This category contains 5 posts

When deforestation was a good thing: eighteenth century attempts to change the American climate

Nowadays, deforestation, chopping down loads of trees without replacing them, is generally considered to be detrimental to the local and global climate. But it was not always this way.  Today we know that trees and forests, apart from providing nice habitats for a vast variety of species of wildlife, are important carbon sinks: they scrub … Continue reading

Darwin and the Rabbis: some nineteenth century Jewish responses to Darwinian evolution

It often seems as if we, in the twenty-first century, have inherited a certain idea about how Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory was received in the nineteenth century. Prevalent among the popular narratives is the idea that the institutions of ‘religion’, particularly the Church, and the institutions of ‘science’, the societies of the men of science, … Continue reading

Society in the sky: a seventeenth century attempt to redraw the constellations

We’re all more or less familiar with the constellations in the night sky; we all understand that their names and shapes are ancient in origin. However, these names and shapes have not always been uncontested, and some fascinating political, religious, and scientific motives have been behind attempts to reform the map of the stars. This … Continue reading

Give the doc a phone: a historical long-view of telephone use and public health in Britain

In Cornwall, a thousand patients have recently been given equipment to measure their own vital signs, such as blood pressure and oxygen levels, from home, and transmit them to a central hub where clinicians monitor the readings and keep in contact with the patients by telephone if required. This scheme, which you can read more … Continue reading

One damn thing after another: what’s the point of studying history?

My BA and my MA were both entitled ‘the history and philosophy of science’. This article could possibly be called ‘the philosophy of history and science’, and is my attempt to outline, very broadly speaking, why I think studying and writing history is so important. I consider myself very lucky to have found a pursuit … Continue reading