by Bruce Hunt, University of Texas
The Lone Star History of Science Group held its twenty-ninth annual meeting on 15 April 2016 at the University of Texas in Austin. The gathering was hosted by Bruce Hunt of UT.
The Lone Star speaker this year was Conevery Bolton Valencius of the University of Massachusetts–Boston. She spoke on a topic of strong recent interest, particularly in Texas, Oklahoma, and her own native state of Arkansas: “Earthquakes, Fracking, and Public Perception of Science.” What, she asked, can we—as residents, as taxpayers, as voters, or as scholars—make of recent tremors that have shaken formerly quiet areas in mid-continent? How can we evaluate energy technologies in the context of rapidly-emerging and contentious science? Drawing on very recent developments in both seismology and petroleum engineering, she suggested that frameworks from the history of science can help us sort out elements of public discussion and political debate about “frackquakes”: earthquakes increasingly linked with hydraulic fracturing and its associated waste disposal technologies.
After some lively discussion, the group walked to Isalia’s Restaurant and enjoyed a very tasty Tex-Mex dinner. Isalia’s opened just a few months ago and doesn’t yet have a liquor license, but a visit to a nearby convenience store remedied that, as several Lone Star members brought their own libations.
Each spring, the Lone Star Group draws together historians of science, technology, and medicine from around Texas to discuss their shared interests and enjoy a friendly dinner. Its constitution, adopted over drinks in an Austin restaurant in 1988, provides that there shall be “no officers, no by-laws, and no dues,” and the group remains resolutely informal. More information about the Lone Star group, including a list of past meetings and some photographs, can be found at http://lonestarhistoryofsciencegroup.blogspot.com/.
The next Lone Star meeting, to be hosted by Tony Stranges of Texas A&M, will be held in College Station in March or April 2017. Anyone interested in being added to the Lone Star e-mail list should contact Bruce Hunt of the University of Texas History Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.