READ: Stevenson and Byerly, Many Faces of Science, chap. 4-6, pp. 4...

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READ: Stevenson and Byerly, Many Faces of Science, chap. 4-6, pp. 49-112; Ede and Cormack, History of Science in Society, vol. 2, chap. 6, pp. 165-201.

WRITE a reaction paper at least 4 pages (double spaced, regular margins, at least1,000 words in length about these chapters. .

For “Many Faces of Science”


How is scientific curiosity different from other types of curiosity?

(I will give questions for only some of the scientists discussed, but you should feel free to write about any of them.)

Kepler – What motivated Kepler? Why was this different from earlier times? Do you think his motivations were scientific? But what does it mean when he came up with important results? Why was Kepler willing to use ellipses rather than circles? Why was this important?

Newton – what were some of the main contributions made by Newton? Note that there are other aspects to Newton’s work that are not discussed here. The textbook will look further at Newton, but you can also read a good short biography of him in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography. This is an electronic resource that you can access through the NMSU Library website. Look for Find Articles, Gale Virtual Reference Library, (if you are off campus, you will need to enter your myNMSU username and password), then science, and search for “Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography.” You can then go to the individual volumes that include the people you want. Getting there is rather awkward and I have asked the librarians to make it easier. If I find out that they have done something about this, I will let you know.

Einstein – in what ways was Einstein like the popular image of a scientist? Do you know that a recent study of Einstein has shown that he was influenced by practical concerns? See the recent study by Peter Gallison (he gives one of the podcasts that I have cited for this course).

Noether – What struggles did she face? What were some of the problems she had to face that men did not?   Were there any similarities?


Mendel – What was unusual about Mendel and his work? Why was his work not recognized during his lifetime? Were scientists just lazy to ignore his work?

Marie Curie – Would you endure what Curie did to gain an education? What was her motivation? What did she do?

Raman -- who was he? What was unusual about him? What does his story tell us about the development of science in the 19th and 20th centuries?

McClintock – Who was she? What did she do? How was she similar to Curie? Different?


Why should a scientist worry about his or her scientific reputation? Why should WE worry about a scientist’s reputation?

What is the concept of “scientific priority”? Why is that important to scientists? What does it indicate?

Newton – what were some of Newton’s priority conflicts? (The textbook focuses on one of the main priority disputes, but there were others) Does this tell us something about the nature of science as it was developing at this time?

Darwin and Wallace – was this dispute different from Newton’s?

Watson and Crick – this is an interesting case that you might like to investigate further. See the bibliography at the end of the chapter for some of the books related to this.

The Baltimore affair – what were the essential features of this episode?

For “History of Science in Society”

Chapter 6

What were the two main conceptions of the Enlightenment and why were they important for the development of science?

Why were the changes in scientific societies so important for science?

[note: the textbook does not provide much information about Ben Franklin and his work in electricity. For those interested in this, you can read more in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography, which can be accessed through NMSU’s library.]

Why is it so important for science and scientists to measure things accurately?

Why did explorers have an impact on the development of science? What about the impact of the Industrial Revolution?

Why is classification so important in science? Shouldn’t it be easy to classify things? Why or why not?

What was phlogiston?

How did Priestley’s chemical views interact with his political and religious views? Shouldn’t science be separate from political and religious views?

Who was Lavoisier and what did he do regarding phlogiston and chemistry?

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Reaction paper #2
Response to Chapter 4 in Stevenson and Byerly

To be a scientist, one has to have a deep interest in way the world works. Putting aside all the inquisitive minds which frequently question the things that surround them, scientists are uniquely capable of conceptualizing the world on a level that most people never truly understand.

Because scientific curiosity does not – in principle – deal with factual observations of objects, but rather tries to determine how and why those objects came to be (there are, of course obvious exceptions to this rule in astronomy, chemistry and similar) it is completely removed from what is perceived as normal curiosity.

To put this into an example. A curious person will buy a small telescope and look at the moon because it is an interesting object (Stevenson & Byerly, 1997).
A true scientist (depending on his/her field of study) will look at the moon and try to determine its physical, chemical and other properties, or determine how the Moon came to be, or if there are other similar objects in the universe and then extrapolate those findings into a usable and testable hypotheses.

This depth and breadth...

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