Whewell’s Gazette: Vol. #34

Whewell’s Gazette

Your weekly digest of all the best of

Internet history of science, technology and medicine

Editor in Chief: The Ghost of William Whewell

A Pair of Skating Owls, first half of 17th century, Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne

Volume #34

Monday 09 February 2015

EDITORIAL:

Another seven days have passed both in the real world and in cyberspace and Whewell’s Gazette your weekly #histSTM links list has returned for the thirty-fourth time to bring all of the latest in the histories of science, medicine and technology out of the Internet.

The last week saw the appearance of an interesting paper analysing a brief comment made by Newton in one of his early notebooks on how the water in plants is transferred from the roots to the leaves. (Nature Plants, Newton and the ascent of water in plants, David J. Beerling)  Unfortunately he proceeds to ruin an interesting article by invoking the myth of the lone genius in his closing sentence.

“Reclusive and secretive, it’s doubtful he gained botanical inspiration from conversations with others at Cambridge University interested in plants.”

ABC Science: Newton’s journal reveals seeds of plant biology

Science: Scienceshot: Gravity-defying trees explained by Newton

Business Insider: Newly unearthed writings show that Isaac Newton figured out how trees work 200 years before botanists

I also got to see The Imitation Game last week and was deeply upset by the lousy quality of the history of science in the film as I tweeted on my return home the film is an insult to the memory of both Alan Turing and all those who worked in Bletchley Park during the war. Here the concept of the lone genius is taken to the extreme. Turing single-handedly breaking the Enigma code and thus winning the war whilst his colleagues stand on the side-lines initially jeering and then later cheering him on. In reality Bletchley Park was a collaborative effort with Turing part of a large and very dedicated team.

Perhaps the most stupid version of the lone genius myth was delivered up this week by Neil deGasse Tyson:

Not enough of us reflect on how modern civilization pivots on the discoveries of just a few intellectually restless people.

To which Anna Goldstein (@apgolst) delivered the perfect comment:

Thank goodness for all those brave lone geniuses.

On this topic read the excellent blog post by Evelyn Lamb on her Roots of Unity blog:

The Media and the Genius Myth

This one by Julia R. Bursten:

Genius and Imitation

And this one from Darin Hayton:

Moving beyond Heroic Geniuses

The lone genius myth is a piece of romantic rubbish that has nothing to do with the history of science and should be stamped on every time it raises its ugly little head.

As you might have noticed, it being winter our masthead owl has gone skating this week with a friend

Quotes of the week:

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubt – Bertrand Russell

Repeat after me: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. – @alisonatkin

But when one accepts one theory and rejects another which is equally consistent with the phenomenon in question, it is clear that one has thereby blundered out of any sort of proper physics and fallen into mythology – Epicurus, Letter to Pythocles

PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY:

Uncertain Principles: Science Stories: Commercial Instincts

Artist's conception of Heinrich Hertz's experiment demonstrating electromagnetic waves in 1887. Image from Wikimedia.

Artist’s conception of Heinrich Hertz’s experiment demonstrating electromagnetic waves in 1887. Image from Wikimedia.

Voices of the Manhattan Project: Arthur Squires’ Interview – Part I

Leaping Robot: Physics at the Frozen Fringe

Live Science: Taj Mahal Gardens Found to align with the Solstice Sun

Voices of the Manhattan Project: Eleanor Irvine Davisson

The Guardian: The H-Word: The Great Moon Hoax and the Christian Philosopher

Holy lunarians, bat-men! An illustration produced for a later edition of the New York Sun’s “Great Astronomical Discoveries”. Illustration: Wikimedia

Holy lunarians, bat-men! An illustration produced for a later edition of the New York Sun’s “Great Astronomical Discoveries”. Illustration: Wikimedia

AIP: From the Physics Today Archive – February 2015

Inside MHS Oxford: Regiomontanus: The Man in the Moon

Uncertain Principles: Science Stories: Impossible Conditions

University of Chicago: Microcosmos

Board of Longitude Project: 250 years ago today: Nevil Maskelyne becomes Astronomer Royal

Atomic Heritage Foundation: The Soviet Atomic Program – 1946

Ptak Science Book: Dr Strangelove’s Computer

The Hindu: The man behind the laser saga, and more

EXPLORATION and CARTOGRAPHY:

ABC News: Unearthed grave sheds light on Batavia shipwreck mass murder

PHOTO: A skeleton found on Beacon Island is believed to be from the Batavia shipwreck massacre. (ABC News: Sarah Taillier)

PHOTO: A skeleton found on Beacon Island is believed to be from the Batavia shipwreck massacre. (ABC News: Sarah Taillier)

Linguistic Geographies: The Gough Map of Great Britain and its Making

MEDICINE:

Darin Hayton: “Nothing New” is “Really Bad”

The Recipes Project: Making Drinkable Gold for the King of Siam

King Narai receiving the French Embassy, 1685. Wikimedia Commons

King Narai receiving the French Embassy, 1685. Wikimedia Commons

NYAM: Cholera Comes to New York City

Greg Jenner: Coincidental

University of Minnesota HSTM: Visualising the Body

Early Modern Medicine: Beauty Spots and French Pox

The Recipes Project: Recipes in the Inquisition Records

UMJ: Dr William Drennan – His Life in Georgian Ireland

Yovisto: Alfred Adler and the Individual Psychology

J Walker words 2: The effects of infant mortality in the nineteenth century as seen in the non-gendering of babies in literature

Science 2.0: Honoring Carl Djerassi: The Pill Was A Revolution For Women And Men

Nature: A View From the Bridge: Carl Djerassi 1923–2015

The Star.com: Tech News: 2,700-year-old marijuana found in Chinese tomb

EARTH & LIFE SCIENCES:

Environment & Society Portal: Anthropocene Milestones No. 28: Mass spectrometry and geological eras – Nika Korniyenko

History of Geology: Mount Etna: Significance in the history of volcanology

Topographic map of Mount Etna in 1823 (reprinted in 1844 by Leonhard "Vulkan Atlas") by Mario Gemmellaro, displaying lava flows, cones and villages in the surroundings of the volcano.

Topographic map of Mount Etna in 1823 (reprinted in 1844 by Leonhard “Vulkan Atlas”) by Mario Gemmellaro, displaying lava flows, cones and villages in the surroundings of the volcano.

Embryo Project: Charles Manning Child (1869–1954)

Notches: Sex and the Single Man in Late Medieval England

Laelaps: Sciencespeak: Lazarus taxon

Fossil History: Fossils, Museums, & History: Dippy the Diplodocus

Du Pont: History of Biotechnology

Macroevolution: Raymond Arthur Dart (1893–1988)

Paleeoblog: Died This Day: Ernst Mayr

Medievalist.net: Blood beliefs in early modern Europe

Trowelblazers: Winifred Brunton

New World Encyclopedia: Arthur Keith

Yovisto: John Lindley and his Love for Plants

Nautilus: The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic

Trowelblazers: Mary Leakey

Doing History in Public: Homosexuality in the ‘Enlightenment’?

Penelope: Da Costa and the Venus dione: The Obscenity of Shell Description

dacosta

The Guardian: Inflame her to venery with wanton kisses: the joy of sex, 1684-style

Horniman Museums and Gardens: Get Involved: Uncovering our Fossil Collection

Daarjeeling: The soldier who preferred flowers to guns

American Museum of Natural History: Shelf Life: Episode Three: Six Ways to Prepare a Coelacanth

CHEMISTRY:

Yovisto: Dmitri Mendeleev and the Periodic Table of Elements

Yovisto: Joseph Priestly and the Discovery of Oxygen

Equipment used by Joseph Priestley in his experiments on gases

Equipment used by Joseph Priestley in his experiments on gases

TECHNOLOGY:

120 Years of Electronic Music

BBC: Lost chunk of pioneering Edsac computer found

Greg Jenner: Wakey, Wakey!

Conciatore: Like Snow From Heaven

Popular Science: The Disappearance of the Instruction Manual

Yovisto: Henri Giffard and the Giffard Dirigible

Yovisto: Charles Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis

Conciatore: 16-17th Century Glass Furnace

From "De re metallica"  Agricola (Georg Bauer) 1556.

From “De re metallica”
Agricola (Georg Bauer) 1556.

BBC: Rediscovered plans aid Edsac reconstruction

M Library Blog: An Early Example of a Portable Calculator? Indeed, the Arithmographe just Arrived!

Louis Troncet. Arithmographe Troncet. Pour les quatre opérations. Calculateur mécanique instantané. Librairie Larousee. Paris, 19 rue Montparnasse, 19, ca. 1900

Louis Troncet. Arithmographe Troncet. Pour les quatre opérations. Calculateur mécanique instantané. Librairie Larousee. Paris, 19 rue Montparnasse, 19, ca. 1900

META – HISTORIOGRAPHY, THEORY, RESOURCES and OTHER:

Niche: Landscapes of Science: the first in a series of posts considering the intersection between environmental history and the histories of science, technology, and medicine.

Aberystwyth University: £750,000 to study how science fiction writers and readers anticipate the future

ChoM News: Countway and University of Alberta team up to bring hidden medical data to light

Ptak Science Books: Inventory of the Apocalypse (1964)

Ether Wave Propaganda: Sutton vs. Jacob: Was John Desagulier a Prophet of Industrialization?

Diagram from a lecture concerning friction in mechanical engines, from Desaguliers, A Course of Experimental Philosophy. Click through for an online exhibit on Desaguliers at the Cambridge Whipple Library website.

Diagram from a lecture concerning friction in mechanical engines, from Desaguliers, A Course of Experimental Philosophy. Click through for an online exhibit on Desaguliers at the Cambridge Whipple Library website.

Ambix: Volume 62 Number 1

The New York Times: General Relativity’s Big Year?

Tecnoscienza: Our Common Future: Joining Forces for Histories of Sustainable Design

BSHS: Postgraduate Conferences New Hosts Required!

Nautilus: Art’s Biggest Wheel Turns Toward Science

AEON: Absolute English: Science once communicated in a polyglot of tongues, but now English rules alone. How did this happen – and at what cost?

The Art of Science App: Butterfly and Moth Paintings by the Scott Sisters

Science Book a Day: Interviews Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

Science Comma: Science criticism, or, what is this thing about science called?

RCS: War, Art and Surgery: Exhibition, Conference, Book

Historiens de la santé: Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences Vol. 70 Issue 1

The New York Times: Is Book Reviewing a Public Service or an Art?

ESOTERIC:

Academia.edu: CONSTRUCTING ESOTERICISMS SOCIOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL APPROACHES TO THE INVENTION OF TRADITION

Conciatore: The Golden Sun Reprise

QDL: Sahl Ibn Bishr and the Rise of Astrology in Abbasid Times

Horoscope with planetary positions corresponding to about 3am, 4 July 824 in Baghdad (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Arabic MSS 523, f. 50a)

Horoscope with planetary positions corresponding to about 3am, 4 July 824 in Baghdad (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Arabic MSS 523, f. 50a)

HNN: Prehistoric High Times: Early Humans Used Magic Mushrooms, Opium

Vox: These 5 men were scientific geniuses. They also thought magic was real.

Cambridge Historians: The Society for Psychical Research’s Cambridge Roots

BOOK REVIEWS:

Fiction Reboot: Daily Dose: MedHum Mondays Presents: Rhetoric in the Flesh

BMJ Blogs: The Reading Room: Performance, Madness and Psychiatry

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LRB: Anti-Condescensionism: Bodily Matters: The Anti-Vaccination Movement in England, 1853–1907

NEW BOOKS:

Springer.com: Foot Steps of the Ancient Great Glacier of North America

9783319131993

Historiens de la santé: Encyclopedia of Asylum Therapeutics, 1750–1950s

THEATRE:

Broadway World.com: San Francisco: Theatre Rhino to Present Hugh Whitemore’s Breaking the Code 4-21 March 2015

FILM:

Ursula Writes: The Imitation Game, or, the Inventing Things That Didn’t Happen Game

The Guardian: Berlin 2015: Queen of the Dessert review – a towering Nicole Kidman goes there and back again

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TELEVISION:

SLIDE SHARE:

VIDEOS:

Skepchick: A trio of badass scientists you should know

Youtube: Harry Potter and the History of Alchemy

Atomic Heritage Foundation: Producing Plutonium

Amphibol: Das Innere der Erde

RADIO:

PODCASTS:

Royal Society: R. Science podcast: January 2015: Scientific anniversaries

Boxcar Aldous Huxley: The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

Science Friday: Remembering ‘The Father of the Pill’

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Werkgroep Zeventiende Eeuw: CfP: Uit de Europese mal. Europese hypes in de Nederlanden 29 August 2015

Chronologia Universalis: Early Modern Chronologies in Berlin – updated schedule

Historiens de la santé: Université d’Angers: Call for Abstracts: 34th Annual Meeting of the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences (ESHHS) 7-10 June 2015

The Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference, CfP: Panel: Apocalyptic knowledge (To what extent was “science,” as it emerged in the early-modern period, end-times knowledge?) Vancouver B.C., October 22-25, 2015

CRASSH: CfP: Mater and Materiality in the Early Modern World

School of Advanced Studies University of London: Institute of English Studies: Biennial London Chaucer Conference: Science, Magic and Technology 10-11 July 2015

Call For Artists: Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta, invites artists to propose projects for the upcoming exhibition 125,660 Specimens of Natural History, premiering at the Gallery in mid-August 2015.

Info Clio.ch: The Technology of Information, Communication and Administration – An Entwined History 26-27 March 2015 Swiss Federal Archives

CRASSH: CfP: The Making of Measurement 23-24 July 2015 Cambridge

CRASSH: Drinking Things 11 February 2015

Historiens de la santé: Workshop: Psychopathological fringes. Historical and social science perspectives on category work in psychiatry 13-14 February 2015 Berlin

LOOKING FOR WORK:

Fellowships at the Edward Worth Library, Dublin: Early modern medicine, early modern science

University of Rochester: Master’s in Medical Humanities Program

Support for Research at the Bakken Library and Museum: Research Travel Grant and Visiting Research Fellowship

CHF: Career Opportunities at CHF

Manchester University: CHSTM: Open days: March 2015 taught Master’s introduction and taster session

University of Illinois at Chicago: Postdoc position in philosophy of quantum gravity

About thonyc

Aging freak who fell in love with the history of science and now resides mostly in the 16th century.
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