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Science in Context

Marcin Krasnodębski
Argument While science and economy are undoubtedly interwoven, the nature of their relationship is often reduced to a positive correlation between economic and scientific prosperity. It seems that the modern scholarship focusing on "success stories" tends to neglect counterintuitive examples such as the impact of economic crises on research. We argue that economic difficulties, under certain circumstances, may also lead to the prosperous development of scientific institutions. This paper focuses on a particular organism, the Pine Institute in Bordeaux in France...
March 2017: Science in Context
Chien-Ling Liu
Argument Revising the diffusionist view of current scholarship on the Pasteur Institutes in China, this paper demonstrates the ways in which local networks and circumstances informed the circulation and construction of knowledge and practices relating to smallpox prophylaxis in the Southwest of China during the early twentieth century. I argue that the Pasteur Institute of Chengdu did not operate in a natural continuity with the preceding local French medical institutions, but rather presented an intentional break from them...
March 2017: Science in Context
Víctor Hugo Anaya-Muñoz, Vivette García-Deister, Edna Suárez-Díaz
Argument This paper analyzes the research strategies of three different cases in the study of human genetics in Mexico - the work of Rubén Lisker in the 1960s, INMEGEN's mapping of Mexican genomic diversity between 2004 and 2009, and the analysis of Native American variation by Andrés Moreno and his colleagues in contemporary research. We make a distinction between an approach that incorporates multiple disciplinary resources into sampling design and interpretation (unpacking), from one that privileges pragmatic considerations over more robust multidisciplinary analysis (flattening)...
March 2017: Science in Context
S Mohammad Mozaffari
Argument In the Almagest, Ptolemy finds that the apogee of Mercury moves progressively at a speed equal to his value for the rate of precession, namely one degree per century, in the tropical reference system of the ecliptic coordinates. He generalizes this to the other planets, so that the motions of the apogees of all five planets are assumed to be equal, while the solar apsidal line is taken to be fixed. In medieval Islamic astronomy, one change in this general proposition took place because of the discovery of the motion of the solar apogee in the ninth century, which gave rise to lengthy discussions on the speed of its motion...
March 2017: Science in Context
Catherine Radtka
Argument In this paper, I argue that studying school textbooks is a fruitful way to investigate mathematical conceptions in different national contexts. These sources give access to the written production of an extended mathematical milieu whose members write for various audiences. By studying the case of late 1950s French and English textbooks issued for a growing audience of 11- to 15-year-old pupils, I show that a plurality of conceptions was projected at the time onto pupils and their teachers in both national contexts...
December 2016: Science in Context
Nuria Valverde Pérez
Argument This paper focuses on the uses of electroencephalograms (EEGs) in Mexico during their introductory decade from 1940 to 1950. Following Borck (2006), I argue that EEGs adapted to fit local circumstances and that this adjustment led to the consolidation of different ways of making science and the emergence of new objects of study and social types. I also maintain that the way EEGs were introduced into the institutional networks of Mexico entangled them in discussions about the objective and juridical definitions of social groups, thereby preempting concerns about their technical and epistemic limitations...
December 2016: Science in Context
Ernst Mach
Many debates have already taken place on the reliability of the results obtained by means of sphygmographs. The following remarks may contribute to clarify some still unsettled points.
December 2016: Science in Context
Ludwig Mach
In some cases our sensory organs are no longer capable of rendering processes in the external world perceptible to us. Their inadequacy expresses itself, for example, in phenomena that involve the kind of expansion of space and time in which the conditions for summary perception are no longer at all present. The resources that aid our immediate sense perception in these circumstances will thus be charged with the task of expanding or diminishing space and time to the extent that the contiguity and succession of events is comprehensible to us...
December 2016: Science in Context
Ernst Mach
It is undisputed that all scientific knowledge proceeds from sense perception. And the way in which sense perception is fostered by the graphic arts generally, and in particular by photography (stereoscopy included), likewise needs no further explanation here.
December 2016: Science in Context
Alexandre Métraux
Argument The sphygmograph as designed and tested by Jules-Étienne Marey - an apparatus destined to write pulse tracings on paper - revolutionized medical diagnostics in the early 1860s. Since the accuracy with which this device registered and objectified the pulse was controversial from the outset, the young scholar Ernst Mach (soon to become a leading theoretician and philosopher) decided to thoroughly examine Marey's sphygmograph. The investigation led to the invention of an alternative, truly Machian, sphygmograph...
December 2016: Science in Context
Christoph Hoffmann, Alexandre Métraux
With the death of Ernst Mach on February 19, 1916, one day after his seventy-eighth birthday, a question finally became explicit that had been looming for some time. It was as simple as it was fundamental: who, in the end, was this man, a scientist or a philosopher? The importance of this question for contemporaries can easily be gleaned from the obituaries that appeared in the weeks following Mach's death: one in the Physikalische Zeitschrift, written by Albert Einstein, and another in the Archiv für die Geschichte der Philosophie, written by Mach's former student Heinrich Gomperz...
December 2016: Science in Context
Otto Toeplitz
In the above mentioned article [1] unfortunately the names of the translators of Toeplitz's lecture were omitted. The correct title is: The Problem of University Courses on Infinitesimal Calculus and Their Demarcation from Infinitesimal Calculus in High Schools Otto Toeplitz Translated into English by Michael N. Fried and Hans Niels Jahnke.
December 2016: Science in Context
Christoph Hoffmann
Argument In spring 1888, an anonymous critic raised severe doubts about Ernst Mach's and Peter Salcher's studies, published one year before, on the processes in the air caused by very rapid projectiles. Paraphrasing the experiments for the French popular science magazine La Nature, the critic insinuated that the photographs upon which Mach and Salcher's argument were ostensibly based must have been of such low quality that they did not allow any well-founded conclusion. The critic did not deny the phenomena Mach and Salcher had presented in their article; he denied that the photographs taken in the course of the experiments could permit any observation of the phenomena...
December 2016: Science in Context
Mónica García, Stefan Pohl-Valero
Argument Using the notion of styles of knowledge we refer to the ways diverse scientific communities claim to produce true knowledge, their understandings regarding the attitudes and values that scientists should have in order to grasp natural and social reality, and the practices and technologies developed within such styles. This paper analyzes scientific and medical enterprises that explored the relationship between environment, population, and society in Colombia between 1850 and 1920. We argue that similar styles of knowledge production were shared in human geography, medical geography, and climatic physiology at the mid-nineteenth century; and that some physicians working in bacteriology and physiology since the 1880s established epistemic boundaries between their work and earlier scientific activities, while others found these distinctions irrelevant...
September 2016: Science in Context
James Bergman
Argument The history of meteorology has focused a great deal on the "scaling up" of knowledge infrastructures through the development of national and global observation networks. This article argues that such efforts to scale up were paralleled by efforts to define a place for local knowledge. By examining efforts of the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, near Boston, Massachusetts, to issue local weather forecasts that competed with the centralized forecasts of the U.S. Signal Service, this article finds that Blue Hill, as a user of the Signal Service's observation network, developed a new understanding of local knowledge by combining local observations of the weather with the synoptic maps afforded by the nationwide telegraph network of the U...
September 2016: Science in Context
François Lê
Argument This paper challenges the use of the notion of "culture" to describe a particular organization of mathematical knowledge, shared by a few mathematicians over a short period of time in the second half of the nineteenth century. This knowledge relates to "geometrical equations," objects that proved crucial for the mechanisms of encounters between equation theory, substitution theory, and geometry at that time, although they were not well-defined mathematical objects. The description of the mathematical collective activities linked to "geometrical equations," and especially the technical aspects of these activities, is made on the basis of a sociological definition of "culture...
September 2016: Science in Context
Roi Wagner
Argument This paper reconstructs Wronski's philosophical foundations of mathematics. It uses his critique of Lagrange's algebraic analysis as a vignette to introduce the problems that he raised, and argues that these problems have not been properly appreciated by his contemporaries and subsequent commentators. The paper goes on to reconstruct Wronski's mathematical law of creation and his notions of theory and techne, in order to put his objections to Lagrange in their philosophical context. Finally, Wronski's proof of his universal law (the expansion of a given function by any series of functions) is reviewed in terms of the above reconstruction...
September 2016: Science in Context
Anne Eriksen
Argument Smallpox inoculation was introduced in Europe in the early eighteenth century and has been considered the first mass treatment of disease based on practical use of probability calculations and mathematical tools of computation. The article argues that these new approaches were deeply entangled with other rationalities, most emphatically that of exemplarity. Changes in inoculation methods around mid-century gradually changed the conceptualization of disease, seeing all cases as fundamentally equal, and thus making it more relevant to count them...
June 2016: Science in Context
Jung Lee
Argument Mutuality in "contact zones" has been emphasized in cross-cultural knowledge interaction in re-evaluating power dynamics between centers and peripheries and in showing the hybridity of modern science. This paper proposes an analytical pause on this attempt to better invalidate centers by paying serious attention to the limits of mutuality in transcultural knowledge interaction imposed by asymmetries of power. An unusually reciprocal interaction between a Japanese forester, Ishidoya Tsutomu (1891-1958), at the colonial forestry department, and his Korean subordinate Chung Tyaihyon (1883-1971) is chosen to highlight an inescapable asymmetry induced by the imperial power structure...
June 2016: Science in Context
Geoffrey Blumenthal
Argument The main thesis of this paper is that Copernicus's avoidance of all admission that scripture was contravened in De revolutionibus and his composition of its new Preface in 1542, as well as the non-publication of Rheticus's Treatise on Holy Scripture and the Motion of the Earth, were influenced by the early information they received on the failure of the 1541 Regensburg Protestant-Catholic colloquy, among the major consequences of which were significant increases in the problems concerning publishing works which contravened scripture...
June 2016: Science in Context
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