HSS 2000 Abstracts
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Niels Bohr's correspondence principle played an important role in the development of the quantum theory and was of utmost importance to Bohr's early thought. Although others working on the quantum theory questioned the status and role of the correspondence principle, Bohr insisted that it was actually a principle of the quantum theory and not just a heuristic device. In this talk, I will argue that Bohr elevated correspondence to a principle of the quantum theory because of its importance in the general methodology he was using. Partly in response to public and private criticism of the principle by others, especially Sommerfeld, Bohr strengthened his position on its status, declaring it to be part of an overall method and claiming its superiority over other methods available. Bohr's early justification for the correspondence principle had been that it was 'suggested' by certain similarities between the predictions of atomic spectra made by classical physics and the new quantum theory. But the principle went beyond these asymptotic similarities. Rather, Bohr eventually made clear, it declared a direct connection between the frequencies of light in an atomic spectrum and certain classical motions in the atom. This connection justified a direct inference to what otherwise were unwarranted assumptions about the atom. I will argue that taking seriously Bohr's comments on method allows us to make sense of his otherwise mysterious insistence that correspondence had to be a principle of the quantum theory. I will also suggest an alternative way to understand his insistence on the necessity of classical language.
During the presidency of Charles W. Eliot (1869-1909), the teaching of science at Harvard University was transformed. New sciences were added to the curriculum and old ones revived and reformed. Uneasy at first with the production of scientific knowledge for its own sake, with its emphasis on explanation, abstraction, and universality (techne/episteme), Eliot focussed his early reform efforts on educating practitioners whose knowledge and action could improve Massachusetts' society, economy, and culture (phronesis). Chief among them were lawyers, physicians, agriculturalists, and veterinarians. His establishment in 1882 of a landmark school for veterinary surgeons provides a case study of how Harvard's most famous president saw science serving the needs of post-Civil War Massachusetts. Eliot established the University's veterinary school in order to graduate a few qualified practitioners. He felt they could improve the public health, then afflicted by slaughterhouse offal in its water supply, diseased meat on its tables, and animal-borne diseases around every corner reduce economic losses to the meat industry, transportation system, and farmers threatened by epizootic diseases of cattle, horses, and swine and contribute to moral reform by collaborating with the Commonwealth's vibrant anti-cruelty movement. This paper reconstructs the circumstances of post-Civil War Massachusetts which led Eliot to introduce veterinary education into the American university.
Vis Viva Revisited
The vis viva controversy is a canonical site for analysis of irreconcilable philosophical positions in early-modern physics. Viewed retrospectively, in light of subsequent formulations of the concepts of energy and momentum, the endless wrangling of the participants reduces to confusion, and not much else. What more can be said about this controversy, disdainfully characterized in 1743 by d'Alembert (among others) as "a dispute of words too undignified to occupy philosophers any longer"? This paper looks at the trajectory of the dispute from the point of view of the alliances and antipathies connecting and dividing the antagonists. These relations were governed in part by philosophical commitments, but also by institutional and personal allegiances that were played out in academic prize essays, in the periodical press and in books. The controversy simmered for many years within the small international community of mathematicians, flaring up occasionally into more or less vitriolic arguments that were never resolved. It bubbled over into greater public visibility when Emilie Du Châtelet and Voltaire entered the fray in the 1740s. By this time, the arcana of 17th-century dynamics had become the stuff of Enlightenment posturing. Why did Voltaire care about this question? Why did he think his public would care? And why were others, arguably more mathematically astute, focusing on other physical laws and concepts altogether? Inspired by these questions, the paper investigates the interests and motivations at play at several key moments in the complex history of this dispute.
The anonymous Rosicrucian manifestos that appeared in the midst of Counter-Reformation Germany gave expression to a Paracelsian-inspired Hermeticism and a heterodox Lutheranism with strong millennialist overtones; they purported to stem from an order of pious scientist-monks, the 'Brethren of the Rosy Cross,' who were acting as the harbinger of an age in which the prisca sapientia would be restored. On account of his leading role as apologist for this 'Fraternity', Count Michael Maier came to be known as a man who not only squandered his talents on the impossible claims of alchemy, but who was also duped by the Rosicrucian 'imposture,' as Newton would put it when reviewing MaierĻs Rosicrucian writings. Over the centuries, a plethora of traditions have grown up amongst those who have devoted their time to uncovering a true secret society lying behind the manifestos. As I shall demonstrate in the course of the proposed paper, the 'Rosicrucian fraternity' existed in a very real and important sense, albeit a virtual one. For the manifestos gave rise to a flood of publications that constituted, in effect, a virtual arena for the definition and defence of Protestant Hermeticism in the years preceding the Thirty Years War ≠ an arena which Maier utilised to justify his own non-Paracelsian brand of alchemy. Such was Maier's success in exploiting the Rosicrucian phenomenon as a vehicle for his own ideas that he came to be known by the Jesuit detractors of Rosicrucianism as the 'secretary' of the 'Fraternity.' Whilst discussing the nature of the alchemy Maier promoted in this fashion, it will be seen that the relation of his ideology to his laboratory practice ≠ no less than his role in the history of Western esotericism ≠ presents difficulties for the historiography and nomenclature recently proposed by Principe and Newman.
In the 1920s and 1930s, leading educators set out to revolutionize the ways in which American schoolchildren learned about their health. Energized by new biomedical knowledge and new philosophies of education, these experts stressed the acquisition and practice of health habits and "learning-by-doing" classroom activities intended to demonstrate the relevance of biomedical science to everyday life. The ultimate expression of this new approach to health education, this paper explains, was its emphasis on measuring and representing children's physical growth. Model curricula and educators handbooks prodded teachers to devise activities requiring children to chart their own growth and that of other organisms, while textbooks narrated the progress of fictional classrooms where students meticulously tracked physical growth and its relationship to health habits. By the end of the 1930s, two strategies for representing health scientifically came to dominate school health education. The first was the growth curve, where progress was typically represented by children climbing and planting a flag atop the "Hill of Health." The second was the tale of the two rats, which juxtaposed pictures of a healthy rat and his withered, scrawny, or bow-legged twin and drew a scientific moral about children's health habits from the differences in the rats fates. As an instructional focus, these representations of growth seemed especially versatile and meaningful. Growth was an exciting personal event for children, and thus considered likely to spur their interest in a previously dull subject. Moreover, educators argued, teaching children to chart their height and weight progress or the relative growth of organisms introduced them to scientific method--observation, measurement, and quantification. This precision was especially attractive to educators who were expected to convey a broader, positive definition of health--"Health is what Nature gives you plus what you give yourself," for instance, to their young charges. Finally, growth was an event which adults hoped to monitor and control. In some school systems and often at the behest of foundation and government sponsors of school health programs, educators and health workers used aggregate progress in height and weight as one measure of the efficacy of health education. In this context, I argue, the upward march of children's growth curves signaled to observers not only that children had learned to understand their physical selves in scientific terms but that school health advocates had tangible evidence that their interventions had been worthwhile. In everyday practice, educators found that their own progress towards this new, more self-consciously "scientific" health education was more difficult than anticipated. Several prominent child health experts argued that the relationship between gains in weight and gains in health was far more ambiguous than assumed. Furthermore, skeptical educators suggested that classroom activities based these representations of health could be successful only in the hands of the finest and luckiest teachers. Even if the instructor managed to avoid the "false analogies" that had pervaded earlier nature-study approaches to science teaching, the natural world was far too uncertain to ensure a consistent lesson, even in a controlled classroom experiment as one educator explained, rats and rabbits, "like children, show disturbing discrepancies between behavior and its apparent results.... The wrong one is too apt to gain, or the right one to cap the climax all too effectively by dying." Nevertheless, the history of these strategies for representing health is important, I conclude, for it helps reveal how twentieth-century Americans acquired a new language--one with a scientific inflection--for thinking about their bodies and their world.
Byzantine manuscripts contain, from the 13th c. A.D. onwards,
a kind of text without precedent: multilingual lexica of plant names,
in fact of plants used in therapeutic as materia medica.
The paper discusses the interaction of Yugoslavian scientists and state politicians during the First World War, when geographical, enthnological, and geological researches provided justification for the military actions and the negotiations on the shape and extents of national borders. In 1919-20, the prominent Serbian geographer Jovan Cvijic, author of the influential La peninsule balkanique (Paris, 1918), appeared as a scientific adviser for the Yugoslavian committee on national borders and teritorial issues which participated at the Paris Peace Conference. Cvijic recommended that the negotiations on the issue of post-war national borders ought to embody the natural and social factors developed in his scientific work and asked for a thorough understanding of topographic, ethnic, economic, and strategic aspects of the Balkan lands. Inevitably, however, diplomatic priorities began to color some elements of Cvijic's proposal: for instance, the Committee failed to give a good explanation for the territorial demands with regard to Bulgaria and Hungary, in which cases economy and politics overpowered Cvijic's holistic approach. The paper will focus on the role of science in the peace process and the "expert construction" of early Yugoslavia.
In this paper, I examine the rhetoric of wonder in the work of Hero of Alexandria (1st century AD). Hero wrote on a broad range of topics including the construction of catapults, automatic theatres and magic mirrors, and many of the devices he describes are designed to produce spectacular effects. I shall demonstrate how Hero employs a rhetoric of wonder, which combines the status of philosophy with the power of public spectacles. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle tells us that contrary to the arts, which were often motivated by lowly practical utility, philosophy originates in wonder, and the findings of philosophical inquiry cause wonder because of the surprising insights such inquiry yields. Hero employs a similar rhetoric to invest his theories with the power of penetrating behind what meets the eyes: 'We will wonder at things which, when we have proved them, are contrary to what is manifest to us'. At the same time, however, he challenges Aristotle's separation of wonder and utility. Hero emphasizes that subjects such as pneumatics and catoptrics provide for utility as well as for wonder and he attempts to blur the distinction between them. Furthermore, the machines described by Hero show that mechanics not only explains phenomena that cause wonder, but also controls wondrous mechanical spectacles. Lastly, Hero's production of spectacles gains an extra dimension because they resemble the kind of automata and devices that were employed at banquets, processions and festivals to demonstrate political and social power. I argue that, with his rhetoric of wonder, Hero attempts to escape the banausic image of machine-making by providing philosophical insight, while maintaining the power associated with the control over useful and spectacular devices.
The epistolary genre was central to the working of the scientific discourse community and the development of scientific discourse throughout the 17th and 18th century. New information and ideas often circulated within groups linked together by correspondence these groups varied considerably in size and in their degree of compactness vs. diffuseness. The face-to-face discourse of the Royal Society at the weekly meetings was often based on letters received or written. Ultimately, these letters might end up published, in the Philosophical Transactions or elsewhere. Letters were particularly important in natural history, since this field of study encompassed areas geographically remote from the center. Letters from the periphery to the center might be used to convey information about new observations and requests for books and supplies to accompany a specimen being sent to London or to submit an official report to the authorities (the Admiralty, for instance). Traveling in the opposite direction, letters could send directions for exploration or request particular specimens (a plant for a patron's garden or a particular fossil bone). In the 19th century, the epistolary genre is usually considered to be less important. In natural history and the life sciences more generally, however, it continued to play a role Darwin's use of letters, to elicit information about variation both from professional biologists and from amateurs and 'fanciers', is well known. Likewise Richard Owen embeds letters in his published work to convey information obtained from colonial (usually Australian) observers, and to transform these observations at the periphery into scientific knowledge. In my paper, I analyze the use of letters in the domain of natural history in and around the Royal Society, from Sloane at the beginning of the 18th century to Owen at the end of the 19th. The perspective and methodology applied are those of linguistic and rhetorical discourse analysis, focusing on the ways in which the letters construct a center and a periphery in the natural history of their time.
Following his call to Leiden as Lorentz' successor, Ehrenfest radically transformed the local culture of physics and especially theoretical physics. His educational reforms payed of handsomely as evidenced by the remarkable careers of his students. Apart from his success as a teacher I will evaluate the rationale and the effects of three main concerns of Ehrenfest: the reorientation of Dutch research towards the new physics (relativity and above all quantum physics), the promotion of contacts between young Dutch physicists and their foreign peers (especially those from Russia and the United States), and the establishement of stronger ties between Dutch academic and industrial science (focussing on the Philips physical laboratory).
The 1973 break with democracy and the 1974 intervention of Uruguay's only university, led to the restructuring of Uruguayan scientific practice. Concerning the social sciences, certain private research centers arose partly thanks to the financial assistance that they received from various international and philanthropic foundations. These private centers continued with investigative work and the formation of human resources during the military dictatorship (1973-1985). Our study draws from interviews with key informants and from primary documents found in the archives of the Uruguayan state (CIEDUR, CIESU, CINVE y CLAEH) and foundation repositories (the Ford Foundation International Development Research Centre, IDRC, Canada and the Swedish Agency for Research Co-operation with Developing Countries, SAREC0). We propose to analyze the role of external financing on the establishment of research plans and in the selection of subjects in Uruguayan Economy and Sociology.
The Cold War has been thought as a continuation of the second world war years. Although the process was first and foremost American, British and Soviet since these countries immediately fought the cold war, it did not leave other nations untouched. The second world war marked an important watershed in many fields of science, not entirely due to federal and military sponsorship, but when science became increasingly integrated into its economic and political environment. The war led to profound transformations in what it meant to be a scientist, as became increasingly clear in the following decades. Trying to add facets to the understanding of the nature of international science in that period, I propose to analyse the interactions, constraints and opportunities that opened up to scientific practice in the national context of a developing country which, by reason of its strategic natural endowment, acquired some diplomatic significance for the Western powers: oil-producing Venezuela. I will consider the discontinuities within the process of emergence of a scientific community, putting the lens upon the novelties brought about by the new international post-war scenario. Among the questions I will tackle are: What was the new role of the military in Venezuela since 1948 and the fractures among the intellectual, business and industrial elites that emerged during the 1950s? In what ways was international science perceived by Venezuelan scientists as a tool in promoting modernization? To what extent and in what manner foreign diplomacy influenced the direction of the main research and training programs in the country, in conditions in which Venezuela had the ability to self-finance them from its oil wealth? What Venezuelan groups of scientists were more internationally inclined or became involved in activities of international science? What factors stimulated them to involve themselves in those activities? Were there some disciplines more actively engaged than others in internationalization? Which ones? Were there sociocultural or socioeconomic features allowing to differentiate the participants in these research activities or in the promotion of international science? What was the relationship between public science, private technology and economic and political power as far as petroleum was concerned?
Although 18th-century France is generally considered a golden age for the intelligentsia, it was also a time when scholars were frequently depicted as freaks of nature, social misfits, and/or hypochondriacal invalids. The perceived conflict between thinking and the body often focused on women scholars, particularly after physicians like P. Roussel began to insist in the 1770s that the female constitution was altogether unsuited for intense study. However, the monstrosity ascribed to female intellectuals stemmed not just from misogyny, but also from an alarmist conception of the physiology of thinking itself. The Swiss physician S.A. Tissot's treatise De la sant» des gens de lettres (1766) popularized the notion that sustained mental activity could have grave bodily effects, including that of drawing too much energy away from the reproductive organs. Tissot's portrait of great thinkers as unfit for procreation struck a resounding chord in French culture: it contributed to the populationist fever of the day, spawned a sub-genre of hygienic manuals for scholars, and confirmed the already widespread sense that philosophes were poor spouses and parents. The ambiguities surrounding scholars intensified in the 19th century, as the perceived relationship between intellectual creativity and fecundity grew even more complicated. Drawing on physiologist X. Bichat^≥s theory of limited vital energy, medical writers like J.J. Virey contended that the body's "cerebral" versus "genital" poles were so antagonistic that true scholars should abstain from sex altogether. Nor did thinkers fare much better in the period's imaginative literature: Honor» de Balzac, for example, borrowed from contemporary medical constructs to dramatize the idea that genius imposed severe, sometimes fatal strains on both the body and social existence. In novels like Louis Lambert (1832) and B»atrix (1845), Balzac presented protagonists so torn between their brilliance and desire for conjugal pleasure that they ended up mad, dead, or monastic.
James R. Voelkel Johns
Hopkins University and Owen Gingerich Harvard University
In 1614, just five years after Kepler published his strange and challenging Astronomia nova, Giovanni Antonio Magini (1555-1617), professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna and one of Europe's foremost astronomers, published 'Keplerian' tables in his Supplementum Ephemeridum. At first blush, it would seem that Kepler's book had had immediate influence. An analysis of Magini's hitherto unexamined tables, however, reveals that Magini had read Kepler quite closely but extracted findings from the Astronomia nova equally selectively. By doing so, he was able to reduce the error of predicted locations of Mars by several degrees over Ptolemy and Copernicus, but without accepting Kepler's area law, thereby avoiding the unsatisfying and time-consuming iterative calculations it required. Magini's tables would have been more streamlined and intelligible to contemporary users while equaling Kepler's accuracy in principle. Understanding Magini's instrumentalist adaptation of Kepler's findings gives us a new perspective for studying the influence of Keplerian astronomy in the period before Newton. Kepler's influence should be sought not in the adoption of his "laws" (so-called because of their Newtonian importance) but in more significant, though lesser known, innovations in his treatment of the earth's orbit.
In late 1959, the West German federal government and German Scientists started to think about how to enter the space age. These plans were triggered by American offers to fly German instruments on US rockets and satellites. After the foundation of NASA in 1958, such offers had been advertised also to other western nations. But unlike other nations, West Germany had long stayed away from everything related to rockets because of the Peenemuende legacy - and consequently from building rocket-borne hardware. Now West German Politicians and Scientists quickly agreed to set up an experimental group affiliated with Werner Heisenberg's Max-Planck-Institute, where Ludwig Biermann had been doing theoretical space plasma research since the early 1950s. Top of the list of intended research topics for the new group championed by Heisenberg and Biermann were the "hot" topics of the time: cosmic ray research and the newly discovered radiation belts. However, when the group eventually took up work in late 1961, their first - and for some years only one - project was something rather different and novel: ionospheric and magnetospheric research by means of ion-clouds released from sounding rockets in high altitudes. These ion-cloud experiments grew out of an idea by Biermann to probe the solar wind with "artificial comets" made of metal vapor, photoionized and exited by sunlight. This change of program not only reflects the different contexts of the plan and its realization but also the changes of those contexts themselves. The most notable of these changes was driven by the efforts towards a European Space Research Organization (ESRO) for which first ideas surfaced in early 1960. However, both the difficulties with starting experimental research from scratch and doing it in an dynamic international environment were dealt with in an institutional tradition which favored personality over structure.
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