January 2008 Newsletter, Vol. 37, No.1

Wikipedia and the History of Science

Engaging Wikipedia Can Wikipedia succeed as a public-education tool? When it comes to history of science, Sage Ross says yes, but only if historians learn to use this powerful tool.

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Islamic Creationism: A Short History

Illusion of HarmonyCreationism as solely a conservative Christian preoccupation? Not so fast, says Taner Edis, who recently published a book on creationism in the Islamic world. Islam, he says, is the world religion that has proved most resistant to Darwinian evolution. Among devout Muslim intellectuals, antievolutionary views are not fringe ideas but mainstream options.

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First Person

In this issue we look at career paths for graduates in the history of science that go beyond the university.

Alternative Realities

David AttisPh.D. in hand, David Attis jumped out of the academic pool and into the corporate sea . After eight years “out there” he reports back on how graduates in the history of science can make a life for themselves (and use their academic skills).

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On Being an Independent Historian

Pam Long

After a slow start, Pamela O. Long made a successful academic career outside the university system. Here, she discusses ways and means of being an historian without a university paycheck.

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PhotoEssay

Spectrum of Rain

The Rainband in Spectroscope

In the nineteenth century the invention of the spectroscope allowed scientists to study the chemical composition of the sun. Late in the nineteenth century, spectroscopes were turned to the study of water in the atmosphere and the possibilities of forecasting rain. This represents, writes Ben Smith, "the earliest attempt to apply spectroscopy to atmospheric remote sensing and meteorology."

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2007 HSS Prize Winners

In this issue we profile David Kaiser, winner of the Pfizer Prize, and Hyung Wook Park, who won the Reingold Prize.

David KaiserThe intersection between theoretical physics and visual culture provided David Kaiser with an opportunity to write a book that speaks to the kind of people who often don’t speak to each other: historians, philosophers, sociologists, scientists, and even art historians.The book, Drawing Theories Apart: The Dispersion of Feynman Diagrams in Postwar Physics, won this year's Pfizer Prize.

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Hyung Wook ParkHyung Wook Park’s initial questions about the absence of old animals and people in scientific research led him to the farmyards of 1930s and 1940s America and the origins of gerontology. Park received the Nathan Reingold Prize for “‘The Thin Rats Bury the Fat Rats’: Animal Husbandry, Caloric Restriction, and the Making of a Cross-Disciplinary Research Project.”

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2007 Guggenheim Winners

Out of the 189 artists, scholars and scientists chosen to receive the 2007 Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships, eight are working on projects with connections to the history of science. We profile the (alphabetically) last winner in this issue.

John Walbridge is studying the philosophical issues identified by medieval Islamic medical scientists, specifically Shirazi’s synthesis of the philosophical foundations of Galenic medicine. Since Islamic philosophers were often also physicians, medicine must have influenced their philosophy, says Walbridge, but these philosophical foundations are not well understood.

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Program Profile

UCSB History fo ScienceUniversity of Athens

Looking for a history of science program? We continue our series on graduate programs with the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Athens.

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