Imperial College London
The Metaphorical Origins of Modern Science: Mathematical and Figurative Language in eighteenth century science
The title of this paper is a pun on A.E. Burtt’s famous work of 1924 called The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. Burtt said that the scientific revolution occurred because of a neo-platonic shift in metaphysical thinking that allowed for the mathematisation of nature, which was best expressed in Isaac Newton’s Principia.
In this paper I will describe how one of Newton’s fiercest philosophical critics, Robert Green, attacked Newton’s work at the metaphysical base of his philosophy of nature, claiming that Newton’s metaphysics of void space, inert matter in motion and action at a distance were meaningless abstractions — in short merely metaphors for insensible reality. Green’s rather unusual alternative proposed a natural philosophy that united mind, matter and spirit in a universal system of dynamic process, a metaphor that he believed would further the advance of natural philosophy more so than that proposed by Newton.
University College London
Dr. Andrew Smith: Personal Ambition, Professional Advantage and the Institutionalisation of Science in the Early Nineteenth Century Cape Colony.
Between 1820 and 1835 fourteen scientific organisations were established in Cape Town, where previously there had been none. The emergence of a viable middle class and an increasingly vibrant civil society were crucial factors in this process. Equally important were the activities the army surgeon Dr. Andrew Smith. He was sent to the Cape in part to collect for the new natural history museum established by the British Army’s Medical Service at Chatham. He was an very ambitious man, for whom the path to advancement lay in proving himself an outstanding naturalist. With his stationing in Cape Town in 1825 he sought to establish the social and institutional infrastructure to support his scientific activity. Unlike many other men of science in the Colony, he had direct access to the Colonial elite and the Governor and used this to gain official support for his activities. He was behind the establishment of the Colony’s first natural history museum, as well as several scientific societies. His activities in the Cape were designed to further his professional success, as a naturalist, to ensure his personal ambitions. In this he succeeded: becoming head of the Army’s Medical Service and being knighted in 1858.
University of Cambridge
An "Old Acquaintance" in a New Geography: Epidemiological Representations and the Local Government Board’s Report on the Influenza Epidemic of 1889-90.
Influenza was the last great epidemic disease of the nineteenth century to which miasmatism clung. In 1890, as the first influenza pandemic in over 40 years circled the globe, George Buchanan, Chief Medical Officer of England’s Local Government Board, and his colleague, Henry Parsons orchestrated a collective investigation into the cause and spread of influenza with the aim of breaking the vestiges of miasmatism. Parsons produced a mammoth Report on the Influenza Epidemic of 1889-90. On its release in 1891, Buchanan announced that Parsons’ Report established "that in its epidemic form Influenza is an eminently infectious complaint, communicable in the ordinary personal relations of individuals with one another." The conception quickly took hold in English public health medicine.
This paper approaches Parsons’ Report as "literary technology" that functioned as a knowledge-producing tool. It considers the specific representational practices that made up this technology and their use in transforming influenza into an infectious disease. I pay particular attention to Parsons’ representations of evidence of "contagion" in tables, charts and maps. The transformation enacted through these representations worked to change the "geography" of influenza. Influenza’s spread became anchored to places people collected and to communication networks that linked nations together.
Colonial Products Research and the West Indies, 1940-1960
In 1943 the Colonial Office in London created a Colonial Products Research Council to oversee research into a range of natural products from the Colonial Empire. The aim was to find new uses for products that were considered to be in oversupply and therefore achieved very low prices on the world market, as well as new markets for products superseded by synthetic alternatives. This decision to fund research into the products of the Colonial Empire was made in the context of increased interest in science at the Colonial Office in the early 1940’s, concerns over poor economic and social conditions in some Colonies that were dependant on the export of a small range of commodities, and a belief that new markets existed for these commodities as raw materials for the manufacture of synthetics and solvents. During the 1940’s the Colonial Products Research Council funded research projects at a number of British universities. Their descriptions of this work often referred to its fundamental and long term nature. This emphasis can be accounted for by a desire by the Colonial Office to reproduce in their new research organisations the existing organisational structures and mode of research of the British research councils.
University of Kent at Canterbury
Alcohol, Arsenic and Medicine.
The Manchester arsenic in beer epidemic of 1900-1 was a major public health emergency resulting in 6,000 cases of poisoning and 70 deaths. It sparked a number of controversies, both medical and chemical. The first of these concerned a medical condition known as ‘alcoholic neuritis’. In the initial stages of the epidemic chronic arsenic poisoning was systematically misdiagnosed as alcoholic neuritis. The discovery of arsenic in beer caused some medical practitioners to question whether alcoholic neuritis existed as a discrete disease. The second concerned the medicinal use of arsenic. Arsenic was a mainstay of late-nineteenth century medical therapeutics, but some practitioners saw the epidemic as proof that it caused rather than cured disease: pro-arsenic practitioners argued that a special mechanism rendered it more potent when taken in beer. The third controversy concerned the disease beriberi. Some medical practitioners had diagnosed their local epidemics as beriberi. This prompted a debate between tropical medicine specialists as to whether beriberi was arsenical in origin. The last controversy concerned the chemical detection of arsenic; namely, which method of arsenic analysis was ‘best’, and whether it should be adopted by analysts as a standard test. This public and often acrimonious debate divided the chemical profession.
Imperial College London
What’s Newton’s manuscript on Solomon’s temple about?
My paper reviews some interpretations to which Newton’s Prolegomena ad Lexici Prophetici has been put. Newton’s treatise aims at providing the right measures of Solomon’s Temple. René Taylor and Matt Goldish tried to show that Newton’s work was ‘mystic’. Goldish, however, thought that Newton’s mysticism was not ‘vague’, but ‘concrete’. By providing a mistaken interpretation of the importance of the measurements, and relating the work to Newton’s projects on prisca theologia, Goldish offered a distorted interpretative frame. Ciriaca Morano overestimated the importance of mathematics for the text, that she thought distinctively Newtonian given his ‘scientific’ style. Interpreters have failed to see the importance of the Temple for Newton as a type of the New Jerusalem after the Second Coming, although he described explicitly the prefigurative meaning of the Temple division in two courts that separate idolaters from the Elect. Interpreters of the manuscript have been misled by the prejudice that there must be something distinct or Newtonian, like mathematics, in Newton’s text, as compared to other Temple treatises, or on the other hand by the prejudice that Newton’s non-published studies must be mystical if they are not scientific in any way.
Lawrence S. Dritsas
University of Edinburgh
‘Expedition Science’ in Central Africa: the work of Dr. John Kirk on the Zambezi Expedition, 1858-1864.
My paper discusses the work of Dr. John Kirk (1832-1922) as Economic Botanist to the Zambezi Expedition from 1858-1864. Kirk was charged with collecting and cataloguing flora and fauna in the Zambezi watershed of south-eastern Africa. Richard Owen of the British Museum and Joseph Hooker of Kew Gardens supplied his instructions. Kirk was sent to observe nature directly and report first-hand observations; though by reading his journals and published accounts of his methods we find that he utilized local informants and assistants in various investigations. The use of informants, while necessary to achieve the goals of his fieldwork, potentially constituted bad practice. Informants were not part of acknowledged social networks by which their credibility might be evaluated. How then was local information appropriated? Using examples from primary sources, my paper argues that local informants’ testimony underwent significant manipulation in the reporting stages of expeditions. They were employed to establish Kirk’s credibility and to discredit others. Part of establishing ‘good method’ was stating how one dealt with local informants. Explorers who acknowledged, but did not corroborate, local informants or provide reasonable arguments for why informants should be trusted found themselves accused of drawing conclusions from hearsay.
Kings College London
Extramission theories of vision in children and ancient science
When children and lay adults are asked about what happens when a person sees an object, a surprising proportion of them answer that something goes out of the person’s eyes, or that there is something going both out of and into the eyes. These answers invite parallels with the visual extramission theories of Euclid and Ptolemy, or the combined intromission-extramission theory of Plato’s "Timaeus". In this paper, I will probe the validity of such parallels. Children share the preoccupation with the intentionally directed process of vision that is characteristic of ancient optics, as opposed to the modern concern with the physics of light. However, unlike the ancient scientists, children do not invent models of the underlying nature of the extramission. Furthermore, while children are occasionally puzzled by inconsistencies in their conceptions of vision, they are not as concerned as the ancient scientists were to achieve consistency and explanatory coherence in their conceptions.
Samuel Doble Gutiérrez
Universidad de la Laguna
Galileo: From the spyglass to the telescope
Galileo did not invent the spyglass: he simply transformed it. The magnitude of this transformation was such that, from being considered a mere toy, it finally obtained the status of a scientific instrument. This was possible because Galileo not only had theoretical interests, but he achieved to satisfy certain minimal technical requirements. Lacking any well-established optical theory, he was unable to transcend the limitations of his optical system.
Imperial College London
The invention of pure mathematics in Victorian England
The modern conception of the pure mathematician–as one who practises mathematics without regard for its utility–emerged in England during the second half of the nineteenth century in opposition to the whole ethos of Victorian science, industry, education and commerce. George Salmon’s appeal in 1883 for pure mathematicians to be regarded as artists like poets and painters is used to pose two questions: (1) Given such a self-presentation, how did pure mathematicians succeed in retaining their status as members of the scientific community? and (2) Why did Salmon think that such an appeal was likely to succeed? The first question is answered by proposing the London Mathematical Society as the means by which pure mathematicians ensured their continued participation in the scientific community: it was not the mathematical work of the Society’s members that ensured their social placement, but the Society’s own status as an institution, and the links that its members had with other scientific societies. The second question is answered, somewhat tentatively, with the suggestion that contemporary developments in pure mathematics can be seen as the expression of a romantic temperament, thus allowing pure mathematicians to ally themselves with the popular romantic movement in poetry and painting.
University of Manchester
Food, drink and exercise: the degeneration debate in Manchester, 1898-1908
Manchester often appears central to many of the discussions in our secondary literature about degeneration, both as a town with its fair share of slums, and also as the city whose Boer War recruiting figures are alleged to have sparked concerns aboutdegeneration at the turn of the twentieth century. By examining how those areas of health and well-being intimately associated with degeneration, by the Inter-departmental Report on Physical Deterioration (1904), namely food, drink and exercise, I shall show how degeneration became a rhetorical phrase which was used to re-voice longstanding and enduring concerns about the changes in British demography and society. Food and feeding became caught in the debates over statutory vs. charitable provision of welfare, exercise into the arguments about the need and desirability of conscription, alcohol into the disagreements and paradoxes of race science, anthropology and sexuality. In all cases, degeneration occurred as an almost infinitely flexible term, which added a novelty which was more rhetorical than real, to debates which were, in many cases, already decades old before the end of the nineteenth century; the ‘problem’ of "people out of place" and the changing gender and class roles of the established industrial cities.
University of London
Dr. Charles West: A 19th Century Physician’s Understanding of Acquired Childhood Aphasia
Acquired Childhood Aphasia (ACA) is an acquired impairment in language function due to neurological damage. The last 4 decades of the 19th century saw an explosion of interest in aphasia following the publication of Broca’s papers on the subject. ACA cases, appearing only rarely in the medical literature, illuminate initial attempts to understand language loss in children at a time of increasing theoretical and empirical knowledge of aphasic adults. What is now known as "the standard picture" of ACA was based almost entirely on French and German research. Yet cases were presented in English language journals.
The author of one of the earliest papers describing ACA in England was Charles West, the founder of Great Ormond Street Hospital, the first paediatric hospital in Britain. In 1871 West gave a series of influential lectures to his fellow physicians. In the last lecture he considered language disorders in children and described an ACA patient who resembled adult aphasics in her long- term linguistic impairments.
West did not accept contemporary neurological theory provided an adequate account of these child cases. ACA could not, he believed, be defined solely in relation to the adult aphasic literature. His work in the field of child language acquisition and loss seems strikingly modern.
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Reactors, Isotopes and the Rise of Spanish Nucleonics
In the 1950s Spain began to build their own nuclear programme to support research and development of nuclear science and technology. Part of this effort was channelled to the application of radioactive isotopes to science, medicine and industry, in a movement that fostered the emergence of new disciplines and research programmes. In my presentation, I would like to link these developments with the peculiar scientific and technical situation of Spain and the political and economical context of Francoist dictatorship.
I have organised my talk on five parts. In will begin with a brief account of the development of isotope science and their relationship with nuclear programs developed in countries like the USA and the UK. Then, I will describe the political and social context of Spanish science after World War II and the development of the Spanish nuclear programme, a topic that leads me to discuss the rise of isotope science in Spain. Last, I will finish by presenting some preliminary conclusions and the questions that are currently guiding my research.
Imperial College London
Francis Baily’s Account of the Revd. John Flamsteed, the First Astronomer Royal (1835): theory, practice and the Royal Astronomical Society
In 1835 Francis Baily, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, published his Account of the Revd. John Flamsteed. This work was greeted with alarm by some because it revisited the conflict that had taken place between Flamsteed and Isaac Newton, telling the story from Flamsteed’s point of view. Defenders of Newton’s reputation, one of whom declared that "if Newton’s character is lowered, the character of England is lowered and the cause of religion is injured", felt called upon to respond.
I will look at both the publication itself and its reception. While works such as Secord’s A Victorian Sensation (2001) focus on the rising audiences for popular and cheap scientific literature of the early 19th century, Baily’s book has a very different history. Only 250 copies of this work were printed, at the expense of the Admiralty, and distributed free of charge to a pre-selected group of individuals. I wish to examine this audience and their reaction to the work, comparing this to the more well-known hostility of Baily’s Oxbridge critics William Whewell and Stephen Rigaud.
University of the Aegean
Travellers and geographers and the mastic gum trade of the Chios island
Western Travellers and Geographers of the Eastern Mediterranean record how the Mastic Gum trade and its use in medicine, has contributed in the formation of the Ottoman Empire’s’administrative system in Chios Island (Based on 17th-19th Century Traveller’s and Geographer’s scripts and reports).
The Greek island of Chios, during 17th-19th Century, then under the Ottoman occupation, was very well known in the international marketplace for its unique production of Pistacia Lentiscus, mastic gum. The Ottoman state had the sales monopoly of the product, since the southern part of Chios island (21 mastic villages in total) was the only place worldwide where the Pistacia Lentiscus tree was producing mastic gum.
At that time, a large number of Western travellers and geographers who were visiting the Eastern Mediterranean recorded the product’s usefulness in medicine and its therapeutic effects, as well as its availability and pricing in world markets. The aim of the present essay is, using evidence from travellers’, geographers’ and diplomats’ scripts and reports at that time, to investigate the mastic gum trade of Chios island, during the 17th-19th Century.
The present study first, elaborates on the profile of the Western travellers and Geographers that visited the Chios island and recorded their impressions, second, it discusses the beneficial contribution of mastic gum to the science of Medical and pharmaceutical science, third, it attempts to bring to light information regarding the established system of exploitation by the Ottoman state and finally, reference is made to scripts and reports containing information in respect to the mastic gum trade such as international markets, trade lines, illegal trafficking etc.
University College London
Why be a Lamarckian?
In 1988 a team of Harvard molecular biologists presented a paper in Nature entitled ‘The Origin of Mutants’ (Cairns, Overbaugh & Miller, 1988). In that paper they reported observations of environment directed mutation in bacteria. They stated that, under conditions of nutritional stress, they had observed bacteria achieve adaptation to the changed environment by acquiring mutations that specifically suited them to the new conditions. Darwinian theory states that mutation is random with respect to environmental quality and that adaptation is achieved through a process of rare beneficial chance mutation. The Harvard research was therefore in direct conflict with the tenets of Darwinism. In addition, the Harvard researchers presented their work as a resurrection of Lamarckian theory. That placement of their work precipitated a vigorous and long-term controversy that continues to date. This presentation considers the motivations for the Harvard team’s Lamarckian association, illuminating this conflict by reflecting upon the historical context for a late twentieth century Lamarckian versus Darwinian debate. This presentation identifies and describes a selection of potential motivations for Lamarckian alliance in the late twentieth century. These motivations are described in six categories: Sheer bloody mindedness, Frustration with the status quo, Mistake, Unavoidability, Attention seeking, Debate perpetuation tactics.
University of Aarhus
Persuading the reluctant patron: state and science in Denmark, 1945 — 1960
The subject of my Ph.D.-research project is the relationship between the Danish national politics and the organisation of the technical sciences in Denmark, 1910-60. In my talk however, I shall focus on the broader issue of the relation between the state and the scientific world in general in Denmark in the period 1945-1960. Industrialisation came relatively late in Denmark compared to other northern European countries. Denmark was basically an agrarian society. Consequently the agrarian class and its worldview dominated both the political agenda and the national identity. However all this came to an end in the 1950s, when industrialism quickly gained momentum, causing a rapid shift in the state policy towards science. Large sums of state money suddenly flowed into the scientific institutions, turning old patterns of patronage up side down, rendering the state the most important patron of scientific research. I take a look at how this shift has been explained by the scientists involved in this process, focussing on the rather self-celebrating ideology of science advanced by small group of active Danish scientists inspired by the works of J. D. Bernal. They chose "Science and Society" as the name for their activities.
Universidad de Valencia
Astrology and Christianity: the case of a Spanish Dominican Friar of the XVIth century
One of the traditional missions of astrology was to explain history. This discipline gave for centuries a "rational" meaning to the historical and political happenings, and to changes in societies. Astrology was the base to understand history. And it had to be combined with the main supernatural belief of european Renaissance men: Christianity.
Among the texts of the XVIth century that were written all over Europe concerning this item, there is the very interesting sample of the manuscripts of a spanish dominican friar, Juan de Victoria. He develops in his works, specially in the one titled Libro de los cometas… (Book of comets…), the way in which astrology was mixed with christianism, following the theories of ancient and modern astrologers and the philosophies of the Fathers of Church.
The astrology of Victoria was centered in two ideas: comets are signs of future bad events; and great conjunctions of planets mean great changes in the world. Christian men affirmed that comets were sent by God to warn people, so they could repent of their sins and make penitence. Conjunctions were signs of the omnipotence of God.
Norwegian University of Science & Technology
Ellen Gleditsch — Woman Pioneer in Radiochemistry
Ellen Gleditsch (1879-1968) became Norway’s second female professor (1929) and the country’s first authority within radioactivity. In the period 1907-1912 she worked as Marie Curie’s assistant at the Laboratoire Curie in Paris, as well as studying radioactivity and related subjects at the Sorbonne. After the stay in Paris had ended, Gleditsch continued her research at Bertram B. Boltwood’s laboratory in New Haven for one year (1913-14). During this early period of radioactivity, Gleditsch contributed e.g. on the copper-lithium transmutation controversy, the radium-uranium ratio, and on the half-life of radium. In Oslo, she worked on the isotopic composition of lead and chlorine, and their atomic weights, on the intensive ?-ray from K-40, and the relation between the uranium and the actinium decay series. Gleditsch continually disseminated international research to scholars and the general public in Norway. She published about 80 papers and books in Norwegian. As a professor, she attracted female students and helped many of them to study abroad. Her preoccupation for women’s possibilities to study in general and to get abroad in particular, made her join the International Federation of University Women in 1920. Later she became president of both the Norwegian section and the whole organization.
University College London
The History of Genetics in Britain, 1900-1940
Until the early 1930s genetics in Britain was mainly studied by amateurs or in agricultural and horticultural institutes. By the early thirties there was the potential for genetics to become academic. The move towards academia was encouraged by the number of refugee geneticists who came to Britain in the 1930s. Their numbers made the creation of genetics departments in universities seem desirable. As the shift was made to academia new questions were asked, and techniques and ideas for their solution were learnt from countries who had already begun to tackle them. The new questions required new organisms for their study. The favoured organisms tended to have been manipulated to enable them to answer questions more easily and so these too had to be imported. The move to academia created another problem, who was to fund these geneticists in an era of economic depression? The solution came from the Rockefeller Foundation of New York, who was prepared to pay for the work of top scientists in Britain. The 1930s therefore saw genetics not only move into academia in Britain but saw the key elements of the discipline migrate into the country.
University of Manchester
Why George Lemaître, an astronomer, became interested in calculators and the impact of his practice of computing on calculators on his later research
Georges Lemaître (1894-1966, Belgium, Université Catholique de Louvain), in the 1920s, was a mathematician-astronomer and authored one of the first ‘Big Bang’ universe theories. Attempting to prove his theory, he got interested in 1930s forefront technological advances in computing, i.e. differential analysers, paper digital techniques and pocket calculators. From forefront in the 1930s, however, his approach to genuine postwar digital computers would become ambiguously welcoming. Indeed, although he initiated the computerisation by introducing modern ‘digital’ computing machines at Louvain, he never engaged into genuine mimicking of a full-fledged Anglo-Saxon computing programme. Instead, he ‘wasted’ lots of time computing on the movements of stellar bodies in gravitational fields with the few inappropriate machines he promoted — some accountancy machines, the Moens Hopkins, and an Elliott E 101. Because these machines were technically inappropriate, Lemaître got stuck drawing from his experience with 1930s technology, which he sublimed into a highly efficient craft in making these machines performing against all odds. This resulted in his passion for calculating useless ‘super-chiffres’/’super-figures’ in the late 1950s- early 1960s. I show that this uselessness resulted from his exacerbated awareness due to his first encounters in the 1930s that digitised computations were epistemologically different from analogue counterparts.
The Scientist as Editor and Editor as Scientist in the Late Nineteenth Century Periodical
Historians have recently begun to consider the importance of place for the practice of science. The periodical, with its unique relationship with time, allows science to be communicated reasonably rapidly across space but, as a textual genre interacting with a market, also plays a formative role in the shaping of science. The editor oversees the production of the periodical space, negotiating between the demands of authors, publishers, proprietors and readers. A great many of the editors of periodicals which carried scientific material were scientists themselves and used this role in different ways. They could use it to dominate a discipline by seeking to spread a certain form of practice, such as Michael Foster’s Journal of Physiology, or alternatively they could use their position as editor to gain a voice in an otherwise closed scientific field, such as Arthur Ranyard did with Knowledge. The paper concludes by questioning the extent to which we can analyse these many different editors and suggests the possibilities for historians to reinterpret the history of both the editor and the science at the level of the periodical text.
University of Manchester
Speaking and gesticulating in Victorian England: the construction of deafness and the oral-sign dispute.
In the early nineteenth century, sign language enjoyed a degree of popularity and esteem among educationalists, and then near the end of the century, it fell into such disrepute that reformers (called the "oralists") waged a campaign to eradicate it by forbidding its use in schools for the deaf. This paper concerns my endeavours to retell this story as part of a general challenge to avoid the temptation of reading the nineteenth century though a modern lens. What mattered for most Victorians (hearing or deaf) about was not necessarily hearing loss per se, but what was the most appropriate way to communicate. As such, the debate surrounding educational methodology was mostly a submerged argument about power, social control, nationalism, who had the right to speak and who has the right the right to control modes of communication. My approach explains the shift in attitudes towards sign language by examining how historical contexts — political, social, scientific, medical, economic and cultural — reflect and inform nineteenth century understandings of deafness and language. As such, my project defamiliarises the Victorian period to find out what was so strange and so different about their understandings of deafness and language when compared with our own.
Simon Olling Rebsdorf
University of Aarhus
Growing up with astronomy: Bengt Strömgren’s early career, 1908-1932
The astrophysicist Bengt Strömgren (1908-1987) has been put forth as one of the last Danish internationalist scientists with the reputation of having made a difference, not only to his disciplinary field but also to society. Among other sources, the presentation of Strömgren’s early career is based on the digitally catalogued Strömgren-archive. Strömgren grew up in the rooms of the Copenhagen Observatory, strongly paced by the ambitions of his father, professor and director Elis Strömgren. Elis represented classical astronomy, whereas Bengt also found intellectual inspiration during his physics education at the quantum mechanics’ mecca – Niels Bohr’s Institute of Theoretical Physics. Shortly after the creation of quantum mechanics in Copenhagen, Bengt decided to leave the astronomical traditions and engage in a research program of applying quantum mechanics to astrophysics. His first breakthrough in 1932, which was based on vast numerical calculations, was consequential to the understanding of stellar chemical composition. Strömgren’s numerical method contrasted the British mathematical-analytical approach to stellar composition represented by e.g. A.S. Eddington and E.A.Milne, and resembled to larger extent the American tradition of numerical computation. Strömgren has not been investigated systematically in a historical-biographical nexus hitherto.
Imperial College London
The ‘hard’ German peace — Allied preparations for post-war health policy in Germany, 1943-1945
In the months after the end of the Second World War, public health, particularly the prevention of epidemics and other health crises, featured high on the allied agenda. In this paper, I argue that the contents of allied war-time preparations for health policy for Germany stands in marked contrast to the post-1945 developments.
I argue that American and British war-time preparations for post-war German policy, which in general were conducted within a widely articulated anti-German framework, led to the construction of punitive and restrictive guidelines for the occupation of Germany. This had a considerable impact on the planning of public health operations. As a result, health plans, conforming to political criteria, were restricted to secure the success of military operations, and did not contain any longer-term goals. The war-time conception of the function of public health in a defeated and occupied country was thus very different to the later post-war notion of public health in Germany. As a result of a focus on health in terms of military necessity, the extent of destruction and chaos, the huge population upheavals, the severe supply shortages, the lack of any German health administration and the real dangers of a public health catastrophe all were not considered by health planners during the war.
University College London
Magical Cures in Late Medieval Medicine
In my paper, I will look at the cures found in medieval medical encyclopedias for one illness, impotence caused by magic. The encyclopedias give a variety of cures for this, ranging from aphrodisiacs with a basis in medieval humoural medicine to magical processes. I will explore the attitudes of different writers to these magical cures between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. I will argue that although magical cures for impotence are copied from one author to another down the centuries, writers’ attitudes to them vary. Some physicians are happy to recommend them, despite being aware that they could be seen as magic. Others do not condemn them as such, but believe that they are not something which a university-trained physician should use. Others again condemn them as relying on the power of demons. This spectrum of views is different from the stricter line taken by theologians who discuss magical cures. I will also explore how the attitudes of medical writers to magical cures changes over time, especially with the rise of worries about witchcraft.
Chemists and Consultants: The Pharmaceutical Trade at Apothecaries’ Hall
Following the re-organisation of the trade in 1881, the Society and its chemists provided a range of consultancy services. These were illustrative of the emerging professional roles of the chemist and reflected characteristics of the three main types of chemist of the period. In the laboratory, analytical, and later physiological, testing was performed, whilst advice on pharmaceutical and medical issues was offered to government agencies. Both the chemists and the Society contributed to this work. The Hall chemists brought initiative and expertise, whilst the Society provided infrastructure, reputation and contacts. This symbiotic relationship was reflected in the professional and financial benefits to both parties.
The diversity of the consultancy work was striking and ranged from water testing to vaccine trials to x-ray instruction. This variety reflected the evolving roles of chemists of this period, who held multiple posts and took on outside work to provide additional income. However whilst independent practice was common, the interdependence and co-operation of the Society and its chemists in consultancy work were more unusual, notably as it was all occurring at an institution with both livery and medical licensing functions.
Wellcome Trust at University College London
John Ruskin, John Tyndall and the Blue of Athena’s Eyes
John Tyndall and John Ruskin were involved in a series of disputes in the 1860s and 1870s. Their dispute on why the sky is blue was the most viscous. At the heart of their disputes were issues over how we ought to look at nature and who has the authority to do so. To an extent it is not surprising that an artist and a scientist might disagree over perceptions of nature. What makes this dispute interesting is not that they were arguing but how they were arguing.
Both men were followers of Goethe. Both saw themselves as representing the best way to do science. Ruskin claimed to be defending a true Baconian science based on observation and respect for nature. Tyndall cast himself as a member of a new scientific elite: men of natural talent able to penetrate to the hidden causes of phenomena.
Like Ruskin and Tyndall Goethe had worked on light: concentrating on a rejection of Newton’s theories. In part Goethe did this by formulating his own history of color theory in order to build a case for his boundary theory of light against Newton’s ray theory. In turn Tyndall formulated a history of light designed to represent his wave theory. Ruskin meanwhile used Greek mythology and the Baconian legacy to claim his own authority on light.
All three men used theories of light and color as a backdrop for establishing their own authority over science and nature. All three, in their ways, chose to do this, in large part, through claiming authority over the history of ideas about light.
University of Leeds
Adulteration and Porter Brewing around 1800
The identity of the beer known as "porter", which rose to prominence in the eighteenth century, had its roots in the old-established divergence between "brown" and "pale" malts: the dark colouring and distinctive taste of porter, made from brown malt, suited large-scale production and found favour among the drinkers of London and other metropolitan centres.
From the 1780s onwards, however, the quantitative work of writers such as John Richardson persuaded brewers that pale malt was far more cost-effective than brown: the proportion of brown malt habitually used in porter grists declined, and brewers turned to various additives intended to supply the expected colour and flavour. In the parlous economic climate around 1800, porter brewers became increasingly dependent on various (sometimes toxic) drugs and colorants.
This "adulteration" was something of a grey area; the largest London breweries, however, pressed for strict prohibition, hoping to benefit from damage to their weaker competitors. When this came about, in 1817, it was accompanied by a new, approved and cost-effective means of making highly-coloured malt — subject to patent and strict monopoly control. The result, born of an attempt to emulate traditional porter, in fact ultimately redefined it into the jet-black product of the Victorian era.
Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL
Class, Gender and Alcohol in the Making of the Habitual Drunkards Act 1870-1879
This paper will examine the making of the 1879 Habitual Drunkards Act, from when it was first proposed nine years earlier. It wants to analyse the changes within the legislation process and the shifts in the public debate on alcohol in the decade of the 1870’s. The drunkenness that was legislated for was not the intemperance of the working class — considered a vice — but a new form of drunkenness that became defined through medical discourse as a disease. Its emergence coincided with the demand for relief for middle class and especially female alcoholics. The construction of the meaning of drinking was conceived within, and at the same time affected by a fast changing society. The public debate surrounding the Habitual Drunkards Bill reveals a constant overlapping of meaning, of the language of vice and disease, intertwined with changes in cultural ideas and attitudes on categories of gender and class.