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The curious history of curiosity-driven research

/, News, Seminars & Public Lectures/The curious history of curiosity-driven research

The curious history of curiosity-driven research

Prize lecture

Professor Jon Agar, 2016 Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize winner

4 April 2017

18:30 – 19:30

Location

The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG

Overview

Explore the curious place of curiosity in the history of science.

In the early modern period, curiosity was doubled-edged: it was both a virtue, the spring for a “love of truth”, but also the source of human error and even personal corruption. In the 20th century, curiosity had become an apparently uncomplicated motivation. Successful scientists, for example Nobel Prize winners in their lectures and biographies, frequently attributed their first steps into science to a fundamental curiosity, an irrepressible desire to ask the question ‘why?’

The aside made by Albert Einstein in private correspondence in 1952 – “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious” – has now become a meme. Yet in the 20th century, science was shaped by many forces, and the practical utility of science in the real, messy problematic worlds of its formation seem far removed from the seeming innocence of curiosity-driven research. 

In this lecture, Professor Agar (Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London) asks why scientists say they ask ‘why?’, and traces the curious history of the idea of curiosity-driven science.

Attending this event

For all enquiries, please contact [email protected].

By | 2017-11-10T09:53:15+00:00 February 24th, 2017|BSHS Announcements, News, Seminars & Public Lectures|Comments Off on The curious history of curiosity-driven research

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