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history of science



  • How Racism Is Shaping the Coronavirus Pandemic

    An interview with historian Evelynn Hammonds on the relationship between African-Americans and epidemics in American history, from the eighteenth century to the present day.



  • The Pandemic Is Not a Natural Disaster

    by Kate Brown

    Zoonotic diseases can seem like earthquakes; they appear to be random acts of nature. In fact, they are more like hurricanes—they can occur more frequently, and become more powerful, if human beings alter the environment in the wrong ways.



  • What the Plague Can Teach Us about the Coronavirus

    by Hannah Marcus

    The distant past is not our best source of advice for pathogen containment. But it does offer clear lessons about human responses to outbreaks of infectious disease.


  • The Real Alexander von Humboldt: A Scientist of the Romantic Age

    by Maren Meinhardt

    Putting people on pedestals, beyond the reach and understanding of lesser mortals, does not help us understand them better. If, perhaps, we lose a hero, we may gain, in Humboldt, an extraordinary scientist who was affected by the extraordinary times he lived in. 



  • Bob Filner, San Diego mayor facing sexual harrassment scandal, formerly a history prof.

    Bob Filner, the embattled mayor of San Diego who faces allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, taught in the history department at San Diego State University for over twenty years before running for Congress in 1993. Filner, who was born in Pittsburgh, received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His Ph.D. dissertation, entitled “Science and Politics in England, 1930-1945: The Social Relations of Science Movement,” was completed under the supervision of L. Pearce Williams in 1973. He was employed as a historian of science by San Diego State from 1970 until his election to Congress in 1993. HNN filed a public records request at SDSU for Filner's employment records, but we were informed that all employment files at that university are purged after ten years.



  • Cantankerous Historian of Science Questions Whether Science Can Achieve “Truth”

    One of the best things about teaching at Stevens Institute of Technology, which I joined in 2005, is shooting the shit with distinguished historian of science James E. McClellan III. Jim has authored, co-authored or edited half a dozen books, including Science and Technology in World History: An Introduction, which he wrote with our late Stevens colleague Harold Dorn. The book, which won an award from the World History Association, serves as my textbook when I teach “History of Science and Technology.” Every time I read the book I learn something new, which perhaps means that I never read it carefully enough. Just kidding. I’ve learned more about the history of science from Jim than I like to admit....Horgan: To what extent can we learn about the emergence of modern science by focusing on pre-revolutionary France?



  • Lawrence M. Krauss: Deafness at Doomsday

    TO our great peril, the scientific community has had little success in recent years influencing policy on global security. Perhaps this is because the best scientists today are not directly responsible for the very weapons that threaten our safety, and are therefore no longer the high priests of destruction, to be consulted as oracles as they were after World War II.