Monthly Archives: October 2013

Who Needs Scientific Instruments

Detailed bibliographic information for the talks in this conference proceedings does not seem to be easily available and since there are quite a variety of papers there, I thought I would offer up a table of contents. The conference ran for three days, and the papers for each day have an introduction I have omitted from the contents.

Bart Grob and Hans Hooijmaijers (eds.), Who Needs Scientific Instruments. Conference on Scientific Instruments and their Users, 20–22 October 2005. Leiden: Museum Boerhaave, 2006, 272 pp. (plus CD-ROM).

van Lunteren, Frans. ‘”Beati possidentes”: The Royal Dutch Academy and the standard metre’, 17—27.

von Lünen, Alexander. `Who needs scientific instruments? Philosophers! Physiology and philosophy in the fin e siècle’, 29—35.

Gaulke, Karsten. `Scrutinising a legend: A new look at the mathematical instruments and clocks of Wilhelm IV of Hesse-Kassel and the `Wissenschaftskammer”, 37—46.

Hauschke, Sven. `Scientific instruments, the ‘Kunstkammer’ and the invention of the renaissance ‘Kunstschrank”, 49—55.

Le Guet Tully, Françoise; and Davoigneau, Jean. `The 19th-century observatory today: From astronomical instrument to cultural and scientific symbol’, 57—64.

Pettersen, Björn Ragnvald. Astronomy in a shipping nation: harbor observatories in Norway 1850—1900′, 67—72.

Dupre, Sven; and Korey, Michael. `The use and re-use of optical instruments: Creating knowledge in the Dresden Kunstkammer’, 75—80.

Morrison-Low, Alison. “It was a dark and stormy night,: Instrument makers and the Northern lights’, 89—97.

Baker, Alexi Shannon. ‘The London instrument trade, from Culpeper to Cole’, 99—105.

Huisman, Tim. `The Leiden Theatrum Anatomicum: An instrument of encyclopaedic knowledge in a changing world’, 107—113.

Jorink, Erik. “These wonderful galsses’. Dutch humanists and the microscope, 1620—1670′, 115—122.

Roberts, Lisa. `Running in place: Location and identity in the history of Dutch steam engines’, 125—132.

Brüsch, Björn. `The technical sphere of the garden: uses of instruments and garden devices in 19th-century gardening’, 135—141.

Sichau, Christian. `Making science modern by setting up an experimental observatory in Victorian Britain’, 143—148.

van Delft, Dirk. `The blue-collar boys: The school of instrument makers at the Leiden Physics Laboratory of Heike Kamerlingh Onnes’, 151—156.

Soubiran, Sebastien. `From scientific instrument to technical efficiency: British Royal navy technological testing process, 1913—1940′, 159—167.

Erlingsson, Steindor J. `The Plymouth laboratory of the Marine Biological Association and the rise of experimental zoology in Britain’, 169—174.

Camerota, Filippo. `Admirabilis Circinus: The spread and improvement of Fabrizio Mordente’s compass’, 183—192.

Zik, Yaakov. `Theory and practice of early telescopic observation: Galileo and the telescope’, 195—200.

Raposo, Pedro. `Down-to-earth solutions for celestial purposes: Remarks on the life and works of the astronomer/instrument maker Campos Rodrigues (1836—1919)’, 203—207.

Débrabat, Suzanne. `From sea to land: From Hadley’s octant to Danjon’s astrolabe’, 209—216.

de Hilster, Nicolàs. `Reconstruction of the Spiegelboog‘, 219—225.

Caplan, James. `Reduction procedures and the development of the meridian circle in the 19th century’, 227—233.

Ratcliff, Marc. `Forms shaped by functions? Using, improving and conceiving microscopes during the 1740s’, 235—244.

Fournier, Marian. `From the laboratory to the factory: Le Poole and the electron microscope’, 247—251.

Kremer, Richard. `Inventing instruments and users: Harold Edgerton and the General Radio Company, 1932—1970′, 253—262.

Care, Charles. `The analogue computer as scientific instrument’, 265—271.

Do look the papers up if there is something that interests you.

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Alexi Baker on Instrument Makers

Alexi Baker published a short paper, “The London instrument trade, from Culpeper to Cole”, in the proceedings of the conference `Who Needs Scientific Instruments’ held October 20—22, 2005 at the Museum Boerhave in Leiden. Although she was concerned with the whole spectrum of scientific instrument makers, I just want to pick out a couple of comments she made about the mathematical ones. The conference proceedings were published with an accompanying CD giving the speakers slides, so you can see the maps she is referring to in the text. She gives a spatial distribution across London of the different kinds of instrument makers, noting the wide dispersion of the mathematical instrument makers:

The locations of the mathematical, philosophical and tri-class instrument trades also shifted westward [over time], with the mathematical instrument makers and sellers covering the most ground. Their core concentration extended from St. James and especially from Covent Garden east to the Royal Exchange and then reappeared in clusters in the Minories and near the Tower, with the northernmost point at Moorfields. The locations expanded in all directions and slightly to the south bank over time, before largely consolidating in the west, reflecting the economic range of the mathematical instrument trade from the higher end from St. James to the Royal Exchange, to the lower end on the periphery.[101]

I find her description interesting and reasoning compelling. Mathematical instruments spanned the spectrum from high-end productions for royalty and the massive, expensive, and extremely accurate instruments for observatories, down to the basic toolkit of every surveyor, navigator, and mathematician. Baker continues with a comparison of the philosophical instrument makers being more concentrated on their elite patrons in the west.

I also found her analysis of the wide spread of backgrounds (especially guild backgrounds) interesting.

Baker, A. ‘The London instrument trade, from Culpeper to Cole,’ in Bart Grob and Hans Hooijmaijers (eds.), ‘Who Needs Scientific Instruments: Conference on scientific instruments and their users 20-22 October 2005’ (Leiden, 2006), 99-105.

See Also:

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers