Sort Projects by
Familiar breathing—right under our noses—has at times followed and at times constituted the ever-changing boundary between what is considered “natural” and what is considered “human.” There was, after all, a time when the presence of a willful, autonomous soul was what distinguished
This project centered on the scientific and technological practices in which knowledge of heredity was materially entrenched and in which it unfolded its effects.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," Paola Molino's project investigated how a courtly space of knowledge, namely court libraries, shaped the textual practices related to the manuscripts and books preserved there.
Over the past twenty years neuroscience huge strides have been made in our understanding of how the brain reacts to music, and representations of music’s effects in the humanities increasingly reflect the prestige of neurology.
In nineteenth-century society, the sciences gained in importance. Technology and industry, nutrition, public health, and the law are only a few examples of fields that interacted with science.
During the First World War, the politically allied governments of Germany and Austria encouraged scientific commissions to conduct extensive research in their POW camps.
The use of clocks for timekeeping seems to be a straightforward and almost intuitive routine. Yet glancing at mechanical clocks designed in a culture remote from us in both time and space we witness how modern-day intuitions betray our attempts to understand these time-measuring devices.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," this project examined Saadiah’s Tafsīr, an Arabic translation of the Pentateuch of originally Jewish provenance, which became a foundational text also of the Coptic Church.
A Natural History of Data examines the history of practices and rationalities surrounding data in the natural sciences between 1800 and the present.
Isaac Newton's unique position in the history of physics rests on his Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy published in 1687 which has overshadowed his other important book, the Opticks. This book was not only of fundamental importance for the
This was an investigation into how technical knowledge was represented in biographical writings and how craftsmen and their skills are perceived by Chinese scholars.
The general aim of this project was to articulate the philosophical conditions of the transition from the non-mathematical definition to the mathematical formalization of "objective probability" in terms of a development from idealization to abstraction—and this by mea
Graphical representations of acoustic space confront lay and expert publics with images of phenomena that cannot be seen. Transient, time-based, and ephemeral, sound is nothing but particle movements in air, liquids, or solids.
Tackling ideas of uncertainty and not-knowing has produced a variety of ways of modeling and reasoning material and intellectual cultures in Asian cultures throughout history.
During the 13th century, a new tract on elementary spherical astronomy and cosmology was compiled: The Sphere of Johannes de Sacrobosco.
This project investigates the transformation and co-production of soundscapes, technologies, and sound epistemologies on the Indian subcontinent.
The research project is dedicated to exploring the links between the history of European theatre and acoustics from 1750 to 1930. This period corresponds to the gradual establishment of physical acoustics and its differentiation into numerous subdisciplines.
This dissertation project is an interdisciplinary research study on the networks of the first twenty years of the WDR’s Electronic Music Studio in Cologne (1952–1972).
Humans have learned from experience that time is a factor that reveals change. In combination with the conception that an individual’s life is limited, this has lead to the conclusion that organisms undergo a process of alterations during their lifetime, which is called aging.
Helen Curry's research investigated the history of seed banking as a global conservation practice.
My current research investigates the history of seed banking as a global conservation practice. Through this project, I seek to understand how the genetic diversity of plant species came to be seen as both a critical resource
A new culture of science was at the center of discussions and outreach activities during the Einstein Year 2005, a common initiative of the Federal Government, science, industry, and culture. It celebrated the centenary of Einstein's revolutionary 1905 papers.
This Working Group chapter project considered the relationship between alchemy and European painting in the late Middle Ages.
What is Graeco-Egyptian alchemy? What kinds of techniques and craft practices does it encompass? And what were its goals? This Working Group paper project addressed these questions by investigating the most ancient Greek alchemical texts preserved by both the Byzantine and the Syriac tradition.
The De li aspecti (Codex Vat. Lat. 4595) is an Italian translation of the De aspectibus, which is a Latin translation of Ibn al-Haytam’s Kitab al-Manazir. The De aspectibus of Alhacen, arrived in Europe in the thirteenth century.
"All Against All: Scientific Prophecies of Food & Fuel Production, 1929-1989" presents a series of case studies in the methods by which social (economists and demographers) and natural (agronomists, geologists, and ecologists) scientists in Germany and America quantified and predicted future
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," this project focused on two scholarly activities that can be interrelated but are not necessarily so: the etymological explanation of the alleged meanings of individual words, and the allegorical explanation of the
During medieval and premodern times, alum was used for a variety of purposes in artistic and craft contexts. Alum was one of the most important chemical compounds involved in the dyeing of textiles and the manufacture of organic lakes, used in painting and illuminating techniques.
The notable presence of independent scholars among women historians of the first half of the twentieth century is a phenomenon to be found in Anglophone, French, German, and Italian historiography alike.
Beginning in the 1880s, inspired in particular by feminists’ challenges to the state regulation of prostitution, female sexuality became the subject of widespread scientific, social, and political interest as part of the broader “Woman Question.” Reflecting the influence of Darwinian evolution an
This chapter is an exploration of the optical sources used by Leonardo da Vinci in his research on shadows. As most sources of the Renaissance were available in Arabic and Latin, the focus is mainly on translation and knowledge transmission.
This Working Group chapter project was an exploration of the optical sources used by Leonardo da Vinci in his research on shadows. As most sources of the Renaissance were available in Arabic and Latin, the focus was mainly on translation and knowledge transmission.
The expression "analytic narratives" refers to a small group of studies that have developed at the intersection of history, political science and economics.
This project examines how endeavors in Japan to produce and export mass quantities of raw silk generated new biological knowledge about the domesticated silkworm.
This project calls attention to two different kinds of drug tests in sixteenth-century Europe: the use of a medicine on a person who was already ill, which I am calling an anecdote, and the testing of the antidote on a healthy subject whose bodily state has been changed artificially, which I am c
Natural and social scientists have long been fascinated by the biological basis of human behavior. By anthropomorphizing animal behavior, biologists frame animal actions as simplified versions (evolutionary antecedents) of human behavior.
After 1945, Western foundations and governments devoted considerable resources to promoting agricultural development in Latin America and Asia through the introduction of new technology, now generally referred to as "The Green Revolution" (GR). These programmes succeeded in boosting grain product
Science and the state both have roles in creating and controlling environmental change.
What does it take to create an archive of human forms and their interactions with machinery? How does the human body come into being as an engineering object through this archiving practice?
The history of the concept of anticipation in hereditary disease, the notion that certain hereditary illnesses strike earlier and often more harshly in succeeding generations, reveals that acceptable approaches to heredity varied widely over time and place during the first half of the twentieth c
In the history of cartography, the object “atlas” has always encountered difficulty in being accepted as a genuine scientific form.
This project examined the conceptualization of the human senses in observational practices from 1750 to 1830.
Department I has co-organized the exhibition "Archimedes. Art and Invention Science". The exhibition in the prestigious venue of the Capitoline Museums presents the great man from Syracuse to the wider public,
The Archimedes Project creates a testbed for developing and exploring model interactive environments for the history of mechanics. It also serves as a proof-of-concept project for open digital libraries for topics in the history of science designed to integrate research and
In my contribution to this workshop on the structure of practical knowledge, I try to outline the structure of architectural knowledge in the long 16th century. The paper is divided into three parts.
My project for the Local Gazetteers workshop (August 2016) is to collect information on and map using GIS the sources of the nan-wood timbers used for the construction of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) palaces in Beijing.
In this research project, Mona Friedrich studied the rise of organized record-keeping from roughly 1450 to 1789. It was only during this period that archives gained prominence in Western Civilization.
In 1930, journalist Hans Tasiemka reported the pioneering introduction of sound recording and archiving at the Berlin Funk-Stunde station, on the initiative of its director Hans Flesch.
Coordinated on a global scale, collective observation of the Mercury transit of 1753 and the Venus transits of 1761 and 1769 exemplify Enlightenment confidence in a spatially and socially extended "big science," one capable, in principle, of transcending difference at many levels: national and co
Within a thousandths of fraction of the earth’s deep history we have begun to fundamentally alter the composition of the planet to the degree that any vestige of the non-human “natural” is now fugitive in all but the most nanoscopic and axiomatic of the sciences.
Over the past 120 years, language has become subject to archiving.
During his stay Jean-Baptiste Gouyon investigated ARKive, an Internet database of images and recordings of animals, the associated claims to knowledge, and how they appear to be supported (www.arkive.org).
Giorgio Vasari in the mid-sixteenth century and later Karel van Mander in his Schilder-boeck (1604), portrayed Van Eyck as “a man who delighted in alchemy” whose experiments allegedly led to the invention of oil paint.
Mimesis or imitation comes in many forms and guises.
This Research Group investigated how artists invented and appropriated, conceived and categorized, and transmitted and circulated knowledge in the visual and decorative arts in the premodern period.
This project investigated one of the most splendid collections in early seventeenth-century Antwerp, that of the Portuguese merchant-banker Emmanuel Ximenez, a neighbor and contemporary of Peter Paul Rubens.
Art historians have paid much attention to the use of perspective in seventeenth century Netherlandish painting. Their geometrical knowledge and the presupposed role of optical tools have also been debated at length.
Department III studies the history of knowledge and action.
The uses and connotations of the word zhen (authentic, genuine, true) in Late Imperial scholarly discourse were broad.
After food and shelter, clothing is probably the essential feature of human civilization, creating and representing economic, state, and societal identities.
While Early Modern Netherlandish painters were often avid collectors, systematic research on artists' collecting is missing. Which networks did they use while collecting? What did they collect? Did their collections differ from other collections?
The artist’s ability to construct a convincing illusion of three-dimensional space on the basis of geometry was a powerful weapon in the battle for a higher intellectual status for the profession.
Throughout the Latin Middle Ages, knowledge in the fields of astronomy and cosmology was based on texts and images, namely diagrams. The latter were capable of showing not only the structure of the cosmos and models for the movement of the stars, but also the principles of the world’s formation.
Jana Klenhova's dissertation project was a media-historical study of practices and theories of synchronicity and asynchronicity in early Soviet sound cinema.
The project investigates the conditions faced by female academics at the University of Berlin from its reopening in 1946 until 1961. It asks whether the situation for women academics improved after the deep setbacks during the Nazi regime.
This book project illustrates how members of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (ACA), most prominent among them Milicent Shinn, a graduate of the University of California, engaged in the study of early childhood development.
As a title for her project, “Atomic Food for Peace” is Karin Zachmann's invention. As a concept, however, it clearly existed in the mid-1950s.
This project aimed to critically reflect and historicize data practices in relation to sensory practices within the history of science.
The role of media—and especially of the phonograph and gramophone—in storing and disseminating literary recitation and reading aloud from 1889 onward may have been revolutionary from a technical point of view, but it is marginal when considered in the broader context of literary life during the p
In post-revolutionary Russia, life has become an experiment.
This project focuses on the use of bodily waste, and more specifically urine, as the basis for producing fertile bodies in Palestine/Israel.
Ian Lawson's new project investigates the fashion for microscopes, and other optical instruments, in the eighteenth century—after their initial popularity among natural philosophers.
In the context of the collaborative project “The Cerebral Subject: Brain and Self in Contemporary Culture,” Fernando Vidal and Francisco Javier Guerrero Ortega wrote a book entitled Being Brains.
In 2010/11, five major scientific institutions of Berlin will celebrate their centenaries: the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Charité Berlin, and the Max Planck Society (foundation of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society 100 ye
Id autem ex trutinis, quae staterae dicuntur, licet considerare.
Pollio Vitruvius, ca. 20 v. Chr.
In the course of this project, the development of the unequal-armed balance will be examined as a case study of an innovation process.
This project studies the relationships between eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century experimentation, natural history and artisanal practices from a historical, philosophical and sociological perspective. The novelty of the project
This research activity concerns the transformation of the Newtonian concept of space in the relativity and quantum revolutions of the early 20th century.
In 2001, an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers joined forces to establish the Evolution of Human Languages (EHL) project at the Santa Fe Institute.
A painted image is perceived as a combination of forms, colors, and materials. But it is also a three-dimensional object made of different layers of colouring matter and binding media on a support. On this material body, artistic perception, knowledge, and theory are inscribed.
Conservation biology is an unusual science in that it was founded on explicitly ethical objectives. Global biodiversity is considered to be a good in its own right and the study and protection of biodiversity itself a scientific and moral imperative.
This project investigated the changing valuation of complexity in nature and culture in Germany and the United States throughout the twentieth century.
Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, labor in Western medicine was understood as a mechanical procedure consisting of a regular sequence of seven fetal movements. At the beginning of the twentieth century the sequence was well known but the reasons for it were not yet understood.
This project offered a new postwar history of human genetics, by examining how, in mid-twentieth century Britain, blood groups were made into objects for investigations into human heredity and diversity.
Starting in the last decade of the nineteenth century, paper models of the human body became a common consumer object affordable even to better-off working-class families. Books like F. E.
Samuel van Hoogstraten’s painting Old Man at the Window (1653, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien) recapitulates the impact of the Eyckian turn in Netherlandish painting, which laid the foundations for the detailed and realistic depiction of the visual world.
Laboratory science, in the modern sense of laboratory teaching and research carried on at universities, only came into existence in the first half of the nineteenth century. The development occurred in all European countries but with quite different historical trajectories.
The term “brass instrument psychology,” a common term used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to describe laboratory psychology, shows the centrality of scientific instruments in the origin and development of experimental psychology.
In the autumn of 1651, Colonel Edward Harley stayed with Sir John Tracey in Norfolk. There, the two men drank to the health of Harley’s uncle Edward Conway, second Viscount Conway now ruralized at Petworth House, the seat of the Percy family.
In this dissertation project "Bringing Chymistry into Shape: The Ideas, Intellectual Context, and Influence of Daniel Sennert (1572–1637)," Joel Klein explored the history of chymistry* and medicine in the early modern German university.
Elisa Andretta's project was a comparative study of the papal court alongside that of Spain in the second half of the sixteenth century, understood as “places of Science.” From these two observation points it aimed at investigating the ways in which scientific knowledge in the early modern age wa
In the years around 1900 scientific research became increasingly concerned with sub-microscopic entities, including atoms, molecules, ions, bacteria, and all sorts of minute organisms.
This project compares the codified cost estimates for Buddhist art objects such as statues and painting from three different dynasties: the Mongol Yuan, the Han-Chinese Ming, and the Manchu Qing.
The research project "Buzz: A Stimulating History of Sex Toys" seeks to understand why our attitudes towards sex toys have shifted over the past half century and how sex toys went from being social napalm to being sold openly in your friendly neighborhood drug store.
Pigments form the material color for painting. Their use involves various practices and types of expertise, whether from miners, pigment makers or painters themselves.
In recent years, a vast amount of scholarship has been devoted to early modern collections and particularly to the so-called "cabinet of curiosity," defined as a space designated for storing and contemplating artworks, various handcrafted objects, scientific instruments, exotica, and natural spec
Evolutionary biology is currently enjoying a period of high public prestige.
Charles-Edouard Niveleau's work aims to rediscover the historical (although forgotten) roots of the phenomenological movement that appeared through a confrontation with natural sciences and the emerging scientific psychology during the nineteenth century in Ger
Species catalogs—printed or digital—are a specific form of encyclopedias and compendia. They are designed for different purposes, and "are among the most useful aids to the taxonomist" (Mayr et al., 1953) and, as Michael Ohl argues, for many other disciplines as well.
Literary historians have long aligned the emergence of the English novel with the rise of individualism in Europe. As scholars argue, with its focus on the action of a self-making protagonist, the nineteenth-century novel validated liberal theories of the subject as a self-sovereign agent.
Many histories of Chinese medicine assert that the compilation of the classical corpus (circa 100 BCE–200 CE) resulted in the formation of a rational, correlative system of thought and constituted a radical departure from religious practice.
From the late 1820s onward, chemical formulas (such as H2O for water), introduced by Jacob Berzelius in 1813 as a shorthand for representing the composition of inorganic compounds according to the theory of proportions, became enormously productive paper tools for
The suit of plate armour appeared (uniquely) in Europe in the fourteenth century and remained in use for war and sport for three centuries. Armourers were not simply unlettered village craftsmen but systematic practitioners of applied chemistry.
This Working Group paper looked at chemical technology and epistemological debate in the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Vannoccio Biringuccio. During the Renaissance the field of the chemical arts was characterised by
The European fascination with Chinese porcelain began when the first cargo reached Middelburg in 1602. Within four decades, the Dutch had imported over three million pieces. Artisans and artists were the first to explore the epistemological dimension of this exchange.
In China, master craftsmen and imperial architects as well as scholars summarized practical knowledge of building in manuals and presented them to specific audiences.
This project investigated the development and transmission of color-altering technologies in the early modern Atlantic world, working with Berlin’s extensive South American ethnographic collections and important archives from German anthropological expeditions to Latin America. Focusing par
This project dealt with the emergence and development of reaction-time experiments in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This project addresses forms of communication related to espionage under Oliver Cromwell and Charles II. As part of the CRC subproject “Epistemic Dissonances,” my research shows how practices and technologies of acoustic secrecy prompted a recontextualization of theory formation in this period.
This project focused on the visuality of sixteenth-century pottery, particularly istoriato-ware, and examined evidence of the technological development and subsequent consistency through which its demand was achieved and secured.
In this PhD thesis project Christoph Rosol investigated several historical moments and epistemological facets in the genealogy of so-called General Circulation Models (GCM).
My research focuses on the history of oeconomic chemistry and recycling in Western Europe, 1700–1830. The term "oeconomy" loosely referred to the principles of prudent and frugal resource management.
The term "circulation" was widely used in French urban planning from the 1850s onwards to designate the flow of people, goods, information, traffic, communication, water, heat, light, waste, and air.
Paper trials were a European-wide phenomenon in the eighteenth century. Born of the experimental culture that informed the “new sciences,” paper trials were conducted by and for the men of learning that occupied the closely guarded confines of contemporary scientific societies.
In the 1920 to 1930s, Soviet psychologists developed an original research program, which they themselves characterized as "cultural-historical" psychology—an approach that examined individual cognition in its socio-cultural context.
This book-length treatment of the British Industrial Revolution in textile production in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries makes use of basic methods and current theories and approaches in the history of technology in order to argue that invention is not a very useful concept for
Experiments as a scientific method and epistemological activity provided the basis for a variety of scientific disciplines in Germany around 1900; at the same time they were incorporated into the cultural and literary sphere.
Members of Department III collectively develop bonds with other research groups and institutions
European identity is inextricable from Europe’s views about other peoples. During the early modern period, overseas artifacts entered princely and scholarly collections, to be displayed alongside natural and artificial curiosities from classical cameos to blowfish.
When Mary Cholmeley married Henry Fairfax in 1627, nestled amongst the possessions she carried to her new home in Yorkshire was a leather-bound notebook filled with medical recipes.
Natural philosopher Edmond Halley’s 1686 map of the world winds is emblematic of a new scientific predicament that emerged in the mid-seventeenth century: how to coordinate, compile, and integrate the contributions of many different observers, scattered over time and space.
In the newly emerging discipline of psychology in the middle of the nineteenth century, individuals occupied center stage.
This research project seeks to bring scholars into informal dialogue with the members of the Scale and Scope group and the History of Planning project.
According to followers of René Haüy (1743–1822), minerals were classified according to basic crystallized shapes, and for mineralogical geologists the structure of the Earth was understood through the interpretation of these basic elements. Mineralogists and geologists appropriated different for
Robert Boyle’s 1664 Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours is full of experiments and observations that “enquire seriously into the Nature of Colours, and assist in the Investigation of it.” Boyle was not interested in positing a comple
Color was long excluded from the “characters” or “differentiae” used to describe species and thus to distinguish species from each other.
This project concentrated on Baroque color theory and practice in the histories of art and science. It was based upon a cross-border cooperation between the disciplines of art history, the histories of science and philosophy, and museum restoration work.
"For the causes and essences of color are as disputed, and obscure to the intellect, as they are themselves manifest to sight."
(Julius Caesar Scaliger, Exotericarum Exercitationum, 325.)
This project examines the rise of dermatology in the United States against the backdrop of the long civil rights movement. As growing sociopolitical unrest converged with mounting incidences of
Questions surrounding the origin of color, its relationship to light and illumination, and how color affected the eye were vigorously debated within the many Aristotelianisms at the end of the Renaissance.
The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (MPIWG) and the Comenius Garden Berlin have been working together since 2003.
This project took as a starting point the well-known comet of 1556, often called the Charles V comet after Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who abdicated in the same year.
All human knowing is grounded in sense experience. This may sound trivial to us, not least because it appears to be an undisputed principle of our natural sciences today.
Carmine Grimaldi's research focused on the physiology of vision in the early nineteenth century, and in particular the investigation of subjective visual phenomena.
This project tracks the shifting concept of “population” as an element of record-keeping within East Asia, especially in the Korean context, where it went through several transformations that seem to acknowledge the impossibility of rectifying the various schemes that had been enforced in success
This Research Group focused on how technical knowledge was perceived, transmitted, and evaluated to form distinct, yet changing, “cultures of knowledge.” It concentrates on Premodern China in the period from the Song to the mid-Qing Dynasty (tenth to eighteenth century).
In addition to the main research lines focusing on the long-term development and the global dissemination of knowledge, concepts and methods of a historico-developmental theory of knowledge are being designed and explored.
In her dissertation project, Alma Steingart tracked the development of the American mathematical community in the decades following World War II.
By venturing into the epistemic dimensions of conservation, Hanna Hoelling's project was conceived to instigate a novel form of reflection on the field.
This essay looks at the topographic construction of optical schemes informed by perspectival principles in early modern French gardens and parks. The notion of construction does not relate here to drawing lines in a picture plane, but to spatial and physical implementation.
This Working Group project chapter looked at the topographic construction of optical schemes informed by perspectival principles in early modern French ga
Archive materials from the Construction Department of the Imperial Household Department (内务府造办处)
When Darwin was developing his theories of evolution he read avidly in popular natural history magazines and sought out information from an army of almost 2,000 correspondents.
In Constructing Spaceship Earth, Perrin Selcer explores how and why scientists affiliated with UN agencies made the global-scale environment a social and political reality. The post-WWII generation of international experts identified science as both the cause of and solution to world crises.
This project focused on various drawings of nebulae made by English astronomers and artists between 1830 and 1865.
The goal of this Research Program was to develop meaningful interactions between history of science, anthropology, and cognitive neuroscience.
Debolina’s project, “Contagion in the Cultural Imagination of Victorian England
At the turn of the twentieth century, sex, its regulation, and its role in underwriting social order, were politicized as never before.
Within traditional epistemology, skeptical scenarios challenge the idea that knowledge can be gained. These scenarios demand a level of justification—which has to be delivered in order to call something "knowledge"—that is impossible to reach.
For about 400 years, Johannes Sacrobosco’s Tractatus de sphaera was one of the most important texts of the European astronomical culture.
This project deals with the presence, meaning and influence of Latinized Arabic works in the mathematical astronomy of the European Renaissance.
Members of Department 3 develop individual scholarship and research by coming together to cross-pollinate and strengthen our individual projects:
Scientists spend most of their time doing research. But sometimes they stop and reflect on their discipline. In talks, textbooks or general introductions scientists present their own field of expertise to students and the lay public.
History of science, medicine and technology struggles since a long time about how to organize itself in a manner that it can do justice to the manifold forms of organized, systematic knowledge that different human cultures produced in the past as well as today.
The quipu is a controversial, symbolic, and mysterious object of knowledge sustained by the old Andean cultures. Over the centuries, people codified knowledge in knotted colored cords made out of diverse kinds of animal and plant fibers. The quipu was used
At the end of the nineteenth century, Werner Siemens proclaimed the beginning of the scientific age in Germany.
In 1799, a peculiar female society replaced the former male committee of the Madrid Foundling House and took total control of its management. The Junta de Damas de Honor y Mérito (Ladies of Honor and Merit Committee) construed its practices as womanly and enlightened.
Stimulated by a group of optical toys and instruments from Europe, such as eyeglasses, mirrors, camera obscura, magic lanterns, telescopes, and kaleidoscopes, the Jingjing lingchi
This project examined the relationship between craft, curiosity, and the pursuit of natural knowledge in Antwerp during the second half of the seventeenth century.
This project centers on an ethnography of a stonemasonry workshop attached to St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. St Mary's is a nineteenth-century, neo-gothic cathedral, and one of the largest in Scotland.
This project investigated how the characteristic Northern fascination with splendor created not only a fertile ground for crafts that in many ways afford luster and shine through polishing, faceting, forging, and imitating refractive and reflective materials, but that the love for these materials
One of the main metallurgical research interests of the early modern period was to discover how metals and minerals were formed.
Educational opportunities for women in the second half of the nineteenth century expanded their aspirations even as changing professional developments conspired to maintain men in authority.
This was a joint project with John Carson (Michigan), Uljana Feest (Berlin), Ludmila Hyman (Berlin), and Annette Mülberger (Barcelona).
During the colonial period, Westerners deliberately planned the introduction of valuable Asian crops such as rice, tea, or cotton to territories under their own control.
What does it mean for living matter to be “organized”?
Nobel laureate Friedrich August von Hayek was undoubtedly one of the most consequential thinkers in the twentieth century. He influenced leading economists such as Milton Friedman, as well as policy makers such as Margaret Thatcher, and his defence of the free-market continues to draw appeal.
Chinese elite writings provide evidence of concepts of technology—they reflect upon changes and these reflections in turn influence the culture of knowledge. This defines the intellectual setting for technical invention and innovation in premodern China.
Cut and paste is a technique that still exists today. Its outstanding history started in the printing age and reached a highpoint towards the end of the nineteenth century that marked the center of this book project on newspaper clippings in art and science.
In 1645, the dying Tsar Mikhail Romanov was examined by his German doctors, and prescribed, via Latin instructions, Chinese rhubarb, Alexandrine Senna, local Juniper berries, unicorn horn, and American sassafras, a treatment recorded in exacting detail by Russian bureaucrats in Russian.
In 1645, the dying Tsar Mikhail Romanov was examined by his German doctors and prescribed, via Latin instructions, Chinese rhubarb, Alexandrine Senna, local juniper berries, unicorn horn, and American sassafras, a treatment recorded in exacting detail by Russian bureaucrats in Russian.
The aim of this project is to examine the methods and techniques that were developed by Darwin to turn feelings from widely different domains into objects of study, including observational diaries, marginalia, graphic instruments, photography, and questionnaires.
The project investigated the visual world surrounding evolutionary theory in the nineteenth century.
Things—for example specimens, artifacts, trophies, instruments, commodities, religious or literary texts—all travel. They do so by transferring ideas and facts, physically and epistemically.
Biology has been dealing with the problems of "big data" for several decades. Even before the Human Genome Project began, biologists struggled to cope with rapidly accumulating protein and DNA sequence data.
During the late Qing political and educational reforms (end of the ninteenth to the early twentieth century) traditional approaches to the collection, use, and preservation of numerical data in archives were particularly challenged.
Starting in the 1960s, astronomers’ view of the sky shifted from an analog perspective in which data was recorded using photographic plates and analog strip charts to one wholly mediated by digital technologies.
"Data That Travel: Climates Between Africa and Europe" examines the conditions of climatological data collection efforts in colonial Africa and the processes of selection and translation that occurred between the sites of recording and publication.
This project (published 2015 by Yale University Press) tells the story of a vast yet almost entirely forgotten social scientific archive.
To generate a massive archive of data, one must often first convince a large number of scientists that they have more to gain by sharing their data than by retaining proprietary control over it.
Daryn Lehoux's project explored the complex interrelationships between the objects of scientific inquiry, and the norms, processes, and structures of that inquiry itself.
I propose to consider the posthumous handling of the papers of seventeenth-century British naturalists and medical practitioners. When a naturalist died, contemporaries expected that writing would be extracted from their papers (with more or less editing) for publication.
China‘ s long and continuous tradition gives the exceptional opportunity to study long-term developments of knowledge in a context different from that of European science. For this reason, research on Chinese science opens up possibilities for cross-cultural studies in
This is a project on phonology, the study of the sounds of human language, in China in the period 1500–1900. The ultimate aim of this research is to question the idea that the study of language in imperial China equaled philology and classicism, by drawing attention to phonology among the rich co
This book project explored cinema’s early involvement with popular science, a field of texts and media that produced scientific knowledge for a lay audience and that flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The Years of the Cupola represents a digital edition of the surviving administrative documentation in the historic archive of the Opera of Santa Maria del Fiore for the period 1417–36.
The Years of the Cupola represents a digital edition of the surviving administrative documentation in the historic archive of the Opera of Santa Maria del Fiore for the period 1417–36.
For us, digital humanities is not a set of predefined software tools but the process of humanists discovering the possibilities of computers, absorbing the fundamental concepts in computer science, and then incorporating those ideas into their own research methodology in this digital a
Digital technologies have changed historians' methods of reading and writing. Inherent in the structure of Department III is a recognition that digital technologies have the ability to change the scope and approach of research.
Not all the campaigns of Qubilai were fought on the battlefield: in the Yuan relations with Southeast Asia, the game of diplomacy also played an important role.
This PhD project investigates new modes of listening ("attentive listening"), speaking ("plain" and "sincere speech") and remembering ("word memory") as they appear in mid sixteenth-century Geneva in the context of religious Reformation.
Originally, the distinction between the contexts of discovery and justification was introduced to mark the difference between empirical studies of scientific research and the assessment of knowledge claims.
In our current "Information Age" we suffer as never before, it is claimed, from the stresses of an overload of information, and the speed of global networks. The Victorians diagnosed similar problems in the nineteenth century.
Distilling is thousands of years old but was originally confined to just a few areas, where it was probably independently invented. Later the technology spread and local traditions interacted.
Art history textbooks state that the first mathematically exact procedure used to construct perspective was invented by Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence around 1420; that this procedure was known as costruzione legittima and that Leon Battista Alberti, the first to write down a perspectiv
The visual documentation of famine in nineteenth-century India provides a frame for understanding how modalities of classification, institutional practices, and visual technologies organizes forms of knowledge and colonial governance in the treatment of a specific problem: hunger and famine.
An important aspect of structuring practical knowledge is the codification of error. Rather than writing down how to proceed, authors write down what not to do. Writing down how to do something right, is probably as old as mankind’s writing abilities.
The International Geophysical Year (IGY, 1957–58) was the largest scientific international venture in the twentieth century.
Jan Altmann aimed to explore the functions and effects of drawing as a technique and mode of scientific observation. Even seeing is not a passive process but a mediating activity. In a paradoxical simultaneity the eye generates what it perceives.
Cecelia Watson's project explored the influence of the painter John La Farge on William James’s psychology and philosophy.
Delivering a sword blow, riding a horse, or dancing are bodily techniques (Mauss 1935) that were put in words and images in a heterogeneous corpus of non-fictional literature during the late Medieval and early modern periods.
This project analyzed the rise of the scientific study of dreams in the nineteenth and twentieth century.
The history of theorizing about the meaning of dreams is an ancient one, and many of its problematics remain the same as they were for Aristotle in his treatises on Sleeping and Waking or Divination of Dreams, especially the issue of whether dreaming is primarily a biological or a spiritual pheno
This study dealt with scientific, scholarly, and philosophical opinions about dreaming and the uses of dreams. Albert Schirrmeister led his research with an historical anthropological questionnaire. The centers of attention were therefore the actors and their samples of acting and perceiving.
In early modern times, the dream—which was defined as a product of the imagination during the nightly sleep as the soul stayed wide awake although the body rested, cut off from the external senses—aroused a large debate in the Holy Roman Empire that lay open to external influences (particularly t
Celebrated as a traditional Okinawan craft, bingata (vermilion patterns) refers to a technique of printing colorful and intricate patterns on fabric that originated in the Ryūkyū Kingdom (1429–1879), the center of a vibrant web of tributary and trading networks linking China, Japan, Sout
Monstrous births and inborn handicaps were known from the antiquity onwards, but dysmorphology—the study of inborn anomalies—came into being in the twentieth century.
The current era of "big data" and "data-driven science" is a result, not only of technological innovations, but also of a number of deep epistemological, social, cultural, and political transformation.
This project investigated the relation of psycho-physiological research and musicological theory. It considered music as an experimental setup in its own right, tracing the changes in the aesthetics of music brought forth by physiological research.
A persistent theme in European scholarship is how Enlightenment thinkers approached Islam, but no one has yet asked whether and how Muslims engaged with Enlightenment thought. In my dissertation, “Early Enlightenment in Istanbul,” I showed that under the reign of Ahmed III (1703–1730) Ottoman na
This project investigated why and how artist’s materials and techniques became an object of study for chymists, natural historians, physicians, mathematicians, and natural philosophers in the early modern period.
In the figure of the early modern engineer, one meets the epitome of the productive relationship between practical and theoretical mechanics that gave eventually birth to classical mechanics. Engineering drawings of this period provide the probably most promising access to practice
We often assume that early modern historical consciousness concerning natural knowledge may be conveniently summarised by the critical attitudes conventionally associated with the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment---the inheritance of the
We often assume that early modern historical consciousness concerning natural knowledge may be conveniently summarized by the critical attitudes conventionally associated with the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment—the inheritance of the past, with honorable Classical exceptions such as
Early modern English householders were bombarded with health-related information. Contemporary booksellers’ shelves were crammed full of medical textbooks, pharmacopoeias, herbals, surgical handbooks, expositions on new medical theories, regimen guides, and more.
This chapter extends the themes of ‘cultures of optical knowledge’ and ‘perspective practices’ to pre-Renaissance contexts, and conducts a microscopic study of early optics and perspective through a combination of written sources, primarily
This Working Group chapter extended the themes of "cultures of optical knowledge" and "perspective practices" to pre-Renaissance contexts, and conducts a microscopic study of early optics and perspective through a combination of written sources, primarily in Arabic and Persian.
The analogy between artificial selection and natural selection forms a powerful rhetorical component of Darwin's argument in On the Origin of Species. But the analogy, which compares the evolution of wild animals to that of their domesticated relatives, is far from complete.
This research project focused on the development of a new type of scientifically educated functional elites.
The dissertation project deals with the opposition to the theory of relativity in the broader public in the 1920s. It focuses on popular concepts of science and nature on which the critique of relativity is based and investigates on both an epistemological and a social
This project investigates the sonic dimensions of physical laboratories at the juncture of acoustical and electrical research around the turn of the twentieth century.
Craft producers in India stand in the shadow of deep divisions: rich/poor, urban/rural, modern/traditional, Brahmin/Dalit, educated scientist/illiterate laborer, and so on. Many of these oppositions are underpinned by deep social inequality.
The years 1960 to 2000 witnessed the emergence and diffusion of the "new sciences" of chaos and complexity.
This project explored the pivotal yet overlooked career of Sir Hans Sloane (1660—1753), in particular his voyage to Jamaica in 1687, its eighteenth-century aftermaths and, more broadly, the relationship between collecting, natural history, and colonialism.
My research studies the ambiguities and tensions that emerge as sovereign states integrate economically and politically with their neighbors.
Despite the practical knowledge throughout the nineteenth century that citrus fruit prevented and cured scurvy, and that rickets and beriberi were diseases caused by poor diet, it was not until 1906 that animal feeding experiments led investigators to propose the existence of "accessory food fact
One crucial question in tracing the history of normalcy is: How does a term come to be established as a category and used to designate something as abnormal?
In 1750 Michel Adanson, a young French naturalist attached to the Compagnie des Indes at its outpost in Senegal, sent several small swatches of cotton fabric to Paris.
My project examines the history of Japan's overseas development system in Asia from its origins in Japan's colonial rule over much of Asia before 1945 to its rise to become the world's leading aid donor by the end of the Cold War in 1989.
This project situates large-scale engineering projects to "terraform the Earth" in the last 200 years in context, in order to better understand the specificity of such high-scope engineering plans with regard to the history and philosophy of lower-scale land planning technology.
This research project investigated projects of engineering and urban redesign in late sixteenth century Rome—flood control (of the Tiber River), aqueduct construction and repair, the construction of conduits and sewers, the repa
This project concerned a history of perception through the eyes of soldiers, factory workers, and office clerks: the ways in which human perception was shaped, and scientifically modeled, through disciplines such as ergonomics, military psychology, and industrial physiology; and thus, through sit
Elisabeth Wallmann's research explores the complex ways in which the eighteenth-century study of nature and the development of French Enlightenment political economy (in particular physiocracy) intersected, and sought to analyze how the two fields grappled with
This project explores the entangled history of naturalism and cosmopolitanism in Ottoman Istanbul. I investigate the interface between artisanal and scholastic ways of knowing during a transformative period in Ottoman history.
One of the main sources of contemporary issues around the definitions of health and disease is the importance of the “risk approach” to disease and of the notion of “risk factor” in medical thought and practice.
This book project focused on the iconic image of the epigenetic landscape, introduced by CH Waddington in 1952 to illustrate the probabilistic relationship between genotype and phenotype that constituted the contribution of the new field of epigenetics.
In recent years, historians have placed modern science under the sign of a “hegemony of vision” in Western culture—one that, despite extending back to antiquity, only became a radically defining moment with the beginning of the early modern period and the inven
The project was dedicated to establishing a long-term epistemic history of architecture, a new approach which focuses on knowledge as a crucial factor for the development of the building trade, in addition to the material, logistic, financial and personal resources involved.
In an examination of the epistemic effects and functions of writing in the scientific practice, this project focused on two types of materials. The first and major subject was a comparative study of notebooks from the period between 1870 and 1930.
This project asked how genetic researchers reconfigured disease categories during the 1950s, when human genetics was being consolidated as a scientific field.
“We suspect that, to do mathematics, it would suffice that we be angels.
This project dealt with the role of visual representations in the experimentalization of life.
Institutions are means to reproduce the social relations existing within a given society and in particular the societal distribution of labor.
Heather Peterson's project started with an investigation of the ideas Spaniards brought with them across the Atlantic about the generation of man, and the relationship between body and environment.
From the very beginning, reproductive rights and thereby motherhood of African American women have been subject to interference from the outside and a matter of public debate.
Stefanos Geroulanos' project focused on European intellectual and cultural history, a broad study of the trope of a “New Man”—the fantasy of a regeneration of human nature as this developed in European thought and culture from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
Since the 1940s various programs for agricultural development in the "third world" have been funded by Western governments and foundations.
In the tenth century, Constantinople saw an overambitious project that attempted to unify available historical knowledge into a single, comprehensive, multivolume work of history. We call the scarce remains of this project Excerpta Constantiniana.
This was a collaborative project, "Das Geheimnis der Verwandlung," ("The Secret of Transformation") with the Museum Kunstpalast on an exhibition on art and alchemy, which opened in Düsseldorf (as part of the Quadriennale) in April 2014.
The preclassical mechanics of the 16th and early 17th centuries was characterized by an elaboration of the available mechanical theories in view of challenging objects.
The rapid advancement of mechanical knowledge in the early modern period is reflected in an impressive expansion of the literary production, including the emergence of new text genres. A major aim of the activity is to reconstruct the shared knowledge reflected in these texts.
This project examines antiquarian and natural historical practice in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century southern Mexico, analyzing the visualization of the region’
The so called 'hermeneutic circle' -- well-known in the humanities, is applicable to the natural sciences too. With the developments in modern physics at the beginning of the 20th century, especially with quantum mechanics, this proved to be no vicious circle for physicists.
This project focused on the assessment of scientific and technical knowledge gained in late medieval Spain in various fields of knowledge, and its application in practical terms in trades. Rafael Javier Díaz Hidalgo conducted research using methods from experimental archeology.
The objective of the independent Research Group “Experimental History of Science” was to investigate the texture of scientific change.
Medieval alchemy employed a distinctive language, imagery, and metaphorical expression in its writings.
The projects in Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s department (formerly Department III) were completed in 2011. Hans-Jörg Rheinberger has continued his scholarly work as Emeritus Scientific Member at the MPIWG.
The promotion of agriculture, the improvement of natural resources, and the cultivation of the land in early nineteenth century Prussia were closely connected to the garden.
"Experimentalization of life" designates a process that began in Europe around 1800 to reconfigure science, art, and technology.
This project investigated early modern trials and experimentations on "exotic" materia medica. It considered these trials both as epitemological processes designed to produce new natural knowledge and as social processes designated to generate trust.
Robyn Smith's project worked with the claim that the social sciences can use the data of the life sciences to inform and nuance our understanding of "bodies." Smith suggested that a history of the vitamin concept reveals a source of complexity in life and suggest further that such allows a re-for
This manuscript project concerned the material and conceptual conditions for the emergence of vitamins as new scientific objects within experimental systems.
Earth System Science (ESS) underpins our contemporary collective and scientific representation of the Earth.
The Song dynasty (960–1279) saw a gradual transition from external alchemy to internal alchemy. The former concerns the preparation of elixirs in the cauldron through the refining of natural substances to become immortal.
This project is an intellectual and cultural history of extinction and biocultural diversity.
Claude Mydorge (1585–1647) is a remarkable figure closely linked into the intellectual circle around Mersenne and Descartes. Educated by the Jesuits at La Flèche, the school also attended by Mersenne and Descartes, he received a degree in law, but never practiced law.
That the methods of the physical sciences could benefit engineering practice was a proposition widely embraced by the 1920s.
This project examines scientific eating and the science of nutrition in Germany between 1871 and 1923. It probes notions of what it meant for food to be healthy or pure.
The obscure definition of the early modern Italian architect is a subject of longstanding interest.
It has commonly been assumed that there were no colors in fireworks prior to the early nineteenth century.
This research project comprises a comprehensive institutional study about the history of the Aerodynamic Research Establishment (Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt - AVA) in Göttingen and its predecessor organizations (1907–1950). Several case studies will focus on the
This project foregrounded the tool of light in the history of molecular biology by offering an historical analysis of the coupling of fluorescence light microscopy and electronic/digital imaging from 1945–95.
In early Ancient China, natural copper and aerosiderite were made into different kinds of articles by forging techniques, such as copper tomahawks with iron blade (铁刃铜钺) in Gaocheng (藁城) in Hebei, Pinggu (平谷) in Beijing, and Junxian (浚县) in Henan.
Present-day paleontology in its self-description refers to fossils as “documents from the archives of the Earth” (C. Cohen). By means of those natural objects a history is narrated that reaches beyond human experience, and therefore all manmade historical sources.
This project focused on Frederike van Uildriks as the author of an enormous and varied output of books and articles, literary reviews, comments, and fictional stories, many of which were on subjects relating to "nature," in more than 40 papers and periodicals, ranging from general cultural journa
This project aims at the study of the emergence, the development and the critiques of statistical arguments and the concept of probability in physics and their relation with the conceptual and formal tools of classical mechanics. Accordingly, the task is to point out the
This project studied and reconstructed artisanal knowledge appropriated by artists through the close examination of one type of primary source: artists’ recipe books.
This project seeks to trace the emergence of a new archival logic of images: the image bank.
“From Herodotus to Global Circulation” examines the role of data in the methodological development of climatology from the middle of the nineteenth century to the 1920s.
Rivka Feldhay's project was on a book manuscript about the Jesuit cultural field in early modernity. The book consisted of four sections:
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," Lianbin Dai's project aimed to reconstruct Neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi’s (1130–1200) hermeneutic practice in his transition from philology to philosophy with a case study of his commentary on the Anale
The emergence of quantum statistics is considered a minor episode in the history of quantum physics, because it took place on the fringe of the main course of problems. But it has to be remembered that it was pursued by first-rank physicists like Einstein and Ehrenfest and had a
The first focus explores a series of processes in the very early phases of globalization from the transmission of practical knowledge to the emergence of science.
This project developed certain ideas first explored in Dominion of the Eye. It studied the appropriation of the ancient/medieval science of optics in Italian architecture and urbanism.
This project looks at the epistemic culture of craft and statecraft from 1700 to 1844 by following the trajectory of tin as an ore from the mines to its fabrication as everyday tableware as the key ingredient in the alloy of pewter.
Recently, historians of law, economy, literature, and art in China have become increasingly interested in daily life encyclopedia (lit. Complete Books of a Myriad Treasures 萬寶全書), a popular genre that emerged around the end of the sixteenth century.
This project investigated the relationship between geneticists in early twentieth-century Europe, animal fanciers (who bred animals to prescribed standards for exhibition purposes), and gardeners.
This project explored the role of gems in defining and advancing some of the many varieties of “new science” that emerg
Research on the history of women and gender in science, technology, and medicine has expanded considerably in recent years.
Liesbeth Hesselink's project inspected domestic practices of recipe collecting and the transfer of medical knowledge in the colonial setting of the Dutch East Indies around 1900, where race, class, and gender come prominently into play.
Grauvogel’s dissertation argues that the bodies of women—whether as obstetric patients, cadavers, or sufferers of side-effects from birth-control pills—shaped pathological theory as well as understandings of the role of secretions (later identifiable as estrogens) in health and disease.
All knowledge about human heredity is based on genealogy, but only in the nineteenth century did genealogy become the key method for the study of heredity.
In the past two decades, experimentation, a core procedure of modern science, has received new attention in the history and philosophy of science.
Experimentation, a core procedure of modern science, has received new attention in history and philosophy of science in the last two decades.
Models and sketches provide a way of transmitting practical knowledge across distances without personal contact. Their role in Chinese history is unclear.
I am currently working on a book-length study of the role of scientific instrument makers, physicists, and later electrical engineers in shaping musical aesthetics from the late eighteenth to the late twentieth century.
As the scope of the history of science expands beyond Europe and North America, methodological questions concerning the essential characteristics of the discipline have to be addressed.
Dana Jalobeanu's project aimed to investigate the complex and creative ways in which Francis Bacon read and used Della Porta’s Magia naturalis as a sourcebook of problems, questions, and suggestions for developing sophisticated experimental trials.
Globalization is understood as the global or potentially global diffusion of any means of social cohesion, be it economic, political, technical, cultural, or epistemic. Globalization can therefore be traced back to the beginnings of human history.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," Aaron Tugendhaft's project examined the scholarly use and adaptation of a cannonical list of gods from Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Syria.
The decades flanking the turn of the nineteenth century are often considered the most productive years of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s literary and scientific life.
In pre- and early modern times, craftsmen appear to have left no technique unexplored to allow their objects to glow and glitter in resemblance of the work of the goldsmith, or to have them assume the appearance of many more precious or otherwise desirable materials.
Alchemy was a diverse and widespread endeavor in early modern Europe.
Poly Giannakopoulou's project focused on women’s involvement in science in Greece during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at a time when Greek universities at large had not yet developed into research institutions, and rarely accepted women as students.
My project explores the nature of guji (古蹟) as artefact and as category of place-representation in China, by analyzing variations in the contents, allocation, and rationale of guji records in local gazetteers.
Maria Rentetzi’s paper focused on the early twentieth-century American marketplace, where radium emanations were traded as medical remedies for male debilities, at a time when scientific explanations of sexual impotence in men were shifting from physical to psychological etiologies.
This research focuses on practices and texts related to hand mnemonics in fate prediction methods in contemporary China and Taiwan (with a current focus on Taipei). This skill consists in using the palm of the hand to perform various operations by browsing digital phalanges with the thumb.
This project concerns the role of musical instruments and artisanal knowledge in early acoustics. It is through instruments and objects that sound, otherwise difficult to grasp, becomes visible, tangible, and susceptible to investigation.
The modern concept of temperature would not have come to be without the thermometer. This statement can hardly be doubted, and it was not the intention of this project to do so.
Indigenous China used a concept of benming (“personal destiny” 本命) to predict and pray for a person’s life starting from t
In state security and forensic contexts, auditory surveillance through wiretapping and sound recording is as old as the technologies that have enabled it since the 1890s.
My research focuses on the transformations of central planning in Romania as a historically specific form of “modern technopolitics.” Using archival material from the Romanian government, from several schools of industrial management,
The writings of the German apothecary and surgeon Hieronymus Brunschwig (c.
Focusing on discourses about high performances in sports and work in Weimar and Nazi Germany, this project aimed at a comprehensive cultural history of the notion of "performance" (Leistung) in German culture, sports, medicine, and psychology from 1914 to 1945.
In June 2003 a group organized by Professor Gianna Pomata (Università di Bologna, Italy) and Professor Nancy Siraisi (Hunter College, New York, USA) on the topic of “Historia in Early Modern Europe” met at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science to prepare a volume on the subject, to
Science and scholarship in the humanities evolve as parts of a comprehensive system of knowledge. External representations of knowledge such as language, writing, and new media such as the Internet are closely intertwined with this evolution.
This project investigated the concepts that constitute our present understanding of sound, hearing, and music in three different historic constellations.
In the history of Western epistemological thought, there is a long tradition of dividing spatial knowledge into a purely rational part, independent of any experience in the outer world, and an experiential part.
The project is conducted by a TOPOI Junior Research Group jointly organized by the TOPOI Cluster and the MPIWG.
The project aims at a long-term history of basic structures of spatial thinking, ranging from prehistory to the most recent and ongoing scientific revolutions.
The project looked into the social, institutional, scientific and political preconditions of historic research from the very foundation of the Imperial Academy in 1847 to the beginning of the twentieth century.
In the early modern period, “experimental history” (historia experimentalis) was a collective style of experimentation in addition to experimental philosophy.
In Chinese erudite tradition almost every object or technique was attributed to an inventor or originator. From the twelfth century onward, scholars became seriously engaged in these narrative attributions.
Although it provides the only indicators of the prevalence of mental disorders in the population, the history of psychiatric epidemiology is not well known. Moreover, epidemiology had a huge impact on global mental health policies after the foundation of the WHO (1948).
This project historicizes the shifts and moves undergone by “reproduction" as it moved from a concept that described a pregiven capacity fixed in “life”
Histories of Planning focusses on knowledge production in action, thus emphasizing the entanglement and dynamics of knowledge forms in their historical "making." As things have to work out and ends have to be met, humans identify physical realities and discuss how to handle them.
This project followed and went beyond a first anthropological and ontological dissertation interest, shifting in thematical space from technical organisms to living ones, through an historic and ethnologic study of neonatology, i.e., care for premature babies, with a specific interest in the incu
This group of studies deals with the consolidation, extension, and reception of quantum mechanics from the 1930s onwards, as well as with the debates about its interpretation.
The old quantum theory was a period of transition between classical and quantum mechanics. Successive crises led to a gradual disintegration of the mechanical worldview.
This group of studies is concerned with the genesis of modern quantum mechanics, which was established in the mid-1920s as a foundational theory of modern physics involving substantial conceptual modifications compared to classical physics.
The term “traceability” appeared in the agribusiness sector in the midst of the 1990s.
The skin is the most extensive organ of the human body and forms at the same time its exterior. When representing a human body, the artist is thus inevitably confronted with the task of depicting skin.
This project examines how the advent of quantum mechanics shaped theoretical research in solid-state/condensed matter physics. From an electron theory essentially confined to the empirical, the new quantum mechanical framework allowed physicists to make quantitative predictions about actual mate
Myriam Klapi explored how reflections on the deaf affected thinking on man’s relationship to language and the hypothesis of a natural language.
My book on women scientists (published in 2007) draws a multitude of national and international comparisons between disciplines, institutions and persons, including comparisons of the conditions for male and female scientists.
The approach applied in this project went beyond social history, seeking to bring together political and epistemological points of view by investigating the use of rhetoric, medical fashions, and technologies.
This project aimed to understand how surgery has transformed from a last resort measure into a routinely used body technology, arguably the most important but one of the least questioned technologies of body manipulation today.
The project was established with the aim of studying the borderline problems at the interface of quantum theory and (general) relativity, which began to capture the attention of physicists after those two theories had emerged from similar conceptual clashes within c
Since 2007, the Institute has cooperated with local secondary schools on the introduction of the history of science in school project work. Various forms of disseminating insights from the history of science have been adopted, often combining scholarly communication with public outreach.
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century objectivity established itself as a (if not the) cardinal epistemic virtue in the sciences.
How are the objects of science constituted? The objects of a science may be as apparently straightforward as plants in botany, or as complex as the experimental systems of the modern biosciences.
In 2004/2005 the main activity on the theme of Ship Design and Construction was concentrated on the genesis and application of scientific knowledge in ship hydromechanics in the 18th c. in the context of the International Congress on the "Technology of the Ships
Annette Vogt's recent research project investigates the history of statistics at the Berlin University and at the Berlin School of Economics (Handels-Hochschule) from 1886 (1906 resp.) until 1945.
This project analyzed the science, production, and marketing of a series of hormone preparations for sterility, notably the first original hormone drug invented in Sweden—Gonadex, Leo—which was launched in 1948 as a true “miracle drug.” One of the aims is to demonstrate how complicated an innovat
By the fifteenth century, prescribed Academic celibacy was eroding in northwestern Europe. Scholars moved out of the communal institutions, monasteries, and colleges, which had hitherto shaped their daily lives and began founding family households.
My project focuses on the paper technologies, the labor, and the practices involved in producing printed results of census taking before the arrival of punch cards and Hollerith machines in 1889.
Building on Gianna Pomata’s and Nancy G.
How Our Days Became Numbered begins with the struggles that life insurers in the second half of the nineteenth century faced as they made Americans statistical.
In the second half of the twentieth century, in the works of philosophers, mathematicians, engineers, and social scientists, the faculty of reason was radically reconceived.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," Paolo Visigalli investigated the relation between the ritual use made of the Vedas and their codification as canon.
Emmanuel Didier's project at the MPIWG was to turn his PhD dissertation (2001), into a book under contract with INED Press in France. The provisional title of the book was Comment les sondages ont exprimé l’Amérique.
The PhD project analyzed media and techniques of knowledge transfer in medical bacteriology.
Written by the German physician, courtier, and alchemist Michael Maier, Atalanta fugiens (1617/8) offers its readers an alchemical interpretation of the Classical myth of Atalanta as a series of fifty emblems, each containing a motto, a copper plate engraving by the renowned Matthäus Merian, an e
Against the background of recent discussions of the artist as reader, artisanal literacy, and the role of reading, drawing, and writing in Renaissance workshops, this Working Group chapter project explored artists’ readings of optics, and their methods of annotation, note-taking, and excerpting b
My project is to substantiate concepts such as “sustainability” and “resilience” in China’s historical context. My focus is to test the “adaptive cycle” model proposed by ecologist C. S. Holling in 1973, by analyzing two sets of data.
The Humboldt Project aims at an open digital library dealing with a core aspect of the history of science: the role that scientific expeditions played in the discovery of the world. It is concerned with the central documents resulting from European expeditions in the
Tamás Demeter's project was interpretive: a book-length attempt at understanding Hume’s metaphysics and epistemology in the context of the Scientific Revolution, and against the background of his anthropology.
There are powerful epistemological, social, and political reasons for concealing (or revealing) certain people, practices, and professions in the course of scientific research.
There are powerful epistemological, social and political reasons for concealing (or revealing) certain people, practices, and professions in the course of scientific research.
In a special issue of Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences published in 2010, Tiago Saraiva and Norton Wise pointed out the need of addressing the complex coevolution between fascism and science, and asked for definitively challenging “the alleged special connection between science
Department II studies the history of scientific reason. Its topics are categories, concepts, and practices that are fundamental to modern science and culture—so fundamental that they seem to transcend history.
The aim of this dissertation project was to explore the negotiation and implementation of identification practices at the end of the nineteenth century.
Due to their trade value, a huge range of artistic materials were documented and recorded in historical written sources. However, other substances had no market value and therefore cannot be found in these archives.
In the last 40 years the field of computer science has undergone a dramatic transformation, from an abstract mathematical discipline built on machines used for procedural calculation, to a complex ecosystem of objects fueled in large part by the simulation of material interactions.
My research interests, broadly construed, lie in the historically shifting relations between the fields of religion, science, and politics in modern Egypt.
This project was concerned with a very particular kind of medical imagery: dermatological wax moulages, casts taken from the body of people infected with diseases of the skin to document their condition.
Lydia Barnett's first book project, Imagined Disasters: Thinking Globally in the Early Enlightenment, argues that the imagination of global natural disasters opened up a new way of thinking globally in the early Enlightenment.
This project argued that the creative imagination played a crucial role in the development of science during the scientific revolution. Modern natural knowledge emerged from the interaction of painters, printmakers, cartographers, and natural historians.
Insects, whether as materials or metaphors, were significant rather than incidental to the makings of British imperial politics and culture.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," the purpose of András Németh's research was to reconsider the improved textual practices of the mid-tenth-century Byzantine imperial court and to analyze how these activities were linked with the imperial renewal of
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, America’s Indigenous people provided, under different circumstances, information (or not) to Europeans and Americans about resources and commodities of the New World. Euro-Americans were particularly interested in medicinal plants.
Indo-Pacific beads are important trade commodities exchanged along the Maritime Silk Route. Previous studies have focused mainly on the Indo-Pacific beads found in South and Southeast Asia, whereas little is known about the Indo-Pacific beads found in China.
Learning a trade charts a path to adulthood, a form of planning for a key element in a young person's eventual maturity, thus an act of imagination about the future world the grown child will inhabit.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," following on his work concerning the rise of grammar from canonical texts in different linguistic areas, Filippomaria Pontani investigated the role played by Homer, the Bible, and the Qur'an in the shaping of the re
“Farmers are also scientists” is a refrain at agricultural research institutions. Yet the innovative and predictive aspects of research carried out by agricultural scientists both draw upon and differ from prediction and innovation practiced in the context of farmers’ livelihoods.
The aim of this project was to clarify the approaches employed by Indian mathematician-astronomers to develop innovations in their traditional models and practices. The default historiographic assumption, heavily influenced by modern scientific practices, is that mathematical a
The artistic scene in sixteenth-century Milan was incredibly dynamic and active, and a key figure of the period was the Milanese painter Giovanni (Gian) Paolo Lomazzo.
This research endeavor brings into focus the mechanisms of institutionalization, dissemination and transformation of knowledge, especially of scientific practices (e.g., experimental approaches, standards of observation, argumentative methods) and of natural theories (e.g., Copernican astronomy,
My project investigates the interaction and divergence of ceramic technology, design, and planning in the manufacture of porcelain in Jingdezhen and Meissen in the seventeenth century.
Planning processes in medieval and early modern European technology have not yet been comprehensively studied.
In this project, Brigit Ramsingh focused on the Codex Alimentarius (or "Food Code"), a joint initiative of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO). Emerging in the early 1960s, the Food Code established maximum tolerances for pesticide resi
This project focused on three crucial dates in 1949: August 29, September 3, and September 23. On August 29, the Soviet Union detonated their test bomb—and then did nothing. The Americans had no idea that anything had happened.
During the 1940s, members of the Psychological Laboratory in the University of Cambridge worked closely with the Royal Air Force on problems connected with pilot error and pilot fatigue. This work gave rise to the celebrated Cambridge Cockpit experiments.
Members of Department III share their ideas and research with widely varied audiences, both specialists and non-specialists:
In earlier work Harro Maas looked in detail at the quite drastic change in methods in political economy in Victorian Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Mechanical knowledge significantly predates any systematic theoretical treatment of mechanics. The most basic knowledge presupposed by mechanics is based on experiences acquired almost universally in any culture by human activities. It includes the
This project used the series of polio epidemics in communist Hungary to understand the response to a global public health emergency in the midst of an international political crisis.
Member Institutions of the ISMI Board: Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, Aga Khan University, London, UK; Archimedes Project, Harvard University, USA; Filologia Semítica, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation, Tehran, Iran; Institute for the History of
In the Renaissance, as in earlier periods, scholars often mastered new fields by working through a body of sources, making excerpts from them and filing them under topical headings in commonplace books.
First President of Britain’s Royal Academy of Arts and eminent theorist of Augustan aesthetics, Joshua Reynolds was an inveterate chemical experimenter.
Considered since Hippocrates to be a direct extension of the surgeon’s hands and fingers, surgical instruments like knives and saws represent a body of objects whose long history is deeply intertwined and directly engaged with scientific medical knowledge.
This project explores the emergence of allergy as a medical diagnosis, and the transformations of knowledge associated with that process, as a case study of the border between experts and the people they are concerned with.
The primary aim of this project was to reconfigure the terms in which problems of knowledge and belief are discussed within the history of science.
The development of early modern practical and theoretical mechanics was also shaped by religious constraints.
Since World War II, a complex system of international technical cooperation and development aid has evolved that prominently structures knowledge about the North–South divide. Countless international organizations owe their very existence to this field of expertise.
The second focus deals with the dissemination of knowledge in the sequel of that of power and belief structures on the Eurasian continent.
In the year 1973 a carpenter pulled out a portfolio of porcelain sketches from behind one of the detached fittings that he had been asked to repair in the Western Palace in the Forbidden City Palace complex.
A central research topic of Department I is the role of long-term developments and dissemination of the knowledge used by humankind to exploit natural resources and to create new, artificial environments.
The stylus is one of the simplest and most economical instruments of scientific practice. Apparently unsophisticated though ubiquitous, it plays a constitutive role in the production of knowledge.
For well over a decade, the notion of circulation has occupied a key position in the history of science. This emphasis has roots in a variety of distinctive analytical projects, ranging from the early actor-network theory of
For well over a decade, the notion of circulation has occupied a key position in the history of science. This emphasis has roots in a variety of distinctive analytical projects, ranging from the early actor-network theory of Bruno Latour to work on encounters and material exchange by Nicholas Th
This research project concerned the literary remains of Dutchman Ernst Brinck (1582–1649) and focused on preserving and activating the exceptional annotations, inscriptions, lists, and commentaries contained in his surviving Adversaria (nearly 50 notebooks, never previously published or studied i
This project, which is based on a course that Ahmed Ragab and I co-teach in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard, will yield a co-authored book for the use of students and nonspecialist scholars.
This project's approach proceeded from the assumption that the dynamics of innovative processes are crucially affected by the distinct culture of communicating, accumulating, and implementing practical knowledge.
This project considered the American West region as a useful scale for analyzing the environmental context and work organization of science, a middle level between local and global.
This research project investigated the role art manuals, including model- and drawing-books such as Vogtherr’s Kunstbüchlein and Beham’s Kunst und Ler büchlein, played in the formation and circulation of artistic knowledge in early modern Europe, with an emphasis on German material.
This dissertation project aimed at the historical encounter of experimental physiology and alpinism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and is centered around two main theses, both concerning the mutual interactions between the life science and the landscape.
This research project focused on a number of case studies designed to map the development of experimental genetics in Germany from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.
My current research focuses on a number of case studies designed to map the development of experimental genetics in Germany from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.
The notorious European preoccupation with the origins of language and linguistic diversity has commonly been ascribed to the rejection of the Genesis master narrative.
Legal texts provide extremely interesting crystallizations of the conception of the deaf, and of the difficulty of framing their citizenship while language is considered a major form of access to citizenship rights.
Funded by fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this book project investigates Lieder performance between the World Wars.
This project takes the workplace (broadly conceived) as its point of entry into the history of acoustics and listening.
What does it mean to hear underwater and how has it changed in the last 100 years? This question is best answered by paying close attention to technologies for submarine detection.
“Listening to Nature: Standardized Soundscapes and Imagined Ecologies, 1900–2000” is a comparative study of how field scientists listen to the environment. As such, it is at the intersection of environmental history, history of science, sound studies, and sensory history.
The keyboard arrangement – an adaptation of a large musical work for performance at the home piano – was central to both the performing and listening habits of the nineteenth-century amateur musician. Not only did it respond to the desperate need for a cheap technology of
Local gazetteers (difangzhi 地方志) have been major primary sources for the study of China’s local history. About 8,000 titles of local gazetteers dating from the tenth to the nineteenth century are still extant, covering almost all well-populated regions of historical China.
The history of scientific knowledge is characterized by recurrent phases of fundamental conceptual reorganization involving genetically related but mutually incompatible conceptual systems.
Mechanical knowledge is characterized by the continuity of its tradition from antiquity until the time between the end of the seventeenth and the eighteenth century when preclassical mechanics prepared the background against which modern physics emerged and fundamental categories, concepts, and v
The advent of punch cards and the electric tabulating machine invented in 1889 is typically described as a key milestone in the development of modern data processing, bringing about a fundamental und inexorable transformation of information technology.
This project explored a group of Italian psychologists, philosophers, and writers who in the first years of the twentieth century crafted a form of pragmatism known as “psychological” or “magic” pragmatism.
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," in his project Robert Kaster considered the approaches that two readers of the twelfth century took to the Lives of the Caesars (De vita Caesarum) by the Roman author Su
Keeping the emperor healthy was an issue of national concern. To meet this end, the court took several measures.
Imperial palaces are complex structures with many functions that require planning on many levels: from ensuring financial soundness to the petty business of sweeping floors, from producing extraordinary objects to the performance of state rituals.
This project explores the natural knowledge-making strategies of British colonial savants in early modern India including the noted orientalist, Sir William Jones (1746–1794), and the English East India Company medics Francis Buchanan (1762–1829) and William Roxburgh (1751–1815).
This project investigates the historical significance of anatomical modeling and bodily display. In particular, it considers the emergence, in the mid-eighteenth
This project investigated the historical significance of anatomical modeling and bodily display.
Followed the Ming dynasty, the Qing emperors established three Royal Textile factories in Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing.
Postulating that the socio-materiality of an object affects both the perception of environment and knowledge production, my research seeks to grasp the fine mechanisms by which a change in perception about human surroundings occurred in modern Europe in the course of the eighteenth century.
My project focuses on the Manchu language, particularly its script's influence on language studies in Qing China, covering the period 1607–1911.
What were drugs? Were they gateways to divine realms, protectors from demonic plagues, commodities for trade, markers of
Writing between the years of 492 and 498, the medieval Daoist patriarch and court alchemist Tao Hongjing 陶弘景 (456–536) described the multitiered drug market of his day as a complex drug supply chain between those who prescribe, those who procure, and those who sell them on the market: “The vario
Reading is probably one of the oldest known cultural-technical achievements, and the practices of reading have been intertwined with theoretical considerations from the beginning.
In the early modern period the principal arena for intellectual dispute for Brahminical thinkers writing in Sanskrit was the proper interpretation of the canonical literature of the Vedānta.
The purpose of this Working Group project was to verify an alternative approach to the construction of the perspective composition of the Trinity fresco, forgetting for a moment the long tradition that attributes to Masaccio the correct use of the so-called costruzione legittima.
Built in 1574 by court engineer and architect Bernardo Buontalenti for Francesco I de Medici, the Casino San Marco represents a unique example of a late Renaissance site of alchemical research, art collecting and policy court.
In the past two decades, historical studies of the relations between the experimental and observational sciences and the arts and crafts in the early modern period have placed instruments at the forefront of historical inquiry.
In her dissertation Anja Sattelmacher examined the rapprochement between so-called “mathematical intuition” (Anschauung) and practical application of mathematics in 1830–1914, which was promoted by the Mathematics Professor Felix Klein and his colleagues throughout German universities, schools, a
The institutionalization of child psychology around 1900 was accompanied by techniques of observation and experiment that separated scientific attention from the education and everyday care of children.
This project addressed sociocultural issues, knowledge mobility across space, and the social context of artisans. In this context, socialcultural issues refer to esoteric tradition, popular religion, and ritualization of technologies.
This project examined the role of medical doctors in the production and circulation of demographic knowledge and ideas about human variation in three contiguous Central African colonies: the Belgian Congo, Portuguese Angola, and French Equatorial Africa.
John Carson's research project investigated how the Anglo-American legal and medical communities constituted and contested the concept of “unsoundness of mind” (non compos mentis) during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
This project proposes to research medical knowledge as it was embedded and incorporated in the body of Islamic literature that circulated in China between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.
The battle around the definition of deafness was a conflict between the human sciences not only about who knew and understood mankind the best, but also about who should be in charge of transforming mankind so as to bring it to its optimum condition.
My research interest is in the ways that Tibetan scholars at the imperial Qing courts (1642–1911) translated and transmitted European science (astronomical, geographical, and medical works) into Tibetan, and the impact of this transmission on Tibetan intellectual traditions.
This project concerned a material history of the excitable cell in the twentieth century.
I propose to consider the posthumous handling of the papers of seventeenth-century British naturalists and medical practitioners.
Lily Xiaolei Huang's dissertation project is about a particular moment of metaphysical freedom in France, during the first fifteen years of the twentieth century, when Henri Bergson lectured at the Collège de France.
The French Enlightenment represents a unique episode in the history of post-classical philosophy: a moment poised between the decline of the medieval university and the rise of philosophy as an academic profession, when philosophical knowledge was produced largely outside of specialized and learn
The history of science has developed into a unified study of artefacts, practices, action, and knowledge that brings together a
This project explored the production and negotiation of difference in Soviet/Russian human biology and ecology from 1970 to present.
This dissertation offers a new interpretation of the Monograph in Twenty Verses, an important essay in the history of philosophy in South Asia by the influential Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu (fl. fifth century CE).
Amateur and professional naturalists were enthralled by bird migration in the years following the Second World War. In Britain two "bird observatories" had been created in the mid–1930s, but in the postwar craze 15 more were opened in as many years.
For individual projects see the list on the right-hand side.
Materials, such as wax, used to visualize anatomical knowledge three-dimensionally and to make knowledge claims in anatomy and physiology palpable gained importance with the increasing "experimentalisation of nature" in the seventeenth-century.
The Greek word philanthrōpos, explained Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1693, means affection regulated by divine wisdom.
This Research Group explored modern geometry and the concept of space. Although a divide between ancient and modern geometry can be framed in different ways, the most useful one may well be the emergence of the consideration of space itself as an object of geometrical investigation.
Technological issues and practical know-how are recurring themes in the premodern Chinese written tradition, addressed in various literary genres for varying purposes.
In a bestselling book on his hunting expeditions in East Africa, first published in 1903, Carl Georg Schillings lamented the decline and extinction of wild animals. In Schillings’ view, something had to be done immediately.
Labanotation was a system developed by the German choreographer and amateur physiologist Rudolf Laban to preserve dance on paper.
Moving Crops is a collaborative research project in the Scale and Scope Working Group. This project aims to bring together scholars working at the intersection of history of science, history of commodities, and history of food to experiment with space and time scales in historical writing.
In a previous publication I hypothesized that a growing number of "trading zones" developed in fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe—that is, arenas in which on-going and substantive communication occurred between individuals with practical, artisanal backgrounds and
The "multimedia journal" is a five-year project initiated by Dagmar Schäfer. The project examines ways of creating scientific articles, editorially and technically, through multimedia.
This project aims at understanding mathematical and musical factors that led to a substantial change in the conception of western music in the Renaissance.
Mutagens are simultaneously both required and avoided substances. They are “substances of transformation,” but also “genetic poisons.” Their transformative qualities destined mutagens to become unavoidable instruments within genetics and molecular biology.
This project centered on the shifting meaning of mutation in the early twentieth century, a remarkable shift from the phenotypic to the genotypic level that has gone relatively unanalyzed to date.
The anatomist and physiologist Johannes Müller (1801–58) trained a generation of scientists who left contradictory descriptions of their teacher.
According to a famous formula going back to Immanuel Kant, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw the transition from natural history to the history of nature.
In the early 1950s, geneticists and physical anthropologists recognized their professional dilemma. On the one hand, they still found it important to study human biological variation empirically, and even more so in the light of the new evolutionary synthesis.
ThThis research project aims to analyze regional differences in the impact on the ecological environment of the introduction and spread of maize during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, based on local gazetteers.
In 1616, Prince Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria (r. 1573–1651) commissioned four hunt paintings from Peter Paul Rubens, then one of the most sought after artists in Europe.
Background knowledge and its role in scientific research are rather new topics on which very little has been written.
This project examines the seldom-studied intersection of the environment, technology, society, and war in the Sino-Korean borderland from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century.
Jaya Remond's research project studies the production of botanical illustrations depicting "exotic" plants in early modern Northern Europe (1550–1750), with a focus on France, the Low Countries, and their relationship to the Caribbean.
Glass in the early modern period was a boundary object, made and used by hybrid experts: it was used widely for utensils and optic aids, in architecture, furniture, scientific instruments, anatomy, and for decorative art works ranging from stained glass windows to coloured mezzotints, fake gems a
Since the proclamation of the "Decade of the Brain" in the 1990s, the neurosciences worked a triumphant success without precedent.
In recent decades, brain research has led to a neurobiologization of our self-image.
A goal of early modern artists was mimesis. Artists sought to render in the tradition of Apelles works that could appear so real that they fooled the viewer.
The preface of Nietzsche’s Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert (1889) reveals that the eponymous hammer is not a weapon, but a “tuning fork” used to “sound out” idols. Although many have tried to explain this title, its meaning remains uncertain.
In my dissertation, I follow the efforts of European and American chemists to trace identity, similarity, and difference across the tens of thousands of synthetic compounds that were transforming chemistry and industries from fashion to
In her influential essay "Throwing Like a Girl," the feminist philosopher Iris Marion Young argued that boys and girls are often taught to inhabit space through different kinds of bodily movement.
This online research archive is dedicated to the rock art of the Nile valley. Initially, it presents high resolution digital photographs, as well as video files, drawings and written information on the petroglyphs of the Fourth Nile Cataract region in northern
This research project focused on the various relations between natural philosophy, i.e., astronomical and astrological knowledge, and artistic production in the field of clockworks, especially table clocks, in the premodern age.
The textworkers in the Greco-Roman tradition, who guarded, preserved, transmitted, and explained their canonical texts needed a reason (or at least a justification) to interfere in the texts that they considered foundational, important, and in principle models
This project studied the influences and importance of artists' observational techniques on other sciences in one of the major research institutes in the Soviet Union: VNIITE—All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Industrial Design (Vsesoiuznyi nauchno-issledovatel’skii institut tekhnicheskoi
Unless exceptional events cause effects directly visible to the naked eye, air, and water pollution remain mostly imperceptible.
Since the establishment of the modern symphony concert around 1800, the musical experience has been mediated through journalistic observation.
Located five miles north of the City of London, straddling the North London Boroughs of Camden and Barnet, Hampstead Heath’s 800 acres are set across a sandy ridge, with the lower parts of the Heath turning to London clay.
Anatomists, social policymakers, and artists produced in early twentieth-century Vienna a variety of images of the human body, which had different functions, uses, and meanings in the changing scientific, political, and cultural contexts of European modernity. Birgit Nemec examined medico-anatomi
Rafael Ziegler primarily worked on two case studies. The first one, on the Traum vom Umweltraum, studied the “eco-space” approach that has been proposed by economists and civil society actors since the late 1980s as a way to “operationalize” sustainable development.
This project examined intersecting histories of big data and postcolonial biomedicine, with an emphasis on the relationship between situated bodies and seemingly mobile information.
In 1539, the Catholic Swedish priest Olaus Magnus published a large map of Scandinavia, the Baltic region, and the North Sea.
According to Sasha Shulgin, Mescaline has become the “meter” for psychedelic substances, as it was the first of its kind to be approached scientifically. But how did a Mexican cactus turn into a chemically pure substance after all?
This project aimed at uncovering the scientific and cultural layers in the twentieth century history of cloning.
The histories of nonhuman animals and how they shaped human history are pressing and important issues that lie at the forefront of historical scholarship today.
Databases, digitized historical sources, computer-based tools for their analysis, as well the network of links integrating them with scholarly interpretations play an important role in a history of science that increasingly becomes part of the digital humanitie
In 2002 the initiative “ECHO – Cultural Heritage Online” was established to create a research driven infrastructure for the humanities.
In 2002 the initiative “ECHO – Cultural Heritage Online” was established to create a research driven infrastructure for the humanities.
After the German physicist Max Planck first raised the concept of quantum in 1900, the study of quantum physics was advanced through the efforts of many physicists, and a relatively complete set of theories of quantum mechanics had been developed by the 1930s.
In the late nineteenth century, geological research practices were subject to a definite change.
In 1925, Dorothea Bleek and Mary Agard Pocock mounted a seven-month expedition, which took them from Cape Town, north by rail to the Victoria Falls, then by foot and palanquin—a mode of transport popular among colonial officials—through Zambia, western Zimbabwe, and central Angola to the coastal
What is the nature of anechoic experience? What kind of sonic materialities and spatial ontologies are fostered in echoless surroundings, and which sonic models propagate through anechoic practices?
It has been argued persuasively that we should see the art of the miniaturist as being closely related to the art of the goldsmith—with the painted "jewel" of the miniature developing from the translucent enamels on an engraved ground used by earlier and contemporary goldsmiths.
In recent years, the household has emerged as a central place for knowledge codification practices in the early modern period. Investigations into medical and health-related knowledge and practices have proved to be particularly illuminating.
John Maynard Keynes once mentioned the tedious duties of a friend, who served as a colonial official in Uganda: Apparently his preoccupation was to decide on the “standard goat.” This animal served as a key unit in many disputes over possession.
One of Dr. Clelia Duel Mosher’s professional life goals was to fix the American slouch, making all the “uneven shoulders and hips, the drooping heads, the winged scapulae, and the flat chests” symmetrical and upright.
Since the early modern period, artists and anatomists have worked towards the perfection of models of the body in three dimensions. Models in wax, in particular, were celebrated in the eighteenth century for their lifelike appearance.
Ryan Dahn's research focused on German physicist Pascual Jordan’s (1902–1980) role as a scientist, public intellectual, and political actor in three radically different Germanies: the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the postwar Federal Republic.
What do scientific taxonomies have in common with patent classifications? Both are examples and practices of ordering and structuring information into manageable and more or less visible entities; entities that are made to relate to other entities within determinate variables and pathways.
By exploring the early history of quantitative palynology, especially the cultural processes and material practices through which pollen became data and peat bogs turned into biological archives, the aim of this project is to show ho
It is a continuous task for the empirical sciences to distinguish reliable from unreliable observation. A concept that plays an important role here is that of an illusion of perception. For philosophers, such illusions have often been a reason to mistrust the senses.
In 1730 a small booklet entitled Regléments de la Societé des Arts announced to the learned world the constitution of the Societé des Arts, a Parisian assembly of artisans and savants that would soon grow to over a hundred members.
Historians of science have repeatedly argued that the concrete process of working in a laboratory or workshop can usually only be recovered with difficulty and incompletely from historical texts and illustrations. Illustrations in scientific publications and entries in
Dürer’s Underweysung der Messung (1525, 1538) is most famous for having introduced the rules of linear perspective north of the Alps, and his engraving The Painter with a Lute at the end of the book stands as an emblem for a Renaissance culture of perspective.
In collaboration with the Biblioteca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute for Art History) in Rome this research project developed a digital platform [Perspectiva+] for the history of optics and its various appropriations in the decorative and visual arts from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century.
The field of studies on perspective has experienced a dramatic revival in the last decades, receiving contributions from disciplines as diverse as history of art, history of science, philosophy, and cultural studies.
Theater did not only become a site of specific perspective knowledge and practices during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but was deeply shaped by them in its evolution into a secular and professionalized form of leisure event.
Hernán Ruiz II, master mason of Seville cathedral and a key figure in the introduction of the Renaissance in Spain, left to posterity an architectural manuscript known as Libro de Arquitectura.
The project focuses on a phenomenon that has persistently eluded historical description: the history of music listening, a subject only recently (re)introduced into the canon of the humanities.
During his visit, Gary Hatfield pursued three topics. First, the crisis in psychology, in connection with the MPIWG workshop in October, 2008. The Gestalt psychologist Koffka used crisis talk during the 1920s and was joined by Koehler in the 1930s.
During her time at the MPIWG Charlotte Bigg worked on a book, Photography and Astronomy, to appear in Reaktion Books’ Exposure series on the history of photography.
This project seeks to explore the dynamic environmental changes and geographical expansion of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during the 1970s and early 1980s. At the height of centralized state power in Tanzania, the nation's development model (Ujamaa) was decidedly rural and agrarian.
Over the last decade, historians of science have shifted their attention to look beyond official texts. Aspiring to understand what scientists did and not merely what they have written, they have drawn attention to the silent witnesses of the past: instruments, laboratory
This project sought to deliver new perspectives on the material, conceptual, and disciplinary foundations of physics in the period from 1870 to the 1920s.
This project examined the many pictures of solids added to the margins of Macrobius's fifth-century Commentary on Cicero's Dream of Scipio in light of contemporary geometric practice around the turn of the first millennium.
Education changed in the central middle ages. While the arts of grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic continued to be taught as the foundation of all learning, the quadrivium, the four disciplines of number—arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy—received new emphasis.
This project investigated the visualization of the hidden zones beneath the Earth’s surface and the interior of the Earth, in science and art.
Stefan Albl's project focused on preparing a book on one of Pietro Testa’s last paintings before committing suicide.
This project consists of two parts.
The Canadian oil industry operates predominantly on First Nations treaty lands using in situ methods of bitumen extraction to feed an insatiable global appetite for oil, resulting in environmental contamination on an immense scale.
In Qing China the lotus plant, symbol of both beauty and diligence, was grown on bodies of water in plain sight of the emperor near and around the Imperial palace.
In Qing China, the lotus plant was grown on an agricultural scale on bodies of water in plain sight of the emperor near and around the Imperial palace.
Honghong Tinn’s research project, entitled “Planning the Mathematization of an Economy: Leontief’s Inter-industry Input-Output Analysis and its Global Circulation,” examines the history of the inter-industry input-output analysis as a theory, practice, and tech
Starting in the late Middle Ages rumors spread throughout Europe about blood miracles which concerned first the alleged relics of Christ, then those of the martyrs, and, finally, those of many other saints.
Starting in the late Middle Ages, rumors spread throughout Europe about blood miracles. These concerned first the alleged relics of Christ, then those of the martyrs, and finally those of many other saints.
The writings of Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) dramatize the challenges of the archive: the rites of burial and exhumation, the perils of encryption and decoding, the difficulty of isolating the meaningful detail from a morass of traces, the gap between human finitude and God's perfect knowledge.
This project, which I am developing into a monograph tentatively titled The Poison Trials: Antidotes and Experiment in Late Renaissance Europe, examines the role played by poison antidotes in sixteenth-century ideas about evaluating and testing drugs.
India’s first Five Year Plan went public on December 7, 1952, by which time, as one mid-century economic commentator noted, “the plan which it purported to describe had been in operation for some twenty months.” Although social constraints on economic growth were acknowledged in all planning docu
As recent historiography has shown, the early modern craftsmen and artisans were more inventive and less reluctant to change as was traditionally assumed.
This project focused on a historical period in which modern science took shape, a period of critical importance for exploring the fruitful interactions between science and other forms of knowledge.
Paper in pre-modern Korea was known for its unique qualities: a white glossy surface and cloth-like strength. It was very much desired by Korea’s threatening neighbour, China, which demanded large quantities as tributary gifts.
The aim of Francesco Paolo de Ceglia's research is to shed light on the way in which eighteenth-century science examined a particular category of miracles which were very common in the Kingdom of Naples in the modern a
This study examined the various and sundry practices that went into making natural historical knowledge in francophone eighteenth-century Europe.
Gianna Pomata's work focused on the practices of observation of early modern European physicians. Pomata examined in particular the development of the genre of medical observationes (collections of case histories), a new form of writing that emerged in the late Renaissance.
In 1891 C.S. Peirce wrote in an article with the title “The Architecture of Theories," "Now Philosophy Requires Thoroughgoing Evolutionism of None” (Peirce, 1958: 148).
The Garden of Pratolino, located twelve kilometers from Florence on the slopes of the Apennine Mountains, was created during the second half of the XVI century at the command of Grand Duke Francesco I de Medici under the supervision of his chief engineer Bernardo Buontalenti.
The PhD candidates constituting the PhD Group affiliated to the Department I of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science undertake dissertations and researc
Focusing on Manchu-language discussions about anatomy and materia medica in a number of textual genres, the project looks critically at efforts to use Manchu as a medium for translating bodily space and experience across early modern Eurasia, considering translations across languages, te
The project focuses upon the techniques (and difficulties) of woodblock cutting in the making of printed botanical images, as well as upon the use and reuse of images in two distinct traditions of early modern herbals.
William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) is primarily remembered as the pioneer of photography. This is reinforced by the disposition of his papers, notably the separation of the notebooks that document Talbot's photographic innovations from the rest of his archive.
Dominic Olariu's research investigated Western herbals and nature printings from the fourteenth century onwards, with an emphasis on the period of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.
Alex Csiszar's project concerned the origins and consequences of the rise of the scientific journal in nineteenth-century France and Britain.
This project examines the history of copyright in the early Dutch Republic (ca. 1581–1621). It relates the genesis of intellectual property rights to wider issues concerning state formation and innovation. The primary source material for the study consists of printing privileges.
Continuing an earlier survey on eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century plant and animal chemistry and the experimental culture of organic chemistry that developed after 1830, which is part
Postdoc projects, delving into different histories of planning, address the role of education, institutions, and individuals and the intersections of practice and prescription.
Upon returning from his tributary mission to Beijing in 1788, a member of the Korean literati named Pak Chega (1750–1805) drafted a travelogue titled Proposals for the Northern Learning.
Stefan Borchers' project explored the influence of religious confession in shaping the theories of generation and inheritance in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Lutheran Germany.
This project was part of the Research Unit TP A2 of the Collaborative Research Center—Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 626 "Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits" of the Freie Universität Berlin.
Synthetic vitamin C—and its triumphal procession—are science and technology in action. The success of the Reichstein procedure to synthesize vitamin C was highly unlikely.
My project aims to identify and examine the philological revolution in eighteenth-century China across disciplinary boundaries and from a new interpretative framework—the nexus of knowledge and Confucian identity.
The concept of race certainly constitutes one of the most problematic legacies of the Enlightenment. Most existing historiography on this concept frames its subject by two discontinuities.
The emergence of modern health-related commodities and tourism in the late Meiji and Taisho eras (1900s to 1920s) was paradoxically accompanied by a revival of spiritualist religions, many of which had origins in folk belief.
Since September 2004 this study, with Heiko Stoff’s work on “biological active substances” formed the life science section of the research group “History of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, 1920–70,” which is part of the Department for the History of Natural Sciences and Pharmacy, TU Braunsch
This project addresses the early history of sound archiving in broadcasting and its relationship to new arenas of cultural and knowledge production.
Long before the atomic bomb indelibly associated radioactivity with death, many physicists, botanists, and geneticists were eagerly remarking that radium held the key to the secret of life.
Raising one’s standard of living seems a desire so familiar to us that we do not hesitate to judge it common to people at any place and time. Nevertheless, this belief in the possibility and desirability of a general economic amelioration is not self-evident at all.
Philosophical naturalists claim that we should use empirical psychological knowledge for answering epistemological questions.
The formerly monopolized claim to explanation of Historia sacra was destroyed in the process of the "rationalization of universal historical knowledge" in the face of new chronological findings, geographical discoveries, and intensified cultural-historical discourse interests.
During the first three decades of the twentieth century musicologists and music critics increasingly problematized the role of emotions in listening experiences. This project investigated how and why the study of emotions in music became contested.
Since the introduction of Gutenberg’s invention of movable type, medical and scientific ideas have circulated in printed books, journals, and pamphlets.
My current research project, leading up to a book manuscript, traces eighteenth-century concepts and practices of tone, rhythm, and prosody in the fields of anthropology, theology, philology, and literary criticism.
“Reading Rivière in Early Modern England” uses the story of Lazare Rivière’s bestselling Praxis medica/The Practice of Physick to explore the production, transfer, and codification of vernacular medical knowledge in early modern Europe.
This project investigates the medical recipe as the vehicle for the transmission of experiential knowledge between cultures.
Lucia Lewowicz (with support by Ursula Klein and Jürgen Renn) explores the remains of Liebig’s laboratory located at the Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape, which belongs to the Unesco World Heritage since 5 July 2015.
In addition to information provided by newspapers, travelogues, correspondences and other written records that provided knowledge on "the foreign," objects made in Asia formed highly complex sources of information to their sixteenth-century German recipients.
Alongside Richard Haydocke's translation of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo's treatise on painting from 1598, this chapter examines concepts of color concerning cosmetics, painting, and complexion in relation to aesthetics, artistic, and medical practice in the sixteenth- and seventeenth centuries.
Focusing on “reformist objects” and their handling by actors who have been largely out of focus—mostly women and entrepreneurs—this project explores the relationship between technology, politics, and gender in three crucial themes for eighteenth-century actors: the managing of the poor, the
This Working Group project explored evidence for the use of thermal analysis in seventeenth-century European ceramic innovation.
The “Models and Regulations” (則例) extant today that relate to the Qing palace demonstrate an increase in the codification and systematization of technological knowledge and its materials, proc
In the framework of the Working Group "The Learned Practices of Canonical Texts," Guy Burak's project explored the emergence of an imperial jurisprudential canon in the Ottoman Empire in the early modern period.
What should we make of a seventeenth-century wooden Christ, who drenched spectators in the blood spouting from his wound? How are we to understand an artfully crafted automaton, performing battles between ferocious animals, until Orpheus and St. Xavier pacified them?
Probatum est. It has been tried, tested, and on average proven to work. This pithy sentence has come to encapsulate the view that modern historians have of artisanal practice in the medieval and early modern period.
The main focus of this research project was Renaissance planetary horology. The narrative of the Scientific Revolution rests on three major buttresses: a new astronomy, a new empirical method, and a new mathematical abstraction for explaining a mechanical world.
The goal of the project is the study of the emergence and transformation of core groups of concepts that structure the vast knowledge embodied in the mechanical worldview as a result of processes of knowledge integration and disintegration.
The goal of the project is the study of the emergence and transformation of core groups of concepts that structure the vast knowledge embodied in the mechanical worldview as a result of processes of knowledge integration and disintegration.
A group of studies analyzes conceptual transformations within the life sciences under analytical and historiographical perspectives similar to those of the research project on the reorganization of physical knowledge.
Specific studies are focusing on the fruitful interaction between the philosophy of science and the development of modern physics at the beginning of the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the discussions between Albert Einstein and Moritz Schlick on the physical interpretation of the
Molecular evolution is a discipline born in the late 1960s as a result of the integration of different types of scientific traditions (experimental, theoretical, and comparative).
This project, which began in January 1999 and was completed in most of its parts by the end of 2001, studies the tools and modes of representing invisible scientific objects in nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries laboratory
This project dealt with research on “reproduction” in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century life sciences. “Reproduction” has a variety of meanings: it relates to different ways of propagation and multiplication and it also refers to ways of making things similar or identical.
The Research Program “History of the Max Planck Society” (Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, GMPG) has emerged from Department I and its work in the historical epistemology of scientific institutions.
By the time of the First World War of 1914–18 the aeroplane had become established as an effective and vital piece of technology. Its practical success and potential were beyond doubt but flight posed deep scientific problems. How does a wing generate lift? The answer is by no means obvious.
This project was a study of the role of craftsmen and artisans in the natural historical collections of sixteenth-century Venice and the Veneto, documented primarily through their correspondence and collaboration with the Bolognese naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522–1605).
The fashion of endowing official representative halls and private imperial chambers with interior decorations such as ornamented wooden frames started in the Ming at the latest.
Rules—in the form of everything from traffic regulations and government directives to etiquette manuals and parliamentary procedures—structure almost every human interaction.
In 1533, the Ulm artist Martin Schaffner painted a model of the Ptolemaic universe, structured in terms of sequences of sevens—of planets, metals, virtues, liberal arts, days of the week, as well as colors, set within
In the sixteenth century, a new kind of pragmatic, knowledge-oriented collection emerged in southern Germany. Called Kunst- and Wunderkammern, these new museums were intimately linked to the conception of the modern nation state and the associated requirements of economic, political
This working group explores the ways scale and scope factor into the histories of planning.
This project was an ethnography of the scientific practices of counting human populations and the anxieties engendered by the futures that the numbers forecast; and an account of the Melanesian modernities entangled with the apprehensions of depopulation and po
Aristotelian mechanics remained dominant in Medieval times but was enriched in the 14th century by the work of the Oxford calculatores, who expanded the ancient theory of proportions, and by the Parisian School, which supplemented the Aristotelian theory of qualities with diagrammatic representat
To understand intellectual life and knowledge production, it is critical to examine the circulation of information. In 1996, Timothy Brook published a list of twenty-three core titles in Ming dynasty school libraries.
Quantum mechanics was established in the 1920s as a foundational theory of modern physics involving substantial conceptual modifications compared to classical
Angela Creager's work examined how environmentalism, changing ideas of cancer causation, and new tools for detecting carcinogens interacted between the 1960s and the 1980s.
After the liberation from Fascism and the end of Second World War, Italy put many efforts in the reconstruction of the country based on industrial development, despite the initial skepticism of the American administration.
The turn of the twentieth century is usually described as a crucial moment in the history of the physical sciences. One especially striking issue is the increasing number of techniques for investigating microphysical objects, with x-rays, electrons, and radioactivity among the most prominent.
Thinking about science and its social, political, and cultural implications became a matter of primary concern at the very center of political and cultural landscape of the Cold War.
This book project extended the work from Katy Park's article “Observation in the Margins, 500–1500,” which was commissioned for Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck, eds., Histories of Scientific Observation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).
Commodities, ideas, facts, instruments, texts, techniques, and people all travel—but selectively. Knowledge, both implicit and explicit, does not spread simply because it is true or useful; nor do the paths it takes cover the globe.
My study considers the history of educational politics and academic cultures in Central Europe, Britain, the United States, France, and other Atlantic nations. My account opens with the emergence of a new, transnational female academic network in 1917.
Jamie Cohen-Cole's project was a study of the sciences of human language since World War II.
This research project examined how scientific ideas about new wheat strains were interpreted, reshaped, and consumed by locals in two different countries.
This project examined the méthode d’observation of the mining engineer and prominent conservative Frédéric Le Play, who began his career emphasizing careful observation as a tool of economic planning and management, and later exalted it as an antidote to speculative, deracinated revolution.
This project focused on scientific observation, a topic that had previously never been studied in a manner sensitive to actors’ categories; the few scholars who have written on this topic have treated observation anachronistically, assuming that it was part of
The aim of this project is to analyse the concrete political and scientific framework in which the scientific and technical relations developed between Germany and Spain in the twentieth century. With this in mind, particular attention is paid to the analysis of the general
As a participant of the Knowledge and Belief project, this research focused on the problems of source, evidence, proof, and belief in modern historiography.
Traveling naturalists were scholars with inky fingers. In seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France, it was largely through manuscript records, texts, and images alike, that students of nature sought to collect and accumulate information on floras and faunas far afield.
This project explores the procedures and methodologies developed and applied by exegetical cultures with respect to the evaluation of the authenticity, validity, and truth value of scripture as source of knowledge.
My project focuses on Japanese scientists' efforts to translate their uncertain knowledge of the risks and hazards that earthquakes posed to the nation into persuasive narratives and effective policies from the early twentieth century to the near present.
Adam Fulton Johnson'S dissertation project investigates encounters between Anglo anthropologists and Pueblo and Navajo Indian communities in the Southwestern United States (1870–1930).
Henri Bénard was a French physicist who performed experiments on fluids for a Collège de France physics course given by Marcel Brillouin at the turn of the century.
In a series of papers written between 1926 and 1927, Eugene Wigner was the first to employ group-theoretical considerations to interpret the selection rules of atomic spectroscopy.
Self-experimentation as a practice has always existed in various contexts, but it was only at the end of the eighteenth century that it became fully accepted as a necessary step in pharmaceutical development.
Generations of historians of science have engaged with the notion of “tacit knowledge” in scientific change.
Scholars in different countries campaigned for the independence of linguistics in the first few decades of the twentieth century. For its independence, they fired at philology.
This project examines modes of encounter between humans and snakes from the 1780s to the 1870s, focusing upon Britain and British India, to reassess how knowledge about animals was produced and circulated in the context of empire.
The tradition of rural general practice is strong in the United States. Even in the middle years of the twentieth century, many rural doctors worked out of offices in their homes and routinely made house calls.
Figs. 1 and 2 are part of a series in which alternating computer images and hand drawn images show different views of the chaotic phase-space attractor that was subsequently given the author’s name (the “Rössler attractor”). The spiral in fig.
How much capital did the Ming and Qing dynasties invest in the production of imperial porcelain?
This paper attempts to trace early modern European theories about the generation of metals and minerals as they emerged out of the physical experience of miners laboring in the earth and were codified and transformed by learned physicians in sixteenth-century Erzgeb
The 16th and 17th centuries saw an ever increasing output of gunner‘s manuals and military treatises.
In the three sections of Sibling Action, Stefani Engelstein analyzes the essential function of the sibling term in structuring the modern subject (one chapter), the modern state (two chapters), and the methodology of the life- and human-sciences (two chapters). The first section of the
Ocular anatomy in the sixteenth century has been relatively overlooked.
Counting populations and finding ways to explain social strata and their developments have been an object of scientific inquiry and have formed the basis of governmental strategy since the end of the eighteenth century.
This project looked at the proliferation of social data-gathering organisations in the interwar period. It began with an attempt to contextualise Mass-Observation, a British social survey and participant observation movement founded in 1937.
Between the 1920s and the 1950s, empirical social research developed into a large-scale, institutionalized, and systematized endeavor with a wide range of applications and a diverse set of tools of data collection and analysis. David Hounshell's dissertation project studied the rise of empirical
While material models have long served the communities that deploy them as constructive devices for mediating relationships between the physical world and man’s interventions in it, for negotiating relationships of scale and for building consensus, in the early modern period they were increasingl
This monograph project is a history of listening. It takes as its departure point the often-mocked, even hated, music of waiting spaces, that has become more ubiquitous than ever.
“Sonifying Space” is a history of listening.
Law is permeated by sound. From auditory forensics to court reporting, oral testimony, or the hearsay doctrine, there is hardly an area of law that does not involve one or another aspect of sound. Sound also forms the subject matter of substantive law.
The past decade has seen a growing number of studies of sound design and acoustic technologies.
Although scientific work is widely considered a predominantly visual endeavor, sound has been not only an object of scientific investigation but also an epistemic tool.
This project studied a moment of transition in German architectural discourse in the late nineteenth century: an architectural theory that had conventionally relied on style, tectonics, and historicism gave way at this moment to one conceived around the themes of rhythm, bodily movement, and, abo
This project investigated the transformation of the artisanal workshop with its changing patterns of circulation, exchange, and transmission of knowledge in the early modern period. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries “trading zones” emerged.
Private library was an important culture element in ancient China, and can be used as an alternative indicator of knowledge distribution. By analyzing the spatial distribution of private libraries, we can know the distribution rule and changes of ancient knowledge.
The most basic forms of spatial knowledge that are studied in the project are those represented by spatial concepts in non-literate societies.
The working-group volume Spatial Thinking and External Representation: Towards a Historical Epistemology of Space documenting the research group’s results is currently in preparation. It contains the following contributions:
Sigrid Leyssen's project had two protagonists: a series of well-preserved paper discs that carry precisely measured curved lines, mostly in red and black; and the experimental psychologist Albert Michotte (1881–1965).
This paper will address the ways in which information about the production of the chiaroscuro woodcut circulated in early modernity.
As part of the Working Group "Cold War Rationality," Paul Erickson's work explores the development and spread of mathematical theories of rational choice—especially game theory—since the Second World War.
As an object-based science, classical archeology has to retrieve objects of investigation not only in the place where they were actually situated but also make them available to a broader scientific discourse often far removed from the physical site.
This project compares, through an ethnomathematical approach, two activities carried out by the Northern Ambrym Islanders (Republic of Vanuatu), both of which are locally termed tu (lit. "to write").
The basic idea of graphological knowledge is a rather simple one: by the strokes of his pen, man records significant evidence revealing the secrets of his character and true nature.
The work of the department is dedicated to understanding the historical processes of structural changes in systems of knowledge.
Radioactivity is one of the subjects, which stimulated the development of quantum physics in early 20th century, and in its progress led to nuclear and particle physics as well.
“Experience and observation triumph in the new science at the expense of the philosophy of the schools in the Renaissance” in some sense, but we should be alert to a mildly underhand form of semantic slippage that has gone on in scholarship dealing with this issue.
Ina Heumann's research examined science communication as a cultural, social, and epistemic practice that is shaped by its historical contexts as well as its material and medial conditions.
During the Early Modern Period mining was among the most important economic driving forces, which also had large effects on material culture, perceptions and validations of metallic ores in central European mining regions.
In the mid-1950s, the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center sent out a team of female interviewers to speak to 2,713 women selected to be representative of all married white American women.
Sophie Brockmann's research concerned networks of scientific knowledge in Central America in the late-colonial period and beyond.
My project is a contribution to the history of listening techniques.
Luis Campos was engaged in writing a history of the newly emerging field of synthetic biology, an epistemologically provocative disciplinary mixture of engineering, computer science, molecular biology, and artificial life that seeks to redesign living systems to accomplish human-desired functions
This project examined how and when technology became an "object of knowledge" in Premodern Chinese Culture. Dagmar Schäfer enquired into methodological concerns on how technology history is pursued and what the Chinese view can contribute to it (in terms of non-European perspectives).
In his Marie Curie fellowship project Geert Somsen investigates how science has been promoted as a model for international relations during the first half of the twentieth century.
There is a common trope among historians of instruments that seamen are incorrigibly reluctant to accept new methods, techniques or tools in navigation.
This project examined how eighteenth-century imperatives to follow nature actually operated in practice.
In the computer age, paper notebooks are seemingly no longer used in scientific research, but for centuries they were an indispensable tool for intellectual work.
This project explored the role of the archive, as an institution, theme, and formal resource, in French film culture in the post-Second World War period.
The systematic and stable interconnection of scientific and technological practices and institutions into a “technoscience” is usually considered as the outcome of developments in the twentieth century, with forerunners in the second half of the nineteenth century.
This project was concerned with tentativity as a philosophical concept.
Claudia Stein's research focused on the political and medical world of one of eighteenth-century Germany’s most powerful states, the electorate of Bavaria. She was particularly interested in the medical reform program initiated by the country's protomedicus Johann Anton von Wolter (1711–89).
What was the role of expert chemists in evaluating medical cures in early modern Europe? The case of mineral waters in France is a rich source of answers to this question.
Stanley Hall, in his famous 1904 monograph on adolescence, argued that “inner absorption and reverie is one marked characteristic of this age of transition.” “The Adolescent Daydreamer” project investigated how the adolescent has been configured as a daydreamer through the scientific study of her
In late colonial and post-independence times—in a context of commercial rivalry among French, American, and British interests—maps, manuscripts, and drawings were turned into valued and high priced objects of commerce whose ownership was disputed by many individuals, learned societies, and patron
The use of mechanical tools predates any theoretical attempt to explain their function. The oldest known of these attempts date to the time of ancient Greece.
The Anthropocene hypothesis proposes that with the invention of James Watt’s steam engine, the Earth entered a new geologic era characterized by an unprecedented level of human intervention in natural processes.
Darwin’s explanation of the evolution of species strongly encouraged biologists and others to integrate the human in the natural world as just another animal. Culture has often been used to resist such attempts. Such resistance necessarily presupposes a certain concept of culture.
The Art of Judgement explores how judgements are formed. In focus is the inherently dynamic nature of both assessments and decisions, as they are produced, validated, and redefined through constant processes of mediation and conflict, both synchronically and diachronically.
This project examined how first-hand observations came to be recorded in images in several printed genres that claimed to reproduce unmediated experience with the world. Prints in these diverse genres helped cue observations, calibrate sightings, and thus sharpen visual acuity.
Rhodri Lewis's research project was concerned with the reception and development of the classical arts of memory (mnemotechnics), principally in northern Europe, in the years from about 1500–1700.
This project explores how scientists and skilled workers sought to use microbes’ natural processes for making new products. Methods of microbial biosynthesis were ubiquitous in Japan, from miso-making in the kitc
The factual ways by which knowledge travels from the public sphere into a specialized science or an academic discipline have yet to be explored. In this context, popular science is a crucial dynamic factor.
The function of a literary salon as semi-public meeting place for young authors and an interested audience has been widely discussed, and the Jewish salon in Berlin has been interpreted as site of German–Jewish dialogue.
This project dealt with one of the largest private libraries Dansheng tang of Qi Chenghan (1565–1628) in Shanyin of the Late Ming period (ca. 1550–1644).
The Mexican Revolution (1910) promoted a space for reflection on the status of the Mexican indian, which transformed him as the figure that would justify the political agendas and reshape the model people of the new nation.
The concept of “gender role” was coined in the early 1950s at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD.
Animals have been central to humans in their attempts to understand their world and in revealing the secrets of nature.
Mirjam Brusius' project investigated the potential of archeological objects excavated during European expeditions in the Middle East as raw material for scholarly activity and their visual registration in the nineteenth century.
The goal of this group project was to study the emergence, functioning, and topography in contemporary culture of the idea, epitomized by the expression cerebral subject, that human persons are constituted essentially by their brains.
According to Roger Bacon (b. 1214/1220, d. ca.
Imperial officials of the Song Empire (960–1279 CE) confronted a complex, monetized society.
Stefanie Gänger'S PhD project examined the collecting and study of pre-Hispanic artefacts in nineteenth-century Chile and Peru.
For the past decade, historians of science and art have noted points of intersection between scientific and artistic ways of rendering the natural world in images.
In addition to the cotton, tea, and other well-known commodities of the East India Company’s nineteenth-century cargoes, the company was also trading in serpents. These came in many patterns and several grades: venomous, harmless, common, rare.
The objective of Marco Tamborini's project was to write the first pages of the biography of paleobiological data. He focused on:
In this project, Sabine Arnaud studied the construction and diffusion of medical, scientific, and philosophical knowledge on deafness to consider how an infirmity was constructed simultaneously with different areas of competence designed to attend to and possibly eradicate it.
This Research Group "The Construction of Norms in Seventeenth to Nineteenth-Century Europe and the United States" investigated the epistemological and political processes that led human variations to be seen not as a spectrum of human possibilities, but as reductive binaries that contrapose the n
In this project Nils Güttler concentrated on the history of a particular practice amongst plant geographers: mapmaking.
Around 1900 the work of catalysts put the chemical industry on new ground.
The CDLI is a common initiative of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the MPIWG.
In 2012, the US government committed over $200 million to a Big Data Research Initiative designed to explore how the analysis of massive collections of digital information might do everything from capture terrorists to improve educational outcomes.
The Dancing Bees is a dual biography that explores the life and work of the experimental physiologist Karl von Frisch (1886–1982) vis à vis his favored research animal, the honeybee, in the context of twentieth-century studies of animals and communication.
In Germany, studies on "the dark figure"—an estimation of the number of unreported or undiscovered crimes—have recently been made part of large-scale research programs, such as the First and Second Periodical Report on Crime and Crime Control (2001–6), the Victimization of Survey Module (2008–10)
This project explored descriptions of the lova sancta in medieval travel accounts. Since the early beginnings of Christianity, Palestine and the surrounding regions have been regarded as an area of special significance.
How well was the field of optics understood during the European Middle Ages and Renaissance? And how was that understanding achieved? Until fairly recently, the answer to both questions was sought in the Perspectivist optical tradition that emerged during the late thirteenth century.
Among the Galenic texts attracting special attention at the end of the thirteenth century was De complexionibus, one of whose features was a crude protocol for determining experimentally the qualitative character and intensity of any given medicine. This protocol caught the attention of
Among the Galenic texts attracting special attention at the end of the thirteenth century was De complexionibus, one of whose features was a crude protocol for determining experimentally the qualitative character and intensity of any given medicine.
The project explores the history of scientific studies of the Earth and the environment, especially by examining how the Cold War shaped funding and research trajectories of key European institutions devoted to geophysical research.
This project focuses on the period between 1830 and 1950, when instruments were being made with a wide variety of materials and the insights of the burgeoning science of experimental acoustics led to novel experiments and innova
This project searched for the implicit and explicit signs of the incorporation of practical knowledge into the examination system.
The collective character of the formulation of quantum physics also met a great variety of discussions, interpretations and reactions from other scientists, amateurs and more or less educated audiences of the press.
"The idea of an all-pervading medium is not a wild dream or mere speculation. If we study observed facts we are forced to admit the reality of the aether. The scientist is as sure of the existence of the aether as he is of his own existence."
This project on information processing in eighteenth and nineteenth-century mining addresses a fundamental problem of environmental history: how does one conceptualize human-nature interaction if opposing society and nature is as misguided as conflating the two?
Studies of display practices in early-modern museums have mainly sprung from careful analysis of eye-witness descriptions and contemporaneous illustrations.
My project is concerned with the environmental consequences of human interpretations of locust infestation as human behavior (or culture) is conditioned by locust behavior (or ecology) under conditions of early modern uncertainty.
Typically, we think of evolution as a theory that explains the present in light of the past.
Photography's ability to record and the reproducabilty of the medium have determined its economic potential, and led to the development of market based on the photographic image.
Educational travels and laboratory visits were commonplace events in nineteenth and early twentieth-century physiology. Physiologists traveled to meet colleagues, train in the labs of experts, learn new methods, and study new instruments before deciding whether to acquire or build their own.
The four-volume work presents a comprehensive documentation and study of the creation of general relativity, one of the fundamental physical theories of the twentieth century. Volumes 1 and 2 contain the facsimile and transcription of, and a commentary on Einstein's
At the beginning of the twentieth century, two main technologies with quite diverse tactics and therefore aesthetics sought preeminence in replacing missing body parts.
This project investigated the historical roots of the global knowledge society. Its long-term ambition was to contribute to our understanding of the knowledge society in a global context and to gain insights in its development up to today.
To assess the relevance of an investigation of historical processes of globalization for the present situation, a fourth focus of the globalization network is dedicated to the great challenges that humanity faces today when dealing with knowledge.
The globalization of knowledge today has reached another level with new potentials emerging, such as the global system of science and the World Wide Web. The migration of scientific knowledge is no longer characterized by the trajectories of individuals, but rather by global social patterns.
Dominique Pestre's research project dealt with the government of techno-sciences and techno-industrial products at various scales since the Second World War.
The Great Enclosure of Musawwarat es Sufra, one of the major ancient monuments of northern Sudan and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011, is a well known but enigmatic complex of temples and other buildings, corridors, ramps and courtyards.
In this project, I seek to understand critiques of technology after World War II by arguing that technological choices are inherently moral choices.
Over the last six years, a central research question addressed in Department I was the process of reorganization and reinterpretation of mechanical knowledge in the course of the quantum revolution from 1900 to 1930.
The act of composing a musical piece has been linked to notions of inspiration, self-expression, and ingenuity since at least the Romantic period. In contrast, the twentieth century witnessed a wave of digital, algorithmic approaches to music production.
This project addresses the history of electronic audiometry and its significance for the medicalization of deafness and the definition of “noise” in the telephone system.
In an increasing number of laboratories since 1995, physicists are creating a new state of matter through a process called Bose-Einstein condensation. Unlike solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas, pure Bose-Einstein condensates did not exist anywhere until eleven years
Observation is the most pervasive and fundamental practice of all the modern sciences, both natural and human. It is also among the most refined and variegated of these practices.
Monica Aufrecht's research examined epistemic issues in philosophy of science, as well as ethical issues relating science research and policy to the environment, medicine, disability studies, and issues of distributive justice; her dissertation project was titled "Values in Science: The Distincti
Susanne Schmidt's project historicizes the "midlife crisis," which became popular in the United States and, subsequently, globally in the 1970s. A contested concept, it was a site and an instrument for negotiating gender roles.
How do we see? What is the immediate object of visual perception, and where is it located? Seventeenth-century thinkers offered contrasted answers to such questions.
The purpose of this project was a historical analysis of the ideas of the university that circulated in twentieth-century Germany. The key issue explored was the way in which the Humboldtian tradition was transformed, and how Wilhelm von Humboldt gave direction to the debates.
From the Renaissance to the late eighteenth century, the notion of imagination played a crucial role in the assessment of miracles performed by potential saints, and contributed to turn miracles into an epitome of fundamental early-modern epistemological problems.
In the context of the technological development of the early modern period, certain devices, material objects and processes assumed the role of challenging objects for traditional conceptual frameworks of mechanics. Examples are the pendulum, flywheel, and projectile trajectory.
The study focusses on the relation of astronomical knowledge, cosmological theories and geographical knowledge in ancient times.
A further step in the development of spatial knowledge was initiated by the growth of geographical knowledge due to the expansion of the spaces certain societies inhabited, controlled or explored. As a consequence, a new kind of representation of spatial knowledge occurred, i.
This research project was concerned with the development of current practices in the psychosomatic field that are influenced by the neurosciences.
Mesopotamian proto-cuneiform and cuneiform clay tablets written in the time period from the invention of writing (around 3200 B. C.) to the development of Babylonian mathematics in the Old Babylonian period (around 1900–1600 B.
A series of research activities examines the role of practical knowledge in the development of theoretical mechanics during the early modern period. These activities deal with three questions:
Besides the introduction of geographical coordinate systems, the epistemological problem of the relation between the concepts of matter and space had an impact on the Newtonian concept of space as a container.
During her visiting research fellowship at the MPIWG, Magdalena Zorn will work on the history of listening.
This research project concerned the empirical and theoretical constitution of the inattentive individual as a modern and contemporary scientific object, with emphasis on its anthropological, historical, and philosophical dimensions.
This project provided two examples of the very specific ways in which data is tied to the technologies and practices of computing and information technologies. The examples suggest that big data cannot exist outside of these computational infrastructures.
research. Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz saw their respective forms of the calculus as
integrated into their broader programs of inquiry, programs with both philosophical and political
The Uffizi, the emblematic monument of the Florentine Renaissance, are still, in spite of their fame, oddly unknown.
The project examined the experimental work of the Danish physicist and philosopher Hans Christian Oersted, the well-known discoverer of electromagnetism and pioneer in acoustics and high-pressure physics.
Laboratories are not isolated from the world; they have always existed in relation to the space around them. Like universities, museums, hospitals, botanical gardens, and other institutions of scientific research and education, laboratories have been and still are typically located in cities.
Victorian Britons and their American contemporaries were obsessed with habit.
Astro-Nomads, umbraphiles or shadow lovers, properly applied, one who is addicted to the glory of total solar eclipses, noctcaeladors defined as those with a strong interest in, and psychological attachment to, the night sky.
This paper explores the character of medical experimentation through the long history of one seemingly bizarre remedy for plague buboes.
Leibniz worked incessantly between 1679 and 1686 to establish his wind machines in the mines of the Harz Mountains.
My paper follows the fortunes of a single drug—the poudre fébrifuge of the Chevalier de Guiller—through two successive regimes of royal patent medicine licensing and military testing in eighteenth-century France.
My paper follows the fortunes of a single drug—the poudre fébrifuge of the Chevalier de Guiller—through two successive regimes of royal patent medicine licensing and military testing in eighteenth-century France.
This book project aimed at reconstructing the important merging tendencies that since the 1910s have brought formerly separated disciplines (anatomy, physiology, neurology, psychiatry, radiology, and serology etc.) much closer together.
The 16th to 19th century represents a period that corresponds to a series of fundamental findings in acoustics.
While in residence at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, I am undertaking a microstudy of the enterprise of the Maragha observatory.
This study of the material culture embodied in Chinese temples and their paraphernalia in the late imperial era attempted to demonstrate how the North China plain was constituted as a cultural region by the familiarity created not only by an area-wide religious cult but by the local availability
The research activity is dedicated to globalization processes in the premodern era. Such processes deal with the vehicles, networks, and mechanisms of knowledge transfer in the Mediterranean world in post-antiquity.
The military settlements along the Ming Dynasty Great Wall are a series of 1100-odd garrisons. In addition, there are several thousand posts, beacon towers and relay system.
Thomas O. Haakenson's dissertation project, “The Uncultured Eye: Vision, Culture, and the Modern Grotesque,“ focused on the Germany of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The conflation of the natural with the normative has counted as a philosophical fallacy for centuries. The oppositions of nomos and physis, is and ought, nature and culture all aim to drive a wedge between the inexorable facts of nature and the human values of ethics and art.
Even before the photographic invention was officially announced to the public in 1839, light sensitive materials were already being used to make scientific observations on the spectrum and on the chemical precipitation of metals.
Pre-Lavoisian chemistry, maintaining interfaces with physiology, pharmacy, mineralogy, heat and electrical science, and manufacturing, provides analytical access to a broad, qualitatively diverse array of observational practices and their development.
This project brought together a garden and a text by John Evelyn (1620–1706). The garden was planted at Sayes Court in Deptford, where Evelyn established his family home on return to England in 1652 from self-imposed exile in Paris.
This project studied the long-term development of optics between ca. 1400 and ca. 1700.
Marco Cardinali's project sought to review, update, and integrate the research that led to the publication of the university manual Diagnostica Artistica. Tracce materiali per la storia dell´arte e la conservazione (Rome, Fratelli Palombi, 2002 and 2007).
The development of mechanics as the result of an interaction of practical knowledge with other forms of knowledge ranging from antiquity to the early modern period finds its parallels in the evolution of optics and music theory as fields of scientific knowledge similarly dependent on the accumula
The project examines the earthquake monitoring and prediction program, called “Collective Monitoring, Collective Defense,” in Cultural Revolution China. In the 1960s and 70s, China experienced a period of serious political upheavals and natural disasters.
Thomas Schlich's project dealt with surgical machines and Viennese Modernism, war and dance revues, technologies of objectivity and the standardization of the body.
The planispheric representation, the flat representation of the spherical vault of the heavens and its orbs, had its place among the practices of perspective during the sixteenth century.
As part of a larger project on the photographic survey movement in England 1885–1918, Elizabeth Edwards worked on the ways in which ideas of scientific "objectivity," the "systematic," and networks of amateur science, especially those of geology, anthropology, and archeology, were understood and
The genre of album amicorum, or Stammbuch, or “traveling friendship book,” became popular in mid-sixteenth century in the Protestant circles, where a piece of manu propria advice from Luther or Melanchthon could serve as a collectable rarity and a letter of recommendation.
The project aims to document the development of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (Imperial Institute for Physics and Technology / PTR) during the Third Reich.
Focus three concentrates on the encounters between culturally specific knowledge and globalized knowledge.
Landscape has long been an object of aesthetic interest. Painted by artists, chanted by poets, depicted by writers, it remained a way to see the outside world, a way to transfigure outside reality. The mode of existence of landscape was essentially dependent on its artistic transfiguration.
In Europe, popular science books emerged during the second half of the nineteenth century. They were written not only by scientists who wanted to make their work accessible to a broad public, but also by literary authors.
In Europe, popular science books emerged during the second half of the nineteenth century. They were not only written by scientists who wanted to make their work accessible to a broad public, but also by literary authors.
This project aimed at understanding the ways in which the Psalter helped in the Middle Ages to organise dispersed data into a meaningful frame.
At about the same time as Karl Marx’s 1844 remark that “the forming of the five senses is a labor of the entire history of the world down to the present” many European scientists took upon themselves the task of investigating and transforming human sensory capacities.
Since the mid 14th century, the north Italian city-states were increasingly subject to the compulsion to civic self-representation. This culture of representation found a suitable medium in the festival, which consolidated a variety of social interests and energies.
Recipes are deceptively simple: they encourage us to dig beneath and around a seemingly straightforward list of ingredients and directions, provoking conversations about historic foodways, linguistics, scientific praxis, conceptions of race and class, medical breakthroughs, and religious prohibit
By its nature, the archive is carefully and systematically organized, bringing a sense of structure and order to the chaos of the natural world.
The rise of the sciences of biodiversity in the late twentieth century was closely tied to the collection, organization, and dissemination of biological and ecological data.
This research project on the history of science in China attempts to frame technology and natural knowledge as an integral part of broader sociocultural processes. At the heart of this work is the idea of innovation.
The starting point of this research project is the recent work on the role of epistemic virtues in science practices and the formation of scientific or scholarly persona, such as by Lorraine Daston (2003 and 2007), Conal Condren (2006), and Ian Hunter (2007).
In the years preceding and following WWI, the European capitals (Berlin, Vienna, Prague) were rife with social, political, cultural, and scientific movements.
This project concerned the development of psychology in France and the ways in which theories, social organization, and physical structures came together to produce a new scientific discipline during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In the century following Einstein's ultimate formulation in 1915, the general theory of relativity has evolved from a revolutionary mathematical theory with limited contact with the empirical world to an observationally and experimentally based cornerstone of modern physics and cosmology.
The emergence of general relativity is studied focusing, first, on the work of Albert Einstein and, second, on the largely unexplored history of alternative approaches to the problem of gravitation in late classical physics.
Unlike other forms of investigation, such as microscopy, vivisection was not new in the seventeenth century. Nonetheless, it was developed in new ways and led to a number of strikingly original results.
Before Newton’s seminal work on the spectrum, seventeenth-century English natural philosophers such as Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke, Nehemiah Grew, and Robert Plot attributed the phenomenon of color in the natural world to salts and saline chymistry.
Children are scientists and scientists are children. This is a central operating paradigm of developmental psychology.
This project investigated a problem that has hardly received attention from historians: the emergence of the scientific study of human walking in the first decades of the nineteenth century in Western societies (particularly France, Germany, and Britain).
Florence Hsia's project seeks to understand the process by which particular modes of knowledge-making coelesced around an object of study—“China”—that was itself under construction.
"Data" (literally, "the givens") is perhaps the most taken-for-granted word in all the sciences: short and unpretentious, it expresses the simplest and apparently most straightforward elements of empirical research.
Pamela Kort's project investigated how and why the disciplines of art, science, and fiction increasingly interacted between 1863 and 1969.
The goal of this project was to introduce the concept of persona to the history of science, by showing how it can be fruitfully deployed in diverse periods, locales, and disciplines.
Through a close scrutiny of a set of manuscript notebooks by naturalists and scientific travelers such as Aimé Bonpland, Leopold von Buch, LJ Gay-Lussac, Alexander von Humboldt, André Michaux, Horace-Benedict de Saussure, and Dominique Villars, this study explored the gestures and cognitive pract
The aim of this project is to investigate the theories of solar and lunar eclipses in early China and Mesopotamia. Solar and lunar eclipses are important astronomical phenomena in both civilizations.
The human skeleton has multiple meanings in history: medical, scientific, symbolic, religious. These perceptions have shifted over time and place, and as anatomical study rose to prominence in early modern Europe, they continued to coexist.
It has long been asserted that changing political and social conditions during the early nineteenth century played an important role in first encouraging the sciences to take the form of specialized academic disciplines, particularly in the case of the German universities.
The aim of Per Wisselgren's project was to analyze the discursive formation of Swedish social science in the historical context of the ”social question,” i.e., the lengthy, broad-ranging, and international discussions in which the social problems of Western modernity were conceptualized from the
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, reflection on science tended to be separated into four branches: a philosophical-normative branch, a historical-descriptive branch, a political-pragmatic branch, and a anthropological-ontological branch.
The movie Das Boot followed the fictional German submarine U-96 as its captain tried to sail from the Atlantic into the Mediterranean to assist in the 1942 war effort.
The human and life sciences underwent a fundamental revolution in the first half of the twentieth century, which this project aimed to describe. Referring to this revolution as the “structural turn” alludes to what has become known as “structuralism” in the humanities.
The human and the life sciences experienced a fundamental revolution in the first half of the twentieth century, that this project aims to describe. Referring to this revolution as the "structural turn" alludes to what has become known as "structuralism" in the humanities.
The study of amulets (magical objects typically marked with characters or symbols and believed to attract favors or repel dangers) occupies a surprisingly important place in European intellectual history.
This project wrote a history of the practice of the study of "technique" in the visual and decorative arts between 1500 and 1950. The three central research questions of this project were:
In this project Marga Vicedo-Castello examined the methods used by students of animal behavior in the context of their historical development, concentrating on Niko Tinbergen’s and Konrad Lorenz’s ethological approach to animal behavior.
Motivated by the enthusiasm for the East Asian Lacquer art a new tendency occurred in the French rococo to make bright varnishes with a high brilliance. They were used as so-called European lacquer (oil-resin varnishes) applied mainly on precious interior decorations and furniture.
In summer 1926 one of the bigger scientific scandals in the first half of the last century broke. US zoologist G. Kinsley Noble claimed in an article published by the British journal “Nature” that the last remaining specimen of Paul Kammerer‘s midwife toad had been manipulated.
My project for the Local Gazetteers workshop (July 2017) is to collect and analyze the information on "making Mount South as the Front Gate".
This research project analyzes the intercultural transmission of geometrical knowledge and its impact on culturally-specific notions of space.
The field of research that came to be known as “genomics” emerged in the 1980s from various initiatives dedicated to the genetic or physical mapping of chromosomes and to DNA sequencing.
The use of perspective in the visual arts—that is, the application of optical knowledge to convey a sense of depth in flat pictures or of increased depth in low relief sculpture, seems to resemble other craft practices.
The mathematical tools that were further developed or originated in the medieval scholastic tradition, such as the theory of proportions or the diagrammatic representation of change usually associated with the name of Nicolàs Oresme, constituted an important precondition for the mathematical trea
Venetian painting around 1500 is marked by a distinctive geometry and a special regard for light which may, at least in part, be explained by reference to the repeated presence in Venice of the mathematician Luca Pacioli.
The Virtual Laboratory (VL) was a digitization project devoted to the history of the experimentalization of life. Its main focus was the interaction between the life sciences, arts and architecture, media and technology. It consisted of two related parts: an archive and an essay section.
During the second half of the seventeenth century observation was often portrayed as a diligent, patient, and dispassionate investigation into natural particulars.
Organisms ranging from unicellular protozoans to human beings have long been the objects of study in the life sciences. What changed over time was the focus of intellectual interest and therefore the methods of research.
The WebGIS Platform of Historical Maps of China, conducted by history department of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTUMAPGIS), is a combined GIS system and historical scholarship on historical maps of China, which is to geo-reference scanned maps by ArcGIS and release them for public use.
What were the processes that led medical writers to create the category of hysteria in the eighteenth century and thereby to define an area of competence specific to medical knowledge?
The establishment of the discipline of architectural acoustics is generally attributed to the physicist Wallace Clement Sabine, who developed the formula for reverberation time around 1900, and with it the possibility of making calculated prognoses about the acoustic potential of a particular des
The establishment of the discipline of architectural acoustics is generally attributed to the physicist Wallace Clement Sabine, who developed the formula for reverberation time around 1900, and with it the possibility of making calculated prognoses about the acoustic potential of a particular des
Work in Department III is organized around themes that construct an agenda for research work over a number of years. Themes examine the relation, tension and interaction of "Artefacts, Action, and Knowledge" at close quarters and from many angles.
The use of methods from the exact sciences in biology during the twentieth century, entailing issues of the disciplinary authority of physics, the reduction of biological phenomena to physical terms, and the autonomy of biology, has been a topic of interest in both the history and philosophy of b
This research project focused on the theoretical and practical "survival" of artworks, including case studies of works by artists such as Dieter Roth, Duane Hanson, Barnett Newman and Joseph Beuys.
Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, different theories of rationality emerged as a result of the reflection on science in the making.
In the 1970s, citizens in the United States first mobilized around what they had known, in low-grade fashion, since at least the 1930s: that many agencies, public and private, were collecting information about them.
Therapeutic commodities—goods considered valuable for the improvement of health—have local as well as global histories. Examples of commodities—tea, ginger, rhubarb—that straddle the boundary between food and medicine abound, and all these have both global circulations and local meanings.
This project explored the epistemological significance of the “table” for Western astronomical practice over a period of two millennia.
This reading seminar, running over two years in 2016–17, brings together around a dozen historians and philologists with diverse kinds of linguistic expertise to discuss the relation between plurilingualism and the creation and reception of monolingual and plurilingual texts in various Eurasian s
Debates about how people think can lead to angry, emotional stand-offs as people defend what they regard as crucial aspects of their identities.
Today, supersonic speed is defined as the speed of an object in relation to the speed of sound in the same medium.
The well-known poet Paul Valéry (1871–1945), the neuroscientist Kurt Goldstein (1878–1965), and the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (1901–81) are less known as thinkers who also elaborated on epistemological questions.
My project concerns Swedish land-use planning between 1966 and 1972, and it focuses on a national land-use plan created with the stated goal of eliminating future conflicts between industry and environmental interests.
This project examines how phrenological practices depended on paper, or rather, on a system of paper.
Unbeknown to most people, in 1834, a tax collector, hobby astronomer, and musician proposed a revolutionary music theory that promoted digital principles of sound production. Friedrich Wilhelm Opelt (1794–1863) may be the most important music theorist you have never heard of.
The twenty-first century is a century of data. Our lives are tangled in webs of data, and tools for creating, storing, communicating, and manipulating this data have grown more sophisticated and ubiquitous. Even our self-understanding is mediated by data-analytic techniques.
With the beginning of the Cold War, the "rationality principle" gained extraordinary prominence not only in American social sciences, but also amongst philosophers, mathematicians, and statisticians, computer scientists, and operations researchers.
This project analyzed the social, thematic, spatial, and temporal dimensions of information exchange in imperial China through the quantitative and qualitative analysis of Song Dynasty (960–1279) notebooks (biji).
This research project was largely concerned with the question of how knowledge relates to practice in Chinese History. Angelika Messner asked, with the focus on medicine, what writings and their paratexts tell us about this relationship, and how a sense of professionalization was developed despit
The Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln/Switzerland chiefly assembles source texts on architectural theory and related areas in original editions extending from the 15th to the 20th century. Over 50,000 volumes document related developments in the context of humanities and science.
This research project tracked the production, exchange, and consumption of exotic objects in the Netherlands and along Eurasian contact routes during the formative years of the Dutch Republic, from the founding of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-I
Anhand der Entwicklung theoretischer und praktischer Mechanik von der Antike bis zur Entstehung des mechanischen Weltbildes analysiert das Teilprojekt Prozesse, die mit der Transformation von Wissen einhergehen.
This project investigates, from an epistemological and historical perspective, the forms of transmission, innovation and canonisation of astronomical and cosmological knowledge from the ancient world to the early modern era.
In the development of medical techniques and therapeutic agents, the transfer of knowledge produced in animal “models” to experimental settings involving humans is a crucial step.
My research focuses on documents about medical drugs in Russia between 1550 and 1750. Official Russian medicine of this period was imported, with medical practitioners, texts and supplies coming, in particular, from Germany, the Netherlands and England.
This project is dedicated to exploring the links between the history of the feuilleton and knowledge production from the end of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century.
In recent years, translation (broadly defined) has emerged as a central research strand. Explorations of the epistemic process and impact of knowledge translation across linguistic, geographical, and spatial boundaries are crucial in our understandings of knowledge making.
There is an ongoing scientific cooperation of Max
Planck Institutes with the Mongolian Academy of the Sciences and the
National University of Mongolia.
The central theme is the transliteration and transfiguration of cultural traditions and their significance in the historic development
In the Middle Ages and premodern period, artisanal knowledge was transmitted via collections of recipes often grouped concomitantly with alchemical texts and instructions.
When Edward Conway, Viscount Conway and Kiluta, retired to Petworth in 1650, he began a weekly correspondence with his nephew Sir Edward Harley. The letters cover a variety of topics from books to religion to contemporary politics to household organization and affairs.
Leiden University boasted one of the most popular and influential medical schools of the mid-seventeenth century, drawing hundreds of students yearly from across Europe.
Although now commonly adopted as the point of reference for musicians in the Western world, “A” 440hz only became the standard pitch during an international conference held in London in 1939.
Climate change and the late twentieth-century globalization of the food supply have provoked renewed concern about the ability or inability of local, regional, and national communities to feed themselves. Human beings survive on a handful of cereal crops.
The diversity of humankind is an abiding explosive political and moral issue.
This project discussed medical technology achievements of the twentieth century, which enabled a scientific interdisciplinary debate to redefine death, and the consequences for the notion of “human being.” Noticeable rearrangements had to be done to enclose death in medical terms, among them, the
There is a substantial and growing literature on the formation of the "modern scholar" and the corresponding ethos and scholarly persona in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. What has been lacking, however, is an analysis of the different forms and stages of this process.
In our culture the production, distribution, and evaluation of printed texts is still a central aspect of science. Despite new printing technologies, a major part of our scientific memory is archived, managed, reworked, and handed down in the form of printed matter.
This paper is an assessment of Renaissance scholars’ views of the practical embedment of astronomy.
Teru Miyake's project focused on the problem of underdetermination, particularly in cases where the object of investigation is inaccessible to scientists in some way.
When Chinese authors included diagrams of hands with characters inscribed on them in their books, they used the hand as a tu 圖—a diagram, map, illustration, or chart.
This project aimed to provide a philosophical framework through which the current emphasis on data-intensive biology, and more generally the role played by data in scientific inquiry, can be studied and understood.
This Working Group project looked at artisans' contribution to optical knowledge. Since antiquity, the emerald has been one of the most precious stones money could buy. It was prized for its lush green color, its saturated translucency, its hardness and rarity.
This project looks at the historical development of the reference points, baselines, and terms we currently use to track and describe anthropogenic environmental change.
A myriad of theories to account for color phenomena were in circulation in the early seventeenth century. The status, goal, and content of these ideas differed as did the range of phenomena they addressed.
Cathy Gere's project investigated the history of the science of pleasure and pain, from the aftermath of the French Revolution to the time of the Watergate scandal.
Beginning in the 1760s, reformers in the Prussian State administration in Berlin organized the establishment of technical departments, such as a department of mining and smelting works, a department of civil architecture and a department of forestry.
The influence of the French author and poet Paul Valéry extends far beyond literature. His writings concern issues and discoveries in the arts and natural sciences and reflect on political developments and historical events.
By the mid-seventeenth century, London printers and booksellers offered the English reading public a wide array of vernacular medical books.
This project looked at vernacular texts in early modern Germany, medical pamphlets, bestselling Arzneybuecher (collections of remedies) and manuals for Galenic medicine, against the more complete context of the learned world of medical knowledge.
In 2005, the MPIWG created the virtual Albert Einstein exhibition. This virtual exhibition made the content of the “real” 2005 Albert Einstein exhibition available online.
This image database invites research on multiple forms and formats of visualizing the heavens, from deities to demons and from stars to weather phenomena.
When all else fails, we turn to the instruction manual. However, the experience can be frustrating. Making the leap from text to practice represents an age-old problem which this project addresses from a historical perspective.
Visuality and visual representation in the modern sciences and their role for the production of scientific knowledge are widely debated within the history of science and science studies. At the same time, very little work has been done from the internal perspective of the respective disciplines.
Hans Burgkmair was a leading painter and designer of woodcuts working in Augsburg, which along with Albrecht Dürer’s Nuremberg became one of the primary commercial centers of the Holy Roman Empire.
My project inquires into a long-standing but largely unexplored historical affinity between the practice and medium of film on the one hand, and the scientific and medical study of the young child’s mind on the
This dissertation project systematically compared the historical epistemology of Georges Canguilhem (1904–95) with the philosophical anthropology of Helmuth Plessner (1892–1985).
What were the gendered conventions and practices associated with the use of waste paper in mathematics and chemistry in the early modern period? Scholars often used scraps of paper for calculations and to record receipts. This project will consider scraps as a
What were the gendered conventions and practices associated with the use of waste paper in mathematics and chemistry in the early modern period? Scholars often used scraps of paper for calculations and to record receipts.
Historical scholarship is commonly thought of as consisting of texts generated by individual scholars to be read by other scholars.
The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) – in German, Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) – 644, "Transformations of Antiquity", brings together personnel from ten humanities disciplines at the Humboldt University in Berlin, from two departments of the Free University in Berlin, and from the Max Planck
Every activity, even the most humble, involves an element of planning, a process of negotiating knowledge and action that aims to make things work: an objective is identified; possibilities and constraints are considered; materials, skills, tools, and techniques are allocated; thoughts and things
The parts of Qin Ding Shou shi tong kao 欽定授時通考 (Ortai et al. 1742) and Tian gong kai wu 天工開物 (Song YingXing 1637) dealing with sericulture were translated into French by Professor Stanislas Julien in 1837.
As is well known, early typographic printers generally issued texts that had long circulated in manuscript. The broadside almanac, however, emerged as a genre, starting in the 1460s, only with the advent of print culture.
In 1912, Alfred Wegener, a German climatologist and geophysicist, made public his theory about Pangea. He suggested that in a remote past there was a supercontinent, Pangea, which broke up around 200 million years ago, and that the pieces drifted to give place to present continents.
In the 1800s, the British laid plans for growing tea in Assam to substitute for expensive imports from China.
In 1848, on the cover of the American Phrenological Journal, the firm of Fowlers and Wells instructed readers to turn the page and henceforth, “know thyself.” Using this ancient Greek aphorism, phrenologists drew in men and women alike with the promise of understanding themselves and others.
Kathleen Vongsathorn's project explored the role of gender in the perception, spread, and adaptation of biomedicine and biomedical knowledge in twentieth-century Uganda.
Studying the history of psychiatry from a gender point of view is now a classic genre in the English-speaking academic world. However, there is no such historiographical tradition in France, where only a very few studies have been written on the subject so far.
This project examines the role that institutions played in mediating social and environmental change in the forests of early modern China.
The project aims to investigate the encounter and cross-fertilization among the Eastern and Western learning traditions that constituted astronomical knowledge in the century before Copernicus and had an impact on his work.
The broad domain of acoustics that emerged in academic life throughout the modern era is usually categorized as part of the natural sciences.
This Working Group explored the intersections of gender and science. Its focus was contexts other than accredited institutions, state-sponsored universities, and research institutes.
A loose conglomerate of game theory, nuclear strategy, operations research, Bayesian decision theory, systems analysis, rational choice theory, and experimental social psychology, Cold War rationality in its heyday seemed the last, best hope for the unification of the human sciences and the
Archives composed of photographs or film span the scope of human history: these are archives as intimate as the family shoebox and as vast as the world’s microfilm holdings.
In recent years color has become the focus of scholarly discussion on the interactions between art, craft, science, and technology.
The notion of endangerment stands at the heart of a network of concepts, values, and practices dealing with entities threatened by disappearance, and with the devices, such as archives, catalogs, or databases, aimed at preserving them.
Viewing the earth from a spaceship—or looking at the pictures taken from one—the observer can visualize the wholeness of our planet as well as the interconnectedness of its ostensibly disparate parts.
In the early modern period, as today, gems were the ultimate "hybrid objects." They played key roles in decorative art, global trade, and science and medicine.
Since the late twentieth century, huge databases have become a ubiquitous feature of science, and Big Data has become a buzzword for describing an ostensibly new and distinctive mode of knowledge production. Some observers have even suggested that
This Working Group, Histories of Scientific Observation, met several times during the years 2005–08. The outcome of this work, a book edited by Lorraine Daston and Elizabeth Lunbeck, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2011.
Global historians have noted the burgeoning commerce and increasing global economic integration of the early modern world, especially with regard to the trade in precious metals and luxury commodities across long-distance commercial networks.
This Working Group addressed the circulation of knowledge about materials between laboratories and artists’ workshops in the early modern period. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the term laboratorium was used to designate a specific place of work of the alchemist.
Archives are apparatuses of socialized memory, organizational tools of memorizing and remembering. The aim of this project is to study the history of their machinery, to consider them as operating systems, in their very functioning.
Was the efflorescence of natural law in both European jurisprudence and natural philosophy from circa the mid-sixteenth through the mid-eighteenth centuries merely a coincidence?
This Working Group addressed the production and circulation of optical knowledge in workshop and design practices of the visual and decorative arts and (garden) architecture between the fourteenth and seventeenth century.
History is built into the natural and human sciences at different levels: some disciplines, such as geology and archeology, deal with phenomena that are intrinsically historical; others, such as sociology and mathematics, use their own disciplinary genealogies to create canons of classical texts
Bells, stringed instruments, theater auditoria, pistols, phonographs, and synthesizers have a long history that is deeply entangled with the production of knowledge, science, and cultural heritage.
This Working Group seeks to investigate the processes and practices through which early modern men and women tested and evaluated medicinal cures.
What are the boundaries of hearing? By what parameters has hearing been measured and defined? From individuals to populations, humans to plants to whales—Who and what have been the subjects of hearing tests? When does hearing become feeling?
The creation of canons of written texts—religious, literary, philosophical, scientific—is a feature of numerous literate cultures from ancient times to the present.
Subject and Objectives of the Working Group
Practical knowledge is the knowledge needed to obtain a certain product, for instance, artistic or mechanical artifacts or a certain defined output such as healing practices that follow an established series of actions.
Historians of science and medicine have been exploring the materials used for knowledge production by examining the tools of observation, data collection, and knowledge transmission.
Working groups are dedicated, at different levels of detail, to gathering together scholars interested in specific issues within the larger theme of planning.
This project aims to support the implementation of some of the key Epistemic Web concepts.
This project aims to support the implementation of some of the key Epistemic Web concepts.
Organic and inorganic resources have provided and continue to provide the foundations for the development of human societies. Yet the processes and mechanisms through which knowledge about their use and exploitation co-evolved with societal praxis over centuries are very much context related.
Over the twentieth century, managers and employees alike became increasingly concerned with workers’ rhythms, postures, and movements; their internal states; and their capacities for focus, attention, and information processing.
This project followed concepts, practices, and experts as they traveled across the boundaries drawn by national security and secrecy in the Cold War.
The research activity is devoted to the analysis of a unique source of ancient Chinese thinking, the so-called Mohist Canon, written around 300 B. C.
To the present day, clinical teaching has not been the most important means of transmitting psychiatric knowledge.
This project studied the role of written transmission and circulation of knowledge in the early modern artist’s workshop and beyond. Knowledge of artist’s materials and their preparation and manipulation was transmitted in collections of recipes.
This project explored changing perceptions of disease and the body following the introduction of a new physics-based technology, x-rays, in Germany in 1896.
In the late Ming dynasty, the Jesuit missionaries first introduced European science into China, and the scientific exchanges between the Jesuits and Chinese literati commenced.