” Who needs scientific instruments” 20-22 October 2005 Museum Boerhaave Leiden, the Netherlands In October 2005, a three-day conference will be organised in Museum Boerhaave. The conference deals with instruments and their users. More detailed information can be found on www.museumboerhaave.nl/conference.
The central topic can best be formulated as a question: who needs scientific instruments? Historians of science as well as historians of scientific instruments will give their views and elaborate on the users of scientific instruments. Each day there will be another theme.
The status of instruments Thursday 20th October Chair: Dr. Robert Anderson, Former director of the British Museum, London Instruments and their users are the cornerstones of science. The surviving instruments demonstrate the development of scientific progress. In addition, they reflect the status of science and scientists over time. For instance, instruments in royal cabinets demonstrate the wealth and interest of their owners. In scientific societies instruments were used for educational purposes and became symbols of the exchange of knowledge. All such instruments can change in stature after their original use, e.g., when they are stored in museums and become cultural symbols.
II. Location and organisation Friday 21st October Chair: Prof. Dr. Dominique Pestre, Alexandre Koyre Centre for the History of Science, Paris, France Instruments are not loose entities. They are used in specific environments, created by their users. An example is the rise of the modern laboratory. Without the laboratory environment many instruments would simply not have been developed. Sometimes the environment forces the user to modify his instruments, as with expeditions or experimental fieldwork. Other environments or kinds of research force scientists to work together in groups, with manufacturers, or in research centres.
III. Innovation Saturday 22nd October Chair: Prof. Albert van Helden, History of Science, Utrecht University An important aspect of the development of instruments is innovation. Propagation of instruments has an important part to play in the innovation process. Who brings the new instruments to wider notice, so that they will be used and modified? Users want specific qualities in their instruments. Can their demands be met by the instrument makers or do users make their own adaptations? And do users or manufacturers change the initial purposes of an instrument over time? Speakers include: Dr. Jim Bennett, Museum for the History of Science, Oxford, United Kingdom Dr. Karsten Gaulke, Astronomisch-Physikalisch Kabinett, Staatliche Museen Kassel, Germany Professor Dr. Helge Kragh, History of Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark Dr. Lissa Roberts, History of Science and Technology, Twente University, The Netherlands Dr. Filippo Camerota,Vice Director and Collection Manager, Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Florence, Italy Marc Ratcliff , Institut d’histoire de la médicine et de la sauté, Université de Genève, Swizerland
You are invited to register at www.museumboerhaave.nl/conference/registration.html Registration closes on the 15th of October. The conference fee is 350 euro