Welcome to my first foray into hosting the Giant's Shoulders, the monthly blog carnival devoted to the history of science. Considering the diverse arrange of wonderful and exotic posts that span the entire range of the sciences, it put me in mind of the marvelous wunderkammer (wonder-room) a.k.a. the cabinet of curiosities that was often found during the Renaissance. Though rarely found these days, the wunderkammer (plural wunderkammem) featured exotic collections of rare fossils, minerals, botanical specimens, and other curious items meant to show the full range of nature and science. With that mind, let's turn to the numerous and diverse contributions that have been made to this latest edition. Classified according to the different sciences they represent, we have:
A big hat tip to Thony Christie who contributed a historical essay showing that the body-snatching trade wasn't just limited to Edinburgh. Read this contribution from Georgian London for all the ghoulish details...
Over at ZombieMommeh's blog, we have her entertaining review of Holly Tucker's awesome Blood Work. A tale of 17th century of science and murder that is well worth the read.
Over at Jona Lendering and Bill Thayer's Livius.org and LacusCurtius site, we have this contribution on Babylonian astronomy and how it can be used to make predictions about lunar eclipses even today.
Also on the subject of astronomy, we have a contribution from the Royal Society's web page describing the fortuitous discovery of a rare volume on astrology and the stunning woodcut drawings describing the stock in trade of the astrologers/astronomers of that period.
Are we too Eurocentric in our perception of the history of science? Check out David Dobbs' post on the Arabic Roots of Science and the symposium that he recently moderated at the World Conference in Doha, Qatar (the one I didn't get to attend - not that I'm bitter, mind you). (and a hat tip to Michael Barton for this contribution).
How does commerce shape the way that we measure time? Matthew Shaw at the History Today blog explores why visitors to Samoa will soon discover that December 28, 2011 will never take place and the strange history of attempts to reform the calendar,
Given that the Earth is just one of many worlds, isn't it logical to assume that all the other worlds are inhabited as well? This entertaining post from io9 examines the strange history of Cosmic Pluralism and how Christianity briefly conquered the solar system.
Stalin's purges led to the deaths of countless Russian intellectuals, including many scientists. Gennady Gorelik, a guest blogger for Scientific American asks, Why Is Quantum Gravity So Hard? And Why Did Stalin Execute the Man Who Pioneered the Subject?
A woman? Doing science? Unthinkable! Or, at least, that was likely what Maria Matilda Ogilvie Gordon's male colleagues likely thought. At Dave Bressan's History of Geology site, we hear the story of one of the unsung heroes of modern geology and the struggle she faced to do her research.
Also over at the History of Geology site, we have this post exploring the life of Dorothea Bate, the great lady of island paleontology.
At Brian Switek's Laelaps blog, we have this story of 19th century scientist and explorer Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden. Dubbed the "Man Who Picks Up Stones Running" by the local Sioux (who were likely puzzled by his search for fossils), Hayden's research changed the perception of the prehistoric West forever.
Nature and Evolution
I wasn't quite sure how to classify the charming contribution by Eric Michael Johnson of The Primate Diaries. His essay touches on an array of topics including mathematics, biology, physics, and teaching his young son about science. Since he describes himself as a "primate in the human zoo", I'll place this one here and move on...
While we're on the subject of evolution, this contribution from J.F. Derry's site explores Charles Darwin's research, peacock plumage, antelope horns, penis size and why sexual selection proves that Size Does Matter.
How did Charles Darwin seduce Asa Grey into becoming his chief American supporter? Read David Dobb's ongoing serialization of his awesome book Reef Madness and how the Agassiz-Gray debate over natural selection led to Agassiz' fall from academic power.
What were the "two hundred thousand hardships, privations and dangers" that Spanish naturalists faced in the New World? This contribution from William Eamon's blog shows that the Spanish Conquest led to some interesting new science as well.
Considering Charles Darwin's widely known views on sexual differences in intelligence, it seems surprising that he was so supportive of early suffragette Lydia Becker in her own feminist educational initiative. In a post by Phillippa Hardman at the Darwin and Gender blog, we find that his private actions didn't always mesh with his public statements on some issues.
Is the history of mathematics often neglected? Rebekah Higgit at Whewell's Ghost explores why science teachers need to address the complex history of mathematics to make it more relevant to a new generation of students.
Did a U.S. congressman (of all people) predict anthropogenic global warning in an 1846 speech that is little remembered today? This fascinating contribution from The Guardian's Environment Blog talks about George Perkins Marsh whose prescient speech showed that this early politician was decades ahead of his time.
Did you know that July 6 marked the anniversary of the first photograph being transmitted across the Atlantic by radio? Katrina Gulliver presents this fascinating factoid on her blog, Notes From The Field, while exploring the evolution of telephotography from its humble beginnings to now.
Nikola Tesla is still a paradox in many ways but his pioneering work in a variety of fields is legendary. But can he also be credited with discovering x-rays? A provocative article at Radiographics examines that very question and fills in some of the gaps in the early history of medical technology
With that, we close the wunderkammer and this edition of the Giant's Shoulders. The August edition will be up at the Longitude Blog (closing date for submissions is August 15). If anyone would like to host a future edition, please contact either either Dr SkySkull at Skulls in the Stars or Thony C at The Renaissance Mathematicus. Remember the future of the History of Science blog carnival rests on your shoulders.