History of Science

The Intersection

Category archives for History of Science

Over a year ago, we had an idea: We were doing a book that discusses the work of the British physicist-novelist C.P. Snow, and the 50 year anniversary of his world famous “two cultures” argument was coming up–May 7, 2009. Precisely 50 years earlier, Snow had delivered a lecture at Cambridge University lamenting the gap…

Man, Copernicus has been kicking my butt. All the star tables, geometry, etc were turning me in to a pumpkin. So I pulled down a secondary source–Kuhn’s The Copernican Revolution–and night became day. I honestly think one of the reasons that Kuhn’s later and more famous book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, had such a…

I’ve been thrilled at the comments I’m getting in response to my posts on Nicholaus Copernicus. See for example here. So I’ve thought of a plan to invite blog readers to join me throughout the next several months as I push through a large number of other texts like De revolutionibus. For the remainder of…

[Copernicus: Yet Another Pluto Hater?!?] In my last post, I talked about the “radically strange” in Copernicus; today, let’s go on to catalogue the “strangely modern” aspects of the work: Strangely modern: The idea that the heavens are immense compared to the puny little Earth. Copernicus put it this way: I also say that the…

In my last post I remarked on how “radically strange–and yet strangely modern” I expected the 1543 work that kicked off the “scientific revolution” to be. Now that I’ve read the first two books of De Revolutionibus, I can say, boy was I right. This is the first of several posts about my experience of…

And So it Begins: De Revolutionibus!

Sane people right now are celebrating Valentine’s Day. I am holed up trying to read Nicholas Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium). Having been an official student of the history of science for two weeks now, and not feeling particularly satisfied with my progress, I’ve decided it is far past…

Over at Science Progress, I’ve been involved in putting together not one but two items timed for Darwin Day. The first is an op-ed coauthored with my prof here at Princeton, D. Graham Burnett, who teaches Darwin. We argue for historical nuance, which leads one to reject the idea that Darwin should be considered an…

This is a post simply to ask for comment on my last three (here, here, here) as a kind of genre exercise. Each post has been about my new foray into studying the history of science here at Princeton and testing out what it’s like to be a student again. (The most insane kind of…

In the last post, I introduced Francis Bacon–chiefly via the New Atlantis–and described a very interesting, if ultimately perhaps too strong, feminist reaction. But it’s as though some feminists are Bacon’s only enemies. Neoconservative bioethicists, for example, see Bacon as the place where it all started to go wrong. Leon Kass, the great granddaddy of…

Male chauvinist pig? Or worse? I haven’t even read Copernicus yet, and probably won’t at least until this weekend. As far as my reading goes, the scientific revolution hasn’t yet started and I’m still stuck with Ptolemaic glasses on. History 293, though, is churning away, and yesterday we did our section on Francis Bacon and…