The Giant's Shoulders #20

Feb 17 2010 Published by under General science, History of science

Welcome to the February 1(7)th, 2010 edition of The Giant's Shoulders!  I seem to have had some shorted connections with the scheduled host, so I've ended up taking on the hosting myself this month.

BOOK REVIEW: Emma Townshend's Darwin's Dogs. First up, for the pet lovers out there, Michael Barton of The Dispersal of Darwin presents a review of one of the more unconventional books about Charles Darwin to come out last year, focusing on how dogs -- his pets, and otherwise -- influenced his thinking.

Primer: William Thomson. Next, Will at Ether Wave Propaganda gives a nice overview of the life and achievements of the physicist William Thomson, one of the more intriguing scientists of the 19th century.

Like a Greek God. Over at JOST A MON, Fëanor gives the first of a three-part post on the connections in Ancient Greece between religion and astronomy, based on Allan Chapman's TV programme on Channel 4.  Parts 2 and 3 are  here and here.

Missing "Dots" and Not Seeing the Discovery of Platelets, 1842.  Over at Ptak Science Books, we learn of Alfred Donne, the discoverer of platelets, and the reasons why he isn't generally remembered for the discovery!

Ancient and modern: First science academy is 350 years old.  Over at, we have a nice article on the Royal Society of London, celebrating its 350th anniversary this year*.

Mythbusters were scooped — by 130 years! (Archimedes death ray) My own humble contribution over at Skulls in the Stars looks at an early article on the mythical "burning mirrors" of Archimedes, which have a long and contentious history of being tested experimentally.

S. W. Mitchell and Phantom Limbs.  Over at the blog of the Philadelphia Center for History of Science, we hear of the first description of "phantom limb" symptoms, as described by a surgeon who studied the long-term effects of amputations on Civil War veterans.

NASA and the Ghosts of Explorers Past. Michael Robinson and Dan Lester of Time to Eat the Dogs discuss the future of NASA by looking back at historical explorers whom we can learn lessons from.

James Voelkel on Bringing Newton’s Alchemy to the Masses.  In another nice article from the Philadelphia Center for History of Science, we get a summary of an interesting project that intends to put all of Newton's alchemy papers (and there are a LOT) online, and some of the difficulties that have arisen.

A man with a strange name. One thing I always find fascinating are the occasional and often little known intersections between famous scientists.  Over at The Renaissance Mathematicus, ThonyC describes the ephemeral communication between two giants: Kepler and Galileo.

Tweeting a history of science.  From Educate Daily, we get a different sort of challenge related to the history of science: tweet a historical paper in about 130 characters!

Erik Rau on Terry Christensen on Cold-War Liberals.  One more from the Philadelphia Center for History of Science: John Wheeler and Edward Teller were both "cold war liberals", seeking peace through proliferation.  But the former was loved, the latter reviled: how to account for the difference?  This post summarizes a talk by Erik Rau on the subject.

Bright Idea: The First Lasers — A history of discoveries leading to the 1960 invention.  Not a blog post, but here is a very nice history of science resource: a history of the discoveries leading up to the first laser, appropriate for the 50-year anniversary!  Posted at the American Institute of Physics.

A Valentine from Leeuwenhoek.  Finally, with Valentine's Day just behind us, what could be more romantic than a Valentine from Antoni van Leeuwenhoek?  Via Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Centraal.

This concludes this edition of The Giant's Shoulders!  Look for the next edition on March 16th at the blog of the Philadelphia Center for History of Science.

(I should add a special thanks to ThonyC of The Renaissance Mathematicus for recommending a large number of articles for this edition of the carnival!)


*ThonyC notes of the title of this article, "It wasn't the first but otherwise the article is OK."

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