Huntington-Caltech Conference

Friday, March 24, 2023
Saturday, March 25, 2023
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Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)
History in Science: Cases and Comparisons
  • Internal Event

A Caltech and Huntington Library Workshop

Natural philosophers and astronomers, medical writers and alchemists, molecular biologists and biochemists have interacted with history in many ways. They have compiled data and built on data compiled by others, recreated the conditions of inquiry in ancient Alexandria and early modern Hven, carefully explained the construction and use of early instruments and carelessly ridiculed the wrong assumptions of the founders of their fields. From Plato and Aristotle onwards, the study of nature often required collecting, authenticating and restoring older works and theories. In the early modern period, innovation in the study of nature often began from an effort to restore the lost or corrupted methods and results of ancient predecessors. Throughout premodern times, astronomers, astrologers and chronologers did their best to fix historical events to astronomical epochs and phenomena, in order to date them rigorously. From the sixteenth century onwards, meteorologists, geologists and biologists drew up their own histories of the world as a whole. In modern times, to be sure, the practices of contemporary science have become more and more distant from traditional ones, but scientists have been no less eager to trace, for wider audiences, the ways in which they (and others) have won various wars. They have composed textbook-preface accounts, popular histories, and autobiographies that claim to identify generations and with complementary interests and ask them to reflect on the ways in which particular scientists have tried both to use past data to frame new models and theories and to shape visions of the past to fit their needs.

Please note, this is a closed workshop.

For more information, please contact Fran Tise by phone at 626-395-3609 or by email at [email protected].