In Neither Physics Nor Chemistry, Kostas Gavroglu and Ana Simoes examine the evolution of quantum chemistry into an autonomous discipline, tracing its development from the publication of early papers in the 1920s to the dramatic changes ...
In this paper we will discuss some of the issues related to the attempts of Ralph Howard Fowler and Nevil Vincent Sidgwick to create a legitimizing space for quantum and theoretical chemistry in Britain. Although neither Fowler nor Sidgwick made original contributions to quantum chemistry, they followed closely the developments in the discipline, participated in meetings and discussions and delivered lectures, talks and addresses, where methodological topics, ontological questions and implicitly the problem of autonomy of the new discipline vis-à-vis both (...) physics and chemistry were taken to be pressing issues. In particular, they encouraged young people to work within the nascent discipline. Viewing quantum chemistry as a branch of applied mathematics became an emblematic characteristic of the practice of the new discipline in Great Britain. (shrink)
This study offers a detailed analysis of an episode of the popularization of astronomy which took place in Portugal, a peripheral country of Europe, and occurring in the early twentieth century. The episode was driven by the 28 May 1900 total solar eclipse which was seen on the Iberian Peninsula . Instead of focusing on one of the ends of the popularization process, we analyze the circulation of knowledge among scientists and the public, contrast the aims of the various expeditions, (...) professional and amateur, which took place on Portuguese soil, analyze their repercussions in the Portuguese astronomical landscape, and the different ways used by the Portuguese political elite and astronomical community to successfully appropriate this astronomical event to serve their varied agendas, political, social and scientific. In this episode of public enthusiasm for science, a central figure emerged in the network of the official commission, professional and amateur communities and the ‘general public’: Frederico Tomás Oom , an astronomer of the Lisbon Astronomical Observatory. This paper aims to illustrate the different layers of the circulation process, and at proving that the popularization of science was not a unidirectional process from scientists to lay people nor did it serve only a particular agenda, be it political, social or scientific. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the contributions to natural history, particularly in methods of plant classification of the Portuguese botanist, man of letters, diplomat, and Freemason Abbé José Correia da Serra (1751-1823), placing them in their national and international political and social contexts. Correia da Serra adopted the natural method of classification championed by the Frenchman Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu, and introduced refinements of his own that owe much to parallel developments in zoology. He endorsed the view that the classification of plants (...) should be based on the establishment of affinities rather than of differences. The emphasis on affinities went hand in hand with the development of the concept of symmetry. This idea was introduced by Correia da Serra in systematics and was adopted and further developed by his friend, Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle. Correia da Serra also argued that Cryptogamia reproduce sexually, advocated extension of methods of comparative anatomy from zoology to botany, and applied them to the study of fruits. Correia da Serra was one among many of the estrangeirados, Portuguese "Europeanized" intellectuals who traveled extensively abroad in most cases to escape political or religious persecution at home. The estrangeirados were important contributors to 18th and 19th century European thinking. Most of the estrangeirados were pivotal in the introduction, dissemination and propagation of the new sciences in Portugal, but unlike most of his fellow estrangeirados, Correia da Serra was also an innovative man of science in his own right. (shrink)
Discussing the relationship of mathematics to chemistry is closely related to the emergence of physical chemistry and of quantum chemistry. We argue that, perhaps, the most significant issue that the 'mathematization of chemistry' has historically raised is not so much methodological, as it is philosophical: the discussion over the ontological status of theoretical entities which were introduced in the process. A systematic study of such an approach to the mathematization of chemistry may, perhaps, contribute to the realist/antirealist debate. To this (...) end, in this paper we briefly discuss Lewis' introduction of fugacity and activity to his chemical thermodynamics and more fully analyze the issues surrounding the appropriation of resonance by Linus Pauling into quantum chemistry, particularly as these issues arose in organic chemistry as discussed by George W. Wheland. (shrink)
In 1877 Louis Paul Cailletet in France and Raoul Pictet in Switzerland liquefied oxygen in the form of a mist. The liquefaction of the first of the so-called permanent gases heralded the birth of low-temperature research and is often described in the literature as having started a ‘race’ for attaining progressively lower temperatures. In fact, between 1877 and 1908, when helium, the last of the permanent gases, was liquefied, there were many priority disputes—something quite characteristic of the emergence of a (...) new research field. This paper examines Cailletet’s path to the liquefaction of oxygen, as well as a debate between him and the Polish physicist Zygmunt Wróblewski over the latter’s contribution to the liquefaction of gases. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the ongoing university reform in Russia by underlining historical roots and peculiarities of its system of higher education. It is pointed out that the Soviet model of economy, political and ideological bias deeply impacted the university system and enforced its estrangement from foreign universities. A limited number of the best Soviet higher education institutions which provided a military-oriented education and fundamental research were re-casted along the so called “PhysTech” system after the end of the WWII. As a (...) result of this system, higher education and R&D in Russia is not presently competitive in the educational international market. Closing the gap between Russian universities and the “global university” approach and raising university competitiveness are the main objectives of the current reform in science and education. As universities are considered core actors of knowledge economy, a new set of federal and national research universities was created. However, reform faces numerous conceptual and institutional obstacles, risks and constraints are significant, and positive outcomes elusive. (shrink)