Announcements and reports of events

Paperback Launch Party

What a fun celebration we had last night to toast the launch of the paperback edition of The Philosophical Breakfast Club! A few friends gathered with me at the Jones Wood Foundry, a “Food Driven Pub” on the Upper East Side–the closest thing to a real English pub outside the UK!

My editor Vanessa Mobley was called away at the last moment, but the wine she sent us was much appreciated!

Happily, my wonderful agent, Howard Morhaim, was able to join us.

The food and drink were excellent, and lots of fun was had by all!

Many thanks to my friends for celebrating with me, and to Stuart, Renee and Jason at the Jones Wood Foundry for making the party a real success!

Upcoming Event: Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, May 9, 2012

I’m happy to announce that I will be giving a public lecture on The Philosophical Breakfast Club at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University on Wednesday, May 9th 2012, at 7pm. The lecture is open to the public.

For more information about the talk, and to reserve tickets, see here.

I look forward to seeing friends and fans of The Philosophical Breakfast Club at the Arboretum on May 9th!

Photos from Dibner Library Lecture

I finally have some photos from the Dibner Library Lecture. The lecture took place in a lovely room in the Smithsonian Castle. It used to be the library, and you can see bookshelves lining the walls. These are now used as display cases; each member institution of the Smithsonian gets to put a representative display in one of the cases.

(This was taken about an hour before the lecture began. The hosts had received so many RSVPs for the lecture that they set up about 100 seats, most of which were full by the time I began speaking!)

There were numerous rather large and looming examples of 19th-early 20th century taxidermy arrayed on top of the cases:

And here I am during the talk, probably explaining the finer points of how the members of the Philosophical Breakfast Club brought about the invention of the modern scientist (either that, or describing how much they ate and drank at their breakfasts!).

It was great fun! I especially enjoyed the Q & A afterwards—what a smart and engaged audience!

Reminder: Dibner Lecture, Washington DC, December 6

I wanted to remind D.C.-area friends and fans of The Philosophical Breakfast Club that I will be delivering the Dibner Library Lecture at the Smithsonian Castle Commons next Tuesday, December 6, at 5pm. The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a reception. I’d love to see you all there!

They made up a lovely program for the lecture; view it here.

Dibner Library Lecture Press Release

The Smithsonian Institution has posted its press release announcing my Dibner Library Lecture here.

Dibner Library Lecture, December 6, 2011

I am excited to announce that I will be delivering the Dibner Library Lecture at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, December 6, 2011. Last year’s Dibner Library Lecturer was Richard Holmes, author of The Age of Wonder; previous lecturers include Anthony Grafton (Princeton), Joyce Chaplin (Harvard), Owen Gingerich (Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory), Katherine Park (Harvard) and many other distinguished scholars in the history of science.

I will speak on “The Philosophical Breakfast Club and the Invention of the Scientist.” The lecture will be held in the Smithsonian Castle Commons/Schermer Hall at 5pm, followed by a reception. It is free and open to the public. I hope to see many friends and fans of The Philosophical Breakfast Club there!

The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology opened in 1976. Its core collection of 10,000 rare books and 1000 manuscript groups came to the Smithsonian from the Burndy Library, founded by Bern Dibner. The collection includes some of the most important scientific texts spanning the 15th to the early 20th centuries. The Dibner Lecture was begun in 1992, and since 2000 the lectures become available in published form and also on the Smithsonian Institution’s website.

More to follow, when the Smithsonian makes its official announcement!

Science as a Social Activity

A blog post I wrote, ‘Science as a Social Activity,’ for the Royal Institution of Australia, in advance of their book club discussion of The Philosophical Breakfast Club on November 16, is now up on their website, here.

I’m pleased they are offering the opportunity to send in questions for me, which I will be answering during an interview we will be conducting by video in the next few weeks, and which will be played during the book club meeting. More details on that to follow!

Talk at AAAS Meeting, February 17, 2012

I am happy to announce that I will be giving a talk at the 2012 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which will be held in Vancouver, Canada, February 16–20.

The theme of this year’s meeting is “Flattening the World: Building the Global Knowledge Society”—a topic that was very near and dear to the hearts of the members of the Philosophical Breakfast Club! In my paper, “Global Science and the Public Good in the 19th century: Meteorology, Tidalogy, Magnetism,” I will discuss the way that William Whewell and John Herschel spearheaded international scientific cooperation (see full abstract below).

My paper will be part of a session entitled “Creating a Global Knowledge Society: Lessons from History, Philosophy and Sociology,” which will be presented at 10am on Friday, February 17th. The session was organized by Heather Douglas; the other speakers will be Alan Richardson and Ed Hackett. It should be a stimulating session!

William Whewell

In the nineteenth century, global scientific cooperation was spearheaded by the British scientists John Herschel and William Whewell. They were Influenced by the seventeenth-century philosopher and politician Francis Bacon, who believed that science should be for the public good, to bring about “the relief of man’s estate.” Herschel and Whewell saw global cooperation as necessary not only to uncover new knowledge but also to bring about a global public good. Their efforts led to international cooperation in studying meteorology, the tides, and geomagnetism. Whewell’s world-wide study of tidal patterns made it much safer for ships to sail the seas; Herschel’s work in promoting global meteorological research spurred research on the relation between weather and solar activity and the relation between atmospheric conditions and the intensity of terrestrial magnetism. Whewell and Herschel joined forces in promoting a network of global magnetic observatories to gather geomagnetic data. This information would, they believed, not only help uncover the nature of the universe’s fundamental forces, but also be valuable for navigation, in explaining and predicting the variation of the mariner’s compass. Their example can help us today in creating global knowledge societies that work for the public good.

For more information about the AAAS meeting, or to register, see here.

Royal Institution of Australia’s Book Club

On Wednesday, November 16th, the Royal Institution of Australia’s Book Club will be meeting to discuss The Philosophical Breakfast Club. Although I won’t be there in person (unfortunately!) they will be posting an interview with me, either by video or as written responses online, during the event. Stay tuned here for more news on that!

For more information about the event, or to register to attend, see here.

History of Science Society

History of Science Society Meeting, Nov. 3-6, 2011

I will be talking about the members of the Philosophical Breakfast Club and their invention of the “scientist” at the annual meeting of the History of Science Society this November in Cleveland.

My presentation will be part of a session, “Victorian Networks,” that will address various clubs and social networks that helped change the face of science in the nineteenth century. The other speakers will be Joan Richards (Brown University), Bernard Lightman (York University) and my colleague from St. John’s Amy King. It should be a fun and stimulating session!

For information about the meeting, the preliminary program, and to register, see here.