A historian has reconstructed the lost library of books that accompanied Charles Darwin during his five-year scientific voyage across the world, allowing the public to read the more than 400 volumes that served as reference and inspiration for the young naturalist whose theories would revolutionize biology.
The leader of Hitler’s atomic bomb program, Werner Heisenberg, portrayed himself after World War II as a kind of scientific resistance hero who sabotaged Hitler’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. But in a series of letters and other documents made public yesterday, his friend and onetime mentor, the Danish physicist Niels Bohr, said that is not so.
Edmund Symes-Thompson (1837-1907) was born in Keppel Street in London, in the house next door to that where Anthony Trollope had been born in 1815. His father Dr Theophilus Thompson F.R.S. (1807-60) was one of the founders of the Brompton Hospital, where he was an expert in Consumption, and according to his DNB entry “is credited with being the person who introduced cod-liver oil into England”, no doubt endearing him to generations of children then yet unborn.
Edmund followed his father into … »
By Åsa Jansson I As a historian of the emotions, I am intrigued by the idea – so prevalent in the late-modern world – that our emotions can be a source and site of pathology, of illness; that there is a
Perceptions of Pregnancy: From the Medieval to the Modern Kindly supported by the Social History Society and the Royal Historical Society Download a PDF of the programme here. Day 1 9:00– 9:30 Registration (Room: N205) 9:30-11:00 Session One Panel A (Room N110) Male discourses of contraception, pregnancy…
Hello you. I have uploaded a video (including slides) of the paper I delivered at the 2014 British Society for the History of Science annual conference, hosted by the University of St Andrews. My very sincere thanks to all the organisers. I would also like to thank Giuditta Parolini, who organised the two panel session on the ‘history of agricultural experiment’ in which I presented my work, and Jonathan Harwood, who gave a thorough and generous response to all the papers presented there. With a »
Envirotech, a special interest group within the Society for the History of Technology and the American Society for Environmental History, invites nominations for the 2014 Joel A. Tarr Envirotech Article Prize. The Tarr Prize recognizes the best article published in either a journal or article collection on the relationship between technology and the environment in history. The prize committee is particularly interested in publications that show how studying the intersections of environment and … »
Rebecca Laroche, with Hillary Nunn In my entry in April, I introduced a medical practitioner, Lady Honywood, who had recipes attributed to her in The College of Physicians of Philadelphia manuscript owned by Anne Layfield. Lady Honywood’s reputation as a … Continue reading →
A new exhibit is now on view at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library focuses on "selling smoke" and anti-smoking campaigns. The tobacco industry has been selling smoke in America and other countries for well over a century. From sultry ladies to Santa, tobacco advertisers slickly packaged smoking in a variety of ways to lure consumers to different brands. Using celebrity spokespeople, touting health benefits, sponsoring racing and other sports, employing product placement, and creating games wit…
Butterflies and moths (and cute fuzzy caterpillars!) by artist Eleazar Albin
Eleazar Albin was a painter working and living in London for most of his life. He gave instruction in watercolors before being employed as a journeyman illustrator by silk weaver and renowned nature illustrator Joseph Dandridge. Both Albin and Dandridge were well-known insect illustrators and were much respected and praised by trained naturalists of the day.
In this 1720 edition of his best-known book, A Natural History »
I often joke that The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice is all about ‘the horrors of pre-anaesthetic surgery’ and yet, I’ve never written an article which focuses primarily on the patient’s experience before the widespread use of ether beginning in the 1840s. Suffice-to-say, it was not a pleasant affair.
In 1750, the anatomist, John Hunter, colourfully described surgery as ‘a humiliating spectacle of the futility of science’ and the surgeon as ‘a savage armed with a knife’. He was not far from the tru… »
The following blog post was written by Abbey Cressman, Summer 2014 Public Programs Assistant
When researching ancient diseases, their symptoms, and treatments, I have often been struck by the correlation between the magnitude of lives lost and the health care standards of the time. I have read staggering statistics that throughout the nineteenth century, the number of soldiers killed in battle was far outweighed by the number soldiers lost to diseases . Since then, standards of hygiene have i… »
You may want to check out Midwifery I before continuing…
How did the authors present themselves and their practice? And second, how did they present practitioners of the opposite gender?
The male authors of the English treatises typically stressed their knowledge of anatomy as well as their practical experience to make their texts seem more authoritative.
John Maubray’s 1724 text was entitled The female physician and addressed to “all learned and judicious profess… »
In 1893, the British Medical Journal claimed that ‘the habit of tea-drinking is becoming more and more thoroughly national in the British Islands’. The Journal observed that the declining cost of tea had encouraged the poor to depend upon the substance as a dietary staple. The Journal elaborated by blaming rising levels of chronic dyspepsia across working-class communities on the over-consumption of tea. In the years that followed, phrases such as ‘tea drunkards’ entered popular discourse, as d… »
Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov studied phagocytes, immune function, and starfish embryos in Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mechnikov adopted the French form of his name, Élie Metchnikoff, in the last twenty-five years of his life. In 1908, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Paul Ehrlich for their contributions to immunology.
These historiated initials from the 1555 edition of Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica are both whimsical and morbid. They are also beautiful examples of woodcuts, and help demonstrate why this work was not only a landmark in the history of anatomy, but a wonderful work of early modern printing.
In the standard mythologised history of astronomy of the Early Modern Period comets are only mentioned once. We get told, in classical hagiographical manner, how Tycho Brahe observed the great comet of 1577 and thus smashed the crystalline spheres of Aristotelian cosmology freeing the way for the modern astronomy. That’s it for comets, their bit part in the drama that is the unfolding of the astronomical revolution is over and done with, don’t call us we’ll call you. The problem with this mytho… »
There is a remarkable figure in the Smithsonian’s history that doesn’t get much of the spotlight; Thomas W. Smillie. He served as the Smithsonian’s first official photographer from 1870 until his death in 1917, and additionally became the Smithsonian’s first photography curator in 1896. Smillie amassed a collection of photographic equipment starting with the purchase of the daguerreotype camera and photographic apparatus used by Samuel Morse for $23. He documented the Smithsonian’s collections …
Darwin Online has made available digitizations of around 400 books comprising Darwin’s library that he had aboard the HMS Beagle. Says historian John van Wyhe, who oversaw the project: ““Darwin lived and worked in the Beagle library for five years. The library reveals the sources and inspirations that Darwin read day after day as he swung in his hammock during long sea crossings, or as he worked on his specimens at the chart table or under the microscope. For a long time this was lost to us, but »
The United States Patent Office issued George A. Seaman Patent No. 479,307 on July 19, 1892 ”Time alarm bed”
“My invention relates to improvements in alarm-beds . It is well known that the ordinary alarm-clock often fails of its purpose in waking people or at least in compelling them to get up; and the object of my invention is to produce a bed and attachments therefor which will overcome this difficulty and which at any required time will actually eject the occupant of the bed, so that the sa… »
Longitude found! The book has been published, the exhibition has opened, and so far all is going pretty well. Although, of course, there are things I would have liked to have changed or tweaked, I am really pleased with how both look and with the message that is, by and large, coming across. It’s difficult…
This paper argues that we should take into account the process of historical transmission to enrich our understanding of material culture. More specifically, I want to show how the rewriting of history and the invention of tradition impact material objects and our beliefs about them. I focus here on the transmission history of the mechanical calculator invented by the German savant Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Leibniz repeatedly described his machine as functional and wonderfully useful, but in r…
By Jana Funke
Gay politics today tend to be premised on the ‘born this way’ argument, the idea that being gay is not a matter of choice or preference, but rather an innate, natural and biologically conditioned fact of life. If homosexuality is something we are born with and therefore not something we choose or can be expected to change, the argument goes, we have the right to demand protection under the law, equal rights and social acceptance more generally.
Born this Way (Credit: Quinn Dombr… »
Clare Griffin One of the big questions for me when reading recipes is, did anyone actually use these? This is always a tricky point, especially when we consider the range of ‘recipes’ and recipe collections out there. One group of … Continue reading →
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 Volume #4 Monday 14 July 2014 EDITORIAL: Our fourth volume starts with a special collection of post celebrating the 158th birthday of the Serbia-American inventor engineer Nikola Tesla. In our…
Craig Martin’s new book carefully traces religious arguments for and against Aristotelianism from the eleventh through the eighteenth centuries. Based on a close reading of a staggering array of primary sources, Subverting Aristotle: Religion, History, and Philosophy in Early Modern Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) in turn subverts several assumptions about the connection between Aristotelian thought and the emergence of the new sciences in early modernity. The book argues that we »
I was offered to guest-teach one week of a larger writing course largely addressed to freshmen and incoming freshmen on the topic relating to writing in the natural sciences. So, instead of making it into a comp class, which I have no experience of ever doing or teaching (I am from Malaysia after all and […]
David Barrie, author of Sextant, published earlier this year by William Collins, has kindly written this post on Matthew Flinders, the distinguished English navigator and cartographer who died 200 years ago.
July 2014 marks the bicentenary of the death in 1814 of Captain Matthew Flinders RN, one of the great unsung heroes of British marine exploration. In researching and writing Sextant I found myself more and more impressed by him, and increasingly indignant that he has not yet been given the … »
Click here for the final draft (we hope) of the conference programme! We look forward to welcoming our delegates from across the world to the University of Hertfordshire on Wednesday, 16 July.
If you can’t make the conference, follow the conversation on the twitter hashtag #pregconf
Ciara & Jennifer
Wailoo, Keith,Alondra Nelson, and Catherine Lee, eds.2012. Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. ISBN: 978-0-8135-5255-2.
[Another short review of this work will appear in Contemporary Sociology]
What a pleasure to review a timely, serious, and yet accessible critique of what one editor refers to as “the social life of DNA” – a life that has only broadened and intensified since the deco… »