Global Perspectives; Historical Perspectives
How scientists like Darwin and Einstein taught us to think about nature; everything from space, time and matter to rocks, plants, and animals. This class is the second part of a two-semester introductory survey of the history of science. The two parts can be taken independently of one another. This class covers a selection of developments in physics, chemistry, biology, and geology from the 18th-20th C. We examine the reasoning of some of the leading scientists involved, while being sensitive to the broader social and cultural contexts in which they worked. We also pay attention to the ways in which we obtain knowledge in the history of science. To allow for meaningful analysis of the material, the course is clustered around a few pivotal episodes: the chemical revolution of the late-18th C., the Darwinian revolution of the 19th C and the relativity and quantum revolutions of the early-20th C. We also study the impact of these scientific developments on society. In particular, we look at the reaction of various religious groups to Darwin's theory and at the development of nuclear weapons made possible by the development of modern physics. We pay special attention to the increasingly international character of science during the period covered in this class, while emphasizing differences between the developments in various countries (notably Britain, Germany, France, and the United States). The objective of the course is to give you a better understanding not just of the historical development of scientific ideas but also of the role science plays in modern societies by tracing how it came to play that role.