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Historical Expertise

Newton Relics

In an editorial taking Kyrie Irving to task for his comments about the shape of the earth, “Between Kyrie Irving’s flat Earth and Isaac Newton’s apple tree, science remains a process of understanding,” Glenn Starkman and Patricia Princehouse remark: We have an apple tree on the Case Western Reserve University campus grown from a twig […]

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HoS Advent Calendar 2016

Byzantine Structure of the Cosmos

This diagram showing the structure of the cosmos comes from Nicephorus Blemmydes’ “Epitome physica.” At the center is the sphere of elemental earth surrounded by a narrow sphere of water. Then a broad sphere of air surrounds them capped by the sphere of fire. Separating the elements from the heaves is the sphere of the […]

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History

Maria Wants Her Sextant Back

Buried in Haverford’s Special Collections is a brief letter from Maria Mitchell to E.D. Cope.[1] When she wrote to Cope, Mitchell was a senior member of the scientific community. She was director of Vassar College’s observatory, where she was also professor of astronomy. On October 1, 1847, when she was 29, she had discovered a […]

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Academia

Reading Gillispie’s Edge of Objectivity

Two copies of Charles Gillispie’s The Edge of Objectivity stand side-by-side on a shelf, one previously belonged to Ernan McMullin the other to the retired historian of science. I have read neither copy. Ernan had received the book to review for a journal. He wasn’t entirely convinced by Charles Gillispie’s The Edge of Objectivity. In […]

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Academia

A Historian of Science Reads History of Science

I continue to unearth interesting tidbits from the retired academic’s library. In most of his books he left fascinating traces of how he read. He never shied from in lauding or condemning an author or a passage. He returned to his books again and again, expanding earlier comments, adding new ones, and cross referencing other […]

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History

More Velikovsky Paraphernalia

Digging through another box of books from a retired academic I came across more Velikovsky material (adding to my copy of Worlds in Collision I received from him). I am now convinced this particular academic—trained as a physicist but employed in a history department teaching the relationship between science and religion—endorsed Velikovsky’s theory. This latest […]

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History

Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision

Having just read Michael Gordin’s piece on Velikovsky, I was more than a little surprised when I received in the mail today a copy of Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision. For various and sundry reasons, I am one of the “very few people under 50” who not only has heard of Velikovsky but also has […]