català | castellano | english home   sitemap   aviso legal   créditos   contacto  
home home

La institucionalización de la Historia de la ciencia, 27 de septiembre de 1983

Reunión en el Rectorado de la UAB, presidida por el Ministro de Cultura, Javier Solana, sobre la institucionalización de la Historia de la ciencia en diferentes paises

Celebrada a la Sala de Juntas de la UAB el 27 de septiembre de 1983 de 10.30 a 11.30.


Presiden: Prof. Josep Trilla, Vicerrector de Investigaci6n Prof. Armin Hermann, de la Universidad de Stuttgart


TRILLA
I welcome you to this meeting. We wish to analize the Viability of this project for which we need your very vaulable opinion. I think we will not start from scratch since we have already professors here who have devoted some efforts to the subject and have capacity to carry out this work. This meeting provides, I think, an exceptionally good opportunity to discuss about this project. Indeed in very few occasions an University has been honoured with the presence of such groups of relevant personalities.


Let me first introduce to you the members of the University Committee as well as professors of one University or another which are interested in history of science:


Prof. Javier Solana, our Culture Minister


Prof. Manuel Pares, Vicerrector de Extensi6n Universitaria


Prof. Carmen Azcárate, Vicerrector de las Escuelas Universitarias


Prof. Josep Font, our Dean of Sciences


Prof. Ramon Pascual, of the Section of Physics


Prof. Ricardo Guerrero, of the Section of Biology


Prof. Victòria Camps of the Department of Philosophy


Miss Berta Gutierrez, Directora del I.C.E.


Prof. Albert Dou, mathematician in the Universidad de Madrid


Prof. José M. Sánchez Ron, of the Universidad Aut6noma de Madrid


Prof. Manuel G. Doncel which, I think, is well known to you all.


Now I will be very grateful if Prof. Armin Hermann would kindly agree to preside over this meeting. Thank you.


HERMANN
Honourables Ladies and Gentlemen: we are very glad to have this opportunity. We have realized that this University has a very good tradition in establishing friendship with physicists. One, and I think a very excellent example is our friend Louis Michel, who has done so much for you. Now the relations I think among the historians of science in the world are as good as among the physicists, and therefore we have all been very happy that you planed to establish a history of science department. We have all our willing to give all assistance, all help, all advise we can give. And so I think you have open doors, and I would like to ask you how we shall proceed. We have thought it may be of interest for you to know how the field of history of science is organized in different countries. So, if you would agree, I would ask some of you to explain in short how history of science is organised in their countries. But the time is short. We can also proceed in a different way: I stop and you ask questions. So I would like to ask you which procedure you would prefer: that we make short statements to explain the situation of the field in different countries, or that we directly go into answering your questions. What would you proposed?


DONCEL
Perhaps before you give a little information and later on we pose the questions.


HERMANN
Yes. Then we begin. Maybe I should also introduce to you our specialists, the historians:


Prof. Roger H. Stuewer, from University of Minnesota


Prof. Bruce R. Wheaton, from University of California


Prof. Arthur I. Miller, from Harvard University


Prof. John Roche, from Linacre College, Oxford


Prof. David Speiser, from University of Louvain


Prof. Klaus Mainzer, from University of Konstanz (Germany)


Prof. Karl von Meyenn, from the University of Stuttgart


Prof. Silvio Bergia, from University of Bologna


Prof. Louis Michel, well known here.


And,if you agree we will start may be with our American friends, as America is undoubtely the leading country in history of science. In this country a real scientific community exists and their meetings are attended by hundreds of scholars working in nearly the same fields, so that a real scientific discussion can take place. And, I think, all other European countries we still have to learn a lot from the United States. So I would proposed, Americans start by giving short statements on what the mean activities are in United States in the field, and maybe of some programmes. I do not know who should start first, Bruce Wheaton maybe.


WHEATON
In some ways it is really a historical accident that the field in history of science is well developed in the United States, as it is compared with other efforts in this regard. It has more to do with the historical accident of having begun there sligthly earlier. I will point out that in many cases the development of history of science emerged in a very strong way from interest on the part of scientists in the United States (in particular physicists) in the historical structure or development of their field. This has resulted in the creation of several Institutes and Departments spread over the lenght and width of the country. We have representations here from the East Cost to the Midwest and Farwest. Let me just say a few words about the form in which my Office at the University of California, Berkeley, has attempted in the past eight or ten years to increased and faster international relations among historians of science, historians of physics in particular. We have had many visiting scholars in our office from Japan, from France, from Italy, from Germany, from East Germany and several other countries. We have created the opportunity to come and witness first hand the sorts of issues that are concerned with in the field, and the methodology that we follow at Berkeley in the resolution of some of those research questions. Some of this persons have come as, what we call postdoctoral fellows in history of science in order to use the resources of the University. We have also done what we can to faster interaction through international meetings, associations and just out-right help, as much as it has been in our capabilities to render that help. We have also tried in so far as possible, to maintain those contacts through visits of one kind or another to European centers and to hold fast with the common aspects of our discipline that bind us together. Outwardly our primary field of interests have been history of physics in the 20th Century and in the 18th Century. We have done what we can. And I am sure that my colleagues, not only in America but in other countries, will agree that one of the primary sorts of work that needs to be developed in the field is the discovery, maintance and description of primary resource material, manuscript material of scientists in various countries for a continued research in the field. And so we at Berkeley (and I am sure that is true in all of the other countries participating in this) stand ready to help in any of these aspects of the development of this field that is so essential, I believe personally, to a humanistic understanding of the forces and powers of science in the modern world. An understanding that, I think, it behoves us all to develop and diseminate to the general public.


MILLER
I would like to bring you greetings from my colleague from Harvard University, Prof. Gerald Holton, who some of you know, who visited Barcelona recently. He is a man who is a force behind the American history of physics, history of science in general, and science education. I just want to say a few words on the structure of history of physics in the United States.


An indicator of the interest of physicists in history of physics, is the recent formation in the American Physical Society, of the division for the history of physics, which already has a large membership and a growing membership. At the American Physical Society meetings, we have separate sessions for the history of physics which are well attended Ñwe have audiences up to a thousand or so. Presently I am the President elect of the Association; the President is now Professor Laurie Brown of Northwestern University. You may be interested to know my own place in history of science. The history of science in the United States has plastic and supple structure, and I am associated with two Universities: The University of Lowell and Harvard University. At the University of Lowell I am a professor of history and philosophy and I am also associated with the Physics Department and so I teach in all three departments. And at Harvard University I am an associate of the Physics Department which means, that I can also teach history of science again within the Physics Department.


What is proposed here I think , actually is, as we would say in United States, the best of all posibles worlds,namely to have a History of Science Department within the College of Science. Because a ready made audience for history of science courses are students in science departments,and therefore you will be able to have a large student population in your classes almost inmediately, or inmediately. We have a History of Science Society in the United States in which Prof Gerald Holton is the current President, and there are annual meetings of the History of Science Society which are also well attended by historians of science.


Perhaps I can conclude by paraphrasing a quotation from Immanuel Kant, one of the best philosophers who also begun life as as astronomer.Let me paraphrase Kant: "History without science is empty and science without history is blind". Thank you.


HERMANN
Roger Stuewer could continue making mention of some American activities such as the collection of Sources of
Quantum Physics, which is so important for scholars in the whole world. Please, Roger.


STUEWER
I think that I would like to start by giving you a specific example of the kind of development that I think that you have in mind here at Barcelona. In my own University, the University of Minnesota, we have developed a large programme in the history of science and technology within the Institute of Technology at the university, which corresponds to your College of Sciences. We have found that scientists and engineers are very simpathetic to the understanding of the history of science and technology, and our colleagues in the science and engineering disciplines had been very supportive of our activities. We have been able to carry out, for example, organized colloquia, joint colloquia between the history of science and physics, between physicists and historians. We have organized conferences involving physicists and historians. We have enjoyed many personal interactions between historians and scientists. I think that bears emphasis, because in any kind of an intelectual activity there is always a certain amount of aprehension that exists between two people in different fields. And when you have personal and daily contact between historians and physicists for example, that aprehension disappears, and it is easy to come into personal contact and into intelectual contact with each other.


I will emphasize another point, and that is that, if history of science and technology is developed within a College of Science and Engineering, as we have done at the University of Minnesota, we have natural links to the industry in the surrounding city, and in the state and even on a national level. In our particular case, we have an institute associated with my department for the history of computing, and so we have a natural tie to the computing industry in the Twins Cities Area. Similarly we have a unit called the Bakken Library in Minneapolis, which is a bioengineering organization, Medtronic Incorporated(?). We have been able to establish
very natural and forceful and strong links to the bioengineering community in the Twins Cities Area, as well to our particular organization. So I believe that they are many advantages to developing a department of the history of science and technology within an Institute of Technology and within a College of Sciences.


Now Professor Hermann has asked me to say a word about the Archive for History of Quantum Physics. That is a rather massive collection of materials, around a half of million documents on microfilms. They are now several, about seven or eight world wide repositories for this collection. In the United States the collection is at Berkeley, Minnesota, The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia and the Center for History of Physics in New York. In Europe the collection is in Copenhaguen, the Science Museum of London at London, in Rome, and also at the Deustches Museum in Munich.


It would be entirely conceivable in my opinion, if a community of historians of physics developed in Spain, that another repository could be establish in Spain. There is a certain definitive procedure for determinating whether or not there is a posibility. But it would not be out of the realm of posibility that such a repository could be established in Spain as well, if the community of historians in physics developes.


HERMANN
Roger, thank you. To make this point a little bit clearer, I want to have a word about this wonderful achievement:


Sources for History of Quantum Physics. That was at the end of fifties, that physicists realised that some of the great men are going the way we all will go, and that important witnesses of this development of Quantum Theory, which can be regarded as one of the most important achievements of mankind in this century, will be lost forever. And so the Americans took the iniciative and they started a big project to find to secure the sources of this development of physics. That means they went, they made a list of about -I do not know the exact figure- three hundred physicists maybe, and then they went to the places were they lived or they had lived, look through the personal foles and made microfilms of all the relevant letters, they made interviews, some of them are extremely well done, for instance I think ten interviews with Heisenberg and with Bohr. And so, this material is really a wonderful fundament of research and I think all of us have profited very much from this collection. In America, you have added to this project, as a project, also collecting material on nuclear physics and on astronomy. So a lot of source material had been collected as a basis for scientific research.


I think now we should go on. Would you like Professor Roche, to speak on behalf of the United Kingdom, and tell us in short what is going in Great Britain?


ROCHE
Certainly. First of all as historians we are all fully aware that there is a long established tradition in Spain of the historiography of science. But like in every other country it in its beginings, where a lot more needs to be done. One of my own fields of interest is in the 17th century astronomy and earlier, and I have done a certain amount of work on the history of Spanish astronomy and on the history of Spanish navigation instruments and tables. There is a vast resource, a vast amount of material in Spanish libraries and museums to be worked on, and it is a very exciting field.


Oxford is like a microcosm in the history of science in England. There are about twenty universities in England which have some history od science. But the number of universities which actually have departments of the history of science, is much smaller. In Oxford, there are four groups working on various aspects of the history of science. There is the History of Science Museum which is a center of research on scientific artefacts, for example, microscopes and telescopes and various other instruments of that sort. And a group study these instruments and study related documents and publish articles about that. And is a very interesting field of activity.
A second group is concerned with the History of Medicine, and that again, works on medical history from antiquity up to the present, depending upon the interest of the scholars involved.


A third group works on Medieval History, and the history of science in the renaissance and in the early modern period. I am involved in that group. Its leader is Doctor Alistair Crombie, who is just about to retire.


A fourth group is concerned with the Social History of Science, that is headed by Professor Margaret Gowen. She also runs a contemporany scientific archive center, and collects documents, papers, letters from contemporary scientists and gathers them together and collects them and catalogues them. And this will be a very important resource for the future research in history of science.


So that is some simple description of what goes on in Oxford. And as I say it is a microcosm of what goes on in England in general. Thank you.


HERMANN
professor Silvio Bergia could speak on the situation of History of Science in Italy.


BERGIA
I will be mostly concerned with the situation of history of physics, more than of other scientific disciplines.


First point: Since about twenty years, perhaps even more, The Italian Physical Society has decided that a course on History of Physics would be necessary for the training of secondary school teachers. Since about twenty years, then, we have in the undergraduated courses in physics, three directions: one is called general, one is called applicative, one is called didactic and it is meant to produce secondary school teachers. It is compulsory for students following this direction to have a course in the History of Physics. So at the moment in italian universities there are several places of full and associated professors in History of Physics, in the faculties of science. And this is a point which goes very much in the direction which is consider here.


The second point: history of physics has developed quite rapidly in the recent years in Italy. At the moment there are probably some seventy people working full-time in the history of physics in Italy. And this situation has recently let to forming a National Group, as it is called, of the Consiglio Nazionale de la Ricerca (The National Council for Research) which has funds of course, has units in the different Italian universities where there are people working in history of physics, and also in the last two years had national congresses. We are going to have a third one, the third official Congress of History of Physics in the next November. There are no such things in Italy at the moment for what concerns the other exact sciences: mathematics, chemistry and so on. There is something developing rather rapidly for which concerns mathematics. This is the main reason, I think, why we have chairs for the teaching of History of Physics in the faculties of science. But although the law allows it, we do not have departments for the history of the sciences. The law would permit it, I would very much favour that solution, it seems to me that Professor Miller put it right when he said that it would be the best of all possible worlds. We do not have that, but I think that the main reason why we do not have that solution at the moment is that chemists and mathematicians and so on, have not started at the same level activity. Thank you.


HERMANN
Thank you, Silvio. I will speak in short about the situation in Germany. Than, I think, we end this information and we give it open for discussion.


On the situation in Germany. In the early sixties had been official recomendations by a high scientific board to establish at German universities History of Medicine, History of Science and History of Technology. The faculties are free, and therefore only the medical faculties have followed  these recomendations and we have now at every university a Department for History of Medicine. We have about seven or eight departments, or "Lehrstuhle", or institutes for History of Science and only very few for History of Technology. Now, specially History of Technology has some development. We were happy to have as Director General of the Deutsches Museum an old colleague who went to the United States and worked in Washington at the Museum for History and Technology, I think for about twenty years and he came back. And we all hope and expect a very good development of history of technology at the Deutsches Museum. At another place there was decided to make a big Technical Museum, intended to be a historical museum specially to the relation between technology and society.


So to summarize we have some activities and I expect that these activities will fasten as scientists and engineers realised severe problems with the community, with the public opinion.  Sixty years ago, every scientist, every engineer was regarded as a hero, and now the people have become very critical. And so we think that it is necessary to reflect what science meant for society. And it is necessary for the scientific community also to reflect. Yes Prof. Speiser, a few words.


SPEISER
(I must just apologise. I have to leave for a few minutes and I am sorry for this)


I cannot unfortunatelly support what my colleagues said by favourable examples. I could do so only by very unfavourable ones. But I can testify that if one misses this History of Science, one misses really very much. If only, very good links between the different faculties which are absent, and without these links a University, in my opinion, would not be a university.


There is no point in telling all the mistakes I could made. I have seen all possible mistakes that could be made, so there is no point in telling them. I would like to make, however, one point, and I say right at once that it is a very egoistical point. And I would like to talk about what the followers would expect to learn from such a faculty. My point is that modern education, or undergraduated education too, is of much less value if not done in close contact and deriving from active research. And in respect with this active research, I am impressed what great opportunities there are here, and how much, so far in the other countries we have been missing. May I give a few examples.


First, Sunday we were in Girona and there I entered the Church and I was inmediately struck by the fact that this is the largest church I have ever seen from those days, and it is covered with stone. Now, this proves at once that in those days the engineers, here, must have been superior to everything else we had in Europe. I do not know why, I think it has been never cleared up. It is a question of the history of science and technology of the first order, and only the clearing up of this would be the great task for such an Institute.


Second point. It is much to less known, simply because it has not been enough studied, that the first modern law of science was found in Spain not in Barcelona, is true, but in Salamanca. It is the law of free fall. The people do not know it, because there has not been enough work of reserach and publication on these special questions.


Third point. From our modern times. Sixty years ago, I said so in my conference, there were in Barcelona the Weyl lectures on what he called the Space problem. These lectures are almost unknown. You can almost not get them. And yet, in my humble opinion, they are interesting and important not only for mathematicians and physicists. They are also very important for philosophers and also for the historians of sciences.


Then, of course, behind of all that is this inmense medieval tradition Arab and Spanish, here in this country which at those days had the highest density of universities. I cannot speak, as I have already said, of what are the most favourable ways, the best ways to make such an Institute. I
must leave that to my colleagues, who have more happy experience than I do. However, one needs a task, and from time to time, as you all know, it is quite good to push the professors. I am afraid of course, this also will cost some money. It also means the organisation maybe of a journal, the subsiding of a series of books, of editions that also cost some money. But it is enormously interesting, and it is the most beautiful task in the History of Science one can do.


May I do, perhaps, close with a general remark. As your Excellency observed in your speech, one of the great points in this period, is that we must get acquainted with the development of modern science, if we do not want it to get out of hand. If you permit me, I would add to this a second one. And this is, we must get acquainted with all the cultures of the different people, to get them well known: the chinese, the indians, etc. That however is not so easy. But what you always can do (and it is a very good, an extremely good substitute and preparation) is to get acquainted with all cultures in our old days, with which we are not connected any more. And Spain, I think, is the better place for this to do, than anywhere else. We do not know so much or so many of these things which we should. I think so from the very few examples. And I can give only a few examples, because I am so ignorant. But I am absolutely sure, there are other ignoramuses like me.


I am sure that you have here a particularly good opportunity. As I said, I am an egoist. I just hope to learn very much from that. So I speak for my benefit, and just declare it openly.


HERMANN
Thank you Professor Speiser. Now we have heard something about the situation in the different countries. And we have heard, by Professor Speiser, what History of Science in Spain could be in the future. I think we should now give the opportunity to make comments or to ask questions. As I have already said, we would be happy if we could be able to answer these questions. Who wants to ask? The first question is always the most difficult one ...


GUERRERO
I would like to know if there is any organisation, or future organisation, giving support to this kind of research, and wishing to improve and enhance the development of History of Science in Spain.


HERMANN
Generally, the basic in the European countries and in the United States is that you have special posts in universities or academies, and that you have additional funds by science foundations, and that if there is a special programme of special importance, you apply at your National Science Foundation, or whatever the name is in the different countries. And in my country I know, for example, that Volkswagen Foundation had promised to finance the start of a new professorship for five years, if the special German state guarantees to finance it up to the first five years. So, I do not know, but I am sure you have, as all the other countries have, a National Science Foundation, who is responsible to encourage important fields of science. And I think this would be responsible.


Another thing is that you have, of course, an European Science Foundation, I think in Strasbourg it is the seat. And I do not know, but I can imagine that the Council of Europe in this special foundation would be very much like to give some support. But this is only a very vague idea I have.


Professor Michel.


MICHEL
...  But, as it is obvious from what Professor Speiser said, if there is a world European interest to study some precise points of Spanish history, for instance the relation with the Arabic culture, then the European Science Foundation could make a project and aid to fund a project in which different European nations could be interested to have this documentation in Spain.


STUEWER
Perhaps I could add something in relationship to the remarks I made earlier on the ties to industry. It is possible that private industries may also help to support historical activities in the history of science and technology. Specific example again at my university, the University of Minnesota, is that we have this Institute for the History of Computing. The support, coming from private industry, amounts to about one hundred fifty thousand dollars per year. The University supports it to the extend of about fifty thousand dollars per year, so three quarters of this support for the activities of this Institute is coming from the the private sector. And Bruce Wheaton and others have other examples along these lines, where industrial support can be acquired for the pursuit of the History of Science and Technology.


ROCHE
With respect to the relationship between Islamic science and Spain. I think it would not be too difficult to persuade some old rich countries to support that sort of research, because they certainly do so in England.


A second point is with respect to the history of medicine. There is a very wealthy institute in London, The Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, which supports the history of medicine internationally. I think it would not be very difficult to persuade them to help Spanish scholars to study the history of spanish medicine, for example.


HERMANN
I think you have some ideas of which kind of supports one can pick out, and I think we should ask you to put further question. Yes please.


FONT
I would like to ask about where the departments of history of science are located at the anglosaxon universities. I understood that in Italy you have a chair in physics. Well, the problem here, I mean, is a little bit of red tape, burocratic administrative. History of Science, I would say, in the Faculty of Philosophy is , well, not well done, but there it is a tradition at least for what we can call ancient science. But the modern science is what we lack. There is a gap because the Faculty of Science has not taken the effort to do this. And probably for the Faculty of History it is too much modern, it is the ancient prefered there.


To create a Department of History of Science in the Faculty of Science, I would say it is very difficult. It is easier to create a chair, but then it would be a chair in physics and then it has to be a chair in chemistry, and then a chair maybe in biology. This is a little bit difficult for us, so I would like to listen to some opinions about that.


HERMANN
This is a very good question, and of course difficult to answer. We have, I think, some distinct ideas about it. But, I think, first we should give you what you want, we should give some examples of how these things are organised in different places. Roger, please.


STUEWER
Yes, I think, perhaps I can, in part at least, answer that question. In the United States the History of Science and Technology is organised on many different models. There are independent departments of the history of science and technology. In some instances, as for example the University of California, Berkeley, the historians of science are in the History Department. In my own university, and in others universities, the historians of science are in Science Departments.


The essential characteristics of the development, in my view, of the History of Science in America, is that there is always one or two leaders at a given University, who organize the activity in a way most compatible with that particular university. And that accounts, I think, to a large degree for the individualistic character of the organizations at particular universities in the United States. So my recomendation here for the University of Barcelona, it would be to build upon your strengths. You have an active group, you have an active historian of physics built in the Physics Department. Now build upon your strengths and organize it in a way most compatible with your own institution. There are not hard and fast rules as how to organize the activity. It takes many forms in many different universities, and you always start from your strengths and then build outward.


WHEATON
One other point, a very short point. One of the reasons why they are many departments in which the history of recent science is studied in the context of the science departments (and I think all the historians agree on this point) is that it is essential to understand the internal, as we say, subject matter of the sciences, in order to do adequate job of stuying its history. And it is a fact of life in the modern university that students, for example students who are preparing for a career in teaching in high schools, are more interested in the history of recent science, then they are in history of the ancient sciences. Consequently there are great advantages, I believe, to at least beginning such an effort in history of science, by concentrating on the recent sciences and doing so within the Faculty of Science, where the authority of understanding of the field is clear.


MILLER
I would like to say how it is in the two universities that I am associated with. At Harvard there is a Department of the History of Science. And they are also people who teach the history of a particular discipline, either from sitting in the Physics Department or the Astronomy Department, and/or having a joint appointment between the Department of History of Science and, say, this of Physics.


At the University of Lowell I initiated a History and Philosophy of Science Programme, but I found it easier to do that by leaving the Physics Department, and going to History and Philosophy Departments. And I found less resistance to beginning the History and Philosophy of Sciences Programme from outside, and then keeping it on affiliation with the Physics Department and drawing students from that department as well.


HERMANN
I think we should now end with our answers. To summarize, I would say, there are no establish rules, but in a good majority History of Medicine is in faculties of medicine, and History of Science is with in science faculties. And these faculties or departments for History of Science work very succesfully, specially in the education of science students. So, I think, I can summarize: if in your Department for Physics there is an interesting History of Physics, then go ahead, and be sure that it is a very good starting point to do so.


Please.


CAMPS
I come from the Department of Philosophy and I wanted to ask if you have in your Departments of History of Science, any place for Philosophy of Science. I mean, philosophers as Toulmin or Feyerabend or Lakatos have anything to do in your departments?


HERMANN


I think this question could best be answered by our friend Klaus Mainzer from the University of Konstanz, who is at such a Philosophy Department.MAINZER
I come from the University of Konstanz. It is a very young University, perhaps like this university, fifteen years old. We realised the model of the university of Pittsburg, where is a famous Center of Philosophy and History of Science. And the idea is, besides own research, to give so called service lectures to the other departments of science. I must say it is a very well founded conception, and I think it can be done so even in this university. But I must underline, there are no fixed rules. You must see to have a pragmatic solution, but not a dogmatic way.


HERMANN
The History of Sciences has many aspects, and, of course, this is one important aspect. If the institutional solution is to be establish at a Science Faculty, then, of course, links of other kind should be established to philosophers and to historians.


PARES
Some historians of our university say that historians have also to play a role, in the development of History of Science in this university. They say that, methodologically speaking, they are very well prepared to deal with the development of History os Science. They realised that they do not know the scientific aspect to deal with, but they know the rules of how to approach this problem from a methodological aspect. I think it could be interesting to know some experiencies in this area if they actually exist.


HERMANN
I would like to answer this question myself. I am in a Historical Department. I think, in principle, your historians are right, we use the historical method. But the problem is that most of the historians have problems to understand the easiest physical formulas. And so the pragmatic solution is always that we have a good cooperation with historians, when it is a question of antiquity or of the middle ages. But then, already in the 17th century, there are problems. So to my experience such department, when concentrates on the modern developments, is better at the Science Faculty. And when it decides to concentrate, let us say on the middle ages, then maybe that this solution is better. John?


ROCHE
A very prickly question has been raised here. I am also in a Faculty of Modern History. I think the, shall we say, traditional kind of historians has got a very important role to play. But perhaps more in the social history of science, the history of scientific institutions, the history of the impact of science on society. And a historian who takes an interest in this, could make a considerable contribution without any changing in institutional arrangements.


Another point I would like to make. There is a certain danger, a certain unbalance possible, if too much emphasis is thrown on the history of the 20th century physics. Perhaps in a way one can get too close to what is going on. I would say that it would be valuable to encourage a certain interest in earlier physics as well. So there is a kind of historical continuity with what is going on throughout the whole span of history. But of course, there is always an emphasis.


HERMANN
Prof. Speiser, if you want answer to the question...


SPEISER
May I perhaps to be allowed to underline what Prof. Roche just said. Within the importance of all fields, we should not forget that it is not only the 20th century that exists. The point that may help is the following. When ten years ago there was talk in my university of creating a Center for History of Science, which then miscarried, I had a student who wanted to do research in history of physics. Since I had a good research problem, and since the student, I thought, would be better off in this direction, I undertook it to direct the thesis. Now,this is a thing which at the beginning, I think, will may encourage, provided of course there is the necessary superpervision, namely that the professor guides an historical thesis in his own field. And that does not demand very many means, but it can be done, provided it is seriously done and under some control.


However it is obvious (and I was deeply dissapointed at that time) had I had only a small centre with possible opening and links to other people at our disposal (at the disposal of the student, the disposal of myself), it would have been of invaluable help. I would however say that, in my opinion, such a centre really should somehow emanate from the scientists, Even if it is true that not all scientists, let us say, do really have genuine interests in the genuine sense for history, still, I think, it should come from this direction.


HERMANN
Last answer by Roger, and then we go on to another question.


STUEWER
Just one brief comment. For research in the history of recent science, the primary audience for the products of your research, articles, books, are scientists rather than general historians. I think that it is been the common experience in most countries in the world, that your primary audience for your research is the scientific audience, rather than the general historical audience. So again, I think, it is more natural to be associated on the first instance with a College of Sciences.


HERMANN
Are there other questions? We shall try to answer.


GUERRERO
You mentioned the role of teaching on History of Science. Which is the structure of this teaching in the normal university in your department? Just a few examples, to use for the question presented before.


HERMANN
This is a difficult question, as the situation is so different, at different universities. However in Germany, if there is a department, we offer lectures, we offer the opportunity to students to make their qualifications, masters, doctors degree. We offer courses for the historians as well as for the future scientists and engineers. But in different fields and different faculties, different rules are established, and so only in some of the departments courses in History of Science are obligatory. So in most cases in our universities, the students are free to go to our courses but they are not obliged to do so. But it differs, in some cases such courses are obligatory.


But I think also the United States, are again the most illustrative example. Arthur, yes.


MILLER
I just wanted to say that both, at Harvard University and at the University of Lowell, and I think at many other institutions that offer a history of science curriculum, one offers courses concerning the History of Science not only for scientists and engineers, but also History of Science courses that are aimed at non science majors, to teach a cultural appreciation for science. They try to end, what is sometimes called in the United States scientific illiteracy, that is to say portions of the population that have very little knowledge of science, so that, for example, they cannot read a newspaper article on science in an intelligent way.


One course that I teach along those lines is called "science in the modern world". It is a review of science from the babylonians up to the present time, taught for non science majors in a non-technical way. I sometimes call it my "plato tenato" course, where everyone goes to the entire scenario of science. And that goes for the history of technology as well. One has not only so called hard core history of technology courses, but also history of technology courses aimed at non scientists and nonÑengineers.


HERMANN
Yes, then I think we are at the end of our questions and answers. I would like to repeat that I hope that you all.




bottom