Categories
Historical Expertise

Should Science Writers Read Historical Material?

A recent article in the Guardian asked once again: “Should science journalists read the papers on which their stories are based?” This article grew out of debate at the Royal Institution “Scientists and journalists need different things from science” (see the storify version of that debate). Apparently there was considerable disagreement about whether or not […]

Categories
Teaching

More Thoughts on Comedy and History of Science

The success of last week’s “Life, Sex, Death (and Food): A Historical Look at the Science that Drives Us” offers a chance to think about how to pair the history of science with science and comedy to bring both science and history of science to a broader audience. One possible result might be encouraging students […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Fighting the Flat Earth Myth

YouTube that briefly looks at and explains five historical misconceptions: horned Viking helmets, Lady Godiva, the tiny Napoleon, the infamous vomitorium, and Columbus and the flat earth. See 5 Historical Misconceptions, which was linked to at Smithsonian.com. The Columbus bit is the last section and begins around 2:50 into the video. The video is a […]

Categories
Speaking

Thoughts on Life, Sex, Death (and Food)

Last night’s “Life, Sex, Death (and Food)” was great fun. Having gone through this once before, the people from the Philly Improv Theater and the returning academics had a better idea about how to prepare and set up the show. While it was still a bit hectic and last minute—something tells me such preparation is […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

The Mythical Copernican Moment

In a new article at the BBC James Stevenson propagates another classic myth in the history of science. Contrary the headline, there was no “Copernican Moment.” Further, Nicholas Copernicus did not “establish that the earth moves around the sun” (see “Humanisation of computing: A Copernican moment for tech”). Historians of science have show how much […]

Categories
Research

A Scurvy Epidemic in 17th-Century England

Direct-to-consumer drug marketing has become an important part of the pharmaceutical industry. We see ads on TV, in magazines and newspapers, on webpages, and we hear them on the radio. Mary Ebeling has recently written about how companies use checklists to present symptoms. She finds that the checklist has a particular authority with consumers that […]

Categories
Speaking

History of Science and Comedy

When was the last time you got to see historians of science and comedians on the same stage together? For that matter, when was the last time you saw historians of science on stage? Come this Thursday to Life, Sex, Death (and Food): A Historical Look at the Science that Drives Us and laugh with […]

Categories
Academia

Is Professional History Boring?

I want to return to William Cronon’s “Professional Boredom” from last month’s Perspectives on History and think about how certain aspects of professionalization—especially the practices of professional identity—have excluded audiences for our work. Cronon’s piece has recently been attracting considerable attention. As Timothy Burke put it, “all the cool kids are doing it.” For a […]

Categories
Academia

Whither the Book Review

The first volume of Preternature just arrived in my mailbox. And while I am looking forward to reading the articles, I started as I always do by first turning to the book reviews. Many years ago a mentor convinced me that one of the most important reason to look at journals in the field was […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Bryn Mawr’s Genius Mathematician

A nice article in the NY Times draws attention to Emmy Noether, the brilliant mathematician who spent a little more than a year at Bryn Mawr College: The Mighty Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of. Following the publication of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, Noether started working through some of the complexities of the theory. This […]