Saturday, June 28, 2008

Conference - History of Science in France and Great Britain

The History of Science in France and Great Britain. Cross-Perspectives.
The Maison Francaise d'Oxford and the History Faculty of the University of Oxford are pleased to invite you to a one-day conference on the history of science in France and Great Britain, on the 3rd of July 2008. Papers will be given in English. Further information can be found on the Maison Francaise website, at the following link: The conference includes a panel on science and literature:


Chairman: Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (University of Oxford, Saint Catherine's College)

Dr Frédérique AÏT-TOUATI (University of Paris Sorbonne/University of Oxford, New College)
The optics of fiction in Kepler's Somnium

Liliane CAMPOS (Maison Française d’Oxford, University of Paris Sorbonne)
"Mathematics on stage in Paris and London: a comparative study of Jean-François Peyret's *Le Cas de Sophie K.* and Complicite's *A Disappearing Number*

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Various Modes of Cooking

As prepared by Mrs Beeton

Carrots in the German way,

Minced veal and macaroni.

Hashed partridges and jugged hare,

Hot crab and cucumbers.

Rolled loin of mutton, eel pie,

Veal pie (dish for a picnic).

Rich strong stock; medium stock;

Economical stock.

Sunderland gingerbread nuts

(an excellent recipe).

Rich bride, crimped cod, fried smelts, gruel.

Suckling pig, bullock’s heart.

Hodge-podge and Yarmouth Bloaters –

Red herrings – useful soup for

Benevolent purposes.

Universal pickle.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Clinical Signs

Found suppurating in D.J. Taylor, 'Pig Diseases' (4th edition)

A common inhabitant of the nasal

cavity of pigs, the organism grows

on MacConkey agar. No alternative

hosts of the organism are known.

Coughing is obvious when the animals

are disturbed. One or more animals in a

pen may be affected severely. Outbreaks

of sneezing occur in baby pigs.

Affected pigs appear hairy and growth may

be depressed. In severe cases they may scream

or walk on their knees. Short snouts may occur.

The role of vectors is uncertain.

Dead animals are usually in good

Condition. The spleen kidney and a long bone

should be submitted for examination.

Rodents should be eliminated.

Energy Flux at Earth

Observed slowly rotating in Binney and Merrifield, 'Galactic Astronomy'

The mean metallicity

of the stars: proper motion,

accepted distance, richness,

class, magnitude, position.

They will probably suffer.

It can be advantageous

To turn the procedure round.

We can use standard candles,

Plenty of cosmic rays and

Lots of cool gas, energy,

A source of noise, unity,

Rotating components and

Even vertex deviation.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Found nesting in T.A. Coward, ‘British Birds and Their Eggs’ (1920)

Early in the year when
The weather is broken
The bird perches high on a tall tree
And in exultant and ringing song
Defies the elements

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Into the Microscope

Spied through 'A Popular Handbook to the Microscope' (1895)

Get the best stand you can, and remember
The double nosepiece is the most useful.
Join the Queckett Microscopical Club.
Learn to judge the sharpness of the image
And use no greater power than required.
Exquisite lilies start into being
Thin slices of the cuticle of leaves
Diatoms in equi-angular forms
And proper water-fleas or Daphniae
Marvellous changes in appearances
The eye needs educating as the hands
There is such desire to look into things
Bring it close to the eye and it blots out
Almost all we can see of earth and heaven

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Poetic Process

This year’s meetings were brought to a close with a wonderful poetry-writing workshop on Monday 9th June, led by Katy Price.

Katy introduced the session by commenting how she would have liked to have discovered more about the collaborative process behind Crawford’s Contemporary Poetry and Contemporary Science: how such works as Kinloch’s ‘The Organ Bath’ were crafted and drafted, unseating scientific vocabulary and ideas and making them do poetic work; becoming self-reflective as language was recruited to perform scientific functions. Attention to the activity of writing (and rewriting) poetry, she pointed out, also parallels the increased emphasis on communicating scientific methods, processes, and practices to wider audiences, as well as detailing experimental findings. She discusses this in more detail in her review of the volume for the BSLS website.

The workshop then gave us the chance to experience one particular poetic process ourselves, writing ‘found poetry’ from field guides and reference works. It was based on a similar seminar given by David Morley at the Poetry School in March 2007. Our chosen structure was syllabics: for inspiration in this relaxed form of verse, something of a half-way house between metre and free verse, we listened to Thom Gunn’s ‘Considering the Snail’. Diving into an eclectic range of texts, we tackled subjects including pig disease and microscopy, astrophysics and chordate evolution, birds and badgers, ending up with a wide range of styles, lengths, and approaches. Some examples of what we managed to ‘find’ in just over an hour’s searching should be appearing on the blog soon.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

BSHS Dingle Prize Lecture - Elegant Solutions

Elegant Solutions - the BSHS Dingle Prize Lecture

Royal Institution, London

Thursday 10 July 2008, 7.00pm-8.30pm

Lecturer: Dr Philip Ball

Scientists frequently talk about 'beauty' in their work, but rarely stop to
think quite what they mean by it. What makes an experiment beautiful? Is it the
clarity of the design? The elegance of the apparatus? The nature of the
knowledge gained? There have been several recent attempts to identify
'beautiful' experiments in science, especially in physics. But Philip Ball
argues that, not only is chemistry often neglected in these surveys, but it has
its own special kinds of beauty, linked to the fact that it is a branch of
science strongly tied to the art of making things: new molecules and materials,
new smells and colours. He offers suggestions for ten particularly beautiful
experiments in chemistry, taken from his recent book Elegant solutions: Ten
Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2005).

This talk marks the book's receipt of the 2007 Dingle Prize for communicating
the history of science and technology from the British Society for the History
of Science.

Tickets cost £8, £6 concessions and £4 for RI Members.