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    ABSTRACT: Long before women were allowed to become Fellows of the Royal Society, or obtain university degrees, one woman managed to get her voice heard, her discovery verified and her achievement celebrated. That woman was Caroline Herschel, who, as this paper will discuss, managed to find ways to fit comet discoveries into her domestic life, and present them in ways that were socially acceptable. Caroline lived in a time when strict rules dictated how women (and men) should behave and present themselves and their work. Caroline understood these rules, and used them carefully as she announced each discovery, starting with this comet which she found in 1786. Caroline discovered her comets at a time when astronomers were mainly concerned with position, identifying where things were and how they were moving. Since her discoveries, research has moved on, as astronomers, using techniques from other fields, and most recently sending experiments into space, have learned more about what comets are and what they can tell us about our solar system. Caroline's paper marks one small, early step in this much bigger journey to understand comets. This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
    Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences 04/2015; 373(2039). DOI:10.1098/rsta.2014.0210
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    ABSTRACT: Although historians have shown that there has been a complex and multi-layered relationship between the body, medicine and the force of electricity, many avenues remain to be explored. One of the most prominent of these is the way in which electrotherapy technologies were marketed to a wide variety of different end users and intermediaries. This paper offers the first historical analysis of one such device - the Overbeck Rejuvenator - a 1920s electrotherapy machine designed for use by the general public. Its inventor, Otto Overbeck, was not a medical man and this enabled him to use aggressive strategies of newspaper advertising, using testimonials to market his product alongside appeals to his own scientific authority. He commissioned the prestigious Ediswan Company to manufacture the Rejuvenator on a large scale, and took out patents in eleven countries to persuade users of the efficacy of the device. In response to Overbeck's activities, the British Medical Association enlisted an electrical engineer to examine the Rejuvenator, contacted practitioners whose endorsements were being used in publicity material, and denied Overbeck permission to advertise in the British Medical Journal. Despite this, the Rejuvenator brought its inventor wealth and notoriety, and helped redefine the concept of 'rejuvenation', even if the professional reception of such a device was almost universally hostile. This paper shows how the marketing, patenting and publishing of Overbeck combined to persuade members of the laity to try the Rejuvenator as an alternative form of therapy, bypassing the medical profession in the process.
    Medical history 10/2014; 58(4):498-518. DOI:10.1017/mdh.2014.50
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the shifting relationship between the academic disciplines of physics and electrical engineering in Britain c.1900, focusing on their shared engagement with new electrical technologies of lighting, power, and telecommunications. It examines these disciplines’ common cultures of patenting before the Great War, showing how “electricians” in these intersecting domains used patents to secure financial support and protection for their innovations. However, this common culture was put under strain by the attempts of physicists such as Oliver Lodge, to decouple their electrical researches from technological matters in order to pursue an agenda of so-called “pure science.” This campaign was made especially difficult by the strategic focus on “applied science” that emerged during the Great War. We show how a newly legitimized programme of state funding for electrical research both during and after the war led to academic physics and electrical engineering dropping their reliance on patenting by the 1920s, and in the process becoming autonomous sciences—each erasing stories of their former collaboration from disciplinary memories.
    Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A 06/2013; 44(2):202-211. DOI:10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.11.002
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    ABSTRACT: The disease we now know as brucellosis was first discovered in the 1850s in Malta. It came to the attention of British medical officers serving on the island after the Crimean War. It was easy to eliminate the disease in British servicemen, but very difficult to reach Maltese citizens. Over the decades, more and more Maltese were infected asthe control measures introduced were half-hearted and were often not even enforced. The work of Dr Themistocles Zammit showed that infected goats transmitted brucellosis and that banning use of their milk would be effective. Pasteurisation was not introduced onto the island until the 1930s, when the production of cheap, small sterile containers became possible. Transmission was also possible through sexual contact and by inhalation when people were crowded in hot airless conditions. Success in controlling the disease requires sensible, strict control of animals and the elimination of infected ones, but will fail without an educated public willing to help. In Malta, failure to control rogue flocks and small flocks kept for family use led to an epidemic caused by the sale of cheeselets (small cheeses). In 2005, nearly a century after Zammit's discovery, Malta was finally free of brucellosis.
    Revue scientifique et technique (International Office of Epizootics) 04/2013; 32(1):17-25.
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    ABSTRACT: This essay argues for the historicity of applied science as a contested category within laissez-faire Victorian British science. This distinctively pre-twentieth-century notion of applied science as a self-sustaining, autonomous enterprise was thrown into relief from the 1880s by a campaign on the part of T. H. Huxley and his followers to promote instead the primacy of "pure" science. Their attempt to relegate applied science to secondary status involved radically reconfiguring it as the mere application of pre-existing pure science. This new notion of extrinsically funded pure science that would produce only contingently future social benefits as a mere by-product came under pressure during World War I, when military priorities focused attention once again on science for immediate utility. This threatened the Cambridge-based promoters of self-referential pure science who collectively published Science and the Nation in 1917. Yet most contributors to this work discussed forms of "applied" science that had no prior "pure" form. Even the U.K.'s leading government scientist, Lord Moulton, dismissed the book's provocative distinction between pure and applied science as unhelpfully "vague and artificial."
    Isis 09/2012; 103(3):546-54. DOI:10.1086/667978
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    ABSTRACT: Dr Zammit's experiments showed that brucellosis was transmitted by the milk of goats that did not show signs of infection or ill health. The British forces in Malta banned the use of goats' milk and brucellosis was eliminated in those forces. This research was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society and earned him an Honorary DLitt from Oxford University and the Kingsley Medal of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The King knighted him. He was the great Maltese polymath but there is a mystery concerning his name.
    Journal of Medical Biography 08/2011; 19(3):128-31. DOI:10.1258/jmb.2010.010058
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    ABSTRACT: Within the philosophy of science, the realism debate has been revitalised by the development of forms of structural realism. These urge a shift in focus from the object oriented ontologies that come and go through the history of science to the structures that remain through theory change. Such views have typically been elaborated in the context of theories of physics and are motivated by, first of all, the presence within such theories of mathematical equations that allow straightforward representation of the relevant structures; and secondly, the implications of such theories for the individuality and identity of putative objects. My aim in this paper is to explore the possibility of extending such views to biological theories. An obvious concern is that within the context of the latter it is typically insisted that we cannot find the kinds of highly mathematised structures that structural realism can point to in physics. I shall indicate how the model-theoretic approach to theories might help allay such concerns. Furthermore, issues of identity and individuality also arise within biology. Thus Dupré has recently noted that there exists a 'General Problem of Biological Individuality' which relates to the issue of how one divides 'massively integrated and interconnected' systems into discrete components. In response Dupré advocates a form of 'Promiscuous Realism' that holds, for example, that there is no unique way of dividing the phylogenetic tree into kinds. Instead I shall urge serious consideration of those aspects of the work of Dupré and others that lean towards a structuralist interpretation. By doing so I hope to suggest possible ways in which a structuralist stance might be extended to biology.
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 06/2011; 42(2):164-73. DOI:10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.11.023
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    ABSTRACT: Physics matters less than we once thought to the making of Mendel. But it matters more than we tend to recognize to the making of Mendelism. This paper charts the variety of ways in which diverse kinds of physics impinged upon the Galtonian tradition which formed Mendelism's matrix. The work of three Galtonians in particular is considered: Francis Galton himself, W. F. R. Weldon and William Bateson. One aim is to suggest that tracking influence from physics can bring into focus important but now little-remembered flexibilities in the Galtonian tradition. Another is to show by example why generalizations about what happens when 'physics' meets 'biology' require caution. Even for a single research tradition in Britain in the decades around 1900, these categories were large, containing multitudes.
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 06/2011; 42(2):129-38. DOI:10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.11.019
  • Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 05/2011; 69(2):231 - 233. DOI:10.1111/j.1540-6245.2011.01465_1.x
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper I propose a new interpretation of the British evolutionary synthesis. The synthetic work of J. B. S. Haldane, R. A. Fisher and J. S. Huxley was characterized by both an integration of Mendelism and Darwinism and the unification of different biological subdisciplines within a coherent framework. But it must also be seen as a bold and synthetic Darwinian program in which the biosciences served as a utopian blueprint for the progress of civilization. Describing the futuristic visions of these three scientists in their synthetic heydays, I show that, despite a number of important divergences, their biopolitical ideals could be biased toward a controlled and regimented utopian society. Their common ideals entailed a social order where liberal and democratic principles were partially or totally suspended in favor of bioscientific control and planning for the future. Finally, I will argue that the original redefinition of Darwinism that modern synthesizers proposed is a significant historical example of how Darwinism has been used and adapted in different contexts. The lesson I draw from this account is a venerable one: that, whenever we wish to define Darwinism, we need to recognize not only its scientific content and achievements but expose the other traditions and ideologies it may have supported.
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 03/2011; 42(1):40-9. DOI:10.1016/j.shpsc.2010.11.007
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 11/2014; 49C:12-23. DOI:10.1016/j.shpsc.2014.10.007
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