HoST Fall 2010

Tues/Thurs. starting at 4:00 in Babio 203

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Week of 11/16 and 11/18

Assignment 11

A Scientific Revolution: Part II


:::::AV:History Images:By Person or Org:Galileo:Finger:EpurSiBird.jpg

Galileo's Finger: Museo di Storia del Scienza in Italy

Tuesday Homework:  I'd like you to further refine your final project forms.  These topics are still fluid, so if you want to radically change, this is a good time to do it.  Search around on GoogleBooks or GoogleScholar or JSTOR (or other electronic journal databases) or the library. Addendum: If you didn't get your project proposal back from me, you will get it on Tuesday.. so have this done for Thursday if you didn't have my comments to work off of.


On the back of your original project sheet that I handed back last week (or stapled to it),


1. I'd like you to respond to what I wrote on your forms.  Did you find anything of interest based on my suggestions or were you hopelessly confused?  If you were hopelessly confused, you should write me an email and ask some questions.  I imagine you can do this in one sentence.


Here is an example.

Sir, I loved all of your suggestions.  They were really great and your insights have changed my life.  My first inclination was to do a thing on the history of prosthetic limbs, but as I looked into this, I realized that the history is not all that interesting.  So I took your absolutely amazing idea of looking into how people ended up with no arms and legs and I came upon the idea of the history of amputation.  Upon further reflection, I narrowed this to the history of amputation without anesthetic and the transition to anesthesia.  I'm so happy now.  I'm so happy I'm numb. 


2. I'd like you to describe what you think you might do.  Just write a few sentences describing it.  It needs to be historical in some way, but it is up to you to decide how far back you need to go to make it historical.  Remember, I'm encouraging unorthodox projects.  I'd like to see you make something (a model of some techy thing, or a mock-up of some scientific instrument, or schematics in 2 or 3-D) or produce an animation or movie or virtual simulation or write a science fiction story or historical fiction story or interview someone, or move to Labrador and live like a Sherpa for a year... I'd prefer it if you did something that you think might be fun and interesting. Be careful not to get too ambitious.  Think this through.  Now some of you are having a terrible time figuring out how to make their majors work for this project.  You may have to make some whacky leaps of the imagination to come up with a topic or you may need to give up and start afresh by looking at one of your favorite hobbies or a non-professional interest.  I cannot stress this enough, "This should be as fun and as interesting to you as possible."  That's how good projects are born. Stay flexible until you hit upon something that gets you excited.


Here is an example.

I want to look at how amputations were performed before there were anesthetics.  Then I want to produce a short video that reenacts an amputation.  I imagine I'll make a fake arm or leg out of scrap wood and then put it in a shirt or pants and then tie a tourniquet around it and saw it off.  (I really need to go see this movie, "127 hours.") I'll enlist some friends to hold my subject down and get him drunk.  The essay part will describe this in more detail and discuss the first uses of anesthetics in surgery. 


3. Then I'd like you to make a bibliography of potential sources for your topic. Find 5 sources that seem to have something to do with your ideas.  Look over these sources (read abstracts, look at tables of contents and indices, look at section headings, read first and last paragraphs,...) do whatever you have to do to get an idea what the source is about.  Then, for each of the 5 sources, write one or two sentences describing what you think it is about and how it might be useful for your project. 


Here is an example of what I mean.

      Ackerknecht, Erwin H. "Primitive Surgery." American Anthropologist 49, no. 1 (1947): 25-45.

      This article describes a variety of early surgical tools like scalpels, bone saws, and needles.  This will be very useful because it describes how amputations were performed, what tools were used, and even has a few pictures that I could use in my essay.  It also describes a 16th-century hand amputation in enough detail so that I should be able to recreate it on the short video I am making that acts out pre-anesthetic amputations.


Tuesday readings and the like:


Read McClellan and Dorn: Chapter 12 (11 in older editions), “The Crime and Punishment of Galileo."


Read Jardine, Lisa. Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution: Anchor Books, 2000. Excerpt on extensions of Harvy-esque techniques. Jardin_IngeniousPursuitExcerpt-Beyond_Harvey-988KB.pdf  This reading is short and rather morbid.


Look at all the material I have posted below pertaining to Galileo.



Read McClellan and Dorn: Chapters 13 (12 in older editions), “God said, ‘Let Newton Be!”


Look at and read all the other material I have posted below.


Read this short (one page) fictional free association: Newton-Reverie-1666ish.htm.  This is an example of a way you might approach an essay assignment, except with some citations added.


NEW SHORT READING: All you computer buffs out there.  This will interest you.  Olsen-Where Cinema and Biology Meet-11/15/10-NYTimes-Science.  Also watch the video part.


Galilean materials:


View movie of Medician moons: GalileoMediceanMoonspseudoanimation.pdf [67KB] To make this work, view it in Acrobat (or similar) in single page view (not scroll view) and hit the next page button over and over again.  It’s not a good animation, but it represents what Galileo had to work with.  I have no evidence that Galileo ever made a flip-card animation similar to this one.  These drawings appear inline in his text (see image below) and cannot work as an animation the way they are arranged on the pages.  In fact, I am unaware of any flip-card animations existing until the 19th century, but this in no way means that similar animation techniques didn’t exist earlier.  I have never looked into it.  Feel free to explore this question.



Pages from Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius (1610)


This is a photograph taken through a Galilean-style

telescope of Jupiter and its largest moons. (I enhanced the contrast.)


Newtonian materials:



Dark Side of the ... 

This is a diagram from Newton’s Opticks from 1704. 

I have added some interpretive images and a new title.



Newton-lightprism copy

Newton drew this for a French ed. of Opticks.  It says, “Light doesn’t vary color when refracted.”

Nec variat lux fracta colorem.  More literally: Light doesn’t change when broken into color.

I colorized it to for clarity. Some of the light from the hole in the window-covering on the left (focused by that big lens) is intercepted by the prism, and some of it continues on to hit the lower part of the screen. The prism emits a rainbow.  The red-part of the rainbow then passes through a hole in the screen and into another prism where it is not broken up anymore, proving that…

Nec variat lux fracta colorem – Light doesn’t change when broken into color

Read this.


From Newton’s Opticks, 1st ed. 1704.  Read this.





Above is a diagram from Newton’s Opticks (1704) which I have colorized for clarity.

Notice that he is suggesting that the rainbow is divided into 7 colors

just as the string of a monochord is divided into 7 intervals, the seven intervals of our major scale: Do, re, mi, fa… etc.

Newton even gives the Pythagorean-style intervals: 8/9, 3/4, 2/3, 1/2….

Below I have added to his diagram the profile of a monochord/guitar with the Pythagorean intervals shown below. 




Interesting trivia… (extracted from a paper I once wrote…)


Leibniz, the German/French counterpart to Newton, after having read Newton’s Opticks, wrote, “Sir Isaac Newton says, that space is an organ, which God makes use of to perceive things by.”  [from Clarke, Leibniz, Newton and Alexander, The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence: Together with Extracts From Newton's Principia and Opticks. Philosophical Classics (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1956), p. 11.]


What Leibniz was responding to was this (in the Latin edition of Opticks that Leibniz was reading), “Universal Space is the Sensorium of the Incorporeal, Living, and Intelligent Being;…”  Newton had actually corrected this passage by making it clear that he was making an analogy, but Leibniz somehow had gotten an uncorrected edition.


What Newton means is this: Perception occurs by exposing  “sensing substance” [What he calls “substantia sentiens” in Latin] to the  “sensible species of things” [“sensibiles rerum species”], which are gathered and brought to the brain where this “sensing substance” is located.  This description needs almost no modification to be a Galenic/Avicennic description of sensory perception based on spiritus animalis, which we have discussed in previous classes. I find it quite interesting that Newton is still operating on this theory of perception.


Newton goes on in the corrected passage to suggest that God, being omnipresent, perceives the entire universe merely by being present throughout all space.  It is not so much that the all of space is God’s sensorium, but that God is everywhere and acts as if [tanquam] He were the spiritus animalis of human perception. Unlike humans, who need spiritus or “sensing substance” to connect their souls to the world, God needs no intermediary for the perception of the world.   He is Himself, as it were, the intermediary, the spiritus.  After all, what do you think the Holy Spirit is? 


Put another way: It would be like saying that God is the machine code (or perhaps the system software) of the universal computer that we call reality.  He permeates everything and is everywhere.  Nothing is instigated or caused without His 0s and 1s.  For Him, causing and perceiving are one and the same activity.  Freaky. 


Disclaimer: Newton had a rather radical opinion of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He was secretly an anti-Trinitarian and a follower of the teachings of Arius from the early 4th century AD, who proposed that the Son was not coeternal with God but had actually been created by God in time. This issue is directly addressed in the Nicaean Creed, which makes the Trinity “one in being.”  It was written very specifically against Arius who was then excommunicated for his heretical ideas.  The Council of Nicaea (the meeting that wrote the creed) was largely instigated by the Emperor Constantine and can quite easily be seen as a political exercise whereby a certain group of theologians seized control and solidified their power by officially making their adversaries heretics.  It is not much of a surprise that the winners of this controversy were the ones backed by the Emperor Constantine.  Christianity in the first couple hundred years was theologically very diverse, but when the Roman Emperor got involved such variety was no longer acceptable. Power from the top down became the structure.  After all, the Roman Catholic Church is Roman, as in Roman Empire. 


Newton, an avid Biblical scholar, and probably several other major players in the later Scientific Revolution were secretly followers of Arius.  Secretly, because even after fourteen-hundred years, Arius was still considered a threat to both Catholic and Protestant theologians.  To be perfectly honest, I have tried to understand this issue, but have never really figured it out.  It is very complicated and esoteric and seems to be concerned with theological details that I simply don’t find all that critical.  But this probably means that I simply haven’t tried hard enough to understand. 


If anybody is interested, Wikipedia has a pretty good article on Arius and Arianism and the Arian controversy.  I can also hook you up with more stuff if you want.  Just email me.



Donne-shroud copysma.jpg



Newton supposedly drew a portrait of Donne on the wall of his domicile in Grantham, while in grammar school.

Donne wrote the original “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

It’s a nice poem if you need a break.  The whole idea of collective humanity reminds me of Averroestic or Platonic world-soul stuff that we discussed several weeks ago.  Here is the specific line: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."


Donne as a young dapper fellow.


John Donne (1572-1631): Here is the poem: Meditation 17: Bell Tolls.  It's short.

Here are the citations for the main readings:


Jardine, Lisa. Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution. Anchor Books, 2000. 


McClellan, James E., and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History : An Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.


Me being weird.


Short and Long Essays.


You should know the drill by now.  Email me if you are inspired to write, but at a loss for a topic.

Remember, Long Essays must use at least one additional source from below (or from previous Assignment pages if the topic is relevant to this week's discussion).

Long Essay resources:


Boyer, Carl B. "The History of the Calculus." The Two-Year College Mathematics Journal 1, no. 1 (1970): 60-86.  Boyer wrote the book on the history of the calculus, but this is a very condensed essay on the same topic.  Boyer_HistoryofCalculus-2.3MB.pdf


Dobbs_NewtonAlchemyandTheoryMatter-668KB.pdf – see article for citation information.


Newman, William R. "From Alchemy To "Chymistry"." In The Cambridge History of Science: Early Modern Science (1490-1730), ed. Katharine Park and Lorraine Daston, vol. 3, 497-517. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Newman_FromAlchemyToChemCh21-4.5MB.pdf


Park, David Allen. The How and the Why : An Essay on the Origins and Development of Physical Theory. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988.  This PDF has a couple of appendices that derive Newton’s theorem involving centripetal acceleration, the lunar orbit, Kepler’s law of areas, and conic justification.  ParkAppendices-756KB.pdf


Struik, Dirk Jan. A Source Book in Mathematics, 1200-1800.  Source Books in the History of the Sciences. Cambridge, Mass.,: Harvard University Press, 1969. Struik_ed.-Newton-Gregory_BinomialSeries-1.8MB.pdf

          -This the derivation of the binomial series. This was hugely important to the development of the calculus.  If you want to give it a shot.  Go for it.  Read it over and try to figure out how it all fits together.


Westfall, Richard S. Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982.  I have posted this PDF of Chapter 4 from this book.  It is the mathematical chapter and has descriptions of the first moments of the calculus (differential and integral) and various other derivations of interest.  A walk through of one of these mathematical moments could make a good long essay.  Westfall_Ch4_Never_at_Reft-6.4MB.pdf  [See also the Park (above) for similar material.]


Cohen, I. Bernard. The Birth of a New Physics. Revised and updated ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1985.  Cohen_BirthNewPhysics_NewtonParts-4.1MB.pdf -This PDF contains the parts on Newton and some “Supplements” on Newtonian issues. These are mostly mathematical physics details.  If you are math inclined, you could probably find in issue or two in this and give it some thought.


Feingold, Mordechai. The Newtonian Moment : Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture. New York: New York Public Library, 2004. Feingold_NewtonianWomen-3.4MB.pdf  This is a chapter about how women were involved with the Newtonian revolution. There is more of a story there than you might think. 


Fernie, Donald J. "Finding out the Longitude." American Scientist?, no.? (2002). Fernie_FindingOuttheLongitude.htm


Holton, Gerald James, Stephen G. Brush, and Gerald James Holton. Physics, the Human Adventure : From Copernicus to Einstein and Beyond. [3rd ed. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2001. Brush-Holton-Physics-Rotation-Gravity-4.7MB.pdf – This excerpt contains derivations for centripetal acceleration and other related mathematical ideas as well as some historical context.  Brush and Holton are both serious historians and physicists and their explanations are generally easy to follow.


Mandelbrote, Scott. "Newton and Eighteenth-Century Christianity." In The Cambridge Companion to Newton, ed. I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith, pp. 409-430. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.  Mandlebrote-CambridgeNewton_Christianity-6.3MB.pdf


Scott, Wilson L. "The Significance Of "Hard Bodies" In the History of Scientific Thought." Isis 50, no. 3 (1959): 199-210. Scott,Wilson-Significance_of_Hardbodies-436MB.pdf  This is an excellent article on Newtonian atomism and conservation theory in the making.


Johnson, Monte, and Catherine Wilson. "Lucretius and the History of Science." In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius, ed. Stuart Gillespie and Philip R. Hardie, 131-148. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.  Johnson-Wilson-LucHoS-Cambridge.pdf [5.5MB] Galileo seems to propose some atomism.  Was it from reading Lucretius?


Bragg, Melvyn. "The Calendar." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2003. IOT_ The Calendar.mp3 [16MB]

     -Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the calendar, which shapes the lives of millions of people. It is an invention that gives meaning to the passing of time and orders our daily existence. It links us to the arcane movements of the heavens and the natural rhythms of the earth. It is both deeply practical and profoundly sacred.

But where does this strange and complex creation come from? Why does the week last seven days but the year twelve months? Who named these concepts and through them shaped our lives so absolutely?

The answers involve Babylonian Astronomers and Hebrew Theologians, Roman Emperors and Catholic Popes. If the calendar is a house built on the shifting sands of time, it has had many architects.

With Robert Poole, Reader in History at St Martin’s College Lancaster and author of Time’s Alteration, Calendar Reform in Early Modern England; Kristen Lippincott, Deputy Director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich; Peter Watson, Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at Cambridge University and author of A Terrible Beauty – A History of the People and Ideas that Shaped the Modern Mind.


Bragg, Melvyn. "The Royal Society." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2006. IOT-Royal Society - The first club for experimental science.mp3

               -Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the formation of the Royal Society. In the 17th century the natural philosopher Francis Bacon heralded the new age of science. The frontispiece to his 1620 edition of the Instauratio Magna depicted a galleon travelling between the metaphorical Pillars of Hercules thought to lie at the Strait of Gibraltar and believed to mark the end of the known world. The image encapsulated Bacon's desire to sail beyond the limits set by Aristotle and the curriculum of the Ancient universities towards the new continent of science.

Bacon imagined practical scientists engaged in a collaborative effort to expand knowledge of the natural world. But it was not until the turbulence of the Civil War and Commonwealth years had passed that such a group of scientists would gather together in London for this purpose, and form the Royal Society. Amongst its members were Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren and Isaac Newton, who explicitly rejected dogma and insisted on practical experimentation and observation.

How was the Royal Society formed against a backdrop of religious and political strife? What was it about the way this group of men worked that allowed each individual to flourish in his own field? How successful was the Royal Society in disseminating the benefits of experimental science and what is its enduring legacy?

With Stephen Pumfrey, Senior Lecturer in the History of Science at the University of Lancaster; Lisa Jardine, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London; Michael Hunter, Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London.


Bragg, Melvyn. "Optics: From Telescopes to Microscopes." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2007. IOT-History of Optics - From telescopes to microscopes,.mp3

               -Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of optics. From telescopes to microscopes, from star-gazing to the intimacies of a magnified flea. As Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens in the early 1600s, Kepler began to formulate a theory of optics. The new and improving instruments went hand in hand with radical new ideas about how we see and what we see. Spectacles allowed scholars to study long into the evening (and into old age), while giant telescopes, up to 100 feet long, led to the discovery of planets and attempts to map the universe.

The craze for optical trickery swept Europe with enthusiastic amateurs often providing valuable discoveries. But this new view of the world through a lens raised questions too – how much can you rely on the senses, on what you see? The further into space you can spy, the larger and more unmanageable the universe becomes. At the same time, the microscope was utterly transforming the world close at hand.

So how did these developments inform ideas of knowledge? If new methods of scientific observation support an empirical approach, what does this mean for divine, innate reason?

With Simon Schaffer, Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge; Jim Bennett, Director of the Museum of the History of Science and Fellow of Linacre College at the University of Oxford; Emily Winterburn, Curator of Astronomy at the National Maritime Museum.




Kyle located a MythBusters episode on YouTube that shows the annoying Junior Squad trying to replicate the cannon Capt. Kirk made to fight the lizard man, the Gorn.  You have to watch 3 segments.  The first segment starts at about 2:20 into the clip. 

Clip #1 [Part 3 in the MythBusters Episode]

Clip #2 [Part 4 in the MythBusters Episode]

Clip #3 [Part 5 in the MythBusters Episode]

This attempt at busing the myth is instructive.  It shows that the annoying Junior Squad is a bit dim, but it also shows you that making black powder is not all that easy and getting it to be explosive is tricky.  Their first tests with making powder do sizzle, but I think that is mostly the salt peter fizzling... it does that on its own... that's what makes commercial cigarettes stay lit... otherwise they would go out.  [Seems to me that the addition of salt peter to cigarettes is a fire hazard, but it makes cigarettes burn up faster, and thus you will buy more cigarettes.  Chalk one up for profits, and a loss for fire safety.]  They really should have tried to ignite each ingredient first, just to get a control.  What else should they have done?


More criticism: First of all, despite what they say, that is one of the worst Star Trek episodes from the original series (along with the tribbles).  Second of all, they don't tell us their ingredient proportions.  Third of all, they give up way too easily on the bamboo cannon.  There are descriptions of early bamboo cannons in Chinese and Islamic sources, usually described as having reinforcement with metal bands.  I'd be willing to bet that more rope reinforcement all the way along the tube might allow for at least one shot.  Fourth of all, they should have anticipated the rupture of the thin wall at the back end (the breech) and maybe tried to shove a rock in there or some other heavy obstruction.


But as you see, it's finicky stuff and it's not hard to imagine lots of misfires on an actual battle field in 1550.


Here is the actual scene from Star Trek (you must suffer through an advertisement first): Blasting the Gorn

[Striking his flint so near his pile of gun powder seems a bit unwise.]

From end to end, the newly discovered gamma-ray bubbles extend 50,000 light-years,

or about half of the Milky Way’s diameter, as shown in this illustration.


News: It's dark matter.... no, it's not dark matter:

Overbye-Bubbles of Energy Are Found in Galaxy-11/9/2010


What’s wrong with this picture?



Made by Clemente Susini (1754 - 1814); wax

La Specola, University of Florence

[?] with the anatomist Paolo Mascagni (1752 - 1815)


In this one, also by Susini, the lid comes off.



These wax anatomical models were quite popular.  Your initial impression is correct, they are creepy. 

They also seem to say something about gender and sexuality, but it is so over-the-top that it is almost hard to believe.

If you are inclined to do an essay on this stuff, let me know and I'll send you an article or two.



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