Giants’ Shoulders #48

Welcome to the 48th edition of the Giants’ Shoulders blog carnival! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to host this birthday edition featuring a number of posts on the recent Transit of Venus as well as a variety of other topics in the history of science, medicine and technology.

Let’s begin with the recent transit of Venus between the earth and the sun, the last such event any of us will witness. Amy Shira Teitel looks at the history of such transits and explains why they happen so rarely. Alison Boyle, curator of astronomy and modern physics at the Science Museum, recounts observations of six previous transits.

Rebekah Higgitt details what so many accounts of the transit have overlooked: the reason people study them. Mark Anderson, author of a recent book on the subject, also addresses the relationship between transits and practical navigation.

Steven van Roode has compiled videos of the University of Toronto’s 2012 Transit of Venus Symposium. These seven talks address the history of transits, safe observation, educational opportunities, the black drop effect, instrumentation and the search for exoplanets.

This post by Randall Rosenfeld takes into account the economy’s impact on the “transit enterprise.” Rosenfeld also addresses the historical role of gender in transits of Venus.

Thony Christie at the Renaissance Mathematicus points out that it was Charles Green, not James Cook, who led the 1769 expedition to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus.

Nick Lomb tells the story of Melbourne University professor William Parkinson Wilson, who observed the 1874 transit of Venus from Mornington, Australia, only to die two days later.

J.L. Bell follows the career of Isaac Rand, who accompanied John Winthrop to Newfoundland to observe the 1761 transit of Venus.

Check out the Cosmos & Culture exhibition, which depicts tools and works related to the history of astronomy around the globe.

Glenn A. Walsh links to a video segment on a nineteenth-century “lens-napping” case from Dan Handley’s film Undaunted: The Forgotten Giants of the Allegheny Observatory.

Ethan Siegel tells the cosmic story of carbon-14, an unstable isotope with a half-life of just over 5,000 years.

Learn more about the AHRC-funded Board of Longitude project the National Maritime Museum and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge have undertaken. Focusing on papers held at Cambridge and the NMM’s collection of instruments, this five-year collaboration will produce a major publication, exhibitions, conferences and other events and resources. Katy Barrett, for instance, writes about sailor James Straycock’s proposed solution to the longitude problem.

Lucy Inglis recounts the remarkable life of Mary Lacy, who published her autobiography, The History of the Female Shipwright, in 1773.

Paul Holden shares the colorful frontispiece of The Mariners Mirrour (1588).

Ed Prosser compiles resources related to the Antikythera Mechanism.

John Ptak draws parallels between celestial maps and this 1600 Table of the Cheifest Cities and Towns in England, which depicts London as the center of the country’s universe.

Anyone interested in mathematics should visit Tony’s Maths Blog.

Joe Mahaffy examines the intersection of mathematics and biology in this fascinating post.

The Renaissance Mathematicus takes popular histories of triangulation to task for failing to engage with the technique’s historical origins. He also explains the story behind his blog’s banner.

John Ptak has adapted a chronology of important events in particle physics.

Letters of Note features a 1936 message from a girl named Phyllis to Albert Einstein, and Einstein’s reply on science and faith.

Felicity Henderson explains why “ejaculation” is preferable to “orgasm” when describing the bodily functions Robert Hooke recorded in his diary.

A hidden gem at the Chemical Heritage Foundation: this 1829 portrait of a chymist composed of chemical equipment.

Deborah Blum reviews Michael Faraday’s Chemical History of a Candle.

Jacob Hamblin presents a roundtable on the notion of evolutionary history that Edmund Russell has adopted.

Angelique Richardson reviews George Levine’s Darwin the Writer.

You can now watch Steven Shapin’s talk on the taste of food in the early modern period at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.

Jan Helldén describes a seventeenth-century anatomical teaching model of a pregnant woman, complete with a coffin-shaped case of inlaid wood. See two more wooden models here.

Over at the Guardian, Mo Costandi describes how researchers at UCLA have shed new light on the case of Phineas Gage by producing his connectome.

Alice Nelson of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine Library at Oxford recommends Pulse-Project.org, which provides audio and video lectures on both the sciences and medical humanities.

At Wonders & Marvels, Lisa Smith writes about the utility of puppies(!) in early modern medical recipes.

Alan Withey points out that steel played an intimate role in everyday life during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Inspired by a recent talk she attended, Katherine Ford explores the history of cholera in the Royal Society’s catalogue.

On a related note, John Ptak examines the face of pain in the woodcuts of Lorenz Heister’s early-eighteenth-century work on surgery.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh has a new online archive catalogue with more than 8,000 previously uncatalogued items, including a draft postmortem on Napoleon Bonaparte and a letter from Rudyard Kipling.

Lindsey Fitzharris, the Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, uses her own dental procedure as a starting point for a discussion of the history of tooth decay, dentistry and anesthesia.

Kristin Hussey and Luke Pomeroy at the Science Museum reveal the contents of one of the medicine chests Captain Scott and his team took on their 1911 expedition to the South Pole.

Robin McKie describes the rediscovery of Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin, a paper by Scott expedition scientist George Murray Levick deemed too shocking for publication a century ago.

Darin Hayton at PACHS discusses science as an activity, not a word or thing waiting to be discovered. He also combats the historical myth that Galileo ever said “eppur si muove.”

Using the example of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, Dominic Berry explains why it can be problematic to treat individual scientists emblematically.

Philip Ball writes on curiosity and its relation to science.

Eric Schliesser tackles the Clarke-Spinoza dispute through the medium of George Boole’s early analytic masterpiece An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854).

Rebekah Higgitt offers insight on the relationship between history and storytelling through the lens of the contemporary and nineteenth-century disputes over fidelity to sources.

Mike Rendell celebrates the birthdays of Lyme Regis resident and unlikely fossil collector Mary Anning, and the father of animal magnetism, Franz Anton Mesmer. His account of James Rennell‘s life identifies the “father of oceanography” as a talented sailor, surveyor, map-maker, explorer and much else, besides.

An elephant bird egg from Sir David Attenborough’s collection will go on display as part of the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition on 3 July.

Brian Jonathan Garrett situates Nehemiah Grew in his rightful place in the history of botany.

Kuang-chi Hung discusses his research at the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science into botanical exchanges between East Asia and North America.

Anyone with a daguerreotype boyfriend or two will appreciate Rebekah Higgitt‘s thoughtful take on scientific ‘historical hotties’ and the emotional impact of portraits.

Alison Pearn of the Darwin Correspondence Project notes that, thanks to some sharp blog readers, the project editors have been able to identify the Beard family artist responsible for an image mentioned in one of Darwin’s letters.

Bibliodyssey highlights beautiful plates from A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or, Family of Sun-birds (1876-80) by G.E. Shelley and J.G. Keulemans. See also these remarkable chromolithographs from the Atlas d’Histoire Naturelle (ca. 1875).

Sophie Bushwick recommends the drawings of scientist Sergio Cittolin, who depicts elements of the Large Hadron Collider in the style of Leonardo da Vinci.

Emma Davidson at the Royal Society celebrates the advent of summer with a 1788 caricature of Joseph Banks.

Donna Seger shares more colorful, if not always flattering, caricatures from Henry Louis Stephens’ The Comic Natural History of the Human Race (1851).

This 1836 image at NYPL depicts Mercury bearing science around the world, guided by Minerva’s wisdom.

Finally, check out songs from the history of science, technology and medicine.

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