Putting Science in Its Place: Geographies of Scientific by David N. Livingstone

By David N. Livingstone

We're familiar with considering technological know-how and its findings as common. in the end, one atom of carbon plus of oxygen yields carbon dioxide in Amazonia in addition to in Alaska; a scientist in Bombay can use an identical fabrics and strategies to problem the paintings of a scientist in long island; and naturally the legislation of gravity follow around the globe. Why, then, should still the areas the place technology is completed topic in any respect? David N. Livingstone right here places that question to the try out along with his interesting learn of the way technology bears the marks of its position of production.

Putting technological know-how in Its Place establishes the basic significance of geography in either the iteration and the intake of medical wisdom, utilizing old examples of the various locations the place technology has been practiced. Livingstone first turns his realization to a few of the categorical websites the place technology has been made—the laboratory, museum, and botanical backyard, to call many of the extra traditional locales, but additionally locations just like the coffeehouse and cathedral, ship's deck and asylum, even the human physique itself. In every one case, he unearths simply how the distance of inquiry has conditioned the investigations conducted there. He then describes how, on a local scale, provincial cultures have formed clinical exercise and the way, in flip, medical practices were instrumental in forming neighborhood identities. Widening his inquiry, Livingstone issues lightly to the elemental instability of clinical which means, in response to case reports of ways medical theories were got in numerous locales. Putting technology in Its Place powerfully concludes by way of reading the striking mobility of technology and the doubtless easy approach it strikes round the globe.

From the reception of Darwin within the land of the Maori to the giraffe that walked from Marseilles to Paris, Livingstone indicates that position does subject, even on the earth of science.

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Women also energetically participated in the domestic field club movement in Victorian England, which did much to foster amateur science at the time. At least in part a manifestation of a romantic sensibility toward the natural order, groups like the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club, formed in Scotland in 1831, opened membership to both men and women. Such societies were as much experiments in innovative social relations as places where the cult of the naturalist was ac- 44 chapter two tively nurtured.

By patient comparison and correlation, the armchair naturalist could easily triumph over the fragmentary and precarious claims of the fieldworker. For Cuvier the most wonderful voyages of discovery never weighed anchor and pushed out to sea: they never left the workshop. Only in the study could one rove the cosmos. Whatever the merits of Cuvier’s partisan analysis, his interventions call attention to the markedly differing cognitive styles that characterized open-space and closed-space naturalists.

Nor was Cuvier’s dispute with Humboldt a unique episode. To the mid-nineteenth century Edinburgh student of Alpine glaciers, James David Forbes, it was only “protracted residence among the Icy Solitudes” that warranted genuine scientific knowledge of glacial matters. It was only presence in the ice fields that could replace rumor with reason. The Cambridge mathematical theorist William Hopkins, however, didn’t see things the same way at all. To him the nature of glacial motion could be deduced from the laws of physics and their operation in laboratory-based experiments on force, solids, and fluids.

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