Tweeting from British Society for the History of Science

I always think it is fun and informative to follow through Twitter the dessimination of knowledge from conferences I am unable to attend. I’ve tweeted from a conference once and another time shared thoughts through Twitter later). Recently, Rebekah Higgitt, an historian of science working at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich and National Maritime Museum tweeted from the annual meeting of the British Society for the History of Science in Aberdeen. As readers of this blog might find some of this interesting, below are her tweets:

Some pictures of the BSHS Chorus at – recordings may follow (eek!) #BritSocHistSci

Anyone want to know what a #BritSocHistSci conf is like? See youtube The comment says it all, but I can answer queries

#britsochistsci All over now & back on train. Maybe some reflection & links to come, but otherwise looking to next year at Exeter #BSHS11

#britsochistsci Wess on relations of maths, measures & power. Carroll on meteorology as case study for proposed #histsci gallery at Sci Mus

#britsochistsci Was chairing final session so hard to tweet! However, Vicky Caroll & Jane Wess of Science Mus presented stories with objects

#britsochistsci 1851 discussion: Importance of virtual as well as direct experience of Exhib, thru images, periodicals, catalogues, sermons

#britsochistsci 1851: Geoff Belknap on what photography did for the Exhibition & what Exhib did for early photographic community

#britsochistsci 1851: Fisher: Exhib a failure in working class education, but Efram Sera-Shriar shows use in training ethnographic observers

#britsochistsci Fisher: Exhibition expected to have lasting effect on education, sci, industry but, tho a wonder & success, failed in this

#britsochistsci 1851: Nick Fisher on commentators’ struggles to describe exhibition. Times called opening a 2nd coronation or a 2nd coming..

#britsochistsci Cantor: we tend to think of progress in science as secular notion, but eg taken by Evangelicals as herald of new millennium

#britsochistsci Great Exhibition: Geoffrey Cantor looks at religious framework of Exhibition & interpretations of it by various sects

#britsochistsci Slightly bleary-eyed after last night’s ceildh & a 4am fire alarm, but we’re off with a session on the 1851 Great Exhibition

#britsochistsci Time to sleep! Turns out historians of science are mean ceildh dancers as well as singers. Strip those willows!

#britsochistsci Meanwhile, I missed #Darwin & #Evolution sesh, but John Van Wyhe told us that Darwin really was the naturalist on HMS Beagle

@alicebell @thrustvector Oops! No, we’ve not met. Think I’ll continue with #britsochistsci for this & the society but #BSHS11 for next year

#britsochistsci For the words of some of these scientific songs, see

#britsochistsci Jeff Hughes on the Cavendish Laboratory Physical Society’s annual dinner: Rutherford & Thomson standing on chairs & singing

#britsochistsci After rousing chorus of The British Ass, Graeme Gooday distinguishes himself with ‘Three-foot Rule’ to Lincolnshire Poacher

#britsochistsci Melanie Keene with intro to Sci Songs – Ben Marsden on WJM Rankine’s mathematical & engineering songs. With performances..

#britsochistsci Jamie Stark on Tyndall this am now having a hit with song ‘The Mathematician’s Monody’ Oh why was Euclid ever born?

@darwinsbulldog Absolutely: seems to have lectured drunk a lot towards the end, bringing out the Irish brogue (or just slur & repetition)

#britsochistsci I’m off to warm up for Songs of Science session. BSHS Chorus singing ‘Ions Mine’, ‘The Darwinian Theory’ & other classics

#britsochistsci Dawson: huge range of serialisation in Victorian science. Richard Owen, palaeontologist, learns some tricks from Dickens

#britsochistsci Dawson: How to get round tyranny of alphabet: put basic zoology under aardvark, or slot Ear under Organ of Hearing

#britsochistsci Dawson: Penny Cyclopaedia had top talent writing & well received, but publishing failure & failed to reach working class

#britsochistsci Gowan Dawson on strategies of scientific contributors to serially published but alphabetical Penny Cyclopaedia (1833-43).

Apologies for britscihistsci and britsochistsci – darned predictive text

#britscihistsci Chang: histories of scientific progress miss how often questions that can’t be answered with new model are ignored & dropped

#britscihistsci Chemistry: Sumner shows advert that quotes Leibig saying Allsopp’s Pale Ale is very nice – he was paid £100 for this view

#britsochistsci Chemistry: Chang on how asking ‘Is Water H2O?’ can get philosophy of science & #histsci to improve each other

#britsochistsci Hasok Chang on 19thc atomic theory: how was consensus on weights & formulae reached? Theory was underdetermined by evidence

#britsochistsci Chemistry: Sumner: claim by brewing chemist that their science had (via Pasteur) saved lives. Applied-pure-applied science

#britsochistsci Chemistry session: James Sumner on brewing chemists, Pasteur & dealing with the Temperance Movement.

#britsochistsci Tyndall discussion: from drunk lecturing to his flirtation with Quakerism

#britsochistsci Tyndall: Mike Finn on Thomas Carlyle’s influence on & friendship with Tyndall & James Crichton-Browne

#britsochistsci Tyndall discussion: Tyndall & the ladies recurring theme. Representations of materialism & morality, also lecturing persona

#britsochistsci Tyndall: Ursula DeYoung on military language used in 1870s debates on science/religion, or what form science should take.

#britsochistsci Tyndall: discussion raises T the opium addict – and Huxley his supplier when he was in the Alps!

#britsochistsci Tyndall: Iwan Morus on the self-conscious, controlled performance of physical science lecture: opposing disembodiment of sci

#britsochistsci Tyndall: G Gooday & J Stark on what T Corresp Project can tell about T’s lecturing, its relation to his writing & authority

#britscihistsci Very hard session choices this am. Tyndall & his Audiences, Nuclear Science & Cold War, Music & Sound or Biomedical Sci?

#britsochistsci Hughes on Ewan MacColl, Theatre Workshop and ‘Uranium 235’: hist of atomic theory & bomb for socialist masses at Butlins..

#britsochistsci next session: Science on Stage & Screen, graced by Jeff Hughes, Frank James and Tim Boon

Arabella Buckley’s Fairyland of Science starts by telling children they are wrong to ‘look upon science as a bundle of dry facts’

#britsochistsci Beauty & Wonder: Melanie Keene on fairies & fairyland in 19thc children’s books on science: true wonders, changing scales

#britsochistsci Beauty & Wonder: Jim Secord on remarkable illustrations by David Scott for 1850 ed of Nichol’s Architecture of the Heavens

#BritSocHistSci Beauty & Wonder: looking at knowledge, aesthetics and public education in Enlightenment & 19thc.

#BritSocHistSci parallel session dilemmas: missing Early Modern Astronomy in Context to hear about Beauty & Wonder

#BritSocHistSci Astronomy: me on Greenwich & colonial observatories, Karin Tybjerg on Danish astrometry, Astrid Elbers on Dutch radio astron

#BritSocHistSci session on Astronomy, 19th-20thc, highlighting what makes it fundable, what is utility in science, role of nationalism

#BritSciHistSoc – Biagioli: overlooked letter from Scarpi suggests Galileo saw a Dutch telescope before creating his own by ‘reason’ alone

#BritSciHistSoc Plenary Lecture by Mario Biagioli: How Galileo Copied the Telescope (fudged the process & invented the concept of invention)

Beginning the trek north to #BritSocHistSci annual conference in Aberdeen – only 8 hours to go

#BritSocHistSci Slade Prize goes to Simon Schaffer’s ‘How disciplines look’ (images of knowledge in Age of Reform)

@HistoryPhysics: Thanks – I’ll float #BritSocHistSci to other members (or #BSHistSic?) – maybe we’ll manage some live tweeting

Must focus on writing paper for British Society for the History of Science (BSHS # seems to be taken) conf next week:

3 thoughts on “Tweeting from British Society for the History of Science

  1. Michael, Is there any documentation that shows whether Charles Darwin ever visited The Eagle Pub?

  2. Hi Bob – I consulted Darwin historian John van Wyhe (who runs the Darwin Online website). He says he has not seen any such documentation nor does he think CD would have.


  3. Thank you, Michael. I had hoped he had, in order to toss a bit’o’ trivia into my Watson-Crick lecture during which I show a photo of The Eagle and quote Crick.

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