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History of Neuroscience

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Adolphe Wurtz and the Battle for French Chemistry

In 1869, Adolphe Wurtz (1817-1884) called chemistry "a French science." In fact, however, Wurtz was the most internationalist of French chemists. Born in Strasbourg and educated partly in the laboratory of the great Justus Liebig, he spent his career in Paris, where he devoted himself to introducing German ideas into French scientific circles. His life therefore provides an excellent vehicle for considering the divergent trajectories of French and German chemistry—and, by extension, French and German science—during this crucial period.

After looking at the early careers of Wurtz's two mentors, Liebig and Jean-Baptiste Dumas, Rocke describes Wurtz's life and career in the politically complex period leading up to 1853. He then discusses the turning point in Wurtz's intellectual life—his conversion to the "reformed chemistry" of Laurent, Gerhardt, and Williamson—and his efforts (social and political, as well as scientific) to persuade his colleagues of the advantages of the new system. He looks at political patronage, or the lack thereof, and at the insufficient material support from the French government, during the middle decades of the century. From there Rocke goes on to examine the rivalry between Wurtz and Marcellin Berthelot, the debate over atoms versus equivalents, and the reasons for Wurtz's failure to win acceptance for his ideas. The story offers insights into the changing status of science in this period, and helps to explain the eventual course of both French and German chemistry.

The R&D Story of The SAGE Air Defense Computer

This book presents an organizational and social history of one of the foundational projects of the computer era: the development of the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) air defense system, from its first test at Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1951, to the installation of the first unit of the New York Air Defense Sector of the SAGE system, in 1958. The idea for SAGE grew out of Project Whirlwind, a wartime computer development effort, when the U.S. Department of Defense realized that the Whirlwind computer might anchor a continent-wide advance warning system. Developed by MIT engineers and scientists for the U.S. Air Force, SAGE monitored North American skies for possible attack by manned aircraft and missiles for twenty-five years.

Aside from its strategic importance, SAGE set the foundation for mass data-processing systems and foreshadowed many computer developments of the 1960s. The heart of the system, the AN/FSQ-7, was the first computer to have an internal memory composed of "magnetic cores," thousands of tiny ferrite rings that served as reversible electromagnets. SAGE also introduced computer-driven displays, online terminals, time sharing, high-reliability computation, digital signal processing, digital transmission over telephone lines, digital track-while-scan, digital simulation, computer networking, and duplex computing.

The book shows how the wartime alliance of engineers, scientists, and the military exemplified by MIT's Radiation Lab helped to transform research and development practice in the United States through the end of the Cold War period.

Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Craft of Precision Optics

In the nineteenth century, scientific practice underwent a dramatic transformation from personal endeavor to business enterprise. In Spectrum of Belief, Myles Jackson explores this transformation through a sociocultural history of the rise of precision optics in Germany. He uses the career of the optician Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826) to probe the relationship between science and society, and between artisans and experimental natural philosophers, during this important transition.

Fraunhofer came from a long line of glassmakers. Orphaned at age eleven, the young apprentice moved in with his master, the court decorative glass cutter. At age nineteen, bored with his work and angered by his master's refusal to allow him to study optical theory, Fraunhofer took a position at the Optical Institute assisting in the manufacture of achromatic lenses. Within ten years he was producing the world's finest achromatic lenses and prisms.

Housed in an old Benedictine monastery, Fraunhofer's laboratory mirrored the labor of the monks. Because of his secrecy (after his death, even those who had worked most closely with him could not achieve his success), British experimental natural philosophers were unable to reproduce his work. This secrecy, while guaranteeing his institute's monopoly, thwarted Fraunhofer's attempts to gain credibility within the scientific community, which looked down on artisanal work and its clandestine practices as an affront. The response to the ensuing rise of German optical technology sheds light on crucial social, economic, and political issues of the period, such as mechanization, patent law reform, the role of skills in both physics and society, the rise of Mechanics' Institutes, and scientific patronage. After his death, Fraunhofer's example was used in the newly united Germany to argue for the merging of scientific research and technological innovation with industrial and state support.

From the days of the alchemists through the creation of the modern laboratory, chemistry has been defined by its instruments and experimental techniques. Historians, however, have tended to focus on the course of chemical theory rather than on the tools and experiments that drove the theory. This volume moves chemical instruments and experiments into the foreground of historical concern, in line with the emphasis on practice that characterizes current work on other fields of science and engineering. The principal themes are: change and stability, precision, the construction and transformation of apparatus, the dissemination of instruments, and the bridging of disciplines through instruments.

The essays are divided into three chronological sections: The Practice of Alchemy (reviewing the material and iconographic evidence as well as the written record and the issue of reproducibility of alchemical experiments), From Hales to the Chemical Revolution (discussing significant seventeenth- and eighteenth-century innovations as well as smaller innovations that cumulatively extended the reach and improved the quality of chemical experimentation), and The Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (discussing the increasingly important role of innovative apparatus as chemistry grew into the first large-scale modern scientific discipline).

R. G. W. Anderson, Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Maurice Crosland, Jan Golinski, Frederic L. Holmes, Trevor H. Levere, Seymour H. Mauskopf, William R. Newman, Mary Jo Nye, Lawrence M. Principe, Alan J. Rocke, Colin A. Russell, William A. Smeaton, Melvyn Usselman.

Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration and conflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users. The story starts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanks and realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looks at how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how the usual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interesting and unique results; and how later users invented their own very successful applications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes that such applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development that has characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet's success has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical design and in organizational culture.

Nature and the Disciplines in Renaissance Europe

This volume examines the transformation in ways of studying nature that took place in Western Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Some of the essays trace particular textual traditions, while others follow the development of scholarly and professional communities. Some concentrate on the internal analysis of primary sources, while others examine the spread of practices to larger groups. Central to all is the search for a context for the increased fascination with nature, and especially with natural particulars—the details of natural forms, plants, and animals—that characterized this period. The essays also discuss how older theories and methods continued to exist; how the renewed study of classical sources introduced new problems and theories into the study of nature; how the structure of disciplines, both old and new, shaped approaches to the natural world; and how the material and practical means of disseminating knowledge helped to shape its content.

Recently the history of science in early modern Europe has been both invigorated and obscured by divisions between scholars of different schools. One school tends to claim that rigorous textual analysis provides the key to the development of science, whereas others tend to focus on the social and cultural contexts within which disciplines grew. This volume challenges such divisions, suggesting that multiple historical approaches are both legitimate and mutually complementary.

Michael J. B. Allen, Ann Blair, Daniela Mugnai Carrara, Brian P. Copenhaver, Chiara Crisciani, Luc Deitz, Paula Findlen, James Hankins, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, John Monfasani, William Newman, Vivian Nutton, Katharine Park.

Selected Writings from Georges Canguilhem

Georges Canguilhem (1904-1995) was one of France's foremost historians of science. Trained as a medical doctor as well as a philosopher, he combined these practices to demonstrate to philosophers that there could be no epistemology without concrete study of the actual development of the sciences and to historians that there could be no worthwhile history of science without a philosophical understanding of the conceptual basis of all knowledge. A Vital Rationalist brings together for the first time a selection of Canguilhem's most important writings, including excerpts from previously unpublished manuscripts and a critical biography by Camille Limoges.

Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art

How can new knowledge be created from already existing knowledge? Insights of Genius shows how seeing is central to the greatest advances of the human intellect. Artists and scientists alike rely on visual representations of worlds both visible and invisible.

Insights of Genius, first published by Copernicus in 1996, explores the creative leaps that led some of the greatest scientists and artists to dramatically transform how we understand nature. The scope of figures runs from Galileo and da Vinci to Einstein and Picasso. Focusing on the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the age of modern art and modern physics, the book travels through the philosophy of mind and language, cognitive science, neurophysiology, and art history. Insights of Genius discusses intuition, aesthetics, realism, representation, metaphors, and visual imagery. Allied to these concepts are causality, relativity, energy conservation, entropy, the correspondence principle, scientific creativity, and Cubism. Running through the book is the idea that science extends our intuition from common sense to an understanding of a world beyond our perception.

Edited by N. M. Swerdlow

In the ancient world, the collection and study of celestial phenomena and the interpretation of their prophetic significance, especially as applied to kings and nations, were closely related sciences carried out by the same scholars. Both ancient sources and modern research agree that astronomy and celestial divination arose in Babylon. Only in the late nineteenth century, however, did scholars begin to identify and decipher the original Babylonian sources, and the process of understanding those sources has been long and difficult.

This volume presents recent work on Babylonian celestial divination and on the Greek inheritors of the Babylonian tradition. Both philological and mathematical work are included. The essays shed new light on all of the known textual sources, including the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil, which contains omens from as far back as the early second or even third millennium, and the earliest personal horoscopes, from about 400 B.C., as well as the Astronomical Diaries, ephemerides, and other observational and mathematical texts. One essay concerns astronomical papyri that confirm the extensive transmission of Babylonian methods into Greek; a study of Ptolemy's lunar theory suggests that Ptolemy relied more on his own observations than previously thought; and an analysis of Theon's commentary on Ptolemy's Handy Tables shows that Theon explicated their meaning both conscientiously and competently.

Contributors: Asger Aaboe, Alan C. Bowen, Lis Brack-Bernsen, John P. Britton, Bernard R. Goldstein, Gerd Graßhoff, Hermann Hunger, Alexander Jones, Erica Reiner, F. Rochberg, N. M. Swerdlow, Anne Tihon, C. B. F. Walker.

Tales in the History of Neuroscience

Charles G. Gross is an experimental neuroscientist who specializes in brain mechanisms in vision. He is also fascinated by the history of his field. In these engaging tales describing the growth of knowledge about the brain—from the early Egyptians and Greeks to the Dark Ages and the Renaissance to the present time—he attempts to answer the question of how the discipline of neuroscience evolved into its modern incarnation through the twists and turns of history.


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