The Power of Death and Resurrection with Electricity in the 19th Century

In the 19th century, electricity held life in the balance, with the power to execute – or reanimate. By Ruth Garde / 04.20.2017 Curator, Creative Producer, Writer The devastating power of electricity gave good cause for the unease and fear it evoked. And yet the risk of lethal injury was what made it so fascinating and its[…]

Charged Bodies: Experiments with Electricity and the Human Body in the 18th Century

Electrified humans brought education and performance together with a spark in the 18th century. By Ruth Garde / 04.12.2017 Curator, Creative Producer, Writer Eels had become unwitting performers in demonstrations of natural electricity after the 1770s, but the human body had been an indispensable element in public displays of artificial electricity since the 1730s. Enthusiasm for such[…]

Exposure to Science is Growing in Popular Culture

Science is one thread of culture – and entertainment, including graphic books, can reflect that. ‘The Dialogues,’ by Clifford V. Johnson (MIT Press 2017), CC BY-ND By Dr. Clifford Johnson / 01.18.2018 Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences University of Southern California How often do you, outside the requirements of an[…]

Early American Science: Benjamin Rush

Scientific investigation was a central part of eighteenth century philosophical inquiry. By George Goodwin / 12.18.2017 Eccles Centre Makin Fellow, British Library Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts Scientific investigation was a central part of eighteenth century philosophical enquiry. A desire to understand the detailed workings of the natural world[…]

Early American Science: Benjamin Franklin

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 1794. (British Library: Maps K.Top.83.61.i)  That the American Declaration of Independence was based on ‘natural law’, rather than divine sanction, stemmed from preceding century’s increasing reluctance to define natural phenomena as purely ‘Acts of God’. By George Goodwin / 10.05.2017 Eccles Centre Makin Fellow, British Library Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts[…]

Saint of Science: The Religious Life of Isaac Newton

Peter Harrison reviews Rob Iliffe’s Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton. By Dr. Peter Harrison / 02.02.2018 Australian Laureate Fellow Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities University of Queensland When Isaac Newton died on March 31, 1727, his estate included a massive amount of unpublished material. Almost 2000 short manuscripts, haphazardly[…]

Synthetic Organs, Nanobots, and DNA ‘Scissors’: The Future of Medicine

Nanobots that patrol our bodies, killer immune cells hunting and destroying cancer cells, biological scissors that cut out defective genes: these are just some of technologies that Cambridge researchers are developing which are set to revolutionise medicine in the future. 10.12.2017 In a new film to coincide with the recent launch of the Cambridge Academy of[…]

The Science of Sports

Flickr / Jaguar MENA, Creative Commons When you think about sports, do you consider the science behind it? Probably not. By Megan Ray Nichols / 06.01.2018 Air and gravity affect a football’s spin and precision of throw. A batter must strike a ball at “the sweet spot” and hone in on the pitcher’s throw, even[…]

Picture-Perfect Approach to Science with Math

Zhengwei Liu (left) and Arthur Jaffe are leading a new project to expand quon, their pictorial math language developed to help understand quantum information theory, into new fields from algebra to M-theory. / Stephanie Mitchell, Harvard Staff Photographer Mathematicians work to expand their new pictorial mathematical language into other areas. By Peter Reuell / 01.24.2018 picture[…]

Greek Science after Aristotle

By Dr. Michael Fowler Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Strato Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Strato. Part of a fresco in the National University of Athens. / Wikimedia Commons Aristotle’s analysis of motion was criticized by Strato (who died around 268 B.C., he is sometimes called Straton), known as[…]

Science with Aristotle

By Dr. Michael Fowler / 07.23.2015 Maxine S. and Jesse W. Beams Professor of Physics , Physics Education,Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics University of Virginia Beginnings of Science and Philosophy in Athens Let us first recap briefly the emergence of philosophy and science in Athens after around 450 B.C. It all began with Socrates, who was born in 470[…]

Understanding the Hidden Dimensions of Modern Physics through the Arts

Can the arts be a bridge to other worlds? Daniel Parks, CC BY-NC Is a novella published 130 years ago our best bet for explaining the worlds of 4D and beyond? By Dr. Djuna Croon / 09.28.2015 Postdoctoral Associate in Physics and Astronomy Dartmouth College Sometimes, the hardest job for a theoretical physicist is telling the story. The work in this[…]

Understanding Scientific Theories

By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science The Most Exclusive Club Getting to be called a “scientific theory” is like joining a very exclusive club. Not just anything can get in. Some claims that deserve to be called science have been called non-science. And[…]

The Limits of Science

By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science Prolegomena One Sunday morning in Seattle, the rainy little city near where I grew up, a pair of newly weds sat down to have breakfast together. They drank their coffee. They ate their toast. They shared[…]

Modern Empiricism

David Hume / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science The Wolf in Grammatical Clothing One important concern of philosophy is the question of when one “knows” a proposition, as opposed to merely believing it. But a precondition for knowing a is that[…]

MIT and New Company Seek Working Fusion Plant Pilot in 15 Years

Visualization of the proposed SPARC tokamak experiment. Using high-field magnets built with newly available high-temperature superconductors, this experiment would be the first controlled fusion plasma to produce net energy output. / Visualization by Ken Filar, PSFC research affiliate By David Chandler / 03.09.2018 Progress toward the long-sought dream of fusion power — potentially an inexhaustible and[…]

Embroidering Electronics: The Next Generation of ‘Smart’ Fabrics

Is this machine adding an antenna to the fabric? Hindrik Johannes de Groot/Shutterstock.com By Dr. Asimina Kiourti / 03.12.2018 Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering The Ohio State University Archaeology reveals that humans started wearing clothes some 170,000 years ago, very close to the second-to-last ice age. Even now, though, most modern humans wear clothes that are[…]

Stephen Hawking: A Life of Success against All Odds

By Dr. Martin Rees / 03.14.2018 Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics University of Cambridge Soon after I enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1964, I encountered a fellow student, two years ahead of me in his studies, who was unsteady on his feet and spoke with great difficulty. This was Stephen[…]

Stephen Hawking, Who Brought Cosmology to the Masses, Dies at 76

Visionary physicist and Cambridge University Professor Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday, March 14, at the age of 76. (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images) “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.” By Julia Conley / 03.14.2018 Visionary physicist Stephen Hawking,[…]

Science, History, and Ideology in Gramsci’s ‘Prison Notebooks’

Antonio Gramsci, Creative Commons By Dr. Francesca Antonini Postdoctoral Researcher Luigi Einaudi Foundation Abstract Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) made his notes on science within his Quaderni del carcere (Prison Notebooks) written between 1929 and 1935, while imprisoned by the Italian fascist regime. This overview focuses mainly on three themes: 1) the Gramscian criticism of the idealist (Croce) and materialist (Bukharin)[…]

History of the Beginnings of the Laboratory in the Early Modern World

Wellcome Library via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Henning Schmidgen / 08.08.2011 Professor of the Theory of Media Worlds Bauhaus-Universität Weimar Abstract The laboratory is an exemplary site of modernity. In it, human and machine, organisms and mechanisms, body and technology combine and contrast with one another in order to produce new scientific facts. However, the[…]

You Thought Quantum Mechanics was Weird: Check Out Entangled Time

Photo by Alan Levine, Flickr, Creative Commons By Dr. Elise Crull / 02.02.2018 Assistant Professor in History and Philosophy of Science City College of New York In the summer of 1935, the physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger engaged in a rich, multifaceted and sometimes fretful correspondence about the implications of the new theory of[…]

What Can Local Circulation of Knowledge Explain? The Case of Helmholtz’s Frog-Drawing-Machine in Berlin

Hermann Von Helmoltz By Dr. M. Norton Wise Professor Emeritus of History University of California, Los Angeles “Circulation” seems to have replaced “travel” as a favored concept in history and social studies of science and to have taken on new significance. Formerly, circulation refered primarily to diffusion or spread, such as the diffusion of knowledge[…]

The Emergence of the Early Modern Commons: Technology, Heritage, and Enlightenment

A photograph of the War Scroll, found in Qumran Cave 1, photographed by Eric Matson of the Matson photo service / Wikimedia Commons    By Dr. Antonio Lafuente García and Dr. Nuria Valverde Pérez Researchers Centro de Ciencas Humanas y Sociales Instituto de Historia (CSIC)   Introduction Our age is rediscovering the importance of commons. Every day we[…]

Nikola Tesla: The Extraordinary Life of a Modern Prometheus

The inventor at rest, with a Tesla coil (thanks to a double exposure). Dickenson V. Alley, Wellcome Collection, CC BY By Dr. Richard B. Gunderman / 01.03.2018 Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts and Philanthrophy Indiana University Match the following figures – Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Alfred Nobel and Nikola Tesla – with these biographical[…]

H.G. Wells vs. George Orwell: Is Science Humanity’s Best Hope?

‘Man Combating Ignorance’ – what’s science’s role? Century of Progress Records, 1927-1952, University of Illinois at Chicago Library, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD / 12.21.2017 Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy Indiana University In the midst of contemporary science’s stunning discoveries and innovations – for example, 2017 alone brought the editing of[…]