2nd International Conference of
the European Society for the History of Science

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The Global and the Local:

The History of Science and the Cultural Integration of Europe

Cracow, Poland, September 6-9, 2006

Last modification: 25 September 2008

Online Book of Abstracts - A Thematic List:


Edited by Michal Kokowski


Symposium R-18.




Geert VANPAEMEL (Leuven, Belgium)

Bert THEUNISSEN (Utrecht, The Netherlands)


David BANEKE (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Lodewijk C. PALM (Utrecht-The Hague, The Netherlands)

Bert THEUNISSEN (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Geert VANPAEMEL (Leuven, Belgium)


The scientific intelligentsia.
Science and society in the Netherlands, 1890-1940

David BANEKE (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

At the end of the 19th century, some of the universal claims of science came under attack. Scientists reacted by redefining their aims and the role of science in society. From these discussions, a new kind of intellectual emerged in the beginning of the 20th century. Scientists represented themselves as independent, objective counsellors to society. They transferred the methods and theories of their science to other fields, such as politics, economics or philosophy. This, in turn, was an important constitutive factor for the public image of science.

In this paper, I will describe this development in the Netherlands, a relatively small country where influences from the surrounding large countries were incorporated in the discussions. Especially during the crisis of the 1930s, the status of scientists as experts increased. After WW2, many of the ideas originating in this period were implemented. What had started as a philosophical discussion about the foundations of science had become a major influence in Dutch society.


Integration in Europe of human genetics results obtained by Spaniards in the USA:
A historical perspective

Emilia CURRÁS (Madrid, Spain)

Enrique WULFF BARREIRO (Cádiz, Spain)

The little interest shown by Spanish scientist in accessing the foreign scene in order to research in any branch of human knowledge is known from old times. The famous phrase "They will have to invent it!" reflects in a clear and definitive way these attitudes. Nevertheless, from the 20th century fifties this theme is changing. Diverse are the causes of this change: by a side to look for the solution for their problems "in the outside" in the case of the new young researchers comes from the absence of economic resources and jobs in Spain. Another motivation can be the own initiative of the researcher to find and to know new ideas and guidelines, as well as to try to modernize itself by using updated work techniques. Also influential has been the desire to "see world" and to learn languages.

To alleviate these situations, the Spanish Ministry of Education has introduced, since the adhesion of Spain to the EU in 1986, as a "mandatory" rule the need for just doctorate recipients in going abroad, along a period of two years, in order to perform "post-doc" studies.

The purpose of this communication is the study and establishment of a vertical integration for all kind of researchers clustered as: a.- those that moved there by economic reasons who in its majority they have remained there; b.- those that they displaced themselves by their wish to innovate, who in their majority have come back to Spain; c.- those who enrolled abroad in order to study their "post-doc", whom in their majority have returned also.

By using the Systems Theory, once established this vertical integration, an attempt to establish the concordances between their relations will be examined. To obtain an overall vision implies the introduction of a historical retrospective agenda.

As an exhaustive study that integrates all the work performed by Spanish scientists in all the areas of knowledge would not be manageable, this communication is concentrated into human genetics, mainly in biochemistry, specially to determine the cancer studies by Spanish scientists in the USA having had echoes into Europe.


Science, religion and emancipation: Dutch Calvinist and Roman-Catholic responses to modernity in the early 20th century

Ab FLIPSE (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

In the nineteenth century orthodox-Calvinists and Roman-Catholics in the Netherlands contributed little to the sciences. At the end of the century a process of emancipation started, which was mainly realized by means of the founding of private, denominational, organizations. In 1880 the Calvinists founded their own university; in 1923 the Roman-Catholics followed this example. Starting with Theology, Law and Arts, the eventual aim of these universities was to also set up an alternative, theistic science, standing beside and opposite to the existing science, which was often associated with materialism and even atheism. In the meantime also a growing number of Calvinist and Roman-catholic students studied at one of the State universities. They too strove for an increased participation of their co-religionists in science and they formed organizations with their fellow-believer scientists; in 1896 a 'Calvinist society for Christian scientists and physicians', and in 1904 a Roman-catholic equal were founded. Despite a relative isolation (in private universities and scientific societies) and a frequent criticism of the naturalistic science, an elaborate, Christian alternative to the existing science did not emerge.

This paper focuses on the circulation of knowledge between the domain of science and the domain of religion. Scientific knowledge was transferred through religious groups, which tried to participate in modern culture and simultaneously tried to preserve their distinctive identity. This identity was, however, also influenced by the interaction with science. It appears that these groups succeeded in their emancipation by means of conforming themselves to a large extent to the prevailing (scientific) standards. In this paper Calvinist and Catholic responses to modernity are compared: What were the similarities and differences in the processes that in both cases led to emancipation? What factors determined these processes? Can a specific influence of the religious contexts be pointed out?


The role of typographical fixity in the acceptance of algebraic symbolism in sixteenth-century Europe

Albrecht HEEFFER (Ghent, Belgium)

The printing press dramatically affected the circulation of mathematical knowledge in sixteenth-century Europe. With the emergence of printed books, our collective memory was completely transformed. Arithmetical and algebraical problems became available in printed form with their solution methods for everyone to read and study. Mnemonic aids became less relevant for the solution of problems and problem solving was not longer the main vehicle to convey algebraical knowledge.

A second, less appreciated effect of the printing press on the circulation of knowledge was coined by Elizabeth Eisenstein (1979) by the term typographical fixity. In contrast with the textual drift in manuscript copies, form and contents of algebraical expressions became irreversible materialized by cutting type fonts for cossic symbols. Problems and their solution methods got more standardized. Manuscripts often contain corrupted problems that can not be truly solved with the given formulation. Once algebra got into print, it was better formulated and understood. This preservative power of printed books is for Eisenstein a basic prerequisite for the rapid advancement of learning.

Francois Viete is generally considered as the father of symbolic algebra as, in his In artem analyticem isagoge of 1591, he introduced vowels for the representation of unknowns and consonants for constants and coefficients. However Viete depended on an important corpus of algebraic texts, which presented to him all the necessary ingredients for his new symbolism. We will demonstrate how typographical fixity contributed to the irreversible process of the acceptance of symbolism as it was previously introduced in the works of Christoff Rudolff (1525) and Michael Stifel (1544).


Paul Ehrenfest as a mediator

Marijn J. HOLLESTELLE (Leiden, The Netherlands)

The Austrian physicist Paul Ehrenfest succeeded Hendrik Antoon Lorentz as professor in theoretical physics in Leiden in 1912. This paper focuses on Ehrenfest mediating talents, as a teacher and a researcher.

As a teacher, he closely monitored his students' progress. Teaching them the newest physics in a personal and unconventional way, often in informal colloquia with internationally renowned physicists attending, he moulded them into expert physicists. Most of them obtained professorships at national and international universities. Ehrenfest was a major contributor to the revival of physics in Eastern Europe. After World War I he arranged contacts between young Dutch and Eastern European physicists. He went out of his way to support physicists in Eastern Europe, who often lacked the means to do research and had no access to Western journals. For instance, he arranged for grants to enable them to visit physics institutes in Western Europe.

As a physicist, Ehrenfest didn't belong to the top of his field. Nonetheless, he was an important node in the network of scientists. He was most appreciated for his talent for discussion and debate. Together with his clarity, this made him into a catalyst. Time after time he pointed out the flaws, weaknesses and paradoxes in the theories and ideas of Einstein and Bohr, who were inspired by the interaction. Ehrenfest's articles often concerned the foundations of physics. His ability to clarify difficult concepts was famous among contemporary physicists and thus his work did have an impact on the rise of quantum theory, general relativity and modern econometrics.


Local vs global knowledge: Is it a meaningful dichotomy?

Zibartas Juozas JACKUNAS (Vilnius, Lithuania)

A widespread distinction between local and global knowledge reflects two rival orientations in contemporary epistemology which can be identified as cognitive universalism and cognitive particularism. Both of them are often considered, without proper reason, as mutually exclusive or dichotomic. A range of causes lay at the ground of this dichotomic approach: a lack of due attention to the distinctive role performed by empirical and general components of experience in the process of interpretation and understanding of conceived phenomena; a neglect of logical implication connecting the epistemological categories of universality and particularity; some deficiencies characteristic of prevailing conceptions of relationships between the experiential basis of knowledge and the domain of its application; etc. There are reasons to assume that any sound explication of the links between universal and particular knowledge should be based on the following theoretical principles: 1) interpretative and pragmatic conception of human experience with a particular emphasis upon dialectical interaction of its genetic and applicative aspects; 2) an approach to particular and general or universal components of experience as to its two interdependent, integral elements, which logically implicate each other and perform distinctive functions in the process of human understanting; 3) a relationship of certain adequacy which binds the genetic basis of some knowledge and the domain of its application. This relationship must be taken into account by those who try to explain how knowledge, gained in the particular or local contexts, can be used in wider sociocultural contexts.


Scientific connections in new Europe after World War I.
The example of mathematics in Strasbourg and Brno

Laurent MAZLIAK (Paris, France)

Pavel SISMA (Brno, The Czech Republic)

At the end of World War I, a new political situation appeared in Europe: some territories, which were under the Central Empires domination, obtained independence and some were returned to their former owner. Czechoslovakia is an example of the first kind, Alsace of the second kind. Interesting connections - in particular scientific ones - began between these two territories after they had freed from Austrian and German dominations. It was nevertheless necessary to take into account the particular cultural situation of these lands where culture and administration were deeply stamped with German customs.

In 1919, Maurice Fréchet (1878-1973), an important young French mathematician was among the new professors sent to Strasbourg in order to return the big University of the town to French standards. At exactly the same time, the young Czech mathematician Bohuslav Hostinsky (1884-1951) was appointed to the newly created Brno University.

Fréchet, as head of the mathematical section, has immediately understood the vital necessity for Strasbourg to develop international projects, and he was interested in establishing contacts with countries of the vanished empires. He soon began to correspond with Hostinsky about mathematical publications, syllabus in Strasbourg and Brno universities, general scientific politics and possible exchanges of students. Moreover, the 1920 International mathematical congress took place in Strasbourg was the occasion for Hostinsky to meet Fréchet for the first time.

The huge correspondence between the two scientists had gone on for 30 years until Hostinsky's death. Apart from questions of scientific politics, it focused on probability theory and above all on the rising subject of Markov, a main research subject between the two World Wars. We have begun study of this correspondence and will present some aspects of it.


Scientific exchanges between Giovanni Battista Amici and European scientists

Alberto MESCHIARI (Pisa, Italy)

In my capacity as the director and curator of the National Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Giovanni Battista Amici (Modena 1786 - Florence 1863), the first volume of which (Edited scientific papers) is due for publication, I would like to outline briefly some of the international scientific relationships established by this important Italian instrument maker and scientist during his lifetime.

As both a scientist and instrument maker, Amici explored some of the main issues debated in the European capitals, such as the mechanism of fertilisation in plants and the means of improving the achromatic compound microscope. In many cases he provided answers and solutions that were soon adopted by others (for instance the immersion technique in microscopy). So it is natural that Amici would have been in contact with some of Europe's leading scientists throughout his lifetime.

From his Workshop Account Book, kept from 1817 until 1862, from his Visitors Book (1818-1844) and from his exchanges with more than a thousand correspondents, we now know that Amici's scientific relationships stretched from Boston, Philadelphia and New York in America to Saint Petersburg and Moscow in Russia and included the main European capitals (Paris, London and Berlin) and several seats of learning and research (Munich, Prague, Edinburgh, Utrecht).

He also met visitors and received orders for instruments from Russia, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Greece and Malta. But naturally his most stimulating and fruitful correspondence and exchanges of experience were with scientists from England, France and Germany.

In my talk I will outline in particular the relationship between Amici and J. F. W. Herschel, who was highly appreciative of the Italian instrument maker's reflectors and double image micrometer; between Amici and Chevalier; and between Amici and J. J. Lister, who compared the optical qualities of their microscopes during Amici's first visit to Paris and London in 1827. In the French capital, Brongniart and Mirbel adopted Amici's new achromatic microscope in their investigations into the fertilisation of plants. Some years later Robert Brown suggested that he should investigate Orchids. Hugo Mohl and Wilhelm Hofmeister confirmed that his observations were correct.

Baron Franz Xaver von Zach in Genoa in the early 1820s was delighted with Amici's prism reflecting sector and did everything he could to obtain for him the indispensable optical glass from Fraunhofer in Munich. In 1838, using the high-dispersion Faraday glass provided by George Biddell Airy, Amici made for Rev. Thomas Romney Robinson, Director of the Armagh Observatory in Ireland, a five-lens combination, replacing for the first time the lower pair of lenses with a simple lens (a half sphere or hemispherical front lens). The previous November (1837), the same Robinson had bought a reflecting Prism-Circle from Amici in Florence for Captain James Clark Ross, who led the Magnetic Expedition in the Antarctic Regions (1839-1843).

Amici was also in correspondence with William Henry Fox Talbot. The two scientists met several times in Modena and in London, and Amici played a role in introducing Talbot's experiments on light at the Meetings of Italian scientists, of which he was one of the promoters in 1839.

Amici is universally acknowledged as having discovered the water-immersion method, 1847 generally being the year attributed to this discovery (from about 1855 he also introduced the oil-immersion technique). In 1859, passing through Florence on the way to Messina, the 25-year-old Ernst Haeckel bought a small water-immersion achromatic microscope from Amici, which he used to make his splendid observations of Radiolari.


Leeuwenhoek's letters and the circulation of knowledge:
Individual preferences

Lodewijk C. PALM (Utrecht-The Hague, The Netherlands)

The Dutch microscopist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) described his microscopical observations in more than 350 letters. The greater part, more than 190, were written to the Royal Society in London. The others were addressed to friends, scientists and politicians in the Dutch Republic and abroad. The letters were often accompanied with drawings, mostly in red chalk. Leeuwenhoek did not draw these illustrations himself but asked various draughtsmen, whose names we do not know, to depict his observations.

The secretaries of the Royal Society in London had 116 letters published in fragmentary or complete translation in the Philosophical Transactions. Since Leeuwenhoek only wrote in Dutch, more particular the Delft vernacular, his letters had to be translated by Fellows who were able to do so. Apart from these publica­tions, 174 letters were published in Dutch and in Latin during Leeuwenhoek's lifetime, between 1684 and 1719. Only 49 letters have been published contemporary both in Dutch, Latin and English. Leeuwenhoek never wrote a book or monograph, so that his letters are the only key to his works and thoughts.

However, not every correspondent or reader received Leeuwenhoek's work enthusiastically. I will claim that individual preferences and personal commitments were an important factor with regard to the circulation of Leeuwenhoek's observations and ideas. I will discuss the attitudes of the various secretaries and editors of the Royal Society and some individual natural philosophers like Christiaan Huygens, Nicolaas Hartsoeker, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.


New sources, new look: the Ostrodzko-Elblaski Canal / Poland
About the network origins of its inclined planes

Eckhard SCHINKEL (Dortmund, Germany)




In the early 1830es the Prussian dyke inspector Georg Jacob Steenke planned the canal link between the Oberland lakes and the Baltic sea coast near Elbing in East Prussia. Works started in 1844. - In 1846 to study the actual state of technical development Steenke visited waterway buildings in the Netherlands, in Belgium and in Bavaria. In 1850 he studied technical improvements of the inclined planes in the USA and in the UK. - The Ostrodzko-Elblaski Canal book by S. Janusziewsky recollects all facts and gives a canal documentation since 1900. But some questions remain.

International transfer of knowledge: Which were the experiences and images Steenke took from Europe, from the United States and - unknown - from the U.K. to Prussia?

Success or failure: How can this rhizom of international knowledge be qualified on the background of the actual state of technical knowledge around 1850?

Tradition and progress: Why had Steenke been dismissed from the responsability for the building of the inclined planes? New answers can be supplied on the basis of new research in the archives and new sources. I found Steenke's reports and letters concerning his journey in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

Uniqueness and network skills: In the transition process from the wooden to the iron aera Steenke tried to proof his scheme. But the administration didn't allow him to do realize it. The famous railway civil engineer Carl Lentze having built the railway bridge across the river Weichsel finally developed the technical scheme and built the inclined planes. They remained unique.

The inclined planes of the Elbing Oberland Kanal represent

- the summary of individual technical know and

- a modern problem solution in terms of a cross boarder communication.

Together with this new look on its Inclined Planes the Ostrodzko-Elblaski Canal deserves the UNESCO - World Heritage status.


The 'Holsteinisation' of the Dutch dairy cattle breeds in the 1970s and 1980s

Bert THEUNISSEN (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

Until the 1960s, Dutch cattle breeders and dairy farmers prided themselves on their dairy cattle as being the best milk producers in the world. Since the late nineteenth century Dutch Friesians (known as Holsteins in the United States) had provided the principal breeding stock for the dairy herds in Europe and beyond, particularly the U.S. Around 1970, however, Dutch breeders had to face serious competition from their American colleagues. The latter had, since the early twentieth century, concentrated their selection efforts on the production of milk, whereas the Dutch had bred their Friesians as a 'double-purpose' breed, producing meat as well as milk. As a result, Friesian and Holstein cattle had become clearly distinct breeds. The competition between the breeds started when economic pressures in the late 1960s induced more and more breeders, in Europe and elsewhere, to question whether the Dutch Friesians were the most economic. Comparative research on this problem was undertaken by the Dutch Agricultural University at Wageningen, and at the same time Dutch breeders began to experiment on their own with Holstein sires. A heated and at times highly emotional debate flared up between Dutch breeders, farmers, the herdbooks and scientists on which breed qualities were required to meet the economic circumstances. Meanwhile however, long before the final results of the comparative experiments were available, the 'Holsteinisation' of the Dutch dairy herds began, and it would continue, head over heels, until the Dutch double-purpose breeds (including, surprisingly, the Dutch red and white cattle, bred for milk and quality meat production) had been completely replaced by the Holstein pure milk breed.

There is no simple explanation for this process and its outcome. Economic, scientific, practical, professional and social factors all played their part in what was a highly complicated and at times seemingly chaotic process. I hope to show that a better insight can be obtained by studying the process from the perspective of the circulation of knowledge and practices.


Scientific culture in The Netherlands:
Darwinism and popular culture, 1870-1885

Janneke VAN DER HEIDE (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

The history of Darwinism in The Netherlands, which seems a main topic in the history of science, can in fact better be written as a history of scientific culture. It reaches far beyond the scientific reception only, since the society picked up and interpreted Darwinism as a far stretching issue, concerning not only nature but also man and his society. In 1860 the Origin of Species was translated, already one year after the original publication in England. In the first decennium the reception was mainly scientific. By the 1870s Darwinism in The Netherlands, as in other countries, was involved in societal, religious and moral discussions and had became more and more the domain of the public. Various publications were published in which Darwinism was attacked (by the confessionals and orthodox parties) while Darwinism was propagated by freethinkers and engaged writers. In The Netherlands, Darwinism became imbedded in the liberal political culture and publications about the subject were in fact a favourable instrument in the education of critical minds in an age of progression. In the communication between science (i.e. Darwinism) and the public (i.e. the Dutch public) a scientific culture was formed in which 'Darwinism' got its (final but always dynamic) meaning.

I would very much like to elaborate on the interaction between Darwinism and the public in The Netherlands in the period after 1870 because then the popular reception accelerated since some radical interpretative publications on Darwinism became popular after the publication of the translation of the Descent of man in 1871 (in which Darwin focussed on the origins of man finally), and shaped the form and the function Darwinism was later going to have. Mainly, Darwinism coincided with already present materialistic issues in society since the 1850s, and was seen in this respect as morally and religiously undermining. The tension is complete when we realise the scientific (and empirical) basis of Darwinism which was associated with moral progression and impending societal happiness. In my paper I would like to focus on the public, which was picking up Darwinism as a scientific basis for freethinking and individual morals, and in a smaller sense as 'man descends from the ape' and thus hugely reprehensible, or at least putting man's position in nature in a new perspective. I would like to focus on a few Dutch publications (confessional and on-orthodox) in which it becomes clear that the meaning of Darwinism was shaped and became a subject in what can now be seen as a scientific culture in which Darwinism was constantly defined. With this line of approach a more valuable and broader point of view in the history of science, i.e. on (social) Darwinism, can be reached.

*The author is a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam, on the subject: The moral consequences of Darwinism in The Netherlands, 1860-1914 .


Knowledge transfer about sex and gender: The case of women's studies in the Netherlands

Jeannette VAN DER SANDEN (Utrecht, The Netherlands)

My paper addresses the question of how knowledge about sex and gender as produced in the Humanities and Social Sciences is transferred from the academy to society. The case study I use is Women's Studies in Dutch universities. Does the body of knowledge produced in Women's Studies departments find an application in civil society, the business sector and policymaking?

Science Studies greatly disregard knowledge from the Humanities and Social Sciences (Jasanoff 1995, Bijker 2001). Debates about the 'knowledge society' (European Commission 2000) predominantly focus on technology and neglect knowledge about sex and gender. By exploring the knowledge transfer from the Humanities and Social Sciences, my research may contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of Science Studies.

With methods from critical social studies of science, including the analysis of power and culture in science, my research provides insight in the interests and practices that impact on the application of knowledge. I use the framework of 'Mode-2' (Gibbons et al. 1994, Nowotny et al. 2001) to take into account the divers and reciprocal interactions between science and society. Interviews with Women's Studies graduates who are working as professionals in society are analysed to show how Women's Studies knowledge is received and used in society. This material allows me to point out the socio-economic, cultural and political factors that professionals experience as either hindering or enhancing the integration of academic knowledge about sex and gender in societal domains.


The 'Americanisation' of Dutch universities in the 1960s and 70s:
The case of chemistry at the University of Groningen

Ton VAN HELVOORT (Groningen, The Netherlands)

Soon after WW2, American scientific education and research became the ideal model for many of the teaching staff at Dutch universities. Despite the fact that chemistry at universities in the Netherlands rated quite well in international comparisons, it did not have such high achievements as chemical science in, for instance, Germany or Switzerland. It was hoped that American style science would boost the level in the Netherlands. In this paper I will analyse chemical education and research during the 1960s and 1970s at the relatively small University of Groningen (established in 1614), in the north of the Netherlands. By 1960, chemistry at the University of Groningen had suffered as a result of severe competition for the best professors by rivalling Dutch universities. Within a decade, however, a group of young science professors - many of them with experience at American laboratories - managed to place the Groningen chemistry faculty on the world map. At the end of the 1970s, these professors and their best scholars ranked among the top figures in Dutch chemical science.

This paper compares the characteristics of classical chemical education at Dutch universities with that in the United States. It is well known that the science faculties at American universities were much more egalitarian than those at Dutch and other West-European universities. The newly appointed chemistry professors in Groningen stressed the importance of further growth of the numbers of professors and lectors, while at the same time trying to keep the number of tenured scientific staff to a minimum. The professors also decided that their research domains had to be limited and concentrated, that the emphasis should be on group cooperation and not on competition, and that openness - towards colleagues as well as students - should be the norm. This meant that chemical education was perceived as a group responsibility, one of the objectives being a reduction of the time students took to graduate (by then, on average, much longer than 7 years). More generally, they opposed the traditional form of student life in so-called corpora, with their appalling initiation rituals. Instead, they tried to cultivate enthusiasm for science as a moving spirit in society, and they took responsibility for spreading the 'gospel of science' to the public at large.

I will argue that these American-inspired attitudes towards chemistry - and science in general - among the chemistry professors at Groningen made them better prepared for the international political turmoil that was to come: the student protests of the late 1960s and the demands for science policy and accountability made by the Dutch government in the 1970s.


Science Communication Strategies of Amateurs and Professional Scientists in Nineteenth Century Belgium

Geert VANPAEMEL (Leuven, Belgium)

In analyzing the circulation of knowledge, it is important to make a distinction regarding the internal and external transmission channels available to the parties concerned. We can discern four basic types, reflecting four different ways in which the process of communication is controlled by the various agents: hierarchical (e.g. top-down, education), sociable (among peer groups, personal networks), mediated (through newspapers, popularization) or participatory (two way interaction).

This paper explores the different communications strategies of amateurs and professional scientists in nineteenth century Belgium, based on the analysis of some prominent representatives of both groups and the scientific societies to which they belonged. It appears that amateur scientists were more often than professional scientists members of several scientific societies, were active in several scientific fields at the same time, were more prone to travel and to have international contacts, and that they identified more closely with material objects in particular scientific collections. Furthermore, they were more willing to engage in public debate and to participate in exhibitions or public lectures. Finally, their publications were more accessible to the public at large, although they put great emphasis on their scientific credibility.

Science communication among amateurs was thus sociable and participatory (as nineteenth century audiences can be largely considered as belonging to the same class as the amateur scientists). Professional communication tended to be more hierarchical and mediated. The growing cultural distance between amateurs and professionals discredited the amateur approach to science and made it increasingly difficult for professional scientists to reach for wider audiences.


The latest news from the Heavens. The European correspondence-network of Dutch astronomers in the 18th century

Huib J. ZUIDERVAART (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Astronomy in the 18th century Dutch Republic was performed mostly by dilettantes working in an informal non-institutional, extramural setting. These 'konstgenoten' (or 'fellows of the arts') as they called themselves, exchanged their observations and calculations mostly by handwritten correspondence. While at first working on a local level, they soon raised their correspondence-network to an international level by informing scholars abroad of their findings. In doing so, they contributed to important astronomical topics, such as the internationally orientated research into the orbit (and probable return) of comets and the quest for the determination of the solar parallax. By exchanging letters with astronomical information, contacts were established with scholars of English, French, German, Italian and Swedish origin


In the years 1750-1752 these international communications resulted, for instance, in Dutch support to the French expedition of Nicolas-Louis de la Caille to (then Dutch-governed) South Africa. One of the aims of this expedition was to determine the solar parallax, in a way different from the method intended for the Venus transits of 1761 and 1769. This effort required observations of the planets Mars and Venus on specified times, which were intended to coincide with De la Caille's observations made in South Africa. In response to a Europe-wide appeal made by French astronomers to participate in these scheduled observations, an attempt was made to organize the Dutch community of astronomical researchers. However, this rather early attempt to coordinate Dutch astronomy was made in vain, partly as a result of a total lack of scientific infrastructure in the - then federal governed - Dutch republic.

In this paper I will focus on the nature of the astronomical correspondence and on the way in which the Dutch network operated: in the Dutch republic as well as abroad. Who were the key-figures? In which way was the communication set up and maintained? How was the language barrier tackled? What were the expectations of the Dutch contributors? What strategies were followed to obtain governmental and other support? In short: what were the parameters that determined the impact of the efforts made?






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