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


Symposia R-varia


Michal KOKOWSKI (Krakow, Poland)


Symposium R-varia I


Roman DUDA (Wroclaw, Poland)

Stephanie DUPOUY (Paris, France)

Andrzej K. Wróblewski (Warsaw, Poland)

R-varia I.

The studies and the history of mathematics at the University of Lithuania in 1920-1940

Juozas BANIONIS (Vilnius, Lithuania)

On March 1, 1919 in Vilnius Lithuanian Society of Science (founded in 1907) initiated the foundation of The Courses of Higher Education, which existed until 1921 and promoted the idea of the revival of the old University of Vilnius. The history of mathematics was taught among the other subjects related to mathematics at the Courses. The lectures of the history of mathematics were delivered by Pranas Masiotas (1863-1940), who was the first one to publish in Lithuanian "The history of the Low Mathematics" in 1919.

When Vilnius region was incorporated again into Poland, The Courses of Higher Education (CHE) were established in temporary capital of Lithuania Kaunas in January 27, 1920. Two years later CHE were reorganized into the University of Lithuania (since 1930 University of Vytautas Magnus). The mathematician Zigmas Zemaitis (1884-1969), who became both the Head of CHE and later (in 1922) the dean of Faculty of Nature and Mathematics, put a lot of efforts organizing studies of mathematics. The studies of mathematics history were included into mathematics curriculum as a result of the adopted experience of Russia and Germany while establishing the University of Lithuania. Initially there was even an idea to found the Department of Mathematics History (this fact is mentioned in the correspondence (in 1922) of the Doctor of Honour of Mathematics the priest Adomas Jakstas-Dambrauskas (1860-1938). Although this idea was not implemented, the history of mathematics was studied in the independent Republic of Lithuania (since 1922 as a compulsory subject for two study terms, since 1934 as a recommended subject also for two terms). In 1940 when Lithuania was occupied, the subject disappeared from curriculum.

Scientific articles on the history of mathematics were significant in mathematicians' scientific works at the University of Lithuania. The following scientists published articles on the subject: Z. Zemaitis wrote about I. Newton (1927), M. Cantor (1930), O. Volk - about I. Newton's place in the history of science (1927), P. Katilius - about the development of non-Euclidian mathematics (1930), A. Jakshtas-Dambrauskas - about A.J.M. Hoene-Wronski (1930), V. Birziska - the history of probability theory (1931).

In conclusion, the presented facts say that the history of mathematics played an important role in the studies of mathematics at the University of Lithuania, aroused the greater interest in these studies and fostered the spread of mathematics in Lithuania.

R-varia I.

Mapping the face:
Anatomy of passions by J. Parsons, P. Camper and C. Bell

Stephanie DUPOUY (Paris, France)

From the mid-18th to the end of the 19th century, scientists produced treatises on facial expression intended for artists. These studies attempted to use anatomical knowledge to identify and classify the various expressions which the passions impart to the face, and sought thereby to provide painters, sculptors and actors with infallible means to represent emotional states on the human face.

This paper will focus on three figures in this tradition of research: the British physician and surgeon James Parsons (1705-1770)1; the Dutch anatomist and natural historian Petrus Camper (1722-1789)2; and the British anatomist and physiologist Charles Bell (1774-1842)3. My purpose is to show how the shift between these authors' approaches paralleled the change that occurred at the same time in the biological sciences, gradually transforming natural history into comparative anatomy. Whereas Parsons and, to some extend, Camper would classify facial configurations in the same way as botanist would classify plants-through their visible characteristics-Charles Bell introduced an underlying functional dimension in his approach to the face, comparing the facial structures of different animal species and the various biological functions they served. I will argue that this shift implied important consequences for what one may call the moral status of facial expressivity. Parsons and Camper classified the expressions according only to the corresponding passions (such as surprise, joy, tears, anger). Bell additionally distinguished noble expressions (spiritual, desinterested, and peculiarly human) from despicable ones (sensual, selfish, and animal), depending on the parts of the face set into motion. For Parsons and Camper expression was a natural and universal language designed by Providence to unite mankind (as well as the various animal species); it proved the unity between man's physical organisation and its social and moral nature. For Bell, on the contrary, the face became the mirror of man's duality (being both animal and spiritual) and thus polarised between purely biological functions that were shared with animals, and purely spiritual manifestations which were the privilege of man alone.

1James Parsons (1746), "Human physiognomy explained", Crounian Lecture, Supplement to the Philosophical transactions.

2Petrus Camper (1792), Sur le moyen de représenter d'une maniere sure les diverses passions qui se manifestent sur le visage , (French translation ; original conference in Dutch : 1774)

3Sir Charles Bell (1844) The Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression as connected with the Fine Arts, 3rd edition, London, Murray.

R-varia I.

Gruber and the machine ship model

Stanislav JUZNIC (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

We listed the books and instruments which the professor Gabriel Gruber (1740-1805), later Jesuit General, bought immediately after his arrival to Ljubljana in 1768. They were later very instrumental in teaching engineering sciences to George Vega and other students. By using the documents of the Styrian Landesarchiv in Graz we continued the research of Gruber, Kunsti, Vega, and other engineers working on the Mura River, which we previously began in an older publication using the documents of the Archive of Slovenia. While we formerly published documents about Vega's work in 1779/80 we now claimed that he had also regulated the river Mura during three previous years. We examined the way Gruber's engineers draw their navigational plans and compared their style with the works done by their contemporaries. For the first time we published the documents about Gruber's engineer Vega's resignation and the very first Kunsti's use of name "Vega" instead of the older original form "Veha". Vega became the artillerist at Vienna and famous mathematician soon afterwards.

Vega left the job under Gruber's supervision in the middle of the negotiations about the "machine boat" experiments. We claimed that Gruber and his staff built the model of the "machine ship" in 1779/1780. The manuscripts concerning their ship were published here for the first time. Gruber's model of "machine ship" was comparable with the contemporary achievements in France, England, and even in the newly established USA. We made some rough guesses about the reasons, why Gruber's pioneering work on went into oblivion so quickly after the death of the Empress Maria Therese.

Key words: Mura River, Gabriel Gruber, Jesuits, George Vega, Graz, Navigation, Early Steamboats.

R-varia I.

The explorers of the northern part of the Silesia - Cracow Upland.
Natural research between the middle of the 19th century and the end of the 20th century

EWA KACZMARZYK (Czestochowa, Poland)

This paper is devoted to the history of natural research in the northern part of the Silesia-Cracow Upland between the middle of the 19th and the end of the 20th century.

The first part of this paper is devoted to the presentation of the research conducted between the second half of the 19th century and the end of the First World War. It began in 1850s when a group of naturalists from Warsaw led by zoologist Antoni Waga and botanist Wojciech Jastrzebowski, conducted in 1854 a physiographical exploration of the Cracow-Czestochowa Jurassic Upland. The first fundamental work on the region's flora was published by Ferdynand Karo in 1881. Biological examination of the Czestochowa Jura was carried out by Franciszek Blonski. In the early 20th century Zygmunt Woycicki undertook botanical research of the area. In the area of zoology, the ornithological research in the Czestochowa region was carried out by Wladyslaw Taczanowski. Works on the region's entomology were published by Henryk Lgocki (beetle fauna) and the eminent Polish entomologist Jan Prûffer (butterfly fauna). The outstanding malacologist Wladyslaw Polinski was the autor of the first notes on snail fauna in the surroundings of Czêstochowa. The 19th century geologist Stanis³aw Kontkiewicz senior published the findings of a geological servey carried out in the south-west part of the then Congress Kingdom of Poland.

The second part of the paper presented natural research made during the interwar and post-war period (1919-1951). The development of plant sociology which took place after the First World War brought significant works by Marian Sokolowski (plant associations in the Parkowe reserve in Zloty Potok). Another researchers of the period, W³adys³aw Hyla and Henryk Blaszczyk, contributed to our better familarisation with the flora of the Czestochowa region. Research on fauna of the Czestochowa Upland was at the time only fragmentary and concerned mainly the selected animal groups. The findings of the butterfly fauna examinations were published by Marian Maslowski, his brother Ludwik, and, mentioned above, Jan Prûffer. Snail fauna of the Krakow-Czestochowa Jura was researched by Wladys³aw Polinski and Jaroslaw Urbanski. This part of the paper also included the profiles of Kazimierz Kowalski who in 1951 published the detailed inventory od the region's caves, and Stanis³aw Kontkiewicz junior who in 1949 described ore-bearing strata in the Czestochowa region.

The third part of the present paper is devoted to contemporary botanical, zoological and geological reseach in the years 1952-2000. It present, among others, works in the filed of lichenology by Bronislaw Szafer and Janusz Nowak, the results of research on the region's flora and plant sociology by Janusz Herezniak and studies on mycology by Maria Lawrynowicz and the others. Zoological research carried out during the discussed period include, among others, the following branches: theriology (Kazimierz Kowalski, Bronis³aw W. Woloszyn), herpetology (Leon Kowalewski), paleozoology (Kazimierz Kowalski, Ewa Stworzewicz), ornithology (Jozef Markiewcz), entomology and underground fauna (Andrzej W. Skalski). The findings of the stratigraphic studies on the Krakow-Czestochowa Jura conducted by Stefan Z. Rozycki were published in 1953. The stratigraphy of the discussed area is currently being examined by Andrzej Wierzbowski, recently in collaboration with Bronislaw A. Matyja.

R-varia I.

Restructuring the connections
(Scientific networks of the University of Tartu shattered by language shifts)

Ken KALLING (Tartu, Estonia)

Erki TAMMIKSAAR (Tartu, Estonia)

The University of Tartu (Dorpat/Yuryev) was shocked by two major changes in the language use in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The first case was in 1893 when the university was switched from German to Russian by the Tsarist authorities running a Russification campaign. The second took place in 1919, when Estonian language was declared by the emerging Estonian state to be the official and only means of communication at the university.

Thus the old university of Tartu, serving until the end of the 19th century as a model of academic intercultural connections - a German style and language institution in the Russian state participating in numerous international scientific networks - had to adjust itself to the gradually diminishing language realms.

Although with exceptions - i.e. there were cases when the old language-use remained - it has to be admitted that the scientific level, when the fundamental sciences are fore, suffered. On the other hand the cases under study did possess a positive influence on scientific fields and studies concentrating on the local matters. The emergence of the so called "national sciences" of Estonia can be thus accepted as one of the results of the - by their essence limiting - language shifts.

The developments in the academic realm under discussion were paralleled with the gradual emergence of modern Estonian nation. The latter process was relatively biologised - the national thinkers seemed to justify the emancipation of a "nation with no history" by relying on the possibilities seemingly granted by the "natural history" (the latter supposedly never condemning a small organism into decay). The scientific ideas imported into the national political thinking were depending on the language dominating the local centre of education and science (Tartu), especially before the pre-independence era.

(Resultingly the acceptance of Darwinism in Estonia thus has influences from both German and Russian ways of seeing and developing the evolutionary theory this in turn directing the political picture of the new state.)

The academic community at the University of Tartu survived the linguistic turns by adapting to the more broader international scientific community. Finnish connections fostered the "national sciences". Fundamental scholarship was gradually entering English language realm with the Rockefeller Foundation as a strong support.

R-varia I.

Surgeons in the courtroom:
Forensic Expertise and local power at Paris and London, 1760-1790

Christelle RABIER (Paris, France)

For one who is interested in the construction of surgical knowledge in the late eighteenth century, the study of capitals such as Paris and London is particularly relevant. In these two cities at the heart of Empires, under the close scrutiny of the Crowns, tensions between aspirations to universality and local practices were continuously renewed. Such a situation is particularly noticeable in legal practices. In the courtroom, surgeons' expertise was required for criminal cases in the French and the English legal systems. However the legal dispositions had lead to quite different practice of legal medicine in France and England. Centres of power and knowledge, the capitals promoted an expertise which trespassed the boundaries of the courts' competence: these important printing centres gave a particular importance to medico-legal controversies and treatises. However, closer scrutiny to legal practices in court and controversies which took place helps assessing the construction of surgeons' authority within town, between monarchical power, corporative competence and local authority. In our paper, we would like to contrast two criminal court records between 1760 and 1790, that is the Chambre criminelle du Châtelet and the Old Bailey Court. From reports given by surgeons in the courtroom, we will assess how local and royal power on the one hand, and local and universal knowledge on the other are articulated. We will show how these records help mapping the local power exerted by surgeons within the city. We will then discuss how in very different legal systems surgeons' opinions lead into the constitution of the medico-legal discipline.

R-varia I.

The Revival of the Vilnius University in 1919:
Historical Conditions and Importance for Polish Science

Ewelina TYLINSKA (Warsaw, Poland)

In the 19th century Poland was under the rule of the three empires: Russia, Austria and Prussia. Polish nation regains his freedom in 1918; since there the great changes had been ensued, especially in a matter of science and higher education. Several universities and educational institutions were established in this period, ex. Stefan Batory University in Vilnius (1919).

Although it was the smallest Polish university (it numbered maximum 3000 students), it was the institution of great importance. Vilnius Academy provided a chance of higher education for youths from north-east borderland. It was also a place where adult, even middle aged, people could achieve new qualifications. The Stefan Batory University also acted as a source of academic knowledge for all Vilnius inhabitants - thanks to various assortment of courses (paid or free, for all types of audience).

The importance of Vilnius University was nation-wide. It was in Vilnius where the research centre made inquires about the Einstein theory. The Stefan Batory University had also wide international renown, especially in Hungarian and Baltic universities. They created strong scientific network, which was revealed in numerous conferences and cultural exchange.

R-varia I.

Jubilee of Jan Hempel's "Geognostic map of coalfield in Polish Kingdom"

Andrzej J. WOJCIK (Warsaw, Poland)

Mining, later together with steel industry, was always considered as constant process of human being's economic activity. Unfortunately, there wasn't such a continuity in gathering mining and geological knowledge in Poland. It was for sure caused by unfavourable geopolitical conditions.

In the thirties and forties of the ninetieth century Bank of Poland and Governmental Income and Treasury Committee concentrated on creating steel industry. As a result, new hard coal deposits were exploited in great quantities as to satisfy market's needs.

Jan Hempel (1818 - 1886) started his work in coal mines of the West Region of the Polish Kingdom and in 1847 was commanded to organise so called "markszajderyjna s³u¿ba" (surveying service) in coal mines. At that time Hempel introduced theodolite and various methods of coordinate calculus into surveying.

In 1856 Jan Hempel finished four-year-long work on "Mapa geognostyczna zaglebia weglowego w Krolestwie Polskiem" ("Geognostic map of coalfield in Polish Kingdom"). His map was prepared and published on government expenditure in 1857 by M. Fajans' Company in Warsaw. It was printed in 18 sheets in 1:20000 scale. Map presents an area between Czeladz (in the west) and Olkusz (in the east); it reaches Ujejsce and Zabkowice in the north and national border on Biala and Czarna Przemsza Rivers in the south.

Hempel got high financial reward and governmental decoration for his work. "Mapa geognostyczna zaglebia weglowego w Krolestwie Polskiem" was also very positively assessed by his contemporaries. In 1857 Rudolf A. W. von Carnall discussed and prepared extensive report on it during session of the Geological Society in Berlin. Moreover, professor of the Mining Academy in Freiberg - Bernhard von Cotta prepared vast commentary on Hempel's map and handed it over, during his stay in the West Region (1859), to Hieronim Labecki. Also Carl Mauve - director of mining in Mys³owice-Katowice area - assessed map highly.

Jan Hempel had a great contribution to the development of geological knowledge of Upper Silesia region. Without specialist geological education he undertook very difficult task of creating a geological map. Yet his thorough knowledge of mining and mineral resources occurring in the analysed area as well as surveying skills enabled him to determine components of structural hard coal beds.

Self-taught geologist discovered traces of Permian products, grouped together coal beds into systems that were later called "under-reden", "reden" and "over-reden". For many years information gathered by Hempel in his map were of great importance for mining in the West Region of the Polish Kingdom.

Symposium R-varia II (Mathematics, Exact and Natural Sciences)


Fabio BEVILACQUA (Pavia, Italy)

R-varia II.

The last paper by Ettore Majorana: an analysis

Carlo ARTEMI (Orvieto, Italy)

In this work author analyses the last paper by Italian physician Ettore Majorana who was one of the most world-famous physician in the field of sub nuclear physics to such an extent that his theories are working hypothesises for many studies and experiments till today. Majorana disappeared suddenly in the March of 1938 and, for tenth of years, the most varied hypothesises have been done about his end (suicide, kidnapping, escape abroad, hideout in a monastery) while paper at issue has been never fully examined. The article was found, ew days after disappearance, among his papers and was published in 1942 in the Italian review Scientia. Its title is "Il valore delle leggi statistiche nelle scienze fisiche e nelle scienze sociali" (The value of statistical laws in physical sciences and in social sciences). It is very interesting both because of discussed topics, that show Majorana as a true "father" of Econophysics, and because of it underlines his very vast cultural interests, also outside science as traditionally meant.

Majorana in this paper follows a very interesting logical route. He starts from classical physics interpreted as the physics of determinism and passing through needed statistical description of some macroscopic systems , arrives to modern physics that forces to describe quantum systems in such a way. In this route Majorana does several very interesting considerations. First of all he reminders some philosophical criticisms to determinism, particularly that of George Sorel. He doesn't scandalize for these criticisms, on the contrary he seems to agree with them and claims determinism "kills" free will of man.

When Majorana reminders the need to statistically describe some macroscopic system, he does an interesting comparison between to known the temperature of gas and to known the wedding rate of a people, answering possible objections , and in same lines he gives a concise and precise definition of entropy very useful for divulgation.

When Majorana introduces quantum physics he doesn't a long historical introduction, as it happens in high school courses, but he goes straight to wave - particles dualism (electron diffraction and photoelettronic effect are citied) and to the indetermination principle . In the last part of article Majorana does again an interesting comparison between the statistical description of atomic nucleus and the same description of a social phenomenon (again answering possible objections). From whole article it is clear that, Majorana had the conviction that it was possible to study social phenomena by statistical methods typical of natural science. Author reminders that it is happening in the field of Econophysics listing its results. Author also shows as it is possible to introduce in high school modern physics following the Majorana's exposition. Besides it is interesting to try understanding the psychological situation of Majorana by reading this paper. In fact this paper doesn't seem an spiritual will or the work of a man near to suicide, on the contrary it seems a work of a man with many cultural interests, much wish of studying but with a desire to study in a direction, an "Econophysical direction" very different respect to Fermi team's direction.

R-varia II.

From the 17th century to the present-day in Estonia:
evolution of exact and natural sciences

Vahur MÄGI (Tallinn, Estonia)

All the scientific literature published in Estonia in the past is either in Latin or German written by authors coming from abroad, mostly from Germany. The original creative thought in that literature is usually lacking and, therefore, it is insignificant in the general history of science. Yet, it is interesting - first and foremost, from the standpoint of observing the spread of scientific ideas since the literature played the key role in West European scientific thought reaching the Baltic countries. At the same time, it is a significant source from the aspect of the Estonian education history providing knowledge for the compilers of the first writings and textbooks on popular education in the Estonian language. The works containing knowledge on mathematics have a central role here. The first secondary schools in Estonia, then a province of Sweden, were established in Tartu (1630) and Tallinn (1631). The secondary school in Tartu was granted the rights of a university in 1632 and renamed Academia Gustaviana. The first books of exact sciences published in Estonia were written by the professors of mathematics of those schools. Newton's Light Theory was taught in Tartu starting from 1693; a few years later, higher mathematics was introduced in the curriculum. The first book explaining notions of mathematics was published in Estonian in 1795. Tartu University was the principal centre of research into exact sciences in Estonia for several centuries. In the early 19th century, connections with German universities became closer and conspicuously many highly qualified scientists from those universities came to Tartu. The influx of new ideas laid the foundation for establishing high-quality schools of astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics. The university played an important role in the Baltic countries becoming the area connecting Western Europe and Russia, and mediating science and culture between them. After the World War I, the independent state of Estonia emerged causing thorough changes in education and research. There were more opportunities to obtain an education; people receiving their degrees abroad returned home with valuable experience and fresh knowledge. Brno, Karlsruhe, Prague and Vienna became the most popular places among Estonians for studying. Many Estonians studied at Warsaw Technical University, not only because of the favourable working environment but due to scholarships Poland granted to Estonian students. Thorough research into economic exploitation of oil shale, the principal Estonian natural resource, was conducted. In close co-operation with the research institutions in London and Zurich, the technologies for producing oil and petrol out of oil shale were worked out. The joint studies of physical structure of materials with researchers from Göttingen, Oslo and Stockholm produced internationally recognised results. The physicists of Tartu supplied the world's seismic stations with sensitive and accurate seismographs produced in Tartu. A new technical higher school, Technical College, was opened in Tallinn and soon evolved into a university. Its academic staff had done their degrees mostly in Riga, St Petersburg and Germany; soon new academics with degrees from Great Britain, France and Switzerland joined the staff. The scientists at Technical University were the first in Estonia to apply the methods of quantum mechanics in research. The idea of electrical separation of minerals conceived here was implemented in mining all over the world. The National Experimental Laboratory was established for doing technical research construction, energetics and chemical technology being the most successful research areas.

The study is supported by Estonian Science Foundation under grant No 5872.

R-varia II.

Mathematics science and memory:
Florentine painting and the origins of the experimental model during the Italian Renaissance

Richard K. MERRITT (Campinas, Brasil)

The origins of early modern experimental science is oftentimes attributed to a constellation of scientific philosophies that emerge, coalesce and culminate during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

This paper asserts that a new construct of the philosophical foundations of experimental science must be addressed. At the cornerstone of this approach is a re-examination of the role and development of the practice painting and its surrounding theories during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries in Florence, Italy.

It is widely accepted that Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), and Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) used the applied mathematics of masons and architects and the principles of optics to create the theoretical model for Linear Perspective, but it was the noted painter/mathematician Piero della Francesca (1412-1492) whose work De Prospectiva Pingenti would specifically apply these concepts to the practice of painting. With scientific theory in mind, the practice of painting begins a profound transformation.

Beginning with these developments we see two and a half centuries wherein painting parallels, mirrors and sometimes prefigures philosophical models of scientific practice. The work of painting during this period becomes an application of theory in the creation of an abstract construct (experiment) through a formal methodology (Linear Perspective and Projective Geometry). Central to the profession of painting during the Florentine Renaissance was the abstract construct/experiment that follows mathematical principles to replicate, in a controlled setting (the painting itself), the apparent qualities and attributes of nature.

The creation of an applicable theory effectively elevated painting from a manual to a liberal art. This evolution was linked to the artist's encounter with the sciences, engineering and mathematics in a fashion that directly concords with the practice of science during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth centuries merging; Memory and Classification, Calculation, Theory and Experiment, Philosophical Construct and Mechanical investigation.

This paper also covers the emergence of important treatises in Florence that contribute the development of "the science of painting" Ptolemy's Geographica (translated into Latin and published in 1406), the Aristotelian corpus, Augustinian traditions of Oxford and Paris, Renaissance Neo-Platonism of Marsilio Ficino, the memory practices of Giordano Bruno (De umbris Idearum) and the persistence of Medieval notions on the metaphysics of light. With particular attention to the availability of these works and ideas to artists, Mathematics Science and Memory: Florentine Painting and the origins of the experimental model during the Italian Renaissance argues that the humanistic intersection of scientific, mathematical literature and the theory and practice of painting propelled the development of the early modern experimental model and had profound influence on the subsequent thinkers such as Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).

The author seeks to broaden the philosophy of science as it pertains to Renaissance Italy, viewing the concurrence of painting, mathematics, science and engineering in the formation of the early modern scientific method.

Piero della Francesca's (1412-1492) De Prosepectiva di Pingenti, Leon Battista Alberti's Della Pittura, Pacioli's De Divina Proportione, as well as the paintings of Piero Della Francesca, Masaccio (1401-1428) and Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) will be substantially addressed.

R-varia II.

The beginnings of scientific interests in electrical phenomena in Hungarian Kingdom

Miroslav MOROVICS (Bratislava, Slovakia)

Andrej SPERKA (Bratislava, Slovakia)

The electricity science is considered scientific discipline, whose intensive and profiling development was commenced in the 18th century. Unlike mechanics, acoustics, optics and severeral others, its specificity lies upon the fact that its characteristic qualities, apart from the atmospheric electricity, can hardly be percieved by our senses for it does not exist naturally. While the examining mechanical and related phenomena based on the sensory perception creates plenty of space for speculative interpretation, research into electrical effects requires experimental methodology and suitable equipment. Beginnings of scientific interests in electrical phenomena also attract attention for its part in the process of forcing speculative pseudo - Aristotelian physics out to be replaced by progressive experimental methodology. As long as in the area of mechanics, astronomy and similar disciplines the former process took long time to succeed, in the 18th century several Hungarian scholars were quick to react properly to the pioneering discoveries in static or atmospheric electricity including Galvani's and Volta's. Although in Hungarian Kingdom neither the favourable conditions for scientific research in the area of physics were created in the meantime, nor the emerging interest in electricity produced any significant discovery, this kind of knowledge became an organic part of schooling at Jesuit universities and Protestant colleges and forced the way for substantial changes in science in the 19th century. The paper is dedicated to the initial writings and authors who were responsible for introducing problems of electricity into the scientific and textbook literature in Hungarian Kingdom during the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries (I. Purgina, S. Hatvani, A. Horányi, P. Makó and others).

R-varia II.

Archimedes'centres of gravity theory as a logical foundation in Torricelli's mechanics?

Raffaele PISANO (Rome, Italy)

In my previous works I examined the historical development of the foundations of the theory of the centre of gravity during late medieval and early modern period until Torricelli's mathematical issue in Mechanics (1644). On the basis of these studies, I am going to consider the Suppositioni and the Propositioni set by Archimedes from an epistemological and historical point of view, as rational criterions for the determination of the centres of gravity. I shall try to show that Torricelli's organization of the mechanical theory has a remote ground, not only for the use of Archimedes' techniques, i.e. Reductio ad Absurdum - although he knew Bonaventura Cavalieri's emerging analysis very well - but for a logical ground shared in common as well: how Torricelli's theory of the centres of gravity was influenced by Archimedes' works? Does he treat either of acquisitions of similar mathematical techniques and/or just of a (new) way of conceiving science in terms of organization of the theory?

Selected Bibliography

  • Archimede, Opere, by Frajese A., UTET (ed.), Torino,
  • Caverni R. 1891-1900. Storia del metodo sperimentale in Italia, Vol. IV, Forni (ed.), Bologna.
  • Claggett M. 1964-1984. Archimedes in the Middle Ages, Madison-Philadelphia, Mem. Amer. Philo. Soc., 5 Voll.
  • Clagett M. 1959. The Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages, Madison, Univ. of Wisconsin Press.
  • Drake S., Drabkin I.E. 1969. Mechanics in Sixteenth Century Italy, Univ. of Wisconsin Press.
  • Dijksterhuis E.J. 1957. Archimedes, Humanities Press, NY.
  • Duhem P.-M., 1905-06. Les origines de la Statique, Tome I, Hermann (ed.), Paris.
  • Galileo G. 1890-1909. Opere di Galileo Galilei, ed. Naz. by A. Favaro, 20 Voll.
  • Pisano R. 2005. "Mathematics of Logic and Logic of Mathematics. Critical problems in History of Science", BSL - The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, in press.
  • Torricelli E. 1644. Opera geometrica, Massa-Landi (ed.), Firenze.

Symposium R-varia III (Chemistry)


W. Gerhard POHL (Linz, Austria)

R-varia III.

The philosophy of computational chemistry II (*)

M. C. BURGUETE (Rio Maior, Portugal)

A good representative example of the actual epistemological and paradigm shift can be seen in the analysis of a case study related to the philosophy of computational chemistry based on simulation, inasmuch as it requires holistic thinking to be effective and induces a dynamic iconographic perspective of knowledge.

This holistic thinking is illustrated by the history of computational chemistry (experimental case study of dopamine receptors), which has emerged as a consequence of a dynamic approach involving the development of three concepts: mobility, spatiality and probability.

These three characteristics are conducive to a dynamic vision of chemical phenomena, and have permitted the emergence of new programmes - specific programmes, which allow us to generate molecules with adequate applications in molecular recognition, including the design of synthetic receptors and their agonists and antagonists molecules.

Dopamine - a hormone-like substance - is an important neurotransmitter; when present in normal quantities, dopamine facilitates critical brain functions. The design of dopamine agonists can therefore be seen as a useful tool in brain research ...

Let us consider a systematic view of these models: when we look for dopamine receptor agonists we are aware of the complexity of the search process, because we are prepared to visualize a fragment of complex reality, which lies behind this interdisciplinary area of knowledge.

The application of these ideas to the drug-design problematic - namely the synthesis of dopamine agonists - enhanced the development of concepts to which priority is currently being given, such as conformational analysis, stereochemistry and selectivity in the reactions of organic molecules.

(*) - The Philosophy of Computational Chemistry I was presented at the 22th International Congress on the History of Science, in July 2005, Beijing, China.

R-varia III.

(POSTER) The philosophy of computational chemistry

M. C. BURGUETE (Rio Maior, Portugal)

The contemporary world is characterized by the complexity of the diverse scopes and by the spalling of old institutional pillars. This complexity asks for multiple approaches on specific, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary aspects that compose the picture, now ephemeral and unstable, of the scientific world. The philosophy of computational chemistry due to its complexity became a very good example to understand the approach of systemic paradigm in a substitution process on the ways of thinking about the world of science. Here we became aware of the change of vision from the chemical world's perspective, where uncertainty and complexity are considered valid instruments in interdisciplinarity.

Key-words: Complexity, science, philosophy, systemic, paradigm.

R-varia III.

The USA and EU - Two Perspectives on Phthalates

Maria Elvira CALLAPEZ (Lisbon, Portugal; Berkeley, CA USA)

The growth of the use of chemicals and the awareness of their potential risks has generated debates on the toxicity of these chemicals. These concerns are being incorporated into public health policy. At the end of the 1990s the information that plastic toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) caused certain risks to the health of children under 5 years of age started to circulate in the public opinion. These toys are composed of chemicals called phthalates that make PVC articles more flexible and softer. The concerns appeared because some studies had suggested that phthalates caused cancer in animals such as rodents. Therefore, it was feared that children who were exposed to those same substances might also develop cancers.

This paper focuses firstly on the analysis of the prohibition of substances used by the plastics industry, namely the use of phthalates in the production of toys made of PVC for babies and children under 5 years of age and on episodes and controversial aspects around the use of phthalates. Secondly, the aim of this paper is to discuss the reactions of the PVC industry to the ban that was put into effect in Europe and the USA. How did the discussion on phthalates emerge into the public realm? How did Europe and the USA deal with this issue? Are there any differences concerning how they show their views on this problematic ban?

This paper is part of an ongoing research project focusing on the emergence of the precautionary principle and legislative regulation of PVC.

R-varia III.

(POSTER) Liebig and Wöhler and the concept of isomerism


These two great scientists, Justus von Liebig (1803-73) and Friedich Wöhler (1800-82), have many resemblances: both were German, lived in the same period of 19th century, were in their youth disciples of two brilliant chemists and worked mainly in organic chemistry. Nevertheless, the most important connection point in their lives was another one.

Liebig in 1822 went to Paris to work with Gay-Lussac, whilst Wöhler was in Stockholm with Berzelius. Liebig learned there how to analysed organic material and so he determined the composition of an explosive, silver fulminate, a salt of an unknown organic acid, named by him fulminic acid. At that time Wöhler analysed silver cyanate, a salt of another unknown acid, cyanic acid. The problem arose when the results of both analyses were identical, although corresponding to compounds with different properties.

Liebig, pushed by his aggressive character, accused Wöhler of erroneous results. But he admitted they were correct when he carefully repeated the analysis (1826). And curiously this was the starting point of a deep friendship between them, who after worked together in many researches. Some years after (1831) Berzelius solved this dilemma by means of the concept of isomerism. Thus apparently incorrect results contributed to build a new doctrine in chemistry and, in turn, a small conflict led to long research collaboration.

From that some interesting ideas for the classroom can emerge, in order to increase the students' interest for science:

  • teamwork is important in research,
  • careful work in laboratory is necessary to be sure of results,
  • apparently incongruous results should not be forgotten,
  • imagination and reliable experimental data contribute to the construction of theories,
  • polemics in science can lead to remarkable advances.

R-varia III.

Controlling infectious diseases at the end of 18th century in Spain

Núria PEREZ-PEREZ (Barcelona, Spain)

At the end of eighteenth century and in the early years of the nineteenth century two different incidents related to infectious diseases were taking place in Spain, firstly the introduction of vaccine against smallpox and secondly the yellow fever epidemics, both events from 1800.

The new perspectives opened by modern chemistry as applied to medicine against infectious diseases were showed, discussed and spread out thanks to a new academic network raised by specific rules established by the colleges of surgery themselves. These rules gave birth to the setting up of a special kind of periodical scientific sessions: the "Juntas Literarias". These public sessions were mainly addressed to scholars as well to other audiences. Most lectures and discussions were written down and had been preserved.

By analyzing information contained in these extremely rich set of sources, and taking the Royal College of Surgery of Barcelona as a case study, this communication aims to do a first approach about the uses of chemistry as an emergent discipline capable to control the epidemics diseases, together with cultural and social analyses of public discourses where several strategies of popularization of science were used on infectious diseases as well as their political dimensions.

R-varia III.

Cold Light in the Painting Group portrait in the Chemist's House

Alicja RAFALSKA-LASOCHA (Krakow, Poland)

Wieslaw LASOCHA (Krakow, Poland)

Anna JASINSKA (Krakow, Poland)

In 2005 the Jagiellonian University Museum mounted the exhibition Uczony i jego pracownia / The Scholar and His Study. Among the paintings and scientific instruments there was a picture by a 17th century Dutch artist, Cornelis de Man, from the collection of the National Museum in Warsaw. The canvas attracted attention due to its subject, the manner of depiction, and a high artistic quality. The story depicted in it, however, had remained unknown.

Michalkowa has described it as a scene in which the scholars are demonstrating the results of their investigations to their patron; however, no hypothesis has been advanced as to what kind of investigation might it be.

According to our search the painting depicts the story of discovery one extremely important chemical element. At that time chemistry grew out of medieval alchemy. Alchemists as one know sought the philosopher's stone. One of them, Hennig Brandt (1630-1692?), ex-soldier, later a merchant, but primarily an indefatigable alchemist evaporated animal urine and next calcined the residue. As a result of sustained efforts, a white substance began to settle on the walls of the retort. One day, at dusk, when Brandt entered the laboratory, he saw a mysterious radiance emanating from the retort. It was neither the philosopher's stone nor gold, but a yellowish-white waxy paste glowing in the dark. It was not an ordinary light - it was cold. Contemporary scholars (it happened in 1669) did not know such a phenomenon. Brandt called this new substance PHOSPHORUS, from Greek φωσφορος [fosforos] which meant light-carrying. A great number of people all around Europe were interested in the mysterious substance. Samples of phosphorus were exhibited on royal courts. Leibniz and Boyle were also interested in it. Boyle even organized an exhibition for the fellows of the Royal Society. Eventually he received phosphorus on his own.

During the conference we will present additional evidence to confirm our opinion that the "luminescent substance" in the bottle, painted by Cornelis de Man, is PHOSPHORUS - a chemical element without which life on the Earth would not be possible. Our research also indicate that in the 17th century - the time of great scientific achievements, a cooperation between people involved in new discoveries existed in Europe. Moreover, Europe rulers and their courts, as well as artists, were deeply interested in science.

Symposium R-varia IV (Scientists and Politics)


Geert SOMSEN (Maastricht, The Netherlands)

R-varia IV.

George Orwell and the Radial Scientific Left in Britain, 1945-1950

Ralph J. DESMARAIS (London, Great Britain)

The socialist novelist George Orwell (1903-1950) and the radical scientific Left were equally committed to a future British socialist state, yet in the early postwar era Orwell became one of their leading critics. One explanation for this apparent contradiction, favoured by Gary Werskey and other historians, is that Orwell, a fervent anti-communist, could not reject communism "without explicitly rejecting the (communist) Left's package of support for science, materialism and Soviet socialism" [Werskey, 1978]. By this reasoning, Orwell's political opposition to the scientific Left was a consequence of his anti-communism.

In this paper I will argue the converse, namely that Orwell's rejection of communism was predicated on his conception of the use of science and materialism in the Soviet Union. Orwell believed that Soviet-style ideologically-driven scientific research, and the political power of Russian scientists such as Trofim Lysenko, were dystopian exemplars of how a future Western totalitarian regime might originate and operate. A key feature of this argument, based on Orwell's correspondence and essays, together with evidence of his direct involvement in the Lysenko controversies of 1946-49, is that Orwell was convinced that scientists are singularly prone to totalitarian habits of thought. The pro-Soviet attitudes and activities of British scientific intellectuals such as J.D. Bernal and J.B.S. Haldane were, for Orwell, symptomatic of this tendency and constituted a threat to Britain's future socialist democracy. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) was Orwell's final and influential prophetic warning of this threat.

R-varia IV.

Attitudes of French and Austrian scientific institutions (1938-1945)

Sylvain LAUBE (Nantes, France)

During the second world war, the conditions of the scientific productions have been strongly perturbated. The new political conditions in Europe (Austria (1938) : Anschluss in the Third Reich; France (1940): National Revolution by Pétain and Collaboration with the Third Reich) showed a bursting inside the scientific community: those who were eliminated for excluded for anti-semitic or political reasons, the emigrants and those who stayed and had a scientific activity in an state institution. About this last case, several questions are asked: what are the continuities and the breakdowns? What are the attitudes in the new political organizations?

In every scientific institution, it is possible to show several individual positions between resistance and militant collaboration. Burrin [1] and Marcot [2] propose concepts to describe these situations. For Burrin, accommodation is "a current phenomenon during occupation where are, inevitably, created certain contact surfaces and an adjustement is proceeded to the new reality". For Marcot, "the comportements of forced adaptation refer to all those who accept compromises with occupation forces in the subjective (and objective) limit of their simple survival, without prejudging what the can do otherwise".

From the works of M. Douglas [3] and L. Fleck [4], I will show that it is possible (and necessary) to adapt and discuss those concepts about the scientific institutions.

I will compare the situations in Austria and in France on the period 1938-1945 by illustrating both cases with examples taken in the domain of the research in physic: CNRS (France), Academies of Sciences (France, Austria), Radium Institut (Austria).

Selected Bibliography

  • [1] P. Burrin, La France a l'heure allemande 1940, Paris, Du Seuil, 1995.
  • [2] F. Marcot, Qu'est ce qu'un patron résistant?, Actes du colloque L'occupation, l 'état français et les entreprises, Univ. de Franche-Comté (Laboratoire des sciences historiques, Centre d'histoire contemporaine), 1999. p. 277.
  • [3] M.Douglas, How institutions think, Syracuse University Press, 1986.
  • [4] L. Fleck, Genesis and development of a scientific fact, University of Chicago Press, 1979.

R-varia IV.

1848: Gregor Mendel, the monk who wanted to be a citizen

Christiane NIVET (Paris, France)

In the revolutionary year 1848, six Augustinian friars addressed a petition, in German, to the Constitutional Parliament of Vienna, stating that members of religious orders are deprived of civil rights and demanding that they be given citizenship. V.Orel and A. Verbig (1984) arbitrarily ascribe the authorship of this text to another signatory, the monk M. Klassel, and present the petition as a "plea for freedom for teaching". We suggest 1) that this text primarily requested citizenship and 2) that the author of this text was Mendel, who both signed and actually hand-wrote it (F. Weiling,1998-99). We also contend that the tragic events he was experiencing at the time (late July 1848) pushed Mendel to such desperation as to write a bitter attack on the monastic institution in this petition.


  • Iltis H., Gregor Mendel. Leben,Werk und Wirkung. Springer, Berlin. 1924. English translation Life of Mendel. Allen and Unwin. London 1932.
  • Nivet C., "Une maladie énigmatique dans la vie de Gregor Mendel". Médecine/ Sciences 20,1050-3, 2004.
  • Nivet C., "1848: Gregor Mendel le moine qui voulait etre citoyen". Médecine/ Sciences 22,430-3, 2006.
  • Orel V., Gregor Mendel, the first geneticist. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Orel V. and Verbig A., "Mendel's involvement in the plea for freedom on teaching in the revolutionary year of 1848". Folia Mendeliana 19 : 223-33, 1984.
  • Weiling F., "J.G.Mendel und die Eingabe der capitularen des Stiftes St-Thomas an den Österreichuschen Reichstag vom 8, August 1848". Folia Mendeliana 33/34, 5-10. 1998/99.

R-varia IV.

Edmond Rothe (1873-1942), as an early figure of committed intellectual at Strasbourg University

Françoise OLIVIER-UTARD (Strasbourg, France)

Political commitment in the French University of Strasbourg has followed a very particular way of expression and manifestation, compared to the general French attitude, especially between the first and the second world war. It is interesting to analyse the situation in a provincial city, which is furthermore torn between contradictory feelings regarding the problems of national identity. German/French, automomist/republican, right/left form strata that do not exactly superimpose. The case of Edmond Rothé contrasts strongly with the way his colleagues relate with public affairs. He leaves his position in Nancy in 1918 and applies voluntarily when the French university reopens in Strasbourg after 48 years of German rule. He comes back to his ancestors' country, like many other Alsatians. This attitude can be qualified as patriotic.

In the scientific field, he is involved in the development of an emerging discipline in France, the sciences of earth, the physics of the globe. During WW I, he has worked on aeronautic problems for ther French army. At an international level, he takes on the task initiated by the German scholars in Strasbourg. He is president of the International society of seismology. The social implication of scientists in the city, through the development of meteorology, is stronger than generally noticed. The management of the university is also among his concerns. He is elected dean of the faculty of sciences of the university of Strasbourg in 1932, and has to face the birth of mass university and the question of professional issues for graduate students.

But he is also involved in the political life. In 1935, he joins the regional committee for the Popular Front in Strasbourg, and leads the demonstrations with the labour representatives. This commitment has a high cost : he is compelled to retire in June 1940, on the order of the minister of the Vichy government. He is not even allowed to invigilate examinations. No protestation among his former colleagues is made before 1945. He dies in 1942. His life, as a scholar and a citizen, seems apart from most of his colleagues'. But it is relevant in the shaping of the 'intellectual commitment' to arise in the universities.

The paper will try to frame the conditions of the emergence of the figure of an intellectual in the French society, in a context of local controversies, national patriotic movement, and international scientific competition.






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