Friday, December 14, 2007

Popular Science Day

Registration is now open for a one-day event discussing Popular
Science Books to be held at Imperial College's South Kensington
Campus, 22nd February 2008.

Literary critics, historians, writers, illustrators, publishers,
prize-givers, reviewers, readers, booksellers, teachers (and others)
are all invited to take part in what we hope will be a day of lively

Places are limited, so prompt registration is recommended. A
registration form and an overview of the programme can be found here

A full programme with abstracts and speakers' biographies will be
online for download in the next week.

All enquires to

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CFP: Scientists as Readers of Literature

Abstracts are invited for a proposed panel on Scientists as Readers of Literature for the ‘Evidence of Reading, Reading the Evidence’ conference to be held at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, 21-23 July 2008. Papers may discuss the literary reading of scientists, natural philosophers or natural historians of any period. Please send 400-word abstracts and a brief biography to Alice Jenkins,, by 20 January 2008. Any queries may also be addressed to Alice Jenkins at the above email address.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lent 2008

This term we will be reading about atomic physics and quantum mechanics. Copies of all the texts will be placed in the Whipple Library box file at the beginning of term.

We meet on Mondays from 7.30 to 9pm in the upstairs seminar room of Darwin College. All are welcome! Organised by Daniel Friesner (Science Museum) and Melanie Keene (HPS).

21 Jan
We will look at the rise and fall of the "solar system" model of atomic structure, as it was presented in the popular journal Scientific American.
  • A. H. Compton, "What Is Matter Made Of?" (May 15, 1915, pp. 451-2).
  • S. Dushman, "Beyond the Microscope" (June 1922, pp. 372-3).
  • A. T. Merrick, "Solar Systems Inside the Atom" (February 1925, pp. 80-1).
  • A. T. Merrick, "The Marvellous Speeds of Atomic Particles" (March 1925, p.301).
  • P. R. Heyl, "What Is An Atom?" (July 1928, pp. 9-12).
  • "Our Point of View: Whose Fault is It?" (November 1931, p. 299).
(N.B. Copies of these readings are already available in the Whipple Library box file: please bring £1 to reimburse Daniel for the cost of photocopying to the first meeting)

4 Feb
Psychological roots of complementarity.
  • William James, The Principles of Psychology (1890), Vol. 1, Chapter IX, "The stream of thought". London: Macmillan and Co, 1891, pp. 224-290 (esp. pp. 229-248).
  • Niels Bohr, "The Quantum of Action and the Description of Nature" (1929). In Atomic Theory and the Description of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934, pp. 92-101.

18 Feb
Some literary uses of the new physics.
  • Aldous Huxley, Those Barren Leaves, Part V, Chapter 1. London: Chatto and Windus, 1925, pp. 339-348.
  • Robert Frost, "Version" (1962). We will use the complete text of this poem, as published in The Poetry of Robert Frost, ed. E. C. Lathem. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, p. 427.
  • Michael Roberts, "On mechanical hallelujahs, or how not to do it". Poetry Review, Vol. XIX, 1928, pp. 433-8 (esp. pp. 437-8).
  • Robert Frost, "Education by Poetry" (1931). In Selected Prose of Robert Frost, ed. H. Cox & E. C. Lathem. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966, pp. 33-46 (esp. pp. 36-41).

3 March
Two stories about multiple worlds and uncertainty.
  • Jorge Luis Borges, "The garden of forking paths" (1941). Several English translations available, e.g. by Helen Temple and Ruthven Todd in Ficciones, ed. A. Kerrigan. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1962, pp. 89-101.
  • Fred Hoyle, "A jury of five". In Element 79. New York: New American Library, 1967, pp. 114-132.