Tag Archives: Science History

American Eden: Botany, Medicine In The Early Republic


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american edenVictoria Johnson’s new book American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garen of the Early Republic (Liveright, 2018) is the untold story of Alexander Hamilton’s ― and Aaron Burr’s ― personal physician, whose dream to build America’s first botanical garden inspired the young Republic.

When Dr. David Hosack tilled what is believed to one of the country’s first botanical gardens in the Manhattan soil more than two hundred years ago, he didn’t just dramatically alter the New York landscape; he left a legacy of advocacy for public health and wide-ranging support for the sciences. Continue reading

Marie Curie Once Visited the North Country


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History credits the discovery of uranium to a German chemist, Martin Henrich Klaproth, in 1789. In 1896, just over a century later, a French chemist, Eugene-Melchior Peligot, discovered uranium’s radioactivity. Uranium ore, known as pitchblende, was revealed shortly after by Marie and Pierre Curie as the source of radium, which they mentioned as a possible future treatment for cancer.

Polish born Marie, (her name was Sklowdowska) was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, and the first person to win twice — in 1903, in physics, for her work on radiation, and in 1911, in chemistry, for discovering polonium and radium. Only she and Linus Pauling have won in two different fields. (She also developed the practical use for x-rays that dramatically enhanced patient care on the battlefields of World War I). Continue reading

The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden


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the enlightenment of cadawaller coldenWas there a conservative Enlightenment? Could a self-proclaimed man of learning and progressive science also have been an agent of monarchy and reaction?

Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), an educated Scottish emigrant and powerful colonial politician, was at the forefront of American intellectual culture in the mid-eighteenth century.

While living in rural New York, he recruited family, friends, servants, and slaves into multiple scientific ventures and built a transatlantic network of contacts and correspondents that included Benjamin Franklin and Carl Linnaeus. Over several decades, Colden pioneered colonial botany, produced new theories of animal and human physiology, authored an influential history of the Iroquois, and developed bold new principles of physics and an engaging explanation of the cause of gravity. Continue reading

Greene Smith: Peterboro’s Avid Outdoorsman


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Smith BirdhouseThe important contributions to the field of ornithology of citizen-scientist Greene Smith have been obscured by the Underground Railroad and abolition fame of Smith’s father Gerrit Smith. As important and well-known as are the Underground Railroad sites on the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro NY, it is Greene’s Ornithon that most piques visitors’ curiosity about the builder and collector of that bird museum.

This public fascination prompted Norm Dann to turn the focus of his Smith research to Greene Smith and his Birdhouse. Dann’s study of family letters, military records, Greene’s personal Catalogue of Birds, the pursuit of Greene’s hunting apparatus, and the ownership and investigation of the Birdhouse site, have culminated in the March printing of Greene Smith and the WildLife: The Story of Peterboro’s Avid Outdoorsman – the first publication on this absorbing story. Continue reading

New History of Science Journal Launched


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BJTCambridge University Press and the British Society for the History of Science (BSHS) have announced their partnership to launch a new, peer-reviewed, open access, thematic journal, for the history of science. A call for proposals for the first volume of BJHS Themes has been released, seeking thematic collections of papers that animate, provoke and inspire the scholarly community.

Each volume of the journal will be free to read online from the date of its publication. By launching the journal in this way, the BSHS and Cambridge will encourage widespread engagement with the important ideas each volume will present, stimulating public and scholarly debate that will enhance our collective understanding of science in history.To fully promote onward exploration of each volume’s theme, the journal will use a Creative Commons license that permits re-use and dissemination. Continue reading

Sally Ride Biographer Keynoting Susan B. Anthony Event


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susanbThe National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House has announced that its’ keynote speaker for the 2015 Susan B. Anthony Birthday Luncheon will be Lynn Sherr, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and biographer. The 2015 luncheon theme, Thanks to Susan B., We Can Reach For the Stars!, a celebration of the impact Susan B. Anthony’s life and work has had on subsequent generations of women. Continue reading

The Catskills Conference That Changed The World


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shawanga (1)In the middle of September of 1959, more than160 of the world’s most prominent scientists– eight of whom would go on to earn a Nobel prize– gathered at a remote mountain lodge for three days of discussions that have become known as “the conference that changed the world.”

The remote mountain lodge that played host to this groundbreaking get together was not in the Swiss Alps or the Himalayas of Tibet, but in Sullivan County, New York. Continue reading

Two Historians Among 2014 MacArthur Fellows


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2014 macarthur fellowsRecognizing 21 exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future, the The MacArthur Foundation today named its 2014 MacArthur Fellows, including two historians: Tara Zahra, 38, or the University of Chicago, and Pamela O. Long, 71, of Washington, DC.

Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 with no stipulations or reporting requirements, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions. Continue reading

Women in Science: Gazing at the Stars Through History


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Debra Elmegreen and Professor Maria Mitchell by Suzanne Schnittman2014’s season of college graduations is winding down, but the questions to students persist: “What are you going to do now?” While some grads provide a satisfying answer to this bothersome query, many avoid a direct response.

Frequently, they are heading down a road that is not their first choice. In 1878 a well-known graduate from Vassar Female College in Poughkeepsie, New York, found herself in a similar situation. Continue reading