Category Archives: Giants’ Shoulders

Giants’ Shoulders #67 under early modern medical care.

The #histsci, #histmed and #histtech blog carnival, Giants’ Shoulder #67, is residing at Early Modern Medicine and is very obviously thriving under the medical attention of Dr Jen (@historianjen). Despite the production of suitable blog post being in the doldrums during the holiday period a large crop of history of science reading matter has come together for your delectation. So wander on over and discover why Newton published so little, why people are fascinated by images of women with scientific instruments, how to cure the ‘Kink’, or all about Einstein’s interest in folklore, to name just a few of the fascinating topics to be found there.

Next months history of all things scientific blog carnival, Giants’ Shoulders #68, is going on a long journey following in the wake of Vasco da Gama all the way to the sub continent of India where it will be hosted by Fade Singh (@fadesingh) on his Compass Wallah blog on 16th February 2014. As always submission can be made either directly to the host or to me here at The Renaissance Mathematicus or on both of us on Twitter (@rmathematicus) by 15th February 2014 at the latest.

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Giants’ Shoulders #67 is approaching the runway.

OK all you history of STEM freaks the Twelve Days of Christmas are finally over, the goose has been well and truly cooked and devoured, the fireworks have been shot and the bubbly slurped, and the Christmas tree had been undecorated and dumped on the compost heap. It is now time to get off those overfed arses and write those first killer history of science, technology or medicine blog posts for 2014 and submit them to Giants’ Shoulders #67 the history of science blog carnival, the all year round festival.

You can make those submissions directly to your January host, Jen Evens (@HistorianJen), at Early Modern Medicine using the Guest Bloggers form or on Twitter or to me here at The Renaissance Mathematicus or on Twitter (@rmathematicus) up to the 15th of January.  So get those flabby writing muscles in gear and let’s make it a good start to the history of science year.

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On Giants’ Shoulders #66: Contagious History!

It’s the 16th again and Giants’ Shoulders #66 the biology and medicine special “Contagious History!” is up at Michelle Ziegler’s (@MZiegler3) excellent medical history blog Contagions and a bumper crop of #histmed, #histsci and #histtech to end the year it is too, enough to keep you reading all through the holiday season.

Giants’ Shoulders #67 returns in the New Year hosted by Jen Evans (@HistorianJen) of Early Modern Medicine on January 16, 2014. Submissions are due either directly to the host or to The Renaissance Mathematicus (@rmathematicus) no later than Jan. 15.



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Christmas is coming, Giants’ Shoulders #66 too!

The deadline is rapidly approaching for Giants’ Shoulders #66, a History of Medicine & Biology Special, hosted by Michelle Ziegler (@MZiegler3) at her Contagions Blog.  If you want to be part of the greatest yuletide #histsci, #histsmed, #histtech blog carnival this side of Santa’s Grotto then submit those killer history of medicine or biology posts either to me here or direct to the host or to either of us on Twitter by the 15th December at the very latest. As always posts on other #histsci or #histtech topics are also welcome.

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Giants’ Shoulders #65: The Wallace Edition

History of science in the last month circled around the 100th anniversary on 7th November of the death of Wallace:


Not that Wallace you idiot Alfred Russel Wallace co-discovery of the concept of evolution by natural selection:

Alfred Russel Wallace 1862

Alfred Russel Wallace 1862

His death was announced in this letter by his son. The New York Times presented The Animated Life of A R WallaceA podcast by David Attenborough The forgotten story of Alfred Russel WallaceThe Nature Conservancy: Remembering Alfred Russel WallaceThe National Council for Scientific Education: WallaceanaA podcast at Scientific American: The man who wasn’t DarwinA book review: Letters from the Malay Archipelago

You can help save his home at The Dell, or visit an exhibition in Dorset County Museum: Alfred Russel Wallace A Centenary Celebration

To close up our look at Wallace John van Wyhe asks: Will the real Alfred Russel Wallace please stand up?

Appropriate to this celebration Myrmecos presents a graphic on How Field Naturalists Die  

Staying with the life sciences John Wilkins told us how Noah Ark inspired the species concept.

Nature tells us that Linnaeus’ Asian elephant was the wrong species. A research project that involved Lincoln Universities own Dr Anna-Marie Roos: Research discovers new ‘type specimen’ for the Asian elephant

Grrl Scientist offers us a review of a natural history classic The Natural History of Selborne

At the end of October (and a week later in America) daylight saving time came to an end for this year prompting this thoughtful post from Becky Higgitt: Clock Change Challenge. Which in turn prompted me to write about the unique system of time keeping in early modern Nürnberg: Counting the Hours. In America somebody linked to this appropriate article on Benjamin Franklin’s invention of daylight saving time. Also on the theme of time Dissertation Reviews told us about Clocks and Time in Edo Japan.

Thankfully we've got the Royal Observatory at Greenwich keeping an eye on the time for us.

Thankfully we’ve got the Royal Observatory at Greenwich keeping an eye on the time for us.


As the last edition of Giants’ Shoulders went to press and the period for this one started the Internet community celebrated this years Ada Lovelace Day and the majority of the posts have slipped through the net but we have a small collection of post on women in science and technology. Guardian Science Blogs gave us Women in Science: a difficult history . Somerville College honoured Ada Lovelace Day. Melissa Terras gave us Father Busa’s Female Punch Card Operatives. Again at the Guardian Sharon Ruston discussed Mary Wollstonecraft, feminism, and the nature v nurture debate. The New York Times is Honoring female pioneers in science. The Telegraph gives us an obituary of Mavis Batey a Bletchley Park code breaker.

Mavis Batey with an Enigma Machine

Mavis Batey with an Enigma Machine

Amanda Herbert tells us that there are Never Too Many Cooks: Female Alliances in Early Modern Recipes. The lady archaeologists and geologists are also represented: Wikipedia gets the TrowelBlazer Treatment

Continuing in the earth sciences we celebrate Charles Lyell’s birthday Happy Birthday Charles Lyell and we have A geological Halloween Special: Lovecraft and The Mountains of Madness

On Halloween

Lisa Smith, Hobgoblin Classification in the Eighteenth Century, Felicity Roberts, An Early Eighteenth Century Ghost and Sean Cosgrove, Feeling Lonesome this Halloween? Nineteenth-Century Love Charms and Halloween Games.

In physics Chad Orzel found a book of old theses in his department and presents the Old Thesis Club: Monte Carlo Simulation in 1960, Secondary Emission of Electrons from Molybdenum (1928), Gravitation (1932), The Hyperfine Structure and Zeeman Efeect (1932) showing us that history of science can be fairly modern and must not be about famous people. John Gribbin goes in the other direction and celebrates one of the giants Henry Cavendish: An Unsung Hero of Science . Aaron Wright takes a look at Dirac and mathematical beauty (1) [there’s more to come]

With the Science Museum opening their collider exhibition The Independent presented Harry Cliff: The man who’s making an exhibition of the Higgs boson at the Science Museum. Whilst the New York Times are Explaining a Collider and Poison’s Power

Stephen Curry fulfilled a dream of many of us and held a Friday night lecture at the Royal Institution on the history of x-ray crystallography. He blogged about the experience and a video of his excellent lecture is embedded in his post: A night at the theatre of science

Stephen Curry in The Theatre of Science

Stephen Curry in The Theatre of Science

As usually the history of medicine blogging community has been very busy this month (come on science historians they’re beating us into a cocked hat!)

Hans Sloane was checking tongues in the 18th century and Miley Cyrus sticking her’s out in the 21st.  Hans Sloane didn’t just look at tongues: A Welsh doctor, Sir Hans Sloane and the disappearing catheterIn the Guardian Katherine Wright asked Where did syphilis come from?  For those with other sexual problems than syphilis we have Anthony Lewis and the Aphrodisiac Remedy. Continuing the subject of fertility we move on to my personal favourite cooking ingredient: Garlic and fertility testing in the ancient world. On the subjects of medicine and recipes we had An early modern Portuguese recipe book of pharmaceutical “secrets”. To grow medicinal herbs you of course need a garden, which can have other restorative powers: Why every hospital should have a garden. Whilst the Quack Doctor offers us a tonic for the blood: For the blood is the life. The Royal Socity delivered up a video of one of their Friday lunch time history of science lectures: Physicians, chemists and experimentalists: the Royal Society and the rise of modern medicine c. 1600 – 1850. Yovisto celebrated Alzheimer’s birthday: Alzheimer’s A disease of advanced civilisation and Alphonse Laveran’s discovery and fight against malariaFakes and Frauds in medicine is not a modern phenomenon

On Children & Medicine: Hannah Newton, Wet Beds and Hedgehogs and Jen Evans, Sleeping Like a Baby

The Wellcome Library sweetens up the medical department: Diagnosing diabetes: a wee taste of honey. Lastly in the medical department Dissertation Reviews gives us a look at early modern medical researcher Reinier de Graaf: Experimenting with chemical bodies

The odds and ends department has early modern polymath Edmond Halley meeting his crew and we learn about Halley’s role in Newton’s Principia . We also learn: How the clouds were named. Will Thomas ruminates on the problems of writing history of science for scientists: New Article in Climate Change

Considering all the posts celebrating anniversaries: History Matters gives us an entire conference: On this day in history: Why do anniversaries matter?

Clarissa Ai Ling Lee brings us an intriguing essay with a positively 19th century title: Emmy Noether, Maria Goeppert Mayer, and their Cyborgian Counterparts: Triangulating Mathematical-Theoretical Physics, Feminist Science Studies, and Feminist Science Fiction

Guthrie Stewart takes into the world of medieval alchemy: Contradictory alchemical recipes are really annoying. On a related note Laura Mitchell tells us about The Disappearance of Charms from a Fifteenth-Century Notebook. Sally Osborn puts the meta-question What is a Recipe?

As the enfant terrible of history of science myth busting I’ve saved my favourite posts of the month until last.

Paleofuture explains why: Making Nikola Tesla a Saint Makes us all Dumber. Chad Orzel takes on the lone genius myth in a superb takedown Individualists working together. Kees-Jan Schilt tells all about Newton’s dirty little secrets: “Not fit to be Printed”. On the Reception of Newton’s Unorthodox Works and to close out my personal choice for blog post of the month, True Anomalies tackles the tangled web of Errors and Expertise in science and the history of science

A piece of meta-blogging:  The American Mathematical Society in the form of Evelyn J Lamb has written a review of The Renaissance Mathematicus!

Last year Michelle Ziegler (@MZiegler3) played Mother Christmas and brought us a whole sleigh load of history of science, technology and medicine goodies in the December edition of Giants’ Shoulders. In fact she was so good that she is making a return appearance to host Giants’ Shoulders #66 a ‘History of Medicine and Biology Special’ at her Contagions Blog on 16th December 2013. Submissions as usually, and non-special posts are also welcome, either to the host or to me here at RM by 15th December.


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The case of the missing GS host: – Too stupid to operate a computer.

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been rather silent this month concerning the next edition of Giants’ Shoulders the history of science blog carnival. The explanation is quite simple I’ve managed to mislay my host.  It would appear that I inadvertently erased the file on my computer containing the information on the future hosts for GS. Naturally, although I’m usually fairly good at backing up things on my computer, I don’t have a back up for this file. Now all of this wouldn’t be so tragic if it wasn’t for the fact that the next host is a new one who I don’t know from Adam and so I have no idea how to contact him. I had been hoping that he would contact me saying something like, “Oi, wot m’ I sposed t’ do with this ‘ere carnival?” However this has unfortunately not been the case. I did try to convince Sascha to host it, he’s done one before; but he just gave me a look that said, you screwed up, you can carry the can! So I shall be hosting the next edition of GS, the 65th if you’re counting, here at RM on Saturday 16th November. This means that you have just three more days to nominate those killer history of science, medicine or technology blog posts, if you wish them to be included. Just send them to me here or on Twitter, @rmathematicus.

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Giant’s Shoulders #64: The Lexicon Edition

Over on his Providentia Blog Romeo Vitelli (@rvitelli) has invited arch-lexicographer Noah Webster to co-host this months edition of Giants’ Shoulders the history of science blog carnival. Together they have created a fascinating science [systematized knowledge derived from observation, study, and experimentation carried on in order to determine the nature or principles of what is being studied], medicine [the science and art of diagnosing, treating, curing, and preventing disease, relieving pain, and improving and preserving health] and technology [science or knowledge put into practical use to solve problems or invent useful tools] history [a story or tale of what has happened or may have happened in the past] dictionary [an online or printed resource that lists words in alphabetical order, listing the meaning, pronunciation and part of speech for the word].

So if you want to improve your vocabulary whilst devouring the best history of science bloggage of the last month then click on the link and immerse yourself in The Webster-Vitelli History of Science Blog Dictionary, “Giants’ Shoulders #64: The Lexicon Edition”.



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It’s Giants’ Shoulders Deadline time again!

You have just two days to submit those #histsci, #histtech and #histmed post to the world’s numero uno history of science blog carnival Giants’ Shoulders #64, which will be hosted by Romeo Vitelli (@rvitelli) at his Providentia blog on 16th October 2013. Submission to Romeo or myself either on Twitter or here at RM.

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We are sailing: Giants’ Shoulders #63: Live from Deptford

September’s guest host astronomer, mathematician, geophysicist, meteorologist, cartographer, hydrographer, and Captain to Sea Edmond Halley has put together the history of science blog carnival Giants’ Shoulders #63: Live from Deptford before setting out on his second voyage on the Paramore and a superb ship’s cargo of first class #histsci, #histmed and #histtech it is too. Actually I suspect that the good captain sat in a tavern ashore with his drinking cronies enjoying a mug of grog whilst his first mate Kate Morant (@KateMorant) did all the work.

If you want to read the very best of #histsci bloggage from the last month served up in fine style them cruise on over in your dingy and get your fill; landlubbers are as welcome as old seadogs.

The next history of science blog carnival, Giants’ Shoulders #64, will be hosted by our old friend Romeo Vitelli (@rvitelli) on his Providentia blog on 16th October 2013. Submissions as ever either direct to the host or to me here at RM by the 15th of the month.

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After Giants’ Shoulders is before Giants’ Shoulders.

It’s now almost two weeks since the HPS Glonk delivered up a brilliant Giants’ Shoulders #62: Alpha Papa history of science blog carnival for your summer reading delectation and just in case you haven’t already you really should take a perusal. However this means we only have a little bit more than two weeks before Giants’ Shoulders #63 heaves to over the horizon.

We have a very special guest host to take the helm for our next trip on the best history of science blog carnival to set sail on the seven seas mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, best friend of Isaac Newton and most hated enemy of John Flamsteed Captain to Sea Edmond Halley.

Edmond Halley Thomas Murray

Edmond Halley
Thomas Murray

Giants’ Shoulders #63 will set sail from Halley’s Log on 16 September 2013 with Captain Halley at the helm ably assisted by his First Mate Kate Morant (@KateMorant). If you wish for your best history of science, medicine or technology blog posts to be on board then they should be ready for loading on the dock by 15 September at the latest. Shipping agents are myself here at RM and Kate Morant at Halley’s Log.

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