Kew Observatory influenced and was influenced by many of the larger developments in the physical sciences during the second half of the nineteenth century, while many of the major figures involved were in some way affiliated with Kew.
Lee T. Macdonald explores the extraordinary story of this important scientific institution as it rose to prominence during the Victorian era. His book offers fresh new insights into key historical issues in nineteenth-century science: the patronage of science; relations between science and government; the evolution of the observatory sciences; and the origins and early years of the National Physical Laboratory, once an extension of Kew and now the largest applied physics organization in the United Kingdom.
Winner of the British Society for Literature and Science Annual Prize, 2011Winner of the Cultural Studies in English Prize, 2012
This book explores the role of vision and the culture of observation in Victorian and modernist ways of seeing. Willis charts the characterization of vision through four organizing principles—small, large, past and future—to survey Victorian conceptions of what vision was. He then explores how this Victorian vision influenced twentieth-century ways of seeing, when anxieties over visual “truth” became entwined with modernist rejections of objectivity.
In the Victorian era, James Watt became an iconic engineer, but in his own time he was also an influential chemist. David Philip Miller examines Watt’s illustrious engineering career in light of his parallel interest in chemistry, arguing that Watt’s conception of steam engineering relied upon chemical understandings.
In 1963, nineteen Americans embarked on the first expedition that would combine high-altitude climbing with scientific research. The primary objective was to study how severe stress at high altitudes affected human behavior. The expedition promised to resurrect American heroism, in a show of physical strength and skill that, when combined with scientific expertise, would dominate international rivals on the frontiers of territorial exploration. They faced hostile conditions that challenged and ultimately compromised standard research protocols, yielding results that were too exceptional to be generalized to other environments. Clements offers an exploration of the impact of extremity on the production of scientific knowledge and the role of masculinity and nationalism in scientific inquiry.
An innovative and original socio-cultural study of the history of electricity during the late Victorian and Edward periods.
How did the brewing of beer become a scientific process? James Sumner explores this question by charting the theory and practice of the trade in Britain and Ireland during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In the period covered by this volume, Tyndall completed his degree, published his first scientific papers, became a regular participant in the British Association meetings, established friendships with leading men of science in Berlin and London, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. As the volume ends, he was preparing his first lecture to the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the catalyst for a profound transition in his life. The letters offer a behind-the-scenes view of nineteenth-century publishing processes, the practices and challenges of diamagnetic research, the application procedures for university positions, the use of patronage in establishing a scientific career, and the often anxious and weary-worn personality of Tyndall, the ambitious protagonist.
This volume explores the transformation of scientific exhibitions and museums during the nineteenth century. Contributors focus on comparative case studies across Britain and America, examining the people, spaces, display practices, experiences, and politics that worked not only to define the museum, but to shape public science and scientific knowledge during this period.
This is the first history of phytotrons, huge climate-controlled laboratories that enabled plant scientists to experiment on the environmental causes of growth and development of living organisms. Made possible by computers and other modern technologies of the early Cold War, phytotrons promised an end to global hunger and political instability, spreading around the world to thirty countries after World War II.
This book examines the philosophical principles invoked by apologists of the Spanish empire that laid the foundations for the exploitation of the Andean region between 1520 and 1640. Orlando Bentancor ties the colonizers’ attempts to justify the abuses wrought on the environment and the indigenous population to their larger ideology concerning mining, science, and the empire’s rightful place in the global sphere. To Bentancor, their presuppositions were a major turning point for colonial expansion and paved the way to global mercantilism.
From the late nineteenth century onward religion gave way to science as the dominant force in society. This led to a questioning of the principle of free will—if the workings of the human mind could be reduced to purely physiological explanations, then what place was there for human agency and self-improvement?
Smith takes an in-depth look at the problem of free will through the prism of different disciplines. Physiology, psychology, philosophy, evolutionary theory, ethics, history and sociology all played a part in the debates that took place. His subtly nuanced navigation through these arguments has much to contribute to our understanding of Victorian and Edwardian science and culture, as well as having relevance to current debates on the role of genes in determining behaviour.
This book tells the forgotten story of the pursuit of a Third Way in biology, known by many names, including “the organic philosophy”—including the scientists who defined and refined it and its persistence into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It considers the creation of the subfield of epigenetics, a product of Third Way thinking, rooted among a group of scholars known as the Theoretical Biology Club. And it raises significant questions about how we should model the development of the discipline of biology.
This book examines the practice of science in the field in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains of the American West between the 1860s and the 1910s, when the railroad was the dominant form of long-distance transportation. Grounded in approaches from environmental history and the history of technology, it emphasizes the material basis of scientific fieldwork, joining together the human labor that produced knowledge with the natural world in which those practices were embedded.
Daniel French examines the American social perceptions of electricity as an energy technology between the mid-19th and early decades of the 20th centuries. Arguing that both technical and cultural factors played a role, French shows how electricity became an invisible and abstract form of energy in American society, leading Americans to culturally construct electricity as unlimited and environmentally inconsequential—a newfound “basic right” of life in the United States.
Winner of the Marc-Auguste Pictet Prize, 2010
The textbooks written by Adolphe Ganot (1804-1887) played a major role in shaping the way physics was taught in the nineteenth century. Ganot’s books were translated from their original French into more than ten languages, including English, allowing their adoption as standard works in Britain and spreading their influence as far as North America, Australia, India and Japan.
Simon’s Franco-British case study looks at the role of Ganot’s two textbooks: Traite elementaire de physique experimentale et appliquee (1851) and Cours de physique purement experimentale (1859), and their translations into English by Edmund Atkinson. The study is novel for its international comparison of nineteenth-century physics, its acknowledgement of the role of book production on the impact of the titles and for its emphasis on the role of communication in the making of science.