History of Science

Category archives for History of Science

There’s no way I could possibly go through a long history-of-science blog series without mentioning the great Marie Skłodowska Curie, one of the very few people in history to win not one but two Nobel Prizes for her scientific work– if nothing else, Polish pride would demand it. She made a monumental contribution to physics…

“You wanted to see me, Herr Professor?” “Hans! Yes, come in, come in. Just going over the account books. Frightful amount of money going out of this place.” “Well, radium is expensive…” “Ha! Oh, and speaking of which– here’s one of the sources. Absent-mindedly dropped the fool thing in my pocket last night when I…

Eureka: Waldo at the Galaxy Zoo

Over at Medium, they’ve published a long excerpt from Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist, that gives a good flavor of what the book’s really like. It’s about how the process for solving hidden-object games like the classic Where’s Waldo books is comparable to the process used by Henrietta Leavitt to revolutionize our understanding of the…

“…and take care that all the signatures go in the right way round, eh, James? I was able to soothe Mr. Dance last time, but if another copy comes back to be rebound, M. de la Roche will put you out.” “Yessir.” “A little more care, there’s a good lad. Run home, now, we’ll see…

Scientific controversies aren’t always settled by a single dramatic experiment, but it’s a lot of fun when they are. It’s even more fun when they can be carried out with, as the author put it, “without any other apparatus than is at hand to every one.” I’m speaking in this case of the famous “double…

Eureka: Signing, Q&A, Canadian Review

A few items for Sunday morning: — First and foremost, in just a few hours from now, I’ll be signing books at the Open Door. If you’re in Quebec or central Pennsylvania, you better leave now; Boston or NYC, you can have a cup of coffee first. Farther than that, you might try calling them…

Speaking of the timing of astronomical phenomena, as we were yesterday, the timing of celestial bodies was the key to the first demonstration of one of the pillars of modern physics, the fact that light travels at a finite speed. This actually pre-dates yesterday’s longitude discoveries, which I always forget, because it seems like it…

Returning to our mostly-chronological ordering after yesterday’s brief excursion, we come to one of the great problems of the 1700’s, namely determining the longitude at sea. Latitude is easy to find, based on the height of the Sun at noon– we told that story last week– but longitude is much trickier. Thanks to the rotation…

The Problem of Science Stories

Last week Kate pointed me to this post about heroic stories of science saying “This seems relevant to your interests.” And, in fact, a good deal of the post talks about Patricia Fara’s Science: A Four Thousand Year History, the Union library’s copy of which is sitting on my desk, where I had looked something…

I’ve been trying to keep to a roughly chronological ordering of these stories, but this slow-motion snow storm that was waiting to greet us on our return from Florida made the schools open on a two-hour delay today, which eats the time I usually use for blogging and books stuff. So I’m going to jump…