February 2011

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The shortlist for the BSLS book prize for the best book in the field of literature and science published in 2010 is as follows:

The winner will be announced at the BSLS conference in April.

Heavenly Discourses: Myth, Astronomy and Culture

An Interdisciplinary Conference organised jointly by

Nicholas Campion (School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, Sophia
Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales Trinity
Saint David)
Darrelyn Gunzburg (Department of History of Art, University of Bristol)

Wills Memorial Building
University of Bristol
14-16 October 2011

Conference Theme

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space and the
first to orbit the Earth. 2011 sees the fiftieth anniversary of that event.
In almost every human culture the sky functions as a backdrop for mythical
encounters, employing the celestial environment as a stage set for
narratives of human and divine experience. That moment when human beings
first left the planet gave us a different perspective on the sky.

THE EVENT: This conference will bring together scholars to examine the
relationship between the heavens and culture through the arts, literature,
religion and philosophy, both in history and the present. We invite
proposals from academics in the arts, humanities, social sciences and
sciences. Topics may include astronomy and music, literature, painting and
the visual arts, architecture, religion, history and society.

CO-CHAIRS:This interdisciplinary conference is organised jointly by
Nicholas Campion (School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, Sophia
Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales Trinity
Saint David) and Darrelyn Gunzburg (Department of History of Art,
University of Bristol).

CALL FOR PAPERS – OPEN NOW: We invite proposals for 20-minute
presentations, We invite both panel and paper proposals from academics in
the arts, humanities, social sciences and sciences, to be given at the

 Topics may include but are not limited to the following:
 • The representation of the sky in art and its impact on cultures
 • Astronomy through music and lyric
 • How the sky has been engaged in literature and myth
 • How the heavens have been interpreted and exploited by artists
 • The influence of the sky on architecture
 • The ways in which myths of the heavens have shaped religion
 • The role of history in engaging the heavens
 • The space programme and culture
 • Space and society
 • How the sky has been harnessed for educational purposes in museums and
 • Constructing and transmitting identities through the heavens

 Each paper will be 20 minutes long including questions and discussion.

Panel sessions will be one hour in length and consist of a Chair and 3

'Due by' date for submission is 31st March 2011.

A selection of papers from the Conference proceedings will be published by
the Sophia Centre Press in 2012.

Keynote speakers to date:

* Professor Ronald Hutton, Department of History, University of Bristol.
* Professor Roger Beck, Emeritus Professor, Department of Classics,
University of Toronto.
* Professor Gerry Gilmour, Professor of Experimental Philosophy, Institute
of Astronomy, Cambridge University
* Dr Ed Krupp Director, Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, USA
* Adjunct Professor David Malin, British-Australian astronomer and
photographer, former Anglo-Australian Observatory
* Professor Michael Rowan-Robinson, Department of Physics, Imperial College,
* London.
Professor Elliot Wolfson, Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic
Studies, New York University

The Conference Exhibition

The conference is proud and delighted to welcome David Malin as one of its
keynote speakers, and is joining with The Bristol Gallery to present an
exhibition of his pioneering space photography. The exhibition will be
curated by Darrelyn Gunzburg. Born in 1941 in Summerseat, Lancashire, UK,
Malin explored photography from an early age, trained as a chemist and
worked as microscopist. When he moved to Sydney, Australia, and joined the
Anglo-Australian Observatory as its photographic scientist in 1975, he
shifted from exploring the infinitely small to the infinitely far away.
Malin was a pioneer in making true-color astronomical photographs from
black and white plates taken in three separate colors. The novel image
enhancement techniques were all incorporated into creating unique
three-color photographs of previously unseen deep space objects. These new
ways of extracting information from astronomical photographs, known as
'Malinisation', revolutionized our cultural relationship with the sky.


Early payment up to 30th June 2011: £195
Late payment from 1st July: £225
Student rate (undergraduate or postgraduate): £90

Questions or further information:

Darrelyn Gunzburg - hadrg@bristol.ac.uk

Tel: 0117 9288897

The Centre for History of Science is delighted to present the Spring series of ever-popular free Friday lunchtime lectures. All are welcome to attend, but please reserve your seat in advance to avoid disappointment! For descriptions of each lecture and to make reservations, please visit http://royalsociety.org/lunchtime-lectures-spring-2011/

 Ghosts of Women Past, Friday 18 February, 1pm-2pm Dr Patricia Fara, Clare College, Cambridge

 Doting on Instruments, Friday 25 February, 1pm-2pm Rebecca Pohancenik, Queen Mary

 Paul Dirac and the religion of mathematical beauty, Friday 4 March, 1pm-2pm Graham Farmelo

Free-thinking and language-planning in the 17th century Royal Society, Friday 11 March, 1pm-2pm Dr William Poole, New College, Oxford

 Science and the Church in the Middle Ages, Friday 18 March, 1pm-2pm Dr James Hannam

 A history of autism: my conversations with the pioneers, Friday 25 March, 1pm-2pm Adam Feinstein

 From butterflies to biochemistry: Frederick Gowland Hopkins and the chemistry of life, Friday 1 April, 1pm-2pm Dr Alison Thomas, Anglia Ruskin University

 'Behold a New Thing in the Earth!': Reflections on Science at the Great Exhibition, Friday 8 April, 1pm-2pm Prof. Geoffrey Cantor

 John Soane and the learned societies of Somerset House, Friday 15 April, 1pm-2pm Gillian Darley

The Scientific Instrument Society awards small grants, of up to £500 each, for research on the history of scientific instruments. SIS Research Grants are intended to support new research into the history of scientific instruments. They are not intended to fund activities to which an applicant is already committed. Grants may be used to cover any reasonable costs of research, including travel and photography. Grants cannot be used to purchase equipment, and are not intended to support conference travel, unless there is a specific research dimension. Grants are open to applicants from any country, and both members and non-members of the Scientific Instrument Society may apply.

Please complete an application, as set out on the Grant Application page. Applications should be sent to grants@sis.org.uk . Two rounds of applications will be considered each year. The deadlines for receipt of applications are 1 March and 1 September. Further information can be found at http://www.sis.org.uk/grants/what-we-support.

Thursday 10 March 2011, 6.30pm

Speaker: Professor Lorraine Daston, MaxPlanck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

At Queen Mary, University of London, Arts Lecture Theatre, Arts Building, Mile End.

The Nicolai Rubinstein Lecture in the History of Political Thought and Intellectual History is an annual memorial lecture held in honour of the distinguished Renaissance scholar and former Queen Mary colleague, Nicolai Rubinstein. 

Since Antiquity, science (episteme, scientia) has been understood as a privileged form of knowledge: more certain, more rigorous, harder won and longer lived. No one doubted that other forms of knowledge were useful, even essential. Aristotle theorized the techne of the arts and crafts; Cicero wrote of the “natural divination” practiced by farmers, shepherds, and sailors who read the signs of fat times and lean, fair weather and foul. But a line was drawn between knowledge and science and a hierarchy erected – even though the grounds for the distinction varied. Early modern Europe witnessed a radical reconceptualization of science and knowledge and the differences between them – and even a challenge to the very existence of such distinctions. Nowhere was the rethinking of the meaning and status of knowledge and science more dramatic in the realm of experience. Experientia, once the province of knowledge, was cultivated by the learned, who created new forms of scientific knowing and concomitant practices: experimenting, observing, collecting, note-taking, table-making, measuring, archiving. These practices were in part derived from the traditional realm of knowledge (e.g. the experiment from the artisan’s workshop and the observation from the shepherd’s vigil). But in part they relied on the scholar’s skills: reading, excerpting, collating, comparing. “Learned experience” (in Francis Bacon’s phrase) redrew the boundary between knowledge and science in ways that still reverberate in our contemporary classification of the disciplines.

To register and for a map and directions to this event, please go to the Queen Mary website: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/qmul/events/details.php?id=34695 or email: events@qmul.ac.uk.

Hosted by the Museum of the History of Science and Mansfield College, Oxford on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The public event ‘Astronomy and Poetry’ was a rarity—one that brought together literature’s stirring power with that of expert scientific knowledge.  Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered radio pulsars as a postgraduate student, is currently Professorial Fellow in Physics at Mansfield College, Oxford.  Until recently, she was president of the Institute of Physics and, in 2010, she received the Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture from the Royal Society in recognition of her excellence in communicating science.  

 Volunteer audience members were privileged to read aloud selected poems from the captivating anthology, Dark Matter: Poems of Space, which Professor Bell Burrell edited with poet Maurice Riordan in 2008, including poems by Diane Ackerman, John Herschel, Stanley Kunitz and Thomas Hardy.  As Paul Murdin of the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy remarked in 2009, ‘we reach for analogy and the architecture of poetry to express dark matter, black holes and red giants.’  Professor Bell’s generous sharing of her astronomical insight and affection for poetry demonstrated not only the aptness of the poetic form for expressing astrophysics but also the inherently poetic virtues of her science.

The event was accompanied by the Museum’s exhibition of science poetry by competition winners, entitled ‘Parallel Universe’ (see http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/events/).