BOOK: Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle

So excited to see a kid’s picture book about Michael Faraday! (I have been working my way through John Tyndall letters as co-editor of volume 6 of The Correspondence of John Tyndall [volumes 1 and 2 have been published], and there are plenty of letters between Faraday and Tyndall). It would be fantastic if this author and illustrator work together on more history of science stories.

BURN: Michael Faraday's Candle. Answer the question,

Darcy Pattison, Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle (Little Rock, AR: Mims House, 2016), 32 pp. Illustrated by Peter Willis.

Publisher’s description WHAT MAKES A CANDLE BURN? Solid wax is somehow changed into light and heat. But how? Travel back in time to December 28, 1848 in London, England to one of the most famous juvenile science Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution. British scientist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) encouraged kids to carefully observe a candle and to try to figure out how it burned. Since Faraday’s lecture, “The Chemical History of a Candle,” was published in 1861, it’s never been out of print; however, it’s never been published as a children’s picture book – till now. Faraday originally gave seven lectures on how a candle burns. Pattison has adapted the first 6000-word lecture to about 650 words for modern elementary students, especially for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum. Known as one of the best science experimenters ever, Faraday’s passion was always to answer the basic questions of science: “What is the cause? Why does it occur?”

Purchase Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle through the publisher or the independent Powell’s City of Books.

Link 182 (actually, about 40)

Now that I’m back from Texas (sister-in-law’s wedding)…

… let’s see what I’ve missed. Here are some links:

National Fossil Day is tomorrow, October 13th. Check here for events.

For the next edition of The Giant’s Shoulders, get your entries in by October 15th!

Homologous Legs: This Week in Intelligent Design – 12/10/10

Point of Inquiry (podcast): PZ Myers, Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Chris Mooney – New Atheism or Accommodation?

USA Today/Jerry Coyne: Science and religion aren’t friends

Bad Astronomy: Creationists still can’t seem to evolve

Speaking of creationists, Comfort clowns passed out copies of the faux-Origin inn Texas at a Dawkins lecture. They posted some photos online, take a look at this one. The book now has “As seen on CNN” on the cover:

Evangelism at the Richard Dawkins event (The Wortham Center)

Dawkins was on Bill Maher

The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Discovery Institute Targets African Americans & Discovery Institute Demands Accurate Quotes

Sandwalk: The Casey Luskin Lesson Plan on Teaching the Controversy

Please be patient, I am evolving as fast as I can!: Damed by their own words

Carnival of Evolution #28 – Featuring Sandwalk

Playing Chess with Pigeons: The Rush to ignorance tour continues

Laelaps: When Pseudo-Crocs Walked Tall

So Simple a Beginning: 150 years of Darwin, from UCI Libraries

From the Hands of Quacks: Mind & Body: The Philosopher’s Body as a Subject

The beauty of Darwin

Did you know that Noah himself went out to catch birds? From a church in Texas on my trip:

NYT/Natalie Angier: Moonlighting as a Conjurer of Chemicals

Ether Wave Propaganda: Is There a Conflict of Interest between STS and History of Science?

AHA: Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson at Howard University

History of Science Centre’s blog: The Forgotten

Whewell’s Ghost/Evolving Thoughts: The historical way to do science

Whewell’s Ghost (@beckyfh): Yes, histories of science are worth reading! & David Willetts and the history of science

@beckyfh: Chronometer from HMS Beagle (91st object in British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects) info/podcast

PACHSmörgåsbord: Popular History of Science for the American G.I.

The Species Seekers: This is the Great Age of Discovery

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Great minds gloomy about humans’ future

American Scientist: The 95% Solution (about informal science education). Also, from Physics Today: The evolution of the science museum

Why Evolution Is True: The Hall of Human Origins at the National Museum of Natural History (more about the funder of this exhibit and religion and other thoughts here, here, here, and here. PZ chimes in here and here.)

Periodic Tabloid: Making Connections: “The Big Picture” and the History of Science

Charlie’s Playhouse: Does Steven Pinker have kids? He should. & New podcast with Kate at Parenting Within Reason!

Quodlibeta: Doubting Darwin’s Doubt

Times Archive Blog (from 2009): Did Charles Darwin stick pins into babies?

Today in Science History

From Today in Science History:

Adam Sedgwick (Born 28 Sep 1854; died 27 Feb 1913). English zoologist, a grandnephew of the geologist Adam Sedgwick, who is best known for his researches on the wormlike organism Peripatus, which he recognized as the zoologically important connecting link between the Annelida, or segmented worms, and the Arthropoda, such as crabs, spiders, and insects.

Arnold Henry Guyot (Born 28 Sep 1807; died 8 Feb 1884). Swiss geologist, geographer and educator. With glaciologist Louis Agassiz, he studied the glaciers of his native Switzerland and proved that they were moving – building a foundation for the theory of ice ages. Upon moving to the United States (1848), Guyot began the first systematic instruction in geology at Princeton University. Later, as head of the meteorological department at the Smithsonian Institution, he set up a system of weather observatories that utimately grew into the U. S. Weather Bureau. Using a barometer to measure altitude, he proved that Newfound Gap is the lowest pass through Appalachia’s Great Smoky Mountains. The guyot, a flat-topped volcanic peak rising from the ocean floor, is named after him.

Louis Pasteur (Died 28 Sep 1895; born 27 Dec 1822). French chemist who became a founder of microbiology. He began as a chemist working on the optical properties of tartaric acid and its stereochemistry (1849). He moved into microbiology when he discovered the role of bacteria in fermentation – that it was micro-organisms in yeast causing the formation of alcohol from sugar – and proved that the growth of microorganisms was not spontaneously generated from non-living matter. This led to understanding of the germ theory of infection, and his method of killing harmful bacteria in liquids by holding them for a time at a given temperature, which is now known as pasteurisation [also see tyndallization]. He created and tested vaccines for diphtheria, cholera, yellow fever, plague, rabies, anthrax, and tuberculosis.

Died This Day: John Needham, naturalist, and Robert Boyle, natural philosopher

From Today in Science History:

John Needham (Died 30 Dec 1781; born 10 Sept 1713). John Turberville Needham was an English naturalist and Roman Catholic priest, born in London. He experimented, with Buffon, on the idea of spontaneous generation of life. After boiling mutton broth and sealing it in sealed it in glass containers which were stored for a few days, then reopened, he found numerous microorganisms therein. His conclusion was that the organisms had arisen from non-living matter. (However, two decades later, Spallanzani indicated this was invalid since some spores could still survive the short period of boiling temperature Needham used.) He was the first clergyman of his faith to become a member of the Royal Society of London (1768).

Robert Boyle (Died 30 Dec 1691; born 25 Jan 1627). Anglo-Irish chemist and natural philosopher noted for his pioneering experiments on the properties of gases and his espousal of a corpuscular view of matter that was a forerunner of the modern theory of chemical elements. He was a founding member of the Royal Society of London. From 1656-68, he resided at Oxford where Robert Hooke, who helped him to construct the air pump. With this invention, Boyle demonstrated the physical characteristics of air and the necessity of air for combustion, respiration, and the transmission of sound, published in New Experiments Physio-Mechanical, Touching the Spring of the Air and its Effects (1660). In 1661, he reported to the Royal Society on the relationship of the volume of gases and pressure (Boyle’s Law).

CBC Radio’s series Ideas: How To Think About Science recently featured Simon Schaffer discussing his book, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life, and here is the podcast for it.

History of Science Podcasts

Hopefully everyone has heard of the latest podcast on the history of science, The Missing Link. Here’s a list of other podcasts which feature history of science or related topics:

BBC’s In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg (explores the history of ideas in many fields, here for science-specific shows)
California Academy of Science’s Science in Action
CBC’s How to Think About Science
Distillations (Chemistry)
The DNA Files
Exploring Environmental History
Faraday Institute Lectures Science

Museum Detective
NMSR’s Science Watch
Krulwich on Science
Science Friday
The Royal Society
Sorting Out Science
TED: Science

PODCAST: The Discovery of Oxygen – feuds and revolutions at the birth of modern chemistry

BBC’s In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg this week is about the discovery of oxygen:

In 1772, the British chemist, Joseph Priestley, stood in front of the Royal Society and reported on his latest discovery: “this air is of exalted nature…A candle burned in this air with an amazing strength of flame; and a bit of red hot wood crackled and burned with a prodigious rapidity. But to complete the proof of the superior quality of this air, I introduced a mouse into it; and in a quantity in which, had it been common air, it would have died in about a quarter of an hour; it lived at two different times, a whole hour, and was taken out quite vigorous.” Priestley had discovered Oxygen, or had he? Soon a brilliant French chemist, Antoine Lavoisier, would claim the gas for himself. And so began a rancorous dispute between the British and French chemical establishments, undertaken as chemistry itself was in the process of being rediscovered, even revolutionised.

Simon Schaffer, Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge
Jenny Uglow, Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Warwick
Hasok Chang, Reader in Philosophy of Science at University College London

Listen to this program here, and explore further here.