History of Science

Category archives for History of Science

“…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…

Eureka on the Radio

Yesterday, I drove through the slush to Albany to do an appearance on KERA radio’s “Think” from a studio there. The audio is at that link. It was a bit of a strange experience, because I drove to a place to do the interview in a radio studio, but I was the only one in…

The final step of the scientific process is to share your results with others, and that’s the step where things are most prone to breaking down. Countless great discoveries have been delayed or temporarily lost because the people who made them were more concerned with protecting “their” secrets than with sharing new knowledge with the…

Today is the official release date for Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Scientist, so of course there are a bunch of exciting things happening: — There’s a short excerpt at the Science of Us blog from New York Magazine. This is a chunk of the Introduction, about how scientists are smart, but not that smart. —…