April 2015 News from the Profession

Conference at The Huntington Library

Beyond the Copernican Revolution: New Narratives in Early Modern Science
12 June 2015 (Friday), 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Copernican Revolution in astronomy has long been regarded as a central theme in the transformation of the sciences in the early modern period. Leading experts on the history of science explore the relevance of this and other narrative frameworks for understanding scientific developments in the era. $25. Registration: researchconference@huntington.org or 626-405-3432. The schedule and registration form will be available after 1 May.

Islam’s Response to Science’s Big Questions

Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the former Secretary General of Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and a noted thinker and scholar of Islam and science will serve as the Chair of the Muslim-Science.com Task Force Meeting on Islam’s Response to Science’s Big Questions. The Task Force is sponsored by the Templeton Foundation and hosted by the Turkish Society of the History of Science. Muslim-Science.com will formally release the report of the Task Force in July 2015 and seek to work with partners to advance this important discourse within the Islamic World.

Special Issue of Centaurus

Moscow, Birzha Square (one block from Red Square) where the Institute for the History of Science and Technology moved soon after its founding in 1953. The institute occupied the second floor of the building right above the word ‘Banque’, Courtesy IIET Iconotheca.

Moscow, Birzha Square (one block from Red Square) where the Institute for the History of Science and Technology moved soon after its founding in 1953. The institute occupied the second floor of the building right above the word ‘Banque’, Courtesy IIET Iconotheca.

A new issue of Centaurus, edited by Ida Stamhuis, called “Contemporary Russian Scholarship on History of Science in Russia” has been published. All six authors belong or belonged to the Institute for the History of Science and Technology: three to the main establishment in Moscow and three to the branch in St. Petersburg. The introduction by Dimitri Bayuk focuses on the history of this institute, which was located only one block from the Red Square.

The other papers discuss a variety of Russian topics: early research on insect pests in the Russian empire (1830-1840) by Marina Loskutova, forestry experimental stations (1870s) by Anastasia Fedotova, the institutionalization of physical anthropology by Galina Krivosheina (1870s), public initiatives in agricultural science in Russia around 1900 by Olga Elina and the geneticist Nikolai Vavilov in the years of ‘Stalin’s revolution from above’ (1929-1932) by Eduard Kolchinsky.

Although all the authors are scholars working in Russia, experts from many countries were involved as referees and advisors. The aim of this issue is to present contemporary Russian scholarship in the history of science to a wider international audience in the hope of enhancing mutual understanding.

The Case of the Missing Einstein Blackboard

David R. Topper, University of Winnipeg

I am working on a project on all the pictures involving Einstein and a blackboard. There are three cases where the blackboard itself was preserved: Fukuoka, Japan, 1922, Nottingham, UK, 1930, and Oxford, UK, 1931. The two in England are well known and accessible to visitors. The one in Fukuoka is only known through one photograph in the book by Kenji Sugimoto, Albert Einstein: A Photographic Biography (New York: Schocken Books, 1987 in German, English trans. 1989), where it is reported that the blackboard is “preserved” in a high school in Fukuoka. All my efforts to track down the physical place of this artefact have come up empty handed (Here is a picture of the blackboard).

Recently I have been aided in my effort to find the blackboard by Professor Hans J. Haubold, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, Vienna International Centre, who is a frequent traveler to Japan. He has made contact with Japanese scientists and officials in this endeavour. The following is a message to me.

Today I got the email from Kyushu University saying that they are not able to locate the Einstein/Ishiwara Blackboard. Particularly they interviewed a number of old professors who should have at least taken note of such a blackboard, say, in the past forty to fifty years. Nobody was able to recall the existence of such a blackboard. So for the time being it remains a mystery as you mentioned in past emails.

At a recent UN/Japan workshop at Kyushu University, Hans raised the question of the missing blackboard, but nobody knew anything about where it is or where it may be.

Hans and I continue on this quest.

The following is from a draft of my unpublished manuscript for a book on the topic of Einstein and blackboards. It is a paragraph on what I know about the blackboard.

After the Kyoto lecture on December 14, 1922, Einstein’s next lecture was on December 24, 1922, where he gave a 4-hour lecture to about 3000 listeners “On the Special and General Principles of Relativity,” at the Hakata Daihaku Theatre in Fukuoka, Hakata being a district of Fukuoka. A photograph of the blackboard is reproduced in the book by Kenji Sugimoto (1989, p. 81). The diagrams are by Einstein, but the Japanese explanation is by Jun Ishiwara, who was his translator and interpreter throughout the trip. The Image Credit for the picture in the back of Sugimoto’s book is, Eiji Ishitobi, Fukuoka, Japan, but attempts to find this person have failed. Sugimoto says that the blackboard is preserved in a high school (presumably) in Fukuoka. But attempts to find this site have also failed. Sugimoto died in 2006 before I began this quest. All reproductions of this picture that I have found are copies of the photo in Sugimoto’s book; there seem to be no independent photographs of this blackboard except that found in Kenji Sugimoto, Albert Einstein: A Photographic Biography (New York: Schocken Books, 1989).

If anyone in the Society can provide any information about this blackboard, it would be very greatly appreciated. David Topper (d.topper@uwinnipeg.ca)

An Invitation from Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Throughout its history, the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Science has been a home to integrated studies of history, philosophy, sociology, and allied disciplines in connection with the sciences. Our conception of the field, reflected in our editorial policy, is highly pluralistic: SHPS has always been a broad tent, and we welcome excellent scholarship in history of science in its many forms, including work on the historiography of the sciences and the sciences in relation to gender, culture, society, and the arts.

With the growth of first-rate work in the history of science overwhelming the capacities of some traditional, historical venues for publication, perhaps now is a good time to remind members of the history of science community that SHPS is keen to receive the fruits of your research. Please consider us for your submissions, and remember that in addition to SHPS, there are also two sister journals focusing on the modern physical sciences (from the mid/late-nineteenth century) and the biological sciences respectively:

Sincerely, on behalf of the team at Studies,
Anjan Chakravartty, Editor in Chief
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Dissertations on the History of Science and Medicine

The latest batch of doctoral dissertations, harvested from the issues 75-09 A and B of Dissertation Abstracts and pertaining to the broad scope of history of science and medicine can be found at http://www.hsls.pitt.edu/histmed/dissertations.

Please note that ProQuest has altered how they put out their individual issues. No longer do they correlate to one month, so the dating is more random. Thus titles will range from 2015—yes they have some 2015 dates—back into the late 1990s.

For this issue the University of Southern California dumped the past 75+ years’ worth of their doctoral dissertations so you may find some older—some much older—dissertation titles. Please share this information with your colleagues and students.

We are grateful to Jonathon Erlen (University of Pittsburgh) for compiling this list.

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