We welcome you to join our researchers in virtual conversation.
On the last Friday of each month one research fellow or staff scholar hosts Fellow Friday, a daylong chat on the Science History Institute’s Twitter account. They’ll tweet about what they do within the field and what their interests are, encouraging conversations with everyone from lifetime specialists to the mildly curious.
Want to join in the conversation? Have a question for our fellows? Log in to Twitter anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the last Friday of the month and follow @scihistoryorg. Contribute your own thoughts and questions using the hashtag #FellowFriday.
On Friday, May 25, research fellow Spring Greeney will be taking over Science History Institute’s Twitter account to showcase some splashy historical examples of how chemists, advertising agents, and domestic workers have responded when nonhuman nature has scuttled into the house. Fly-swatting contests that galvanize a whole city? Stinking fat that launches a new soap brand? Gasoline instead of water in the washtub? Domestic technologies have remade what “keeping house” has meant over the past 150 years, and nature has lurked and seeped into every step of the innovation process.
On March 30, Roger Turner tweeted about cartoons in science, weather on television, and the history of tracking dangerous things that float through our air.
On Friday, February 16, research fellow Megan Piorko gave us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most intriguing alchemical books and manuscripts in the Institute collections.
On Friday, January 26, research fellow Lucas Mueller took us on a world tour of toxic substances and their effects. Along the way he examined what it means for a toxic substance to be “natural,” shared some of his favorite research from other scholars, and asked what we can do to control toxicity on a global scale.
It’s that time of year! Each fall the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry welcomes a new class of research fellows. On Friday, October 27, we introduced our followers to these varied, creative, and exciting in-house research fellows. This year’s fellows study a variety of topics, from victory gardens, to pesticide regulation, to global waste.
How do the kinds of stories told in science fiction affect the work of scientists? How does scientific research affect science-fiction stories? On August 25, Roger Eardley-Pryor and Jacqueline Boytim talked about how scientists discuss the influence of fiction on their work and shared a story-building game from our recent public program “History Lab: Fiction and the Future.”
How can we use oral-history interviews to shed light on an environmental crisis? What can statistics tell you about your community, and what can stories reveal that mere numbers cannot? On July 28 Zack Biro shared the research he has conducted for the REACH Ambler project and the discussion held at the recent public program “History Lab: Communities and the Future.”
What is the history of health tracking, and what will it look like in the future? How much about our health are we willing to share and with whom? On June 30 research fellow Deanna Day shared the research that went into the recent public program “History Lab: Bodies and Future.”
Why—and how—did commercial deodorant become a drugstore staple? On March 31 Beckman Center fellow Cari Casteel took us through its strange, silly, and surprising history, and explained how one ubiquitous product can tell us so much about gender, health, and technology.
What defines data? How did scientists of centuries past use it in their work? Can data ever be neutral? On Friday, November 18, Beckman Legacy Project fellow Deanna Day reported from a conference at the Huntington Library, where a variety of scholars sought to answer these questions and more.
Each fall, the Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry welcomes a new class of research fellows. On Friday, October 28, we introduced our followers to these varied, creative, and exciting in-house research fellows. Learn about their research into history of science topics ranging from alchemical texts to the history of ink.
Can we hack our way to clean air? Should we? How have artists and scientists imagined a future free of toxins, and how can we as a society reach that future? On Friday, September 30, anthropologist Nick Shapiro shared the research he has done on the health of FEMA trailer residents, DIY air testing, and artistic collaborations that imagine a different kind of environmental future.
Seventeenth-century chemist Robert Boyle had a sister as talented as he was. On Friday, August 26, the Institute’s director of digital library initiatives Michelle DiMeo hosted Fellow Friday. When not keeping our digital collections in shape, DiMeo is a historian of science. She shared her research on early modern women in science—in particular, Robert Boyle’s sister, Lady Ranelagh.
The legacy for Arnold O. Beckman stretches far and wide. On May 27, 2016, Beckman Legacy Project fellow Roger Eardley-Pryor shared his research on the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, where multidisciplinary scientists are building space-age robots and developing computer models of complex molecules.
Nurses matter to the history of medicine! On April 29, 2016, public history fellow Amanda Mahoney shared her research on the history of nursing in medical research, while she attended the American Association for the History of Medicine conference. She explored not only her own work but also the work of her fellow historians of nursing.
Think health-food fads are new? Wrong! The 19th century was as obsessed with dietary supplements as we are today—if not more so. On March 25, 2016, Lisa Haushofer took us into the world of historical nutraceuticals and told us why they matter.
How did chemistry play a role in colonial governments? What did it mean to be part of an international community in the 18th century? How did everyday objects like paper, coins, and scientific instruments travel the world? These are some of the questions Andreas Weber asks in his research, and the focus of the research he shared on February 26, 2016.
Plastic is often seen as an industrial, disposable substance—but buried within the polymer sits the possibility for art. On January 29, 2016, Roksana Filipowska shared some of the ways that artists have manipulated the material, making us think differently about everyday objects.
On November 20, #FellowFriday took a field trip! Our staff member Rebecca Ortenberg live-tweeted talks by our research fellows and scholars at the annual History of Science Society conference. See former fellows talk about open-access science and staff share their experiences blogging, and find out what future fellows will be working on.
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane—or DDT—has a long and complicated history mired in stories of chemical industry, public health, environmental activism, and politics. On October 30, 2015, historian Elena Conis explored what DDT has meant to our society and how public-health acitivism shapes our world.
What did “big pharma” look like in the 17th century? How did chemistry help governments catch forgers in the 1800s? Why did France rediscover resin chemistry? What does DDT really stand for? Get to know the research fellows who will be in residence during the 2015–2016 academic year.
Fertilizer?! What the heck can fertilizer teach us about history? Lots! On August 28, 2015, Tim Johnson shared just how important fertilizer has been to 20th-century America, and left time to share a few puns as well.
We too often think of the medieval world as a backward and dirty age. But many medieval thinkers wrote about artificial life, invented complicated mechnical contraptions, and imagined some very modern-sounding technologies. On July 24, 2015, Elly Truitt gave us a peek into the world of medieval robots.
Alchemy is beautiful! On June 26, 2015, Elisabeth Berry Drago taught us about art and alchemical paintings, and shared the secrets a scholar can find buried deep within an artist’s pigments.
Why did chemistry sets become popular? Is medical self-tracking changing the way we think about health? What’s up with zombies, and why are we obsessed with them?! On May 29, 2015, Beckman Center Haas Fellow Deanna Day took us on a whirlwind tour of her varied research interests, encouraging us to think about those questions and more.