Archive for June, 2014

Alea Iacta Est!

June 17, 2014

The final edition of the history of science blog carnival, On the Shoulders of Giants #72, has been posted by Greg Gbur, aka Dr SkySkull, its originator, on his Skulls in the Stars blogI explained my reasons for ending Giants’ Shoulders hereThe Seven Wonders edition lives up to its name and is truly a wonder horn full of the best of the histories of science, technology and medicine that have appeared in cyberspace in the last month.

You can read about a Longitude exhibition in Lisbon, Victorians searching for Gorillas in the Land of Canibals, Alexander Graham Bell’s Wireless Phone powered by sunlight, Wolfgang Pauli’s speculations on Ghosts and Neutrinos, The Godfather of Ecstasy, Bed Shortages in Bedlam, Halley’s ailment in Barbados, Mary Somerville, Queen of Science, Mary Anning’s contribution to French Palaeontology, Natural Born Killers, Darwin on Worms, a Religion Devoted to Evolution, 500 years of Trinity House, Bombs filled with Bats, and Grand Visions and Messy Realities along with a host of other fascinating posts and articles.

At this end of an era of the history of science blog carnival Greg, its founder, has given us some personal thoughts on the creation and life of his baby on the Giants’ Shoulders website.

The Giant is dead, long live the Gazette! A round up of the best in Internet #histstem will continue to appear in the future in weekly rather than monthly form at the Whewell’s Ghost blog. For more details stay turned to this space.


Final thoughts on The Giant’s Shoulders

June 16, 2014

This blog carnival changed the direction of my life.

As I post some final thoughts on The Giant’s Shoulders, it is important for me to note how significant it has changed my scientific interests, my friends, and even the direction of my career.

I started blogging at Skulls in the Stars in August of 2007, and my science blogging was initially directed towards modern optical topics.  While I was researching a post on Einstein’s relativity, however, I found that there was no detailed information about Fizeau’s 1849 experiment.  I hunted down the original paper, translated it (crudely), and posted it on my blog.

Going back to the original source was something of a revelation — there was so much detail present that was lacking in any modern telling!  This led me, on a whim, to “challenge” fellow science bloggers to dig up classic works in their own fields and blog about them.  Bora Zivkovic, at that time at A Blog Around the Clock, got wind of my challenge and broadcast it far and wide, leading to a healthy number of entries in the final event.

After that, Bora suggested that I push the challenge to be a regular event, in the form of a blog carnival!  I agreed, provided that he helped manage it at first, and The Giant’s Shoulders was born.  There was some debate over the placement of the apostrophe: is it multiple science “giants” or a single, metaphorical “giant?”  We went with the latter, though folks have interpreted it either way depending on their tastes!

As I said, the carnival, and the history of science, changed the course of my writing.  I’ve always had a bit of an interest in the history, thanks to my PhD advisor Emil Wolf’s own interest in the history of optics.  Blogging about it, however, introduced me to a whole new way to look at science, and introduced me to many new friends who study science history.  Now blogging about history is one of my favorite things to do, and I believe it has made me a better scientist.

Alas, running a carnival takes a lot of work, and can take away from personal blogging.  Furthermore, with the rise of social media and the spread of blog posts through it, the need for carnivals has dropped significantly, though there are many successful ones ongoing.  In July of 2010 I welcomed Thony Christie as a co-manager of the carnival, and sometime within the next two years he took over duties completely.  Last year, he decided that it was time to wrap things up, and I agreed… so here we are.

It has been a great six years, and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to and hosted the carnival.  I would like to give special thanks to Bora Zivkovic, without whom none of this would have happened.

And, of course, I would like to express my greatest thanks to Thony Christie, who has managed and co-managed the carnival with me for so long.

The final edition of The Giant’s Shoulders can be read at my main blog.  On to bigger and better things in the history of science!

It’s The Final Countdown.

June 5, 2014

In case you’ve missed it Giants’ Shoulders the history of science, technology and medicine blog carnival is closing down at the end of six glorious years of aggregating the best of STEM history every month. Giants’ Shoulders #72 the Doomsday Edition will be hosted by the blog carnival’s founder Dr SkySkull (@drskyskull) on his Skulls in the Stars blog on 16th June 2014. This means you have just ten days left to submit those great history of science, technology or medicine blog posts that you’ve read or written either straight to the host or to me at RM or to either of us on Twitter.

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