Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

Giants’ Shoulders #71

May 22, 2014

The May edition of the history of science blog carnival Giants’ Shoulders #71 is up at The Renaissance Mathematicus

The Giant Delayed

May 16, 2014

Actually the history of science blog carnival Giants’ Shoulders #71 should appear here today. However due to pressure of work and ill health I regret to inform all of his fans that the Giant has been delayed. I hope to have him here by Monday at the latest so just hang in there and you’ll soon be able to enjoy the best #histsci, #histtech and #histmed bloggage from the last thirty days.

Some first class history of science reading for the holiday weekend: Giants’ Shoulders #70: The Sir Hans Sloane Birthday Collection

April 17, 2014

At a lose end on Good Friday or Easter Monday? Read up on the best history of science bloggage from the last thirty days gathered from the far reaches of cyberspace for your pleasure.

Lisa Smith (@historybeagle) has put together a wonderful edition of the histories of science, medicine and technology blog carnival Giants’ Shoulders to celebrate the birthday of Augustan physician, scientific official, and collector, Sir Hans Sloane, just in time for the holiday weekend.

The next edition of Giants Shoulders #71 will be presented here at the Renaissance Mathematicus on 16 May 2014. Submission as ever to me here at RM or on Twitter by 15 May at the latest.

Giants’ Shoulders #70 celebrates a birthday.

April 9, 2014

Hans Sloane is one of those figures in the history of science, who deserves to be much better known than he is. Although Sloane Square in London is named after him, giving name to one of the horrors of modern English culture, the Sloane Ranger, most people would be hard put to it to say who he was.

An Irish physician who lived through the second half of the seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth, he was a central figure in the English scientific community that included Hooke, Wren, Halley, Flamsteed and Newton as well as many other less well known personages. He was secretary of the Royal Society when Newton became its president in 1704 and very much shared the power with the great Sir Isaac in that august body until he resigned in 1713, after a series of power struggles with other council members over the preceding years. He got his revenge however when he was elected president following Newton’s death in 1727, a post he retained until 1741.

He served three English monarchs, Anne, George I and George II, as royal physician and was appointed baronet for his services in 1716. He was also elected president of the Royal College of Physicians in 1719 a post he would hold for sixteen years. In 1722 he also became physician-general to the army.

From the modern point of view Sloan’s most important activity was that of collector. Scientific curiosity cabinets were very much en vogue in the Early Modern Period and Sloane collected scientific curiosities on an almost unbelievable scale. When he died, in 1753, he donated his monster collection to the nation on the condition that the government build a museum to house it. The government agreed and so the venerable British Museum was born. Later Sloane’s natural history collection was given a home of its own leading to the establishment of the Natural History Museum.

Like many of his contemporaries, and in particular the collectors, Sloane was a prolific letter writer and, as is befitting in this digital age, his correspondence has its own blog. To celebrate Sir Hans’ 354th birthday, on 16 April, Giants’ Shoulders #70, the history of science, medicine and technology blog carnival  will take place at The Sloane Letters Blog hosted by our favourite blogging beagle, Lisa Smith (@historybeagle). Submission for this special birthday edition of Giants’ Shoulders should be made either direct to the host or to me at RM or to either of us on Twitter at the latest by 15 April.

Giants’ Shoulders #69: The Tunnel Edition

March 16, 2014

It’s that day again, 16th of the month and time for a new edition of the world’s best history of science, medicine and technology bog carnival, Giants’ Shoulders. Number 69 in our series has now been posted at her Something by Virtue of Nothing blog by ane pixestos. The Tunnel Edition is a true giant; in fact it might well be the largest edition ever. If you work your way through everything listed there you should be finished just in time for Giants’ Shoulders #70!

Giants’ Shoulders #70 will be celebrating Sir Hans Sloane’s 354th birthday at The Sloane Letters Blog on 16th April 2014, hosted by mega blogger Lisa Smith (@historybeagle). Submission as ever direct to the host or to me here at RM or to either of us on Twitter by 15th of the month at the latest.

Giants’ Shoulders #68: A leaf in the Wind

February 17, 2014

Giants’ Shoulders took a trip to the Indian sub-continent and the journey turned into a history of science trip around the world. Giants’ Shoulders #68: A Leaf in the Wind is up at the Compasswallah Blog hosted by Fade Singh and a very spicy #histsci masala it is too. Fade Singh takes us on a history of science, technology and medicine journey through Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas stopping off at many a fascinating destination. Fade Singh reminds us that science, technology and medicine and their histories are truly global. So strap on your travelling shoes and go on a journey of discovery.

The history of science blog carnival Giants’ Shoulders #69 will be hosted by Ane Pixestos on her Something by Virtue of Nothing Blog on 16th March 2014. Submissions as always either to the host or to me here at RM by the 15th of the month at the latest.

An Asiatic Giants’ Shoulders

February 4, 2014

As already announced for the next edition of Giants’ Shoulders, your favourite history of science, technology and medicine blog carnival, we are leaving our usual haunts of Europe and North America and following such figures of history as Alexander the Great, al Biruni and Vasco da Gama to the shrouded in legend half continent of Hindustan, where are host Fade Singh (@fadesingh) waits to greet us at his Compass Wallah Blog.

Unlike those historical figures named above we come in peace and it would be nice if the Giants’ Shoulders history of science community could write and submit posts related to the histories of science, technology and medicine in Asia for this the 68th edition of our carnival. You have just eleven days to make those submissions, as always, either direct to the host or to me here at RM or to either of us on Twitter (@rmathematicus).

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