M. Norton Wise wins History of Science Society’s Sarton Medal 2019

M. Norton Wise, Distinguished Research Professor of History (Emeritus) at the University of California, Los Angeles, and former MPIWG Advisory Board Chair and long-term Research Scholar, has won the History of Science Society’s 2019 Sarton Medal for lifetime scholarly achievement.

Norton Wise smiling into the camera/ photo: Annette Hornischer

Photo: Annette Hornischer.

Wise is best known for his fundamental work in the history of physics. His Energy and Empire: A Biographical Study of Lord Kelvin (Cambridge University Press, 1989, co-authored with Crosbie Smith) won the 1990 Pfizer Prize, and he followed this book with three companion articles, “Work and Waste: Political Economy and Natural Philosophy in Nineteenth Century Britain,” published in History of Science in 1989 and 1990. Together, these works set out a new way of understanding science. He showed that science is not just embedded in culture, but is also a part of it, drawing its resources from the specificity of a particular time and place. His newest book, Aesthetics, Industry, and Science: Hermann von Helmholtz and the Berlin Physical Society (University of Chicago Press) was published in 2018.