Patricia Fara's research while affiliated with Cambridge and other places

Publications (77)

Article
Under the leadership of soprano Frances M Lynch, Minerva Scientifica deploys sung theatrical performances to encourage, celebrate and demonstrate the achievements of women in science and music. Based on collaborative discussions between practising female scientists and contemporary classical composers, the events staged by Minerva Scientifica are r...
Chapter
The physicist Hertha Ayrton was active a century ago, but the obstacles she faced still challenge modern women in science. By presenting her life in two different versions—first as a stereotyped heroine and then as a scientific outsider—this article highlights how strongly gender can affect the perceptions of ability and career success.
Article
Full-text available
Isaac Newton's reputation was initially established by his 1672 paper on the refraction of light through a prism; this is now seen as a ground-breaking account and the foundation of modern optics. In it, he claimed to refute Cartesian ideas of light modification by definitively demonstrating that the refrangibility of a ray is linked to its colour,...
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Everybody thinks they know what science is, but pinning down a definite time and place for its origins is more problematic.
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According to Enlightenment ideology, knowledge was shared openly in the international Republic of Letters. In reality, the owners of lucrative new technologies were determined to keep their discoveries hidden from industrial spies.
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Andreas Vesalius reformed anatomical knowledge and teaching in the Renaissance by adopting Galenic methods from the classical past. His careful drawings revealed the human body in unprecedented and realistic detail, but the images of himself were more ambiguous.
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Victorian scientists boasted about their commitment to progress, cooperation and public education, but paleontology risked being torn apart by personal rivalries.
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In propaganda material, people are often presented in black-and-white terms as either a villain or a hero. Although Joseph Priestley is denigrated for believing in the discredited substance phlogiston, he is also celebrated for discovering oxygen.
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Thomas Clarkson's ‘African chest’ included not only natural specimens and handmade goods, but also instruments of torture manufactured in England's industrial Midlands. As he toured the country, this prominent anti-slavery campaigner converted his collection into a powerful stage-prop for dramatic lectures.
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Minerva was the goddess of wisdom and war, the Roman equivalent of the Greek Pallas Athene. Like all mythical figures, she was repeatedly reinterpreted to carry different rhetorical messages.
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An astute diplomat, Alessandro Volta secured the patronage of Napoleon Bonaparte to promote his rise to fame as an electrical expert. Reciprocally, politicians helped their own causes by presenting him as a national as well as a scientific figurehead.
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The earliest microscopes shed light on a once-invisible world. But, Patricia Fara explains, microscopists were uncertain about how well the images reflected reality - just as they are today.
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Renaissance philosophers believed that God had created a harmonious cosmos bonded together mathematically. This intellectual approach was also embraced by some artists, who incorporated complex numerical and geometrical symbolism within their portraits.
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Middle-aged Victorians with beards may not sound enticing subjects for a commercial photographer, but Julia Margaret Cameron's dramatic, individualised portraits helped intellectual men to become national celebrities.
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Few original portraits exist of René Descartes, yet his theories of vision were central to Enlightenment thought. French philosophers combined his emphasis on sight with the English approach of insisting that ideas are not innate, but must be built up from experience. In particular, Denis Diderot criticised Descartes's views by describing how Nicho...
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Mary Somerville enjoyed posing for busts and portraits, yet just as in her autobiography, she chose how she wished to be seen. A powerful advocate for scientific progress, Somerville gave her name to a ship that carried British products around the world, and portrayed herself as an ideal role model for women and also an exemplar of European civilis...
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Although Aristotle was often portrayed during the early modern period, his imagined appearance varied widely. When modern interpreters try to impose definitive meanings on pictures, they run the risk of overlooking symbolic resonances which can be just as significant as direct representation.
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After he returned from his five-year expedition to the New World, Alexander von Humboldt promoted himself as a Romantic explorer. Although this image pervades British perceptions, political movements have fashioned different heroic versions of Humboldt in Germany and South America.
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William Thomson--honoured as Baron Kelvin of Largs--was Victorian Britain's most famous physicist, especially celebrated for laying the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. As well as profiting financially from his many engineering projects, Kelvin introduced influential theories about energy and electromagnetism, all strongly coloured by his industrial...
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Although the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe reacted against Copernicus by restoring the earth to the centre of the cosmos, he built sophisticated instruments to compile massive sets of accurate data. A skilled self-publicist, he commissioned portraits of himself as he established a new type of astronomical research.
Article
During the long eighteenth century, boundaries between theology and natural philosophy, between imaginary and factual travel narratives, between fiction and social commentary, were far more fluid than they are today. To explore these relationships, this paper links Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—a book often hailed as the first science fiction novel—t...
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William Harvey has long been celebrated as the founding father of physiology for refuting Galen and demonstrating that blood circulates round the body. Yet after his training at Padua, he became a committed Aristotelian: although strongly influencing the new observational sciences of the seventeenth century, Harvey himself looked back towards the c...
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A close associate of the Lunar Society, Joseph Wright of Derby painted several industrial and scientific scenes. This article (part of the Science in the Industrial Revolution series) shows how two of his works - featuring an orrery and an alchemist - reveal the ideas and aspirations of the provincial philosophers who made up the Society.
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Isambard Kingdom Brunel learnt the arts of self-promotion from his father, but triumphant images of him conceal failures and disappointments. This article (part of the Science in the Industrial Revolution series) focuses on his first and last great engineering projects--the Thames Tunnel and the Great Eastern steam-ship.
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Sigmund Freud claimed to hate being photographed, yet he carefully fashioned his public image. Always immaculately dressed, he sported an old-fashioned beard that helped to establish his status as the founding father of psychoanalysis. An avid collector, Freud chose objects for their symbolic as well as their aesthetic interest.
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Michael Faraday was an enthusiastic portrait collector, and he welcomed the invention of photography not only as a possible means of recording observations accurately, but also as a method for advertising science and its practitioners. This article (which is part of the Science in the Industrial Revolution series) shows that like many eminent scien...
Article
Appreciating pictures entails a consideration not only of the people, objects and landscape that their artists have chosen to portray, but also an imagining of what has been excluded. The term 'Industrial Revolution' has been given multiple meanings, and this article (part of the Science in the Industrial Revolution series) explores some of these b...
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The reputations of scientific heroes shift constantly, modified by politicians as well as by historians. Now that the Scientific Revolution has been reappraised, Nicolas Copernicus is portrayed as a friend of the Catholic Church rather than a scientific martyr. As a German-speaking Pole he has been claimed as a figure of national historical importa...
Article
With their mythical creatures and arcane symbolism, coats of arms seem to have little connection with modern science. Yet despite its chivalric origins, the ancient language of heraldry has long fascinated famous scientists. Although this idiosyncratic tradition was parodied by Victorian geologists, who laughingly replaced unicorns and griffins wit...
Article
In the middle of the 17th century, two founding fellows of the Royal Society -- John Evelyn and William Petty -- commissioned portraits of themselves with skulls. The paintings were commemorative, because Evelyn was celebrating his engagement and Petty had recently acquired an anatomical post at Oxford, but both sitters also intended their pictures...
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Country houses have long acted as scholarly research centres, and the contents and organization of their libraries reveal how knowledge was created and transmitted through scientific networks: they provide material evidence of intellectual and social cultures. Manuscripts are particularly appreciated in this regard because they are unique, but indi...
Article
Enlightenment natural philosophers were linked to one another in an extended correspondence network, but the female participants in this international Republic of Letters are rarely mentioned. Gottfried Leibniz relied on several such women not only for financial patronage, but also for intellectual stimulation. Although this hardworking and underpa...
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Marie Curie challenged many conventions when she left Poland, became a world-famous French scientist and took X-ray machinery to the front line in World War I. Although she was the first person to win two Nobel prizes, many critics found it hard to believe that she could simultaneously be a caring mother and a brilliant researcher. As mythological...
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Although many historians of science acknowledge the extent to which Greek and Roman ideals framed eighteenth-century thought, many classical references in the texts they study remain obscure. Poems played an important role not only in spreading ideas about natural philosophy, but also in changing people’s perceptions of its value; they contributed...
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Edmond Halley is most famous for vindicating Isaac Newton's theories by predicting the return of the comet that now bears his name. As well as being an accomplished and ambitious astronomer, Halley also initiated important theories about the earth's magnetic patterns and suggested many navigational reforms. Halley's portraits reveal that he was pro...
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J.B.S. Haldane's photographs reveal that this eminent geneticist was also a militant political agitator. Deeply engaged in left-wing British politics, Haldane eventually joined the Communist party, but found it increasingly difficult to reconcile his scientific beliefs with his Marxist commitments. During the controversy over Stalin's rejection of...
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Few people know the name of the Royal Society's first President, even though he features prominently in Thomas Sprat's famous allegorical frontispiece. In promotional images, his individual identity is irrelevant for proclaiming the Society's allegiance to Francis Bacon and commitment to experimental investigation. By contrast, William Brouncker's...
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When Joseph Banks sailed to the Pacific with James Cook, two cultures clashed against each other. The Europeans looked down on the islanders as noble savages, but the local people were also amazed by these international encounters. Lacking any innate feelings of inferiority, they negotiated with their strange visitors, and resented attempts to indo...
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There are no established conventions for portraying scientific women. At the Royal Society, the first image of a female scientist was Henry Moore's drawing of Dorothy Hodgkin's hands, cruelly twisted by agonising arthritis. In her famous oil portrait, Maggi Hambling also focuses on Hodgkin's hands, thus symbolising the Nobel-prize winner's dedicati...
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How do scientists become famous? Carl Linnaeus was an expert at self-promotion who used portraits to gain patronage and consolidate his reputation. His sexualized classification system was hugely controversial, yet his successors celebrated him as a great hero of botany.
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In August 1783, three eminent men of science made the thirty-mile journey from London to Guildford to watch one of their colleagues, James Price, fulfill the alchemists’ ancient dream of extracting gold from mercury. This distinguished chemist, a wealthy Oxford graduate who had been elected to the Royal Society when only twenty-nine years old, had...
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Does it matter what a scientist looks like? Isaac Newton and his colleagues were just as media conscious as their successors, and [this article][1] focuses on Godfrey Kneller's 1689 portrait to explore how Newton fashioned his public image. Historians can study propaganda of the past by examining who received and sent portraits and--equally signifi...
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Elizabeth Tollet est l'une des premieres femmes du XVIII e siecle a ecrire sur Newton dans ses poemes et a s'interesser a la philosophie naturelle, permettant ainsi de communiquer ses idees et imposer son statut
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Places and anniversaries can function as ‘sites of memory’, but three major Newtonian locations – Cambridge, Grantham and London – were also sites of conflict that resonated with wider debates about the nature of genius and the conduct of science. Ritualized celebrations at appropriate times and places helped not only to establish Newton's statu...
Article
ROBERT POOLE, Time's Alteration: Calendar Reform in Early Modern England. London: UCL Press, 1998. Pp. xix+243. ISBN 1-85728-622-7. £45.00, $75.00. - - Volume 32 Issue 3 - Patricia Fara
Article
Newton has become a legendary figure belonging to the distant past rather than a historical person who lived at a specific time. Historians and scientists have constantly reinterpreted many anecdotal tales describing Newton's achievements and behaviour, but the most famous concerns the falling apple in his country garden. Newton's apple conjures up...

Citations

... In modern medicine, by comparison, dissection plays a crucial role, as autopsies are quite common, and cadavers are regularly used for study. As a result, the theory "dissection reveals anatomical truths about the human body" went from Among many similar examples is the case of natural astrology which underwent a transition from scientific to unscientific during the 18 th century (Curry, 1986;Fara, 2003). ...
... Newton's famous statement [1] that Light consists of Rays differently refrangible also implies the inverse problem: If light can be decomposed into different colours what are the rules governing the mixing of coloured light? Newton not only presented the idea that white sunlight can be divided into basic or primary colours, he also presented experiments addressing colour mixing and a colour circle consisting of seven primary colours [2]. In 1861, Maxwell had the professional photographer Sutton take three pictures from a tartan ribbon-each time with black-and-white film but with a different (red, green, and blue) colour filter. ...
... Abroad we find similar objects like Sir Isaac Newton's house in Lincolnshire, Albert einstein's blackboard and chalk in Nottingham, edwin Hubble's basketball in Chicago, Carl Gauss' cap in Gottingen and even the potato masher of ernest rutherford in London. 3 In addition, there are the morbid middle finger of Galileo in Florence, the dying breath of edison in Michigan and much more. 4 Keeping and displaying such items reminds us of the Catholic Church's practice of relic collecting, which seems to be at odds with the objectivity and distance that scientists strive for in their work and image. ...
... , Agostino (1988), Ahnert (2004), Allen (1998), Arthur (1995) Axtell (1965), Baillon (2004), Barber (1979), Barker (2006), Beaver (1987), Berggren and Goldsein (1987), Biagioli (1998Biagioli ( , 1999, Blay (1983), Boss (1972), Bourdieu (1975Bourdieu ( , 1999, Bricker and Hughes (1990), Briggs (1983), Brockliss (1992), Buchwald, Feingold (2011), Bussotti and Pisano (2013), Calinger (1968), Calinger (1969), Casini (1988), Champion (1999), Clark (1992), Clark (1997), Clark, Golinski and Schaffer (1997), Cohen (1990), Craig (1963), Crasta (1989), Coudert (1999), Cunningham and Williams (1993), Dear (1987Dear ( , 1995Dear ( , 1998, Ducheyne (2005), Durham and Purrington (1990), Elliott (2000), Fara and Money (2004), Feingold (2004), Fellmann (1988, Ferrone (1982), Force (1983Force ( , 1985Force ( , 2004, Force & Hutton, (2004), Friesen (2006), Gascoigne (1988), Gaukroger (1986), Goldish (1998), Goldish (1999), Golinski J (1998), Guerlac (1981), Guerrini (1985), Hall (1978), Hampson (1981), Hankins (1990), Harman (1988), Harrison (1995), Haycock (2004), Heidarzadeh (2006), Heimann, McGuire (1971), Henry (1992), Hessen (1931), Hutton (2004a), Hutton (2004b), Iliffe (2004), Iltis (1977), Jackson (1994), Jacob (1976), Jacob (1977), Jacob (1978), King-Hele & Rupert Hall (1988), Leshem A (2003), Lord (2000), Lüthy (2000), Lynn (1997), Malet (1990), Mandelbrote (2004a), Mandelbrote (2004b), Marcialis (1989), Markley (1999), Mazzotti (2004), McMullin (1978), Montgomery (2000), Munby (1952), Osler (2004), Pagden (1988), Pater (1994, Phemister (1993), Phillipson (1981), Porter (1981), Porter and Teich (1992), Pulte, Mandelbrote (2011), Purrington and Durham (1990), Rattansi (1981), Rousseau and Porter (1980), Ruderman (1997), Rupert Hall (1999, Schama (1981), Smolinski (1999), Snobelen (1997), Snobelen (2004), Stewart (1992), Stewart (2004), Taylor (1981), Teich (1981), Thijssen (1992), Wall (2004), Westfall (1958), Westfall (1971), Whaley (1981), ...
... In the medical textbook De humani corporis fabrica (1543), for example, Andreas Vesalius employs illustrations that include detailed background landscapes and the bodies situated into allegorical poses. 8 Such images suggest there are multiple ways to depict the human body that are anatomically accurate, while also being philosophically reflective and perhaps even provocative. ...
Citing article
... Enquanto isso, Volta estava no auge de seus anos de glória.Fonte: Em Museo della Specola, Florença. Extraída deFara (2009). ...
... See also Szakolczai (2009) for the term 'permanent liminality'. 5 Concerning contemporaries about Newton, see Shank (2008); Durkan (2008); and Fara (2002). 6 'Nature may be lasting, the Changes of corporeal Things are to be placed only in the various Separations and new Associations and Motions of these permanent Particles, compound Bodies being apt to break, not in the midst of this Particles, but where those Particles are laid together, and only touch in a few Points.' (Newton, Queries 1-7 and 31, as in Cohen and Westfall 1995: 53). ...
... He, therefore, defined new terms to describe what he saw, a notable one being "cell". Hooke also had to convince the readers that what he was seeing through the lenses was real (Fara, 2009). For this reason, and again for the first time ever, he illustrated the microscopic view of the cork (Fig. 1A). ...
... Yet, the man's face seems serene, and his standing pose is at ease. Interpreters of this image, drawn ca 1490 by Leonardo da Vinci, and based on a list of bodily ratios penned in the 1 st century BC by Roman architect Vitruvius, often take it to be a statement about the harmonies inherent in the human form, and about man as a microcosm of the celestial sphere that the circle symbolizes (e.g., Fara 2009, Jeanneret 2001Strongman 2010). ...
Citing article
... 79 And Patricia Fara reminds us that the apple could recall the forbidden fruit of knowledge in the Garden of Eden: again a Biblical reference. 80 Stukeley further relates that (much like Galileo) Sir Isaac "was not only expert at his mechanical tools, but equally so with his pen; for he busyed himself very much with drawing, which he took his own inclination and improv'd by his observation of nature."81 He goes on: ...