On November 28th we received a lecture from Elena from the University of Santa Barbara about the origins of science and the history of science. Elena studied the history of science. The origins of science can be understood as revolutions. Elena looked specifically at 3 origin stories.
The scientific revolution of the 17th century was very important. One way to look at this group of scientific findings is to look at them as a collection of experiments.
Joseph Priestley created a chart of history and chart of biology that framed history in quantitative terms. You can see that there is a great acceleration in arts and sciences in the 17th and 18th century. You can observe the patterns in the chart. Priestley did not use the term scientific revolution. The scientific revolution was during a time that was simultaneously a time of crisis. While people were contributing to the scientific revolution people were trying to survive the political revolutions going on at the time.
The second international congress for the History of Science took place in London, 1931. The most memorable paper was, the social and economic roots of Newton’s principia. The paper argues that political upheaval and the scientific revolution were connected. The other speakers are hardly remembered.
Vavilov had many collecting expeditions. He explored Europe, Asia, Mediterranean countries and expeditions in North and South America. People envy his collections. The collections contained an assortment of cereals and other foods such as barley.
There was a special soviet session at the International Congress for the History of Science in London 1931. Unfortunately, someone recalled that the chair of the convention tried to “shut up” the Russians. The Russians were very different compared to the English scientists. The Russians “proceeded integrally with the social aspect dominant.
Elena’s last point regarded the information revolution of the 1960s and the history of science (measuring the scientific revolution). Bernal was one of the most imminent scientists of the time. He was the personification of a real scientist in Britain. Bernal was part of the communist party and visited the Soviet Union on a regular basis. Bernal was designated as a threat of democracy in the west. His ideas about scientific communication were taken very seriously.
The Russians’ documentation facilities were envied in the west. Sputnik exacerbated anxieties in the US. The Soviet system was “locked”. The strength in the system was the upside of the communist regime.
Who was Eugene Garfield (1925-2017)? We looked at the trajectory of Garfield’s work. Garfield founded his own firm and looked for sponsors for his new project. His new project was titled the use of citation data in writing the history of science. However, sponsors were unresponsive. He questioned, “Can a computer write the history of science”? He found that yes, a computer can. He argued that the timeline is linear. You can see citation patterns. The citation index was published in 1965. The project turned into something bigger and larger. However, at the time the reaction to the citation index was not particularly enthusiastic.