Euclid and Book History in the Digital Age

In the spring semester of 2014, I taught a new course (for me and for my department): a junior seminar (HSCI 3993) designed to give junior history of science majors a serious research experience before they embarked on their senior capstone projects. I had each of my students pick a sixteenth- or seventeenth-century book fromContinue reading “Euclid and Book History in the Digital Age”

A Bill of Mortality (and a peck of snails)

This Bill of Mortality is a dense document, crammed with facts and figures on death and disease in seventeenth-century England. The English started collecting data on numbers of births and deaths and causes of death in the sixteenth century as a way of tracking potential plague epidemics. This particular Bill is much reproduced because itContinue reading “A Bill of Mortality (and a peck of snails)”

Did plague doctors wear those masks?

I get asked this question a lot when I teach courses in the history of medicine or the history of science.  Even more commonly, people tell me they “know” what plague doctors looked like: they had a mask with a long beak, goggles, gloves and a garment that covered them from chin to ankles.  Indeed,Continue reading “Did plague doctors wear those masks?”

Tycho in China

This is a guest post by Peter Barker (@voxcanis).  All photos of Chinese instruments are his own. In 2002 I was invited to a conference in China. I used the opportunity to visit the Tychonic instruments preserved in Beijing. Constructed with the help of Jesuit missionaries at the Imperial Court, the observatory was originally locatedContinue reading “Tycho in China”

Biographies of Islamic Astronomers

Check out the biographies of men (and one woman) who made important contributions to the development of science in the Islamic world, and eventually in Europe as well, in our new pages under Islamic Astronomy.  All biographies are written by students in HSCI 3013.

Faces of Aristotle

In my introduction to the course, I discussed Raphael’s painting “The School of Athens,” in which Aristotle is one of the two central figures. We will be spending a considerable amount of time in this course discussing the works of Aristotle, in the subject areas of astronomy, meteorology, physics and biology. In fact, we willContinue reading “Faces of Aristotle”