Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HSS mentorship, for young scholars

For those young scholars among Americanscience readers, take note of the opportunity to benefit from HSS veterans' wisdom at November's History of Science Society Annual Meeting.

Seasoned scholars, take note that the mentorship programs needs your wisdom.

And everyone, take note that you have to get involved by September 15, 2010.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What have you been reading this summer?

Historians of science in America, what have you been reading? What was worth the effort so far this summer?

Share some recommendations.

I just finished Louis Menand's _The Marketplace of Ideas._ Don't be fooled: this is really a book of lectures about the university only loosely tied to the "marketplace" or tied to one another. It did have its moments, however. Read more...

Monday, July 12, 2010

"a symbol of American technological verisimilitude"

This may wrap up our "Scuttling the Shuttle" series. Historian Roger Launius puts in his two cents on his terrific blog. He's taking a Baltic cruise and giving a bunch of fascinating lectures for the Smithsonian Journeys program. Where do I sign up?

At any rate, Launius describes a lecture called "Whither the Space Shuttle?":
This presentation reviews the history and legacy of the Space Shuttle program after thirty years. It suggests that while the shuttle was not an unadulterated success, on balance it served a venerable role in spaceflight and deserves an overall positive assessment in history. Additionally, the Space Shuttle provided three decades of significant human spaceflight capability and stretched the nature of what could be accomplished in Earth orbit much beyond anything envisioned previously. Most significantly since the American human spaceflight program has always been focused in national prestige, the Space Shuttle served well as a symbol of American technological verisimilitude. Finally, this presentation discusses the retirement of the Space Shuttle and possibilities for the future of human spaceflight.

If you want a sense of how Launius answers those final questions, check out his earlier posts (here) and (here). He also has an extensive bibliography on the shuttle posted here.

Because Ether Doesn't Propagate Itself

Or who knows, maybe it does.

At any rate, our History of Science blogging friends at Ether Wave Propaganda are on vacation. That provides us the perfect opportunity to point back to a terrific, recent post on the history of science in America that you might of missed.

Will Thomas offers a vivid and engaging reading of Paul Lucier's 2009 Isis article, "The Professional and Scientist in Nineteenth Century America." I recall my own astonishment at learning (as a fresh graduate student) the recent origin of the label "scientist"---who could imagine a world without scientists, as such, I wondered. As Thomas relates in his post, Lucier gives us plenty more material about the recent origins of apparently natural labels and distinctions that should similarly astonish our students in years to come.

Historians of Science in America have probably already taken note of Lucier's 2008 book, Scientists and Swindlers. Forum steering committee member David Spanagel wrote a particularly useful review (but you need a subscription to see it) for the most recent Isis. I'm inspired by it to put on my syllabus for American environmental history either Lucier's chapter on the "technological science of kerosene" or the "rock oil report." Any other recommendations?