November 10, 2009

Creationists Distributing Darwin

Kirk Cameron and his friends will be handing out 50,000 up to 200,000 free copies of Darwin's Origin of the Species on Thursday, November 19th at the top 50 100 universities in the US. I'm assuming that includes UMN. Copies will contain a 50-page introduction by evangelist Ray Comfort (aka banana guy) that contains: "the history of evolution, a timeline for Darwin's life, Adolf Hitler's undeniable connection with the theory, Darwin's racism, his distain for women, and Darwin's thoughts on the existence of God," plus a "balanced view of creationism with information from scientists who actually believe [sic] that God created the universe, such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Bacon, Faraday, Louis Pasteur, and Johann Kepler." The text, however, is supposedly printed in its entirety and various people have recommended just taking the free copy and cutting out the introduction. Woohoo, free history of science book!

I would be curious to hear what happens if these people do show up at UMN. Would any of you consider using this as a teaching tool or is that just inviting confusion? Personally, I think I would be inclined to stick to the historical controversy, but then I'm an early modernist and try to stay away from the 20th century let alone the 21st.

July 10, 2009

Book Project?

Here's a link to a book project listed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, I think. Might be something interested for a historian of medicine in particular?

May 8, 2009

Data Dryad

Institutions working on this data repository just received a $2.18 million grant from NSF to continue and expand development. They're focusing right now on establishing a data archive for research in evolutionary biology, ecology and related fields. In case this might be useful for historians of biology and not just biologists, thought I'd bring it to your attention.

March 30, 2009

Junto 2009: A Report

Count yourself unlucky if you missed last weekend's History of Science Junto at the Linda Hall Library. The folks at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City were great hosts, supplying everything we needed from venues to food recommendations. They should be particularly applauded for their selections of the Boulevard Brewery for the reception on Friday night (which also doubled as Alan Shapiro's retirement send-off) and their restaurant selection on Saturday night for the banquet. Coming from someone who takes their food and drink seriously, these places were really top notch.

Minnesota represented well. Eight grad students made the trip down along with a few faculty. Kate, Joe, and Hyung Wook all gave great presentations that should give the rest of us incentive to get our butts in gear and present at next year's Junto. I also enjoyed this year's banquet speaker, Lynda Payne who gave a witty talk on physician quackery in 18th century Europe. It was both interesting and funny; a perfect talk for a crowd of toasted historians of science.

The rest of the presentations were all interesting in their own rights. If I had any complaints it would be that the majority of the presenters at this year's Junto spoke for most of their 20 minute talk giving little, if any, time for questions by the audience. It seems to me that everyone, presenters and audience alike, would get more out of the talks if there was a good 5 mins of Q&A. Luckily, there was plenty of break time built in throughout the conference so I think that anybody who had a specific question for a speaker was able to ask it afterwards.

Next year the Junto will be held in Norman, OK sponsored by the University of Oklahoma HST program. Not that I need to give them any advice, but I will say that they should just stick to the three things that guarantee a successful Junto: Free alcohol, good food, and alcohol.

March 25, 2009

New Blog Shout Out

First off, sorry about the dearth of blog posts in general. It's been a hectic year (though, what year isn't hectic when you're realm of academia). I'll try and post more myself and see if I can poke more people to contribute as well. Thanks to Sara for actually keeping some fresh content on here from time to time.

Secondly, and far more importantly, I need to call your attention to the new blog, Entangled Bank, started by our very own Rachel Mason Dentinger. Instead of me summarizing, I'll just cut-n-paste her own words (which she grabs from Darwin himself):

Entangled Bank takes its name from the first sentence of the final paragraph of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859):

“It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.”

Rachel is currently living in Toronto and is a self proclaimed "muddy-boots historian of science," writing her dissertation on the history of coevolutionary studies. Also, you should envy her since she seems to take frequent trips to tropical countries with her husband in search of mushrooms.

February 23, 2009

Editorial: Journals Under Threat

The European Reference Index for the Humanities has a plan for grading the premier journals in our discipline.

"This joint Editorial is being published in journals across the fields of history of science and science studies as an expression of our collective dissent and our refusal to allow our field to be managed and appraised in this fashion. We have asked the compilers of the ERIH to remove our journals titles from their lists."

The four page editorial contains a long list (nearly two full pages) of HSTM journals. Worth a look.