Science History Institute/Jay Muhlin
The Discovery of Elements in 18th-Century Sweden
Join us for a talk by Charlotte Abney, Price Postdoctoral Fellow at the Science History Institute.
Swedish mineralogists of the 18th and early 19th centuries are routinely credited with the discovery of up to a dozen elements. Historians have only recently begun to enumerate the factors that allowed for this rate of chemical discovery wildly disproportionate to the kingdom’s population or political power, in particular the unique institutional structures and industrial focus of the 18th-century Swedish chemical community. While textbook tables customarily assign credit for each of these findings to a single researcher, closer inspection shows that the establishment of each of these elements was a multi-step process carried out by multiple chemists. This talk looks specifically at the collaborative nature of research in this community, and the unique features, structure, and political context of Swedish mineralogical research in the 18th century that enabled and encouraged the community’s own members to continue or assist with the projects of their predecessors and contemporaries.
About the Speaker
Charlotte Abney is a historian of science and technology specializing in 18th-century chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. At the Science History Institute she is working on her book project examining mineral science, natural history, and chemical invention and discovery in and around the Swedish mining industry.
Charlotte holds a PhD from the Program in the History of Science and Medicine at Yale University and an MA in Scandinavian history from Linköping University in Sweden. She taught middle school science and high school chemistry for six years before obtaining her doctorate.
About the Series
Lunchtime Lectures are a series of (mostly) weekly, informal talks on the history of chemistry or related subjects, including the history and social studies of science, technology, and medicine. Based on original research (sometimes still in progress), these talks are given by local scholars for an audience of the Institute staff and fellows and interested members of the public.