History of Science Resource Guide

Page 1

A series of lectures, book discussions and film screenings at Princeton Public Library presented with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities



cience has a history, and it has often been a bumpy one. Accordingly, the job of history of science is not to plot timelines of major discoveries, or to write up the lives famous individuals like Isaac Newton and Marie Curie – although it may well involve both these activities. Histories of science are as much about the “bumps” as they are about tales of scientific success. They examine the changing meaning of science itself, and the way in which that meaning has been shaped by different contexts. This means that the history of science is an interdisciplinary enterprise, a pivot where the subject matter of science meets the analytical techniques of the arts and humanities – or, to put it another way, the point where science itself is put under the microscope, to help us reconstruct its many meanings in different times and places, and to different people.


ith this series of events, Princeton Public Library investigates how our world has shaped science and technology, even as science and technology have in turn shaped the world. It is tempting to view science as a timeless quest for empirical truth, yet “science” has never been a stable term. The Latin word scientia originally meant “learned knowledge,” and the modern, Western sense of science, as a body of disciplines concerned with the systematic study of nature, using a set of approaches now called the “scientific method,” took centuries to develop. The work of scientists can be affected by a host of factors, from policy decisions and funding priorities, to religious concerns and new cultural trends. Sometimes, these contexts can be surprising, and force us to question our assumptions about the nature of science. Does our view of Newton’s physics change when we realize that he also spent thirty years working on alchemy? Would Einstein’s physics have looked different if his first wife had not also been a brilliant mathematician? And what will come to define the science of our own age – institutional “big science” projects, like the Large Hadron Collider, or the mass marketing of small scale technologies, like phone apps? We hope that you will join us in finding out. Jennifer M. Rampling Assistant Professor of History, Program in History of Science Princeton University


Chris Tully

Freeman Dyson

Thomas Levenson

Nima Arkani-Hamed


Scott McVay

Laurie Wallmark

Angela Creager

Clifford Zink

March 3, 7 p.m. Film and Q&A: “Particle Fever” screening and discussion with Princeton University Physics Department’s Chris Tully Community Room March 8, 7 p.m. Freeman Dyson in Conversation with Nima Arkani-Hamed Community Room March 10, 7 p.m Lecture: “The Brief Life and Exciting Times of Vulcan – the Planet that Wasn’t There” with Author Thomas Levenson. Community Room March 18, 6:30 p.m. Film and Discussion: “Codegirl” Community Room March 20, 2 p.m. Author talk and activities with Laurie Wallmark on “Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine” Story Room March 23, 7 p.m. Book Discussion of Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” with Angela Creager Story Room March 30, 7 p.m. Author talk with Scott McVay on “Surprise Encounters with Artists and Scientists, Whales and Other Living Things” Community Room April 13, 7 p.m. Book Discussion of Brenda Maddox’s “Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA” with Kathryn Maxson Story Room April 24, 2 p.m. Lecture: Clifford W. Zink: “Mercer Magic and the Story of America’s First Sports Car” Community Room For details of these events, visit princetonlibrary.org/humanities Follow along on social media using the hashtag #HistoryofSciencePPL


Books Graham Burnett Trying Leviathan: The Nineteenth-century New York Court Case That Put the Whale on Trial and Challenged the Order of Nature Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything Angela Creager Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine Freeman J. Dyson Dreams of Earth and Sky George Dyson Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe Jon Gertner The Idea Factory: The Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation J.L. Heilbron The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories Nathalia Holt The Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars (out in April) Michio Kaku Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time Sam Kean The Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of the Elements Denise Kiernan The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WWII Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Levenson The Hunt for Vulcan And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe Alan P. Lightman The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th Century Science Brenda Maddox Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA Lauren Redniss Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love & Fallout Siobhan Roberts Genius at Play: The Curious Mind of John Horton Conway Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rachel Swaby Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - and the World Andrea Wulf The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World Keith Wailoo, Alondra Nelson, Catherine Lee, eds. Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History DVDs Particle Fever (2013) Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (2014) Inside Einstein’s Mind (2016) Albert Einstein and the Theory of Everything: Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony (2005) Streaming The History of Science series from BBC Science (2010) The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory series from NOVA (2003)

Princeton Public Library Sands Library Building 65 Witherspoon St. (609) 924.9529 www.princetonlibrary.org

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.