HoST Fall 2011

Week of 10/18-10/20

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Assignment 7

More Lucretius & Midterm Exam


Cicada and Its Shell

This is an analogy from Lucretius, Book IV.


Updated: 10/17/11 4:31 PM



Midterm Exam on Thursday.

Review materials will be posted at the bottom of assignment pages in red.

As of 10/13, review PDFs have been posted for Ass0-Ass4.


Essays are due Sunday the 23rd at the latest. 

Email me if you are confused.


For Tuesday


-Read in McClellan and Dorn pp. 121-140. 


For Wednesday


-Read Book IV in Lucretius.


-Homework that all must do and turn in on Wednesday: As you read Book IV in Lucretius find or create at least 3 images (perhaps using GoogleImages or draw something...whatever) to illustrate his ideas.  [Because some of this chapter is on sex, you might want to avoid X-rated images, but an R rating is ok if it suits your ideas.]  With each image, give the phrase from Lucretius that inspired it, give the line numbers that are given in the margins of the book, and give a short explanation of your image.  So here are the bullet points:

a) at least 3 images inspired by Book IV.

b) quote passage from Lucretius and give the line numbers of that quotation.

c) comment on your image in relation to the text.  Not lazy comments, interesting comments.

d) fully cite Lucretius AND do the best you can to cite the source of your images.

     Because of the nature of this assignment, feel free to send these as attachments to an email.  If you do, please, please, please try to keep the file sizes under 3MB.

For Thursday

Midterm Examination

Bring your "cheet sheet."  What is a "cheet sheet?"

It's one sheet of 8.5" x 11" paper with anything you want on it. 

You can use both sides.  It's up to you.  I suggest organizing it so that you can easily find stuff. 

The exam is long and you don't want to spend lots of time looking for information on your "cheet sheet."

New information on the Exam: [posted 10/17] I put review PDFs on all assignment pages except for this one.  You can figure this one out for yourselves.  I also didn't put much up on Lucretius.  You'll have to review Lucretius without my notes... In general my notes on Lucretius are way too involved and would be more confusing than helpful.  Some of the PDFs have more information that you want.  You'll have to figure out what is useful and what isn't.  Also, the PDFs do not cover all of the material by a long shot. Don't forget to look over the assignment pages. The assignment pages themselves have a lot of information that you should study and/or use in your "cheet sheets."  Be ready to put things together.  How is the Enuma elish science?  How is Galenic medicine mythology?  How is the Peutinger map propaganda?  What car would Megan Fox be if she were a transformer?  How far is infinity?  How is Pythagorean/Platonic music mathematical?  Is adamantine magnetic?  If you were a dolphin, what would you think about human "progress?"  What does the fox breeding experiment in Siberia tell us about evolution and civilization?  Is science right, or is that a stupid question? 

Citations for the above readings and audio:


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





Essay assignment for this week.

Ideas: Aside from the obvious standard written essay you could also try to write a dialogue between Lucretius and another person we have studied... like Hayy from the Ibn Tufayl reading, or Aristotle, or Plato, or ???.   Cite where in the readings you got your ideas.  Feel free to imagine these people in a real world.  Make it into a short, short story.  Just be sure to demonstrate that you have read the readings.  We only read snippets of things, so if you might make a mistake here or there, but I'm not worried about that.  I want you to think. Making mistakes is a large part of writing.  Beautiful publishable essays do not spring up fully formed from gurgling mud pits.  Trying is all I can ask.  


Short Essay: You know the drill.

Long Essay: Twice the length and use at least one additional source provided below.


Cite all sources.  Cite them completely


Additional Materials for the Long Essay


You may also use previous additional materials if you intend to write on Lucretius or have an idea on how to connect this week with things we worked on before.


Goodrich, L. Carrington, and Feng Chia-sheng. "The Early Development of Firearms in China." Isis 36, no. 2 (1946): 114-123.  Goodrich-EarlyFirearmsChina.pdf [1.1MB]


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]


Bragg, Melvyn. "The Needham Question - Did China Lay the Foundations of Modern Science." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2006.  Needham Question - Did China lay the foundations of modern science.mp3 [16.8MB]

            -IOT [2006-10-19] Needham Question - Did China lay the foundations of modern science.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Needham Question; why Europe and not China developed modern technology.

What do these things have in common? Fireworks, wood-block printing, canal lock-gates, kites, the wheelbarrow, chain suspension bridges and the magnetic compass. The answer is that they were all invented in China, a country that, right through the Middle Ages, maintained a cultural and technological sophistication that made foreign dignitaries flock to its imperial courts for trade and favour. But then, around 1700, the flow of ingenuity began to dry up and even reverse as Europe bore the fruits of the scientific revolution back across the globe.

Why did Modern Science develop in Europe when China seemed so much better placed to achieve it? This is called the Needham Question, after Joseph Needham, the 20th century British Sinologist who did more, perhaps, than anyone else to try and explain it.

But did Joseph Needham give a satisfactory answer to the question that bears his name? Why did China’s early technological brilliance not lead to the development of modern science and how did momentous inventions like gunpowder and printing enter Chinese society with barely a ripple and yet revolutionize the warring states of Europe?

With Chris Cullen, Director of the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge; Tim Barrett, Professor of East Asian History at SOAS; Frances Wood, Head of Chinese Collections at the British Library.


Bragg, Melvyn. "Indian Mathematics - Laying the Foundations for Modern Numerals and Zero as a Number." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2006. Indian Maths - Laying the foundations for modern numerals and zero as a number.mp3 [16.7MB]

-IOT [2006-12-14] Indian Maths - Laying the foundations for modern numerals and zero as a number.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the contribution Indian mathematicians have made to our understanding of the subject. Mathematics from the Indian subcontinent has provided foundations for much of our modern thinking on the subject. They were thought to be the first to use zero as a number. Our modern numerals have their roots there too. And mathematicians in the area that is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were grappling with concepts such as infinity centuries before Europe got to grips with it. There’s even a suggestion that Indian mathematicians discovered Pythagoras’ theorem before Pythagoras.

Some of these advances have their basis in early religious texts which describe the geometry necessary for building falcon-shaped altars of precise dimensions. Astronomical calculations used to decide the dates of religious festivals also encouraged these mathematical developments.

So how were these advances passed on to the rest of the world? And why was the contribution of mathematicians from this area ignored by Europe for centuries?

With George Gheverghese Joseph, Honorary Reader in Mathematics Education at Manchester University; Colva Roney-Dougal, Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews; Dennis Almeida, Lecturer in Mathematics Education at Exeter University and the Open University.


Bragg, Melvyn. "The Han Synthesis - Creating the Chinese Cosmos." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2004. Han Synthesis - Creating the Chinese cosmos.mp3 [14.3MB]

-IOT [2004-10-14] Han Synthesis - Creating the Chinese cosmos.mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Han Synthesis philosophies of China. In The Analects the Chinese sage Confucius says of statecraft: "He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn to it".

Confucianism had been all but outlawed under the Chin Emperor, but in 206 BC the Han dynasty came to power and held sway for over 400 years. They brought Confucian thought to the heart of government, his favourite books became set texts for the world's first civil service exam and in a grand intellectual project 'The Great Tao' was combined with 'The Five Phases' and with the Yin and the Yang.

Who were the Han? How did they bring these strands of thought together into the great founding moment of Chinese culture? And what drove them to their extraordinary intellectual task?

With Christopher Cullen, Director of the Needham Research Institute; Carol Michaelson, Assistant Keeper of Chinese Art in the Department of Asia at the British Museum; Roel Sterckx, Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Cambridge.


Bragg, Melvyn. "Anatomy - 2000 years of Anatomical Study." In In Our Time. London: BBC, 2004. Anatomy - 2000 years of anatomical study.mp3 [11.2MB]

-IOT [2002-02-14] Anatomy - 2000 years of anatomical study

Melvyn Bragg examines the history of mankind's quest to understand the human body. The Greeks thought we were built like pigs, and when Renaissance man first cut his sacred flesh it was an act of heresy. We trace the noble ambitions of medical science to the murky underworld of Victorian grave robbing, we trace 2000 years of anatomical study.

From the great showman Vesalius, enthralling the Renaissance Artists in the operating theatres of Italy to the sad and gruesome pursuits of Burke and Hare, Anatomy is mankind's often frustrated attempt to understand the body of man. What role has science, religion and art played in the quest to understand the male and the female body?

With Harold Ellis, Clinical Anatomist, School of Biomedical Sciences, King's College, London; Ruth Richardson, Historian, and author of Death, Dissection and the Destitute, Phoenix Press; Andrew Cunningham, Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the History of Medicine, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Cambridge University.

Back to HoST Fall 2011 Syllabus

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Interesting Sciencey News

–If you run across an interesting story, let me know–


-Blakeslee-"Scientists Induce Out-of-Body Sensation" Blakeslee_NYT_Out-of-Body.htm NYTimes 2007.  This has some similarities to Hayy's out-of-body experiences.


-Holt_MistakenIdentityTheory.htm - This is just generally fun. Precursoritis, it's called in the biz.


-Rothstein-Secrets of The Archimedes Palimpsest, parchment recycled into a 13th-century prayer book.  A 10th-century copy of a text by Archimedes was erased and a prayer book written on the same parchment. Here is a short video on this strange find: This has a nice bit on how books were made and reused.

In addition to the image at the top of this are a few more images I've found that relate to Lucretian sensory theory.





This is the timeline I've been working on for years.  It's a bit of a mess, and not always completely reliable.

History Time