss one of the most famous of such interactions in French psychical science centered around Eva C.'s seances at the Sorbonne in 1922. In early twentieth-century France, the term psychical science referred to a number of different and sometimes incoherent research methods, subjects of interest, and grievances against the structures of scientific authority. Psychical researchers could either be building a religious science, a popular science, a science of the marvelous, or imitating what was labeled official science. Whether they were hoping to change scientific authority in some way or working towards entering under its mantle, psychical researchers were often engaged in a one-way dialogue with official science. Although there were respectable French scientists of the period interested in psychical phenomena, the official science of the Académie des Sciences and the universities seldom acknowledged the aspirant science. In 1922, however, at the request of a number of psychical researchers, scientists gathered at the Sorbonne for a dozen seances to observe and report on the materializations produced by the medium Eva C. As the negative report of the observers and the outrage that followed in the psychical research press attracked the attention of the media, the Sorbonne experiments became part of a few events around which the scientific and popular presses considered the phenomena and rejected them. Although these investigations into the reality of materializations are not representative of the field of French psychical research as a whole, they, nonetheless, illustrate some of the ways in which psychical researchers contested official science and hoped to build a different scientific authority.

Cherilyn M. Lacy Hartwick College
Science Marches Across the Threshold: From Public Health to Domestic Hygiene Nineteenth-century France

The French public health movement of the nineteenth century was not concerned with purifying public spaces alone. Hygienists stressed the importance of improved sanitation within domestic spaces for the success of any municipal or national projects to combat the spread of disease. This paper will begin by examining how prevailing scientific theories of disease causation and transmission (most notably the theory that foul odors, or miasmas, were a source of epidemics) established a link between domestic hygiene and public health. It will move on to analyze the lessons on domestic and personal hygiene in domestic science textbooks, with an eye to how domestic hygiene was described both as the most appropriate science for women to study, and as an essential component in the triumph of science over disease. The paper will conclude with a commentary on the republican fascination with science in the late nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on how the complementary roles of domestic hygiene and public health revised the relationship between home and nation within republican political ideology.

Keith R. Lafortune University of Notre Dame
Pickering's Harem and the New Sociology of Astronomy, 1877-1919

Between 1877 and 1919, Harvard College Observatory director Edward Pickering hired more than forty women as "inexpensive assistants" for his research in astrophysics and photographic astronomy. Both fields were young and unestablished at the beginning of this period. The same can be said of Pickering's assistants, the group often called "Pickering's Harem." Some came from the growing ranks of college-educated women they were all among the first generations of women entering American science. The place of Pickering's Harem in the history of astronomy remains open for debate. Margaret Rossiter's concept of "women's work" stands as the most widely accepted interpretation of the Harem's experience. "Women's work," as Rossiter and other historians have applied it to women entering American science around the turn of the twentieth century, is three-fold: women were hired for "special skills" that fit traditional feminine stereotypes, their work was primarily non-observational, and they did not contribute to the body of scientific theory. This paper is, in part, an appraisal of the applicability of Rossiter's convention to the experience of Pickering's Harem. It is also a suggestion for a new approach. I argue that the women of Harvard are best understood within the context of a changing methodology and sociology of astronomy. New research traditions that arose in the wake of astronomy's incorporation of photography and spectral analysis helped to transform astronomical observation from an event to a process. At the same time, astronomy developed from a science of individuals toward one of research teams. Within this context, the Harvard College Observatory during Pickering's directorship may be compared to other institutions pursuing a team-based approach to research. Two examples considered are J.C. Kapteyn's Astronomical Laboratory and the Lowell Observatory during the search for Pluto. All three institutions pursued unestablished lines of research with an unestablished group of researchers.

Hannah L. Landecker Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Microcinema: Time Lapse Cinematography in Biology 1909-1930

This paper addresses the early recruitment of cinematography to microscopical studies of the living cell in the first decades of the twentieth century. Time lapse technique - taking images at regularly spaced intervals, and then projecting the film at 16 frames per second - greatly accelerated the movements and actions of living cells seen on film. This gave access to a whole range of cellular phenomena which happened at a speed too slow for the human observer to perceive. Such dynamic representation of living cells stood in stark contrast to the contemporaneous widespread use of histological techniques which required that the cells first be killed and then stained, creating a still image of a dead cell. The film itself had a different relation to time than other forms of experimental observation or evidence it was a trace of cellular movement or activity that could be repeatedly shown to large audiences, projected at different speeds, forwards or backwards. This historical exploration of the "microcinema" analyses the role of these films as forms of research in which the scientist was the cinematographer, and thus accesses a little-studied area of the history of experimentation.

Susan M. Lanzoni Harvard University
On the Common Ground of Experience: Ludwig Binswanger's Phenomenological Psychopathology

The analysis of psychopathological experience using the philosophical tools of phenomenology was the central innovation of Ludwig Binswanger's (1881-1966) Daseinsanalyse or "existential analysis." Along with other Central European psychologists and psychiatrists of his time, Binswanger questioned the application of natural scientific methods to human psychology, and turned to the growing discipline of philosophical anthropology to help define human nature. Yet, as the director of the Swiss Bellevue Asylum from 1911-1956 and a practicing psychiatrist, Binswanger also had more empirical goals. His project was to develop a phenomenological approach that would be wedded both to the psychic realities of individual disturbed patients and to the concern of articulating systematic structures of human existence in the tradition of the human sciences. Rooting his philosophical analysis in patient experience was a way of forging this link, although such a hybrid approach was not without its critics. My paper will examine the tensions and productive insights of Binswanger's peculiar mix of psychopathological assessment and the philosophical articulation of existential structures. The technique of Wesenschau or a "seeing of essences," as described by Husserl, was the means by which Binswanger analyzed the actions, words and thoughts of schizophrenic and manic patients. These aspects of patient experience were not seen as independent signs of the disorder, but were to be grasped as a whole, disclosing the existential core of a person. After the publication of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit in 1927, Binswanger shifted his phenomenological approach to assess not only the individual consciousness but the inextricably linked complex of the individual situated in his/her world, or "Being-in-the-World" (In-der-Welt-sein). Binswanger's first phenomenological case studies appeared in 1931, in which manic utterances and writings were found to reveal the presence of a manic "world," charted by its spatial, temporal, and material dimensions. Despite Heidegger's repudiation of the empirical use of his insights, and the skepticism of some clinical psychiatrists, Binswanger's focus on the extremes of psychopathological experience helped to illuminate phenomenological "worlds," and phenomenological methods "normalized" psychosis insofar as they demonstrated the structural similarities between psychotic and normal experience.

Mark A. Largent Oregon State University
Biological Justifications for Progressive Reforms

Historians and historians of science have emphasized the importance to evolutionary theory, particularly Darwinism, to the American progressive movement. They have asserted that Darwinism provided progressive reformers with scientific legitimacy and it reinforced their belief in progress. What specific role did American biologists themselves play in progressive reform movements? Moreover, how did biologists participation in the progressive movement impact them and their profession? By examining several early twentieth-century progressive causes in which natural scientists like William Ritter, David Starr Jordan, Vernon Kellogg, and Charles Davenport participated, this paper will explore the reciprocal relationship between American biologists and progressivism. They provided scientific justifications for progressive initiatives like increased education, the political enfranchisement of women, eugenics, and the international peace movement. At the same time, their participation in social and political causes enhanced their professional status and gave them the opportunity to demonstrate possible applications for evolutionary science that could better the human condition.

Manfred D Laubichler Princeton University
From a Developmental Point of View: Theories of Development in the Conception of Theoretical Biology

During the early decades of the 20th century theoretical biology emerged as a discourse among experimental biologists and philosophers. Even though scientists from a variety of different experimental disciplines contributed to these discussions surrounding the conceptual foundations of biology, questions of development were at the core of all theoretical systems proposed in those decades. In this paper I will discuss the importance of development in the formulation of theoretical biology and the central role of developmental processes in the rhetorical arguments for the independence of biology from physics and chemistry. I will analyze how the increased popularity of neo-vitalistic arguments in the wake of Driesch's popularization of these ideas led to the emergence of theoretical biology as a search for alternatives to the age old mechanist-vitalist divide. Specifically, I will show how certain key concepts that emerged in the context of experimental research programs, such as Hans Spemann's organizer, Alexander Gurwitsch's morphogenetic field, Ludwig von Bertalanffy's organismal systems, or Oskar Vogt's eunomic series were incorporated into conceptual systems about the foundations of biology. I will also show how these conceptual developments were enabled by the organizational efforts of a small number of people (Julius Schaxel, Wilhelm Roux, Vladislav Ruzicka, Adolf Meyer-Abich amomg others) who controlled and established various series of monographs and scientific journals and actively promoted the idea of theoretical biology.

André R LeBlanc CIRST, Université du Québec à Montréal
On Negative Hallucinations and the Origins of the Unconscious

This paper examines a little-known debate over the nature of negative hallucinations in the late 1880s France. Negative hallucination is the phenomenon by which an object is rendered invisible to a hypnotic subject. The study of negative hallucination produced one of the earliest arguments for the existence of the unconscious. Through a series of intricate experiments, investigators like the philosopher Pierre Janet (1859-1947), the psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and the physician Hippolyte Bernheim (1840-1919) showed that subjects were somehow still able to see the invisible objects that they could not presumably see. Janet seemed to solve this mystery by demonstrating, in 1887, that a dissociated consciousness saw the invisible objects without the subject's main consciousness knowing it. This was the first experimental application of the concept of dissociation, which was introduced the preceding year, in 1886, and which has become so prominent in recent years with the epidemic of multiple personality disorder, renamed dissociative identity disorder in 1994. Dissociation (then as now) seemed the only way of explaining the phenomenon. In 1889, however, the Belgian philosopher and psychologist Joseph Delboeuf (1831-1896) began arguing in favour of a sophisticated form of simulation and against state theories of hypnosis. His work undermined the then burgeoning theory of the unconscious and, as this paper will show, is still relevant to current debates over the nature of hypnosis and allied mental disorders. More specifically, I believe Delboeuf indirectly demonstrated that the concept of dissociation could never be proven and I will give a book prize to the first person who shows that I am wrong.

Christophe Lecuyer Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology
Instrumentalizing Medicine: Physics Research, Medical Practice, and the Development of Linear Accelerators for Cancer Therapy at Stanford University and Varian Associates, 1952-1975

To understand the making of science-based medicine in the postwar period, we need to examine the ways in which new medical technologies are constructed and integrated into the hospital environment. In this paper, we trace the development of a key medical instrument, the clinical linear electron accelerator (clinac), from its origin in high energy physics research in the early 1950s to its widespread adoption for cancer treatment in the 1970s. In particular, we explore the processes by which physicists, engineers, and medical doctors at Stanford University and Varian Associates transformed linear accelerators from research instruments in particle physics into medical tools for the treatment of many forms of cancer. Special attention is devoted to the development of new accelerator designs for clinical therapy at Stanford's microwave laboratory and Varian Associates. We also investigate the development of associated medical techniques and procedures and the training of physicians skilled in the use of clinacs at Stanford's radiology department, as well as the roles of patients' expectations, the professional values and culture of radiology, and the "War on Cancer" programs supported by the Federal Government, in the widespread adoption of this therapeutic technology.

Susan E. Lederer Yale University
Celluloid Science: Teaching Science Using Popular Film in the 1930s and 40s

In 1937 the Progressive Education Association established a motion picture project as one of the activities of its Commission on Human Relations. Overseen by educator Alice Keliher and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the motion picture project involved editing films made in Hollywood for theatrical showings that could then be shown to audiences of high school students, college students, and adults. As part of its work, the Commission developed study guides containing both sample discussion questions and additional readings for the discussion leaders. Moreover, the educators screened each of the selected films for audiences in twenty schools, and made stenographic records of the discussion that followed the film. The aim of the program was not science education per se, but several films on the roster, notably The Story of Louis Pasteur and Arrowsmith, encompassed issues relating to the nature of scientific discovery and research ethics. The richness of this material makes it a useful starting point for an exploration of the uses of "screen science" in the 1930s and 1940s. This paper analyzes the choices Keliher and her colleagues made in selecting films and film clips for educational purposes, and the issues educators identified in the study guides. More than that, it seeks to expand current understanding of science popularization in the first part of the twentieth century by examining the reception of popular films featuring heroic scientists, both fictional and historical. By historicizing the pedagogical utility of such films as Pasteur, this paper suggests ways to enrich contemporary teaching in the history of science using popular films depicting scientists and the process of scientific discovery.

Wolfgang Lefèvre Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Drawings in Ancient Treatises on Mechanics

Up to and including the time when our modern critical editions of the ancient treatises on mechanics appeared, around 1900, scholars did not treat the drawings in these treatises with the same historical spirit as the text. Even in cases where such drawings were undoubtedly derivates of the original ancient figures, they were regarded as being awkward and evidence of a poor level of drawing techniques. This paper tries to show, on the contrary, that we can still recognize in these derivates features of highly elaborate drawing techniques used by the ancients. The thesis of the paper is that these features add up to a particular syntax of drawing that was characteristic of ancient mechanics.

Timothy Lenoir Stanford University
Accelerating Discovery: Bioinformatics and Interdisciplinarity

From the 1960s through the 1990s leading biologists and program officers of major funding agencies such as the NIH emphasized the need for biologists to emulate the models of interdisciplinary research and multi-disciplinary teamwork in successful physics projects such as the Manhattan Project and other big science projects. The field of bioinformatics is one of the successful offspring of these campaigns. Bioinformatics is a new highly interdisciplinary field deriving from work in biological disciplines such as molecular biology, genetics, and evolutionary systematics. The concepts and experimental data of these areas have been radically extended and operationalized through the infusion of tools from a wide array of areas in computer science and engineering, such as information theory, statistics and probability, graph theory, algorithms, artificial intelligence, data bases, machine learning, and robotics. These tools and technologies more than anything else have shaped biology as an information science. On the one hand the tools and technologies of information science have driven an exponential explosion of new data. On the other hand, in order to cope with this data ever more advanced techniques from information science, particularly techniques of automation and machine learning, have become staples of biological work. What has been the cost of this transformation? Drawing upon the case of bioinformatics, this paper will explore several contexts for advocating tools of information science as the vehicle for making biology interdisciplinary, and the political economy of accelerated knowledge production that has been both cause and effect in reshaping biology as an information science.

Trevor H. Levere Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Cosmopolitan Isolates at Home and Abroad: Chemists and Physicians in the 1780s and 1790s

From 1780 until 1787, the Chapter Coffee House Society, a group of chemists, physicians, instrument makers, and engineers, met in London. The members had strong ties with the Lunar Society of Birmingham, with political and religious dissent, and with Edinburgh University. Even though many of them were Fellows of the Royal Society of London, they formed a group whose centre of gravity and influence lay outside the establishment. One of their constant refrains was the insularity of British science, and the lack of ties between British and continental men of science. And yet at almost every meeting, discussion would include reports and criticism of the very latest science abroad, in Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and beyond. Magellan, Portuguese priest, natural philosopher, and, most probably, industrial spy, was the one-man centre of a highly effective scientific intelligence network. Kirwan was in close touch with French chemists and the latest chemistry. Others reported on work in German-speaking Europe before it was published in Crell's Annalen. Correspondence, travel abroad and visits from foreign travellers, reinforced by the exchange of publications, meant that the members of the Chapter Coffee House Society were singularly well informed about European science. Thomas Beddoes was one among their many sources for continental intelligence. Beddoes was not himself a member of the Society, but he was known to many of its members. His information, translations of German and Swedish texts, later complaints about the Bodleian library's inadequate holdings in German science, numerous reviews of German works in British periodicals, and the strong representation of German science, literature, and philosophy in his own personal library, all attest to the presence, in at least some English quarters, of a lively awareness of the latest developments in European science and medicine. His encouragement of Coleridge's visit to Germany was just one fruitful manifestation of this awareness.

Tanya J. Levin Johns Hopkins University
Winning the Hearts and Minds of Third World Peoples: US Oceanography during the Cold War

In the late 1950s and 1960s United States oceanographers stated that they could find resources that would help feed the malnourished inhabitants of developing nations. In asserting this claim, oceanographers hoped to convince African, Asian, and Latin American nations that it was in their interest to allow scientists access to their territorial waters. Moreover, by asserting their ability to increase fisheries' knowledge oceanographers also sought the support and funding of US politicians and agencies for their research. Marine scientists' commitment to aiding developing nations dovetailed with the US government's desire to increase political stability and win allies in unaligned nations. The International Indian Ocean Expedition (1961-1966) represented an opportunity for oceanographers to put their humanitarian rhetoric into practice for the benefit of India and East Africa. However, oceanographers failed to deliver on their promise to find oceanic nutrients. They concentrated upon fundamental research and neglected applied fisheries' problems. Meanwhile, scientists in developing nations, savvy to the increased attention paid to them, used US oceanographers' discourse to advance their own interests.

Theresa Levitt Harvard University
Regenerated Art and Engineering Drawing: The Jacobin Foundations of the Ecole Polytechanique

The revolutionary campaign for worker education reached its high point under the Terror with plans for the Ecole Centrale des Travaux publiques (soon to be renamed the Ecole polytechnique). At the heart of this "Education des artistes" was the push to convey information through the practice of drawing. The republican worker, claimed founder and Jacobin leader Gaspard Monge, must rely upon the skill of the hand and not the abstract laws that characterized the Academic drawing of the Ancien Regime. This paper examines one aspect of this practice of representation, color theory, through the institutional structure of the Ecole polytechnique and its intersection with the regenerated art movement of 1793. It claims that the critique of Newtonian color theory that one finds within the school drew upon claims for an embodied mode of depicting and a rejection of abstract laws.

Shang-Jen Li The Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
Woman and Worm: Gender and Patrick Manson's Parasitological Research

In his early career in China, Patrick Manson (1844-1922), the so called 'father of tropical medicine', discovered that the mosquito was the intermediate host of the filarial worm that caused elephantiasis. This discovery initiated a new research orientation in tropical medicine and parasitology. In his research, Manson conceptualized the mosquito as the 'nurse' of filarial embryos. This paper analyzes the relation between Manson's concept and nineteenth-century theories of the sexual division of labour in nature's economy. Moreover, Manson's understanding of the role of the intermediate host was related to the concerns of British medical men about the maternal functions of European women and the role of native wet-nurses in European domestic arrangements in China. British medical men held that European women in China were too debilitated by the climate to nurse their children and the reliance on native wet-nurses was inevitable. However, the presence of the natives in the household and their influence on the children often caused great anxiety among the Europeans. The employment of native wet-nurses caused heated discussions and debates. By exploring the role of gender in Manson's parasitological research, I show that his idea of nature's order was closely related to European gender norms at the periphery of the empire.

Monica Libell Dept of History of Science and Ideas, Lund,Sweden
Physiology, Civilization and the Pain of Vivisection

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the educated Western world became highly interested in the expanding methodology of physiology-vivisection. For that society, compassion for suffering beings appears to have been central to the idea of civilization. In this paper, I will discuss how the notion of pain/suffering was played out in the rhetoric of the antagonists within the German vivisection debate. The image of "civilized man" entailed a belief in kindness and compassion which prohibited the infliction of wanton pain. It was against this backdrop that physiologists in pursuit of "scientific medicine" had to impress the significance of their work for medical advancement while simultaneously contending with a growing public concern with the suffering of animals. Much of their research, however, was not initially intended to advance, not did it immediately translate into, medical therapy. Certain rhetorical strategies, therefore, needed to be adopted. Such scientists esteemed "civilized man" no less than did their adversaries, and they anxiously presented themselves as servants of mankind primarily concerned with, and sensitive to pain. Animals, however, being commonly thought of as inferior to humans, could legitimately be used by man for his needs. Consequently, only unnecessary pain was presented as offensive and uncivilized. Physiologists also attempted to bolster their image by appropriating the public's trust in "the good house doctor" whose foremost duties were commonly associated with the alleviation of pain and with the healing and comforting of the patient. Although at a remove from that patient, experimental physiologists eagerly embraced the reassuring image of the intimate and trustworthy bedside friend. It is difficult to establish exactly how successful was the rhetoric employed by such physiologists. Legislation, the consolidation of the profession, and the therapeutic advances of the early twentieth century came to their rescue.

Jongtae Lim Harvard-Yenching Institute
Taming the Spherical Earth and "Globalizing" the Traditional Cosmology in the Late Choson Dynasty Korea

This paper examines how Korean intellectuals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries dealt with the discrepancies between traditional cosmology and a newly introduced Western concept, the sphericity of the earth. This concept apparently conflict with the major indigenous cosmological schemes such as Sinocentric geographical thought and the correlative relationship between heaven and earth. These schemes, implicitly or explicitly, assumed a relatively small, square earth, at the center of which lay China, the only civilization of the world. The concept of the spherical earth associated with the Jesuit world maps, however, negated any special center on the surface of the earth and suggested much wider world of the "Five Continents." How did Korean intellectuals, who thought of themselves as the inheritors of the Chinese civilization after the fall of the Ming dynasty, solve these discrepancies? Most of them tried to find a middle ground by incorporating the concept of the spherical earth into traditional cosmology. They accepted the concept concerning just the physical shape of the earth, while excluding its heretical implications. However, the traditional cosmology had also to be revised without giving up its core, the centricity of Chinese civilization. Korean intellectuals, thus, proposed several revised schemes in which the traditional cosmology could be applied to the global level. Yi Ik (1681-1763), a good representative of this kind of enterprise, used the geomagnetic variances reported by a Jesuit missionaries to draw a new metaphysical demarcation of yin and yang on the surface of the earth and placed China at the center of the yang region. This case shows that Jesuit science, however cogent it seemed, was not sufficient to replace traditional worldview, which had enough flexibility to incorporate foreign elements into its own web.

David C. Lindberg University of Wisconsin--Madison
Teaching the History of Science and Religion in a Public University: Pitfalls and Opportunities

Opportunities and challenges encountered in a course on the historical relations of science and religion taught at the University of Wisconsin by David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers.

Susan Lindee University of Pennsylvania
Science Students and the Science Wars

Many of the undergraduates I teach are science students of various kinds. This spring I opened my junior-level methods seminar with several (varied) readings relating to the science wars, and found in our discussion that many of the students were attracted to the arguments of Gross and Leavitt and Alan Sokal. I wanted to permit this attraction, to let the students think through what was appealing about such arguments and let them discuss the science wars in ways that made them comfortable. At the same time, I wanted them (eventually) to be aware of some of the weaknesses of such claims, and to be aware of the broader context surrounding them. In my comments for this session, I will speak generally to the problem of not foreclosing alternative interpretations when a topic is sensitive, of immediate interest to the professor, or awkward for the students. I think the science wars pose just such a problem, when the differences between the perspective of the professor and that of the students can be obvious even to the average sophomore. How can a sensitive topic be presented and discussed in ways that both convey the intended message and permit students to explore other messages? In my view, squelching any talk sympathetic to Alan Sokal would have been a poor response. Yet I struggled with how much to say as the discussion progressed.

Abigail J. Lustig Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Natural Atheology and Evolutionary Explanations of the Origins of Religion

It is generally seen as unfortunate when scientists let their religious or other metaphysical beliefs inform their science, which is supposed to be free of external values. But the aims of evolutionary biology, which descends on one side from theology, entail the extension of an a priori metaphysical rationalism whose original aim was to upset the strongest rational argument for the existence of God. I make this argument in two parts: In the first, I discuss the way that Darwin's own work transformed and subverted the literature of natural theology, while retaining certain of its key presumptions. In the second, I will talk about post-Darwinian evolutionary biology and the ways that these pieces of covert theological reasoning have shaped the modern science both from within and in its larger cultural context, using the example of modern evolutionary theories about the origins of religion.

Jane Maienschein Arizona State University
On the Organism in Development and Heredity

As Oscar Hertwig pointed out a century ago, the central biological problem of the day concerned preformation and epigenesis: which is more important for organic development? Does an organism begin preformed in some sense and just grow larger, or does that form and organization emerge gradually during development? And how? This fundamental problem of morphogenesis was thus a concern of both structure and function, of pattern and process, of morphology and physiology. As E.B. Wilson pointed out, these were at root issues concerning The Cell in Development and Heredity. And the questions could be approached through several alternative epistemological frameworks. Investigation in the 1890s did not solve all the problems, of course, and the intervening 100 years has seen a waxing and waning of various strategic attacks. Along the way, it has become clear that we are not even quite sure what counts as an organism, and how organisms are organized. Yet, as a special issue of Science reported recently, "unlike human centenarians who are reaching the end of life, developmental biology is basking in its full-blown prime. Indeed the excitement and promise of the field have never been greater, as researchers close in on the secret of how a single fertilized egg cell goes through the complex and beautifully orchestrated series of changes that create an entire organism." (1994. 266, p. 561) This is an ideal time to reflect on issues of what counts as an organism, how we know, and what we have learned during a sequence of efforts to study development and heredity.

David McGee University of Toronto / Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
William Petty’s Double-Bottom

On December 6, 1864, Samuel Pepys and Sir Anthony Deane proposed a series of wagers to Sir William Petty with respect to the performance of the experimental ship Petty was building in Dublin. They even offered to double their bets if Petty would actually sail in the vessel on its maiden trials. If accepted, the proposed wagers would have amount to more than 2000, which was an awful lot of money in those days. How could Pepys and Deane be so sure they would win? Pepys, was of course, the former Secretary of the Navy. Deane was the leading English naval architect of his generation, and regarded as the first to be able to successfully apply physical theory in calculating the displacement of the ships he designed. This paper thakes advantage of the differences in approach to the application of theory by Deane and Petty, participularly the use of measured plan drawings, in order to explain what went wrong with Petty’s foray into shipbuilding, but also to explain features of the relationship between science and design that historians must take into account in order to understand the problematic relations of science and early modern technology.

Erin H. McLeary University of Pennsylvania
War Pathologies/the Pathology of War: Museum Collecting in the First World War

For physicians and medical researchers involved in the treatment and prevention of injury and disease during the Great War, trench diseases, mustard gas, influenza, and above all, modern artillery posed new and painful types of problems. This paper examines the response of one group of medical scientists, those of the Museum Unit of the American Expeditionary Force. In the face of a set of new and horrific pathologies, these scientists responded by employing an old method derived from natural history practice: they collected. In total, the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C., received from the AEF approximately 15,000 specimens illustrative of war-induced pathologies. Why did these scientists apply the methods of the field sciences to the medical problems posed by modern war? The collection of specimens illustrating the injuries and diseases of war was not a new medical pastime the Army Medical Museum had been founded to serve as a repository for specimens from the Civil War. But, by the time of World War I, as AEF Colonel Louis Wilson noted, such collecting "would seem to have relatively little place in a military expeditionary force." Yet to a certain scientific and medical mindset, field collecting seemed an inherently logical method of organizing and systematizing new knowledge, and arranging specimens into exhibits seemed to provide a natural means for diffusing that knowledge among researchers and medical practitioners. The logic of the museum medium, however, was not always apparent to military commanders. And precisely because these war specimens were organized within a museum setting, they functioned as more than mere examples of novel injuries. The collection and cataloguing of war specimens was at once a source of therapeutic optimism to observers who noted the stimulating effects of war upon progress in science and medicine, and a literal embodiment of the horrors of a war fought with new types of killing technologies. Collected on the battlefield and in base hospitals, the specimens were "the true flowers of blood and pain."

Susan A. Miller University of Pennsylvania
Health in the Balance: Learning Lessons from the Landscape at Girls' Summer Camps, 1910-1939

The 1926 edition of Porter Sargent's Guide to Summer Camps, "an invaluable resource for discriminating parents," heartily endorsed the Girl Scout camping program for its positive health benefits. The Scout program was "carefully planned to teach good health and to develop character." Scouting leadership could not have agreed more. From their inception in 1912, the Girl Scouts -- along with rival organizations such as the Camp Fire Girls and the YWCA's Girl Reserves -- promoted camping programs as the logical successors to the Nature Study movement. Educators, whose plans to create a healthy and holistic environment for children were thwarted by the stuffy confines of the classroom, turned enthusiastically to the great outdoors. Camp leaders, women drawn from the ranks of Progressive educators and social workers, created their immensely popular programs by combining familiar classroom health charts with a rhetoric that emphasized the special, indeed nearly magical, healing powers of nature. On one hand girls learned that acquiring healthy habits at camp was a clinical, if not scientific, undertaking. When they enrolled, girls received a "thorough medical exam" upon which was based a "constructive physical program" for the ensuing weeks. The successful completion of their individualized program, however, rested on their own willingness to adopt a new attitude toward health. Camp was the place where girls learned to keep the health charts that hung at the foot of their beds, as well as "the place to acquire a scientific rather than emotional point of view about food." Although the possibility for round-the-clock supervision no doubt made it easier for leaders to ensure girls learned these lessons, growth charts and "scientifically-planned menus" were not the only things girls were meant to take home from summer camp. Far from the classrooms they presided over during the school year, leaders tried to impress upon their charges lessons that could only be learned from the landscape itself. Lessons of nature were applicable to both mental and physical heath. The "hills and valleys" that together formed the "natural beauty of camp" recalled the "highs and lows" that all girls experienced, and which in concert formed a "well-balanced personality." Likewise the camp swimming hole taught a cautionary tale about obsession over weight. A girl needed both "strength and fat" to balance the demands of fitness and buoyancy that would guide her safely across the water. Girls were taught that their continued health and well-being, like that of the nature around them, depended on the maintenance of a careful balance.

Gregg Mitman University of Oklahoma
Hay Fever Holiday: Health, Leisure, and Place in Gilded Age America

By the 1880s, hay fever had become the pride of America's leisure class and the base of a substantial tourist economy that catered to a culture of escape. In mid-August, thousands of hay fever sufferers fled to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, to the shores of Lake Superior, or to the Colorado plateau, seeking refuge from the watery eyes, flowing nose, sneezing fits, and attacks of asthma that developed with seasonal regularity. Through a comparative regional analysis, this paper explores how the geography of place became integral to the defining characteristics of hay fever resorts and the experience of chronic illness: in the very material relationships of daily life, in the social contours of particular regions, and in the symbolic spaces that nature inhabited.

BruceT. Moran University of Nevada, Reno
Libavius, Polemics & Alchemy: The Transmutation of Emotions and Rationality

One can't read far in Libavius's polemical writings without confronting amazing mixtures of emotional, moral, and cognitive reasoning. Despite the practical and analytical works for which he is best known, and his sometime image as a stern German gymnasiarch, Libavius was a passionate man and a passionate writer. His emotions, like most emotions, were based in beliefs, that is, they contained a cognitive underpinning. Aristotle can be used to show how emotions were thought to be rooted not only in individual psychology, but also in social interaction. Libavius is an angry writer when it comes to condemning Paracelsian secrecy and mysticism, and anger is an intensely social emotion -- all the more so since the social emotions reflected in Libavius's diatribes were played out not within strictly dyadic relationships but included an audience, a reading public. Anger (an emotion prompted by a belief about another's actions) clearly turns to hate (a response to a belief about another's caracter) the latter, I will argue, becomes a durable passion consistent with rational choice and action. In this regard, Libavius wished his adversaries to feel shame while taking pride in his ability to endure abuse and thus being immune from the same emotion. As Aristotle notes, it is for voluntary actions that shame is felt, and a good man will never voluntarily do bad things. In this sense an emotion itself becomes the object of cognition. On a wider level my claim will be that paying attention to emotional responses such as contained in Libavius's polemical writings should be part of the work of the historian of science. Emotional constructions should be accorded relevance not just as rhetoric but as elements in the cognitive constitution of ideas, arguments, as well as social norms. Only in this way, I would argue, can we find in the use of language and in the interplay of ideas a way to relate emotional being (including behaviors, moral judgements, as well as feelings of shame, guilt, anger and the rest) to culturally influenced rational choices and decisions.

Mary S. Morgan London School of Economics and University of Amsterdam
Thought Experiments and the Generation of Economic "Evidence"

Verbal reasoning from thought experiments is a traditional form of argument in economics. From the 1930s, economists began to abandon verbal versions of these experiments in favour of a more structured form which relied on the use of mathematical and statistical models as a technology to extend the powers of the mind. In one type of practise, these experiments used models to explore the implications, limitations and range of applicability of economic theories. For example, the 1930s mathematical models of the macro-economy were developed as an aid to understand Keynes‚ new theory and as an instrument to demonstrate how it differed from the older "classical" theories. In another type of practise, these thought experiments used models along with simulation techniques with the aim of mimicking economic observations or certain generic characteristics of such observations. The 1930s simulation of business cycle data and of certain characteristics cycle lengths begins this usage, which re-appears again in the 1980s. This paper examines how these changes in the form of reasoning with thought experiments occurred, how they were received in the profession, and how they became embedded as an acceptable style and form of argument to become standard in the post 1950s period.

Iwan R. Morus Queen's University, Belfast
Mastering the Invisible: Technologies of the Unseen at the Mid-Victorian Exhibition

Mid-Victorian exhibitions were places where science and showmanship crossed paths. Audiences thronged there to witness the latest technological and philosophical marvels. By the 1860s, the Royal Polytechnic Institution on London's Regent Street had a long history as an exhibition space. It was firmly established in Londoners‚ eyes as one of the metropolis‚s premier sites for the witnessing of wonders. In the early 1860s, Professor Pepper, the Institution's resident lecturer, mounted a spectacular new exhibit: he showed a ghost on stage. Pepper's Ghost challenged the audience to match his ingenuity. What was on show as much as anything else was the skill and scientific knowledge Pepper could marshal to fool his audience into seeing what wasn't there. Pepper and others used the Ghost - and the space the Polytechnic provided them - to try to establish themselves as authorities on the possibilities and limitations of science. Focussing on the Royal Polytechnic Institution, this paper looks at this episode and other examples as instances of the ways in which ingenious displays of the invisible, the impossible or the intangible could be used in efforts to establish new claims to cultural authority by new groups and new kinds of individuals in the mid-Victorian period. It shows how mastery over technologies that appeared to contest Victorian perceptions of the boundary between real and unreal could be used to challenge received wisdom and bolster alternative claims to expertise.

David P.D. Munns Johns Hopkins University
Becoming Astronomy: Why Cosmic Noise became Radio Astronomy

Too many disciplinary stories emphasize the novel creation of new fields of scientific inquiry. But for the post-1945 sciences I argue for the increasing entrenchment of conservatism and preservation of established disciplinary modes - research agendas, institutional foci, publication outlets, and pedagogical statutes. This paper will look at radio astronomy in the United States and Australia, examining the conscious choice of participants in each locale to move away from a physicist/electrical engineering orientated science, labeled 'solar' or 'cosmic noise,' toward an astronomical science. Moreover, the cases of the United States and Australia shows that this process functioned in both directions. Astronomers at Harvard adopted radio astronomy to bolster a failing program, physicists in Australia wedded themselves to Australia's pre-eminent science, astronomy, to gain intellectual merit. The result in each case was the rapid establishment of a field, radio astronomy, which celebrated its fundamental nature and increasingly won greater material resources by essentially imitating optical astronomy. The laboratory became the observatory and the aerial became the telescope. Radio astronomy is entirely the product of the post-1945 science environment. Like the usual subjects of 'cold war' science - nuclear research, human genome - radio astronomers rapidly moved towards the erection of huge instruments, by the 1960s rivaling even optical astronomy. Yet, unlike the usual suspects, radio astronomers adamantly maintained their commitment to 'fundamental' science. The texture of the science's development emerges from the tension implicit in expansion towards no fixed practical goal.

Heather Munro Prescott, Central Connecticut State University
"I Was A Teen-Age Dwarf," or What is "Normal" Adolescent Development?

  In his best-selling novel I Was a Teen-Age Dwarf (1959), Max Shulman describes the woes of adolescent protagonist Dobie Gillis, a young man who strives for success in life and love despite being utterly average in every way. A sequel to Shulman's The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which inspired the television show of the same name, Dwarf opens by describing thirteen-year-old Dobie's distress about being shorter than his eighth-grade classmates at John Marshall Junior High School. Although the school nurse, Miss Finsterwald, tries to assure him that according to the growth chart in her office, his height of 62.6 inches is exactly average for a boy his age, Dobie does not buy it. "Well, I don't know who made up this chart," says Dobie, "but I'll bet my last nickel that either they were drunk or else they did their research among the pygmies of Central Africa." If 62.6 inches was the average for thirteen-year-old boys, asks Dobie, then why was every thirteen-year-old boy at John Marshall Junior High taller than him? Worse yet, why was almost every thirteen-year-old girl taller than him? Dobie asks his father why girls his age are so much taller than boys. "Do you think it has something to do with the atomic bomb," Dobie asks. Dobie's father blames the phenomenon of tall women on a "series of catastrophes beginning with universal suffrage" that has turned modern American society into a "matriarchy." Back in the old days, says Pa, "when women looked up to their men, they had to be short." Now that women were in charge, claims Pa, they have the size to match it. "That, my son, is why girls are growing so tall." Dobie's mother, however, simply tells him not to worry. "I will soon have my fourteenth birthday and Ma says Dr. Gesell, who knows everything, says that fourteen is the year of greatest growth for boys." Dobie remains on the short side of average, only reaching five foot six, but by the end of the novel, at age thirty, comes to accept that "runts can be happy." Nevertheless, Dobie marries Chloe, "a small weak girl who is exactly the kind of girl I require since I am a small weak man."
   The passage described above is a typical example of mid-twentieth century confusion about what constituted "normal" adolescent growth and development. For several decades, scientists in the field of child development had been trying to establish the developmental norms for children and adolescents, and disseminate this information to a popular audience through parent education groups, advice manuals, and columns in newspapers and magazines. Like Dobie, teenagers who did not fit the physiological, anatomical, or behavioral standards established by developmental research worried that they were "abnormal." At the same time, adolescents who did not conform to standardized height and weight charts became targets of new medical therapies in pediatric endocrinology and surgery.
    In addition, as Pa Gillis' quip about the affects of the "matriarchy" on female growth implies, scientific interest in the bodies of adolescents have been shaped by larger cultural notions about what constitutes "normality." I will show that developmental researchers reinforced the existing social order by defining normal adolescent development in terms of larger cultural notions about masculinity and femininity. Developmental research was also influenced by prevailing assumptions about race and class. White, middle-class adolescents formed the majority of research subjects, since researchers wanted to exclude "contaminating" factors such as race and class from their study of "normal" development. Other historians have mentioned these unexamined assumptions about gender, race, and class, but have not explored how they influenced scientific thought or medical therapy. Finally, this paper will show that contemporary views about what constitutes "normal" adolescence continues to be influenced by physical and psychological standards established by the mid-twentieth century.

Michelle Murphy Max Planck Institut fur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Buildings for Bodies: Ordinary Places, Chemical Exposures, and the Politics of (Im)Perceptibility in the Late Twentieth Century U.S.

How do buildings affect bodies? In the late twentieth century the multiple answers to this question, articulated differently by lay people, engineers, toxiclogists, and environmentalists, have grappled with each other, creating an agonistic political field around the problem of low-level chemical exposure. Pivotal to this politics is not only how the corporeal effects of chemicals can be rendered perceptible, but also what is rendered imperceptible. This paper takes as its task historicizing objects - buildings and bodies - as embedded in multilplicities that constitute perceptiblities and imperceptibilities. It argues that buildings and bodies are materizialized through multiple historical strata, and further, that the materializations of lay people requie as much skill with objects, practices, and representation as do those of experts.


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