Member News – July 2019

Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide) was awarded the University of Adelaide Commendation for the Enhancement and Innovation of Student Learning for her implementation of effective higher degree by research (HDR) Supervisory Practices, particularly for her use of innovative cohort supervision techniques.

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Leah Aronowsky (University of Illinois) won the 2019 Rachel Carson Prize awarded by the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) for the best dissertation in environmental history. She received a PhD in history of science from Harvard University in 2018 and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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Gordon Barrett (University of Oxford) published “Between Sovereignty and Legitimacy: China and UNESCO, 1946–1953” in Modern Asian Studies First View online (2019): 1-27.

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Artisanal Enlightenment: Science and the Mechanical Arts in Old Regime France by Paola BertucciPaola Bertucci (Yale University) received the 2019 Louis Gottschalk Prize for best book on any eighteenth-century topic from the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies for her book  (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).

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Roland Boucher presented his findings on the Stonehenge long foot at the AAAS Western Region Conference in Ashland, Oregon.

A recent article in the publication, The British Journal for the History of Mathematics, by Anne Teather, Andrew Chamberlain, and Mike Parker established a relative accurately value of ancient standards based on the Chalk Drums of Fulton. We know the Sumerians made two attempts to create a Geodetic foot for the purpose of surveying [a Geodetic foot is a measurement derived from natural objects for the purposes of surveying]. Was there an unnoticed third that would explain the Stonehenge long foot?

The Ancient Sumerians of Lagash recognized that the length of 360 of their Steps (yards) was very nearly 1/360 of a degree on the polar circumference of the earth. They declared a new “distance” foot which was 1/1000 the length of 360 new Steps. The “old” step was based on the length on a pendulum which beat 240 times in 240 seconds, 1/360 day, or one Sumerian Gesh. Its length derived from a simple pendulum was 993.7 mm. The new pendulum would be much shorter — it would beat 360 times in 1/360 part of a day (240 seconds or one Sumerian Gesh). The new step would be double its length. A Cable of 360 of these new Steps was equal to 1000 Geodetic Feet and was intended to be 1/360 of a degree on the polar circumference of the earth. The length of this first Geodetic cable was 317.557 meters, about 3% longer than the actual value of 307.99 meters when measured at the latitude of Lagash. This First Geodetic foot seems to have been adopted in later cultures both in the length of the Market Foot of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty, at 318 mm13 and in the length of the Steinbrecherfuss of Bern, Austria at 317.15mm as described by A. E. Berriman.

Next, a second Geodetic foot of Lagash was established using a Pendulum which beat 366 times rather than 360 times in 1/360 part of a day. The length of 1000 of these new feet was 307.264 meters a little less than 0.25% shorter than the true value. Evidence of this Foot can be found in Sumeria, Egypt, and in the Minoan ruins on the island of Crete.

We have before us two attempts to create a true Geodetic standard measurement over 5000 years before the French would attempt to duplicate this feat. The first almost 3% too long and the second a little less than 0.25% short.

Stonehenge Long-foot Found

A new search begun on 19 May 2019, found that an earlier version did exist in Sumeria establishing standard Mina weights of about 522 grams. Proof of its existence can be found in Dr. Powell’s weights #13 and #14. This earlier version used the same length step as the first successful version, but used 366 steps to establish 1000 feet. The length of this earlier cable was 322.9 meters, almost 5% longer than 1/360 degree on the polar circumference of the Earth. While not succeeding in its objective in Sumeria, it nevertheless seems to have become known to the builders of Stonehenge.

The true value of the Stonehenge Long-foot may not be precisely the 322.9 mm of this early Geodetic foot, or precisely the 321.9 mm value established by the chalk drums, but the search for the ancient roots and length of the Long-foot of the Stonehenge may, at long last, be within our grasp.

See the Stonehenge table (in PDF form) here.

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Victor Navarro Brotons Jerónimo Muñoz (University of Valencia) published Matemáticas, Cosmología y humanismo en la época del Renacimiento (Valencia: PUV Universittat of València, 2019).

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Toni V. Carey (independent scholar) published “Adam Smith’s Newtonian Ideals” in Adam Smith Review 11 (2019): 297-314.

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Jonathan Coopersmith (Texas A&M University) provided historical and personal information for the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In April-May 1986, Coopersmith was at Moscow State University as an IREX exchangee. Read the Live Science article and the KBTX article. Coopersmith, a historian of technology, also spent part of spring 2019 at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University and fall 2018 at King’s College London as a visiting professor.

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Software Rights: How Patent Law Transformed Software Development in America Gerardo Con Diaz (University of California, Davis) published Software Rights: How Patent Law Transformed Software Development in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019). It will be released in October. It is available for pre-order here.

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Drugs on the Page: Pharmacopoeias and Healing Knowledge in the Early Modern Atlantic WorldMatthew James Crawford (Kent State University) and Joseph M. Gabriel edited Drugs on the Page: Pharmacopoeias and Healing Knowledge in the Early Modern Atlantic World (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019).

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Matthew Daniel Eddy (Durham University) was promoted to professor and Chair of the History and Philosophy of Science at Durham University. He also was awarded a Huntington Library Fellowship for a project that investigates the art and science of Enlightenment student notebooks.

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Anne Fausto-Sterling (Brown University) published “Gender/Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Identity Are in the Body: How Did They Get There?” in The Journal of Sex Research 56, no. 4-5 (2019): 529-555.

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Donald Forsdyke (Queen’s University) contributed to the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology Discussion Forum with “On certain two-signal perspectives of lymphocyte activation and inactivation, thymic G‐quadruplexes, and the role of aggregation in self/not‐self discrimination” (June 2019).

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On the Life of Galileo: Vincenzo Viviani's Historical Account and Other Early BiographiesStefano Gattei published On the Life of Galileo: Vincenzo Viviani’s Historical Account and Other Early Biographies (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019). It will be released in July 2019.

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Jean-François Gauvin (Université Laval) is now the Titulaire de la Chaire de leadership en enseignement en muséologie et mise en public. Since March 2018, he was hired as an assistant professor in the Département des sciences historiques at Université Laval in Québec City. At the same time, he was awarded a Chair in museum studies in order to restart the Diplôme d’études supérieures et spécialisées en muséologie. You can follow the activities of the Chair at this website (in French).

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Math through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and OthersFernando Q. Gouvêa (Colby College) and William P. Berlinghoff published a Dover edition of Math through the Ages: A Gentle History for Teachers and Others (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2019). This book has always existed in two versions. The expanded version, with questions and project suggestions, is now published by AMS under its “MAA Press” imprint. The non-expanded version, which used to be published by Oxton House, is now a Dover book. It contains the same text as the textbook version, but not any of the questions and project suggestions.

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Christopher M. Graney (Jefferson Community and Technical College, Louisville Kentucky) published “How to Make the Earth Orbit the Sun in 1614” in Journal for the History of Astronomy 50, no. 1 (February 2019): 16-30 and “The Starry Universe of Johannes Kepler” in Journal for the History of Astronomy 50, no. 2 (May 2019): 155-173.

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Inspiring Air: A history of air-related sciencePere Grapí (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) published Inspiring Air: A history of air-related science (Malaga: Vernon Press, 2019).

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Bert Hansen (Baruch College of CUNY), professor emeritus of history, presented his research on medicine in comic art as an invited speaker for the opening plenary at the annual meeting of the American Association for the History of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, on 26 April 2019, “Medicine in Popular Graphics from Civil-War Era Political Cartoons to Mid-Twentieth-Century Comic Books.”

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Klaus Hentschel (University of Stuttgart) would like to announce that the Stuttgart-based “Database of Scientific Illustrators 1450-1950” (DSI) has moved to a new server. Please bookmark the new URL: dsi.hi.uni-stuttgart.de/. (All old URLs are automatically forwarded, though.)

The database now lists more than 12,500 draughtsmen & -women, woodcutters, engravers, lithographers, photographers and model-makers active between 1450 and 1950 in more than 100 countries for clients in geographic exploration, natural history, zoology, botany and geology and mineralogy, anatomy, dermatology, anthropology, ethnology, technology and other fields. Circa 10% of our entries are female illustrators.

A short flyer with more information is freely obtainable here.

Regional distribution of birth and death places as well as of regions of activity can also be studied at newly created interactively zoomable and temporized maps available here.

A BEACON file which coordinates our ID numbers with viaf numbers for all entries for which such viaf numbers exist (less than 50% of our entries!) is also available here.

DSI is freely available and searchable for 20 different search fields. If you happen to miss a name in DSI or if you miss important information, you can provide us with it in a special feedback page—we will check your data and put it online afterwards to improve the database.

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Hazardous Chemicals: Agents of Risk and Change, 1800-2000Ernst Homburg (Maastricht University) and Elisabeth Vaupel edited Hazardous Chemicals: Agents of Risk and Change, 1800-2000 (New York: Berghahn, 2019). It will be released in August.

Berghahn Books is offering a 50% discount with the code HOM196 valid until 31 October 2019 for the purchase of this book online.

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The Secular EnlightenmentMargaret Jacob (UCLA) published The Secular Enlightenment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2019).

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Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated DarwinMatthew J. James (Sonoma State University) has entered into the faculty early retirement program after 34 years of teaching, with the last 15 years being department chair. The program allows faculty to teach for up to five years before fully retiring, so starting with Fall 2019 he will teach full time in the Fall semesters and then be off in the Spring and Summer. A strong motivator for his decision was to have time to pursue making an hour-long documentary based on his book, Collecting Evolution: The Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Darwin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

He was also featured in a podcast hosted by historian Michael Robinson called Time to Eat the Dogs, and the topic of the episode was his book.

Furthermore, he appeared in a full-length documentary about Smithsonian Institution field collectors Edward William Nelson (1855-1934) and Edward Alphonso Goldman (1873-1946) who undertook a natural history collecting in Baja California, Mexico, starting in 1905. In the documentary, he addressed topics of natural history collecting expeditions and the enduring legacy of specimens in natural history museums. The 2019 documentary is called The Devil’s Road: A Baja Adventure, made by Broken Wagon Films.

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Gwen Kay (SUNY Oswego) won re-election and will serve as President of SUNY University Faculty Senate, and member of SUNY Board of Trustees, for two years.

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Lauren Kassell (University of Cambridge) would like to announce that in May 2019, the Casebook Project officially launched their digital edition of the casebooks of Simon Forman and Richard Napier, complete with extensive introductory material, their dataset, and images of the manuscripts: Lauren Kassell, Michael Hawkins, Robert Ralley, John Young, Joanne Edge, Janet Yvonne Martin-Portugues and Natalie Kaoukji (eds.), The Casebooks of Simon Forman and Richard Napier, 1596–1634: a digital edition, casebooks.lib.cam.ac.uk.

They also released 500 fully-transcribed cases in modernized English: Natalie Kaoukji and Lauren Kassell, “Selected cases in full—from Simon Forman’s and Richard Napier’s medical records,” casebooks.lib.cam.ac.uk, casebooks.wordpress.com.

May 2019 also saw the release of Astrologaster, a computer game inspired by Simon Forman’s casebooks. The Casebooks Project acted as historical consultants for the game.

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John Krige (Georgia Institute of Technology) won the Francis Bacon Award for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. The Francis Bacon Award is bestowed on an outstanding scholar whose work continues to have a substantial impact in the history of science, the history of technology, or historically-engaged philosophy of science. The winner of the Bacon Award is invited to spend one term (10 weeks) as a Visiting Professor at Caltech to teach and lead a biennial conference that brings together the best younger and established scholars in the area of the Bacon Visiting Professor’s specific interests.

In 2018, Krige won the Grand Prize of the Doreen and Jim McElvany Nonproliferation Challenge for his co-authored paper “US technological collaboration for nonproliferation: Key evidence from the Cold War” with Jayita Sarkar (Boston University).

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Adrienne Mayor (Stanford University) published “Tyrants and Robots” in History Today, November 2018. She also published “Robots Guarded Buddha’s Relics in a Legend from India” in The Conversation, 13 March 2019. In addition, she published “Talos, the Bronze Robot of Greek Myth and His Amazing Afterlife” in Technica Curiosa, 23 March 2019. She co-authored “Interest in Geological and Palaeontological Curiosities by Southern African Non-Western Societies: A Review and Perspectives for Future Study” with Helm, Benoit et al. in Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, 2018. Lastly, she published “The First Sex Robot” in Gizmodo, 9 December 2018.

The Chinese translation of her book Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology came out in Taiwan and she recorded the Gods and Robots audiobook.

She was invited to talk about Gods and Robots and artificial life in antiquity at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Mountain View, CA; the Chicago Humanities Festival; Town Hall Seattle; Science on Tap Portland; Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles; and San Francisco Mechanics Institute, among other venues. Podcasts include Sean Carroll’s Mindscape; a16z Andreessen Horowitz; and Historically Thinking.

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Carla J. Mulford (Pennsylvania State University) published “‘Prevent[ing]… restless Spirits from exciting Disturbances’: Benjamin Franklin and the Wyoming Valley” in Pennsylvania History 86, no. 1 (Winter 2019) 1-37.

She also spoke in Talking in the Library, an audio platform. Listen to the podcast episode on Franklin and Immigration here.

She continues to work toward the completion of her monograph, Benjamin Franklin’s Electrical Diplomacy.

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Nancy Nersessian (Harvard University and Georgia Institute of Technology) won the Doctorem Honoris Causa from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens for pioneering research in history, philosophy, and psychology of science.

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Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental PolicyNaomi Oreskes (Harvard University) was elected to the American Philosophical Society class of 2019 members.

She, Michael Oppenheimer, et al., published Discerning Experts: The Practices of Scientific Assessment for Environmental Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019).

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The Spanish Disquiet. The Biblical Natural Philosophy of Benito Arias MontanoMaria M. Portuondo (Johns Hopkins University) published The Spanish Disquiet. The Biblical Natural Philosophy of Benito Arias Montano (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019).

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Maria Elice de Brzezinski Prestes (University of São Paulo) and Lilian Al-Chueyr Pereira published “As diferentes concepções de Francesco Redi (1628-1698) sobre a geração animal e tradução de excertos de Experiências sobre a geração de insetos” in Intelligere 6, (December 2018): 17-52. She and Natália Abdalla Martins published “A contribuição de George Newport (1803-1854) para a elucidação do papel dos componentes do sêmen masculino na reprodução animal” in Khronos, Revista de História da Ciência 5 (2018): 58-72.

Teaching Science with Context: Historical, Philosophical, and Sociological ApproachesShe, Filipe Faria Berçot, and Eduardo Cortez published “Abraham Trembley (1710–1784) and the Creature that defies Classification: Nature of Science and Inquiry through a Historical Narrative” in Teaching Science with Context: Historical, Philosophical, and Sociological Approaches, edited by Maria Elice de Brzezinski Prestes and Cibelle Celestino Silva, 161-190 (Dordrecht: Springer, 2018).

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Jamil Ragep (McGill University) and Sajjad Nikfahm-Khubravan published “The Mercury Models of Ibn al-Šāṭir and Copernicus” in Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 29 (2019): 1-59.

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Joy Lisi Rankin published several articles:

Tech-Bro Culture Was Written in the Code: How Computing Pioneers at Dartmouth in the 1960s Gave Rise to the Macho Tech Culture We See Today.Slate. November 1, 2018.

How Minnesota Teachers Invented a Proto-Internet More Centered on Community Than Commerce: A National Conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Arizona State University.” What It Means to Be American. February 21, 2019.

Remembering the Women of the Mathematical Tables Project.The New Inquiry. March 14, 2019.

She has also appeared on several podcasts speaking about her book, A People’s History of Computing in the United States (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018): New Books Network, Lady Science, and This is Not a Pipe.

Google also invited her to speak about her research on gender and technology as the keynote for their 2018 Tech Days, and the talk with audience Q&A is available here.

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Assembling the Dinosaur: Fossil Hunters, Tycoons, and the Making of a SpectacleLukas Rieppel (Brown University) published Assembling the Dinosaur: Fossil Hunters, Tycoons, and the Making of a Spectacle (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019).

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Whitney Barlow Robles (Harvard University) will join Dartmouth College’s Society of Fellows this fall as a Junior Fellow and Lecturer.

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Helga Satzinger (University College London) published “White Adam and Black Eve: A 1770 painting at the Old Pharmacy, Calw, Southern Germany, and the scientific discourse of the time on heredity, skin colour, variation and race” in Politika (March 2019).

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Anja Sattelmacher won the dissertation prize of the GWMT (German Society for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology) for 2018.

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A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular MedicineRobin Scheffler (MIT) published A Contagious Cause: The American Hunt for Cancer Viruses and the Rise of Molecular Medicine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019).

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Kathleen Sheppard (Missouri S&T) won the 2019 Woman of the Year award, given annually to a female all-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member in recognition of her efforts to improve the campus environment for women and minorities, dedicated to student education and committed to diversity.

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Mark Solovey (University of Toronto) was granted tenure and promotion to associate professor. His new status officially begins 1 July 2019.

He also published “The Impossible Dream: Scientism as Strategy against Distrust of Social Science at the U.S. National Science Foundation, 1945-1980” in the International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity 7. The article is available open access.

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Laura Stark (Vanderbilt University) was awarded the 2019 Outstanding Publication Prize for “Contracting Health: Procurement Contracts, Total Institutions, and Problem of Virtuous Suffering in Post-War Human Experiment” in Social History of Medicine 31, no. 4 (2018): 818–46. The prize was given by the American Sociological Association’s section on Medical Sociology.

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he Age of Innocence: Nuclear Physics between the First and Second World WarsRoger H. Stuewer (University of Minnesota) published The Age of Innocence: Nuclear Physics between the First and Second World Wars (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

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James Strick (Franklin and Marshall College) was interviewed in a 20-minute segment on NPR’s “Science Friday” which aired on 5 July 2019. The topic is his work on the history of ideas and experiments about spontaneous generation and their relationship to the germ theory of disease.

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It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Neale Wheeler Watson. A remembrance of Neale will appear in a future issue of the Newsletter.

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Dominik Wujastyk (University of Alberta) published “The Elephant’s Footprint” in Studia Orientalia Electronica 6 (2018): 56-61. He co-edits the journal History of Science in South Asia, which has published new issues in 2018 and 2019 (rolling publication). View them here. Additionally, 2019-2020 is going to be a strong year, with six promising articles currently in the peer-review queue.

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Michiko Yajima published “A History of Observations and Investigations of Volcanic Eruptions and Landslides on Izu-Oshima Island, near Tokyo, and A Brief Account of Efforts by Staff of the Newly established Geopark, to Educate the Public about their Potential Dangers” in the JAHIGEO Newsletter, no. 21 (May, 2019): 1-5.

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Anya Zilberstein (Concordia University, Montreal) recently launched a new series in early modern, long view, and global environmental history, co-edited with Molly Warsh: “New/Old Natures: Histories of the Environment.”