The other day I was mulling over one of my recent ‘history of science’ posts, on an early physics crank whose work dates back to 1891. About the same time, I was thinking about other ‘challenges’ I could pose for sciencebloggers similar to my classic papers challenge that really launched my whole interest in science history.
Hey, I then realized: why not put the two ideas together? What I’m thinking is to have themed editions of The Giant’s Shoulders, one of which would be “Failures, Frauds and Fools”, discussions of the works of those people who were horribly wrong about a phenomenon, published fraudulent research, or were just plain nuts! Such a theme would seem natural for the upcoming April issue of TGS.
Another theme that quickly came to my mind involves the 9th edition (late 1800s) of the Encyclopædia Britannica, the so-called “Scholar’s edition.” Many of the articles of the scholar’s edition were written by leading experts in their fields, including articles by Lord Rayleigh on optics, and the entire edition can be found online with some searching. The theme would be to take one of those articles and write about the current state of understanding of a particular research topic. I’m thinking that this could be a nice theme for an upcoming issue, say November.