Friday lunchtime lectures at the Royal Society Centre for History of Science

BSLS members are warmly invited to attend the Royal Society’s forthcoming lunchtime lecture series. Lectures are free and are held at the Royal Society. Further details of the lectures, and the full spring 2013 programme, can be found on the Royal Society’s events website, but BSLS members may be particularly interested in the following talks:

Friday 1 March, 1pm

Dr Greg Lynall, University of Liverpool

Laputian Newtons: The Science and Politics of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

Gulliver’s Travels (1726) contains probably the most famous satire on science in world literature, but the circumstances behind its composition are little known. In this talk, Greg Lynall explains how Gulliver’s ‘Voyage to Laputa’ was shaped by Jonathan Swift’s animosity towards the Master of the Royal Mint, Sir Isaac Newton. What began as the airing of a personal and political grievance became an assault upon the foundations of scientific knowledge.


Friday 8 March, 1pm

Professor Felix Driver, Royal Holloway, University of London

Maritime science and the visual culture of exploration: the albums of a Victorian naval surgeon

Naval officers in general, and surgeons in particular, played a significant role in the development of maritime science, through their observations and their collections. This richly-illustrated talk explores the visual culture of maritime science, from coastal sketches to ethnographic observation. In particular, it looks at the albums of John Linton Palmer RN, a naval surgeon who served in the Pacific during the 1850s and 1860s. It considers the recording of topographic, antiquarian, ethnographic, microscopic and other sorts of data in the form of sketches in logbooks, diaries and journals; the assembling of such materials into personalised albums, part of a distinctive naval tradition; and the significance of these forms of visual heritage today both within Britain and overseas.


Friday 15 March, 1pm

Professor Claire Preston, University of Birmingham

‘Dark, clowdy, and impertinent’: Thomas Browne’s scientific language

[abstract forthcoming]


Friday 22 March, 1pm

Dr Sachiko Kusukawa, University of Cambridge

Unsung heroes: artistic contributors to the early Royal Society

This lecture discusses the contribution of draftsmen, engravers, artistic fellows and others whose graphic skills were indispensable for the meetings and publications of the early Royal Society (1660-1720). While some of the names of those who produced images for the Society will be familiar - Robert Hooke and William Faithorne, for example - the majority remains little known or appreciated. This lecture will show the rich variety of visual resources they generated for the Royal Society by drawing on material from the Royal Society Archives and elsewhere.


Friday 5 April, 1pm

Jenifer Glynn

My Sister Rosalind Franklin

Jenifer Glynn will discuss her new book, My Sister Rosalind Franklin. With the help of family letters and memories, this book puts Rosalind Franklin's DNA work in the context of her other achievements, and Rosalind herself in the context of her family. It shows her as a caring sister with a strong character and a passion for mountaineering, as well as a fine, thoughtful, meticulous and successful scientist.