Matching Items (17)

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Scientific and cultural interpretations of volcanoes, 1766-1901

Description

Scientific and Cultural Interpretations of Volcanoes, 1766-1901 analyzes nineteenth-century conceptions of volcanoes through interdisciplinary literature and science studies. The project considers how people in the nineteenth century used science, aesthetics, and other ways of knowing to understand volcanoes and their

Scientific and Cultural Interpretations of Volcanoes, 1766-1901 analyzes nineteenth-century conceptions of volcanoes through interdisciplinary literature and science studies. The project considers how people in the nineteenth century used science, aesthetics, and other ways of knowing to understand volcanoes and their operations. In the mid-eighteenth century, volcanoes were seen as singular, unique features of the planet that lacked temporal and terrestrial reach. By the end of the nineteenth century, volcanoes were seen as networked, environmental phenomena that stretched through geological time and geographic space. Scientific and Cultural Interpretations of Volcanoes, 1766-1901 offers a new historical understanding of volcanoes and their environmental connections, using literature and science to show how perceptions of volcanic time and space changed over 135 years.

The first chapter, using texts by Sir William Hamilton, Hester Piozzi, and Priscilla Wakefield, argues that in the late eighteenth century important aspects of volcanoes, like their impact upon human life and their existence through time, were beginning to be defined in texts ranging from the scientific to the educational. The second chapter focuses on works by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Charles Lyell to demonstrate the ways that volcanoes were stripped of metaphysical or symbolic meaning as the nineteenth century progressed. The third chapter contrasts the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa with Constance Gordon-Cumming’s travels to Kīlauea. The chapter shows how even towards the end of the century, trying to connect human minds with the process of volcanic phenomenon was a substantial challenge, but that volcanoes like Kīlauea allowed for new conceptions of volcanic action. The last chapter, through a post-apocalyptic novel by M. P. Shiel, shows how volcanoes were finally beginning to be categorized as a primary agent within the environment, shaping all life including humanity. Ultimately, I argue that the change in thinking about volcanoes parallels today’s shift in thinking about global climate change. My work provides insight into how we imagine ecological catastrophes like volcanic eruptions or climate change in the past and present and what that means for their impact on people.

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Date Created
2016

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The emerging scientist: collectives of influence in the science network of nineteenth-century Britain

Description

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no universal term to describe a person who practiced science. In 1833, the term “scientist” was proposed to recognize these individuals, but exactly who was represented by this term was still

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was no universal term to describe a person who practiced science. In 1833, the term “scientist” was proposed to recognize these individuals, but exactly who was represented by this term was still ambiguous. Supported by Bruno Latour’s theory of networks and hybridity, The Emerging Scientist takes a historical approach to analyze the different collectives of individuals who influenced the cultural perception of science and therefore aided in defining the role of the emerging scientist during the nineteenth century.

Each chapter focuses on a collective in the science network that influenced the development of the scientist across the changing scientific landscape of the nineteenth century. Through a study of William Small and Herbert Spencer, the first chapter investigates the informal clubs that prove to be highly influential due, in part, to the freedom individuals gain by being outside of formal institutions. Through an investigation of the lives and works of professional astronomer, Caroline Herschel, and physicist and mathematician, James Clerk Maxwell, chapter two analyzes the collective of professional practitioners of science to unveil the way in which scientific advancement actually occurred. Chapter three argues for the role of women in democratizing science and expanding the pool from which future scientists would come through a close analysis of Jane Marcet and Agnes Clerke, members of the collective of female popularizers of science. The final chapter examines how the collective of fictional depictions of science and the scientist ultimately are part of the cultural perception of the scientist through a close reading of Shelley’s Alastor; or, the Spirit of Solitude and Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Ultimately, The Emerging Scientist aims to recreate the way science is studied in order to generate a more comprehensive understanding of the influences on developing science and the scientist during the nineteenth century.

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Date Created
2016

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The genesis of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Description

This is a project about medicine and the history of a condition called premenstrual syndrome (PMS), its “discovery” and conceptual development at both scientific and socio-cultural levels. Since it was first mentioned in medical literature, PMS has been explored empirically

This is a project about medicine and the history of a condition called premenstrual syndrome (PMS), its “discovery” and conceptual development at both scientific and socio-cultural levels. Since it was first mentioned in medical literature, PMS has been explored empirically as a medical condition and conceptually as non-somatic cultural phenomenon. Many attempts have been made to produce scientific, empirical evidence to bolster the theory of PMS as a biological disease. Some non-medical perspectives argue that invoking biology as the cause of PMS medicalizes a natural function of the female reproductive system and shallowly interrogates what is actually a complex bio-psycho-social phenomenon. This thesis questions both sides of this debate in order to reveal how criteria for PMS were categorized despite disagreement surrounding its etiology.

This thesis illustrates how the concept of PMS developed and was informed by the discovery of hormones and the resulting field of endocrinology that provided a framework for conceptualizing PMS. It displays how the development of the medical diagnostic category of PMS developed in tandem with the emergence of the field of endocrinology and was legitimized and effectively medicalized through this connection. The diagnosis of PMS became established though the diagnostic techniques like questionnaires in spite of persistent disagreement over its definition. The thesis shows how these medical concepts and practices legitimated the category of PMS, and how it has become ubiquitous in contemporary culture.

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Date Created
2016

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Using a computational approach to study the history of systems biology: from systems to biology, 1992-2013

Description

Systems biology studies complex biological systems. It is an interdisciplinary field, with biologists working with non-biologists such as computer scientists, engineers, chemists, and mathematicians to address research problems applying systems’ perspectives. How these different researchers and their disciplines differently contributed

Systems biology studies complex biological systems. It is an interdisciplinary field, with biologists working with non-biologists such as computer scientists, engineers, chemists, and mathematicians to address research problems applying systems’ perspectives. How these different researchers and their disciplines differently contributed to the advancement of this field over time is a question worth examining. Did systems biology become a systems-oriented science or a biology-oriented science from 1992 to 2013?

This project utilized computational tools to analyze large data sets and interpreted the results from historical and philosophical perspectives. Tools deployed were derived from scientometrics, corpus linguistics, text-based analysis, network analysis, and GIS analysis to analyze more than 9000 articles (metadata and text) on systems biology. The application of these tools to a HPS project represents a novel approach.

The dissertation shows that systems biology has transitioned from a more mathematical, computational, and engineering-oriented discipline focusing on modeling to a more biology-oriented discipline that uses modeling as a means to address real biological problems. Also, the results show that bioengineering and medical research has increased within systems biology. This is reflected in the increase of the centrality of biology-related concepts such as cancer, over time. The dissertation also compares the development of systems biology in China with some other parts of the world, and reveals regional differences, such as a unique trajectory of systems biology in China related to a focus on traditional Chinese medicine.

This dissertation adds to the historiography of modern biology where few studies have focused on systems biology compared with the history of molecular biology and evolutionary biology.

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Date Created
2016

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How Factors like 1800’s Gender Expectations, Misconceptions, and Moral Traditions Shaped US Women’s Reproductive Medical Care

Description

In the last 200 years, advancements in science and technology have made understanding female sexual function and the female body more feasible; however, many women throughout the US still lack fundamental understanding of the reproductive system in the twenty-first century.

In the last 200 years, advancements in science and technology have made understanding female sexual function and the female body more feasible; however, many women throughout the US still lack fundamental understanding of the reproductive system in the twenty-first century. Many factors contribute to the lack of knowledge and misconceptions that women still have. Discussing sexual health tends to make some people uncomfortable and this study aims to investigate what aspects of somewhat recent US history in women’s health care may have led to that discomfort. This thesis examines the question: what are some of the factors that shaped women’s reproductive medicine in the US from the mid 1800s and throughout the 1900s and what influence could the past have had on how women and their physicians understand female sexuality in medicine and how physicians diagnose their female patients in the twenty-first century. A literature review of primary source medical texts written at the end of the 1800s provides insight about patterns among physicians at the time and their medical practice with female patients. Factors like gendered expectations in medical practice, misconceptions about the female body and behaviors, and issues of morality in sex medicine all contributed to women lacking understanding of sex female reproductive functions. Other factors like a physician’s role throughout history and non-medical reproductive health providers and solutions likely also influenced the reproductive medicine women received. Examining the patterns of the past provides some insight into some of the outdated and gendered practices still exhibited in healthcare. Expanding sexual education programs, encouraging discussion about sex and reproductive health, and checking gendered implicit bias in reproductive healthcare could help eliminate echoes of hysteria ideology in the twenty-first century medicine.

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Date Created
2019

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The Meaning of Meaning in Insect Navigation Research

Description

Getting clear about what behavioral scientists mean when they invoke content presupposing concepts, like information, is necessary for understanding how humanity’s own behavioral capacities do or do not relate to those of non-human animals. Yet, producing a general naturalistic definition

Getting clear about what behavioral scientists mean when they invoke content presupposing concepts, like information, is necessary for understanding how humanity’s own behavioral capacities do or do not relate to those of non-human animals. Yet, producing a general naturalistic definition for representational content has proven notoriously difficult. Some have argued that Claude Shannon’s formal, mathematically defined notion of information is the proper starting point for building a biological theory of content. Others have sought to define content presupposing concepts in terms of the historical selection processes that drive evolution. However, neither approach has produced definitions that capture the way successful researchers in the behavioral sciences use content-presupposing concepts. In this dissertation, I examine an ethological tradition of insect navigation research that has consistently ascribed content to insects. To clarify the meaning of such ascriptions, I analyze the practices scientists use to justify new attributions of content and the way new attributions of content guide scientists’ future research activities. In chapter 1, I examine a series of insect navigation experiments performed in 2006–2007 that led to a novel ascription of content. I argue that researchers ascribe content to insects’ navigation behaviors when those behaviors reliably accomplish a difficult goal-directed function. I also argue that ascriptions of content help researchers achieve their epistemic aims by guiding hypothesis formation and aiding comparative theorizing.
In chapter 2, I trace the history of the experimental strategy analyzed above
back to the work of Karl von Frisch in the early 20th century. I argue that von Frisch has a complicated and understudied relationship to the discipline of ethology. I support that argument by highlighting features of von Frisch’s research that both comported with and differed from the program of classical ethology.
In chapter 3, I examine the cognitive map debate in insects. I argue that the debate stems from competing research groups’ endorsement of different norms for justifying claims about the dynamics of representational contents. I then situate these different norms historically to show how the cognitive map debate is a continuation of longstanding divisions within the history of animal behavior research.

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Date Created
2021

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Exploring Education Cyborg Space: Bibliographic and Metaphor Analysis of Educational Psychology and Artificial Intelligence Studies

Description

The emergence of machine intelligence, which is superior to the best human talent in some problem-solving tasks, has rendered conventional educational goals obsolete, especially in terms of enhancing human capacity in specific skills and knowledge domains. Hence, artificial intelligence (AI)

The emergence of machine intelligence, which is superior to the best human talent in some problem-solving tasks, has rendered conventional educational goals obsolete, especially in terms of enhancing human capacity in specific skills and knowledge domains. Hence, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a buzzword, espousing both crisis rhetoric and ambition to enact policy reforms in the educational policy arena. However, these policy measures are mostly based on an assumption of binary human-machine relations, focusing on exploitation, resistance, negation, or competition between humans and AI due to the limited knowledge and imagination about human-machine relationality. Setting new relations with AI and negotiating human agency with the advanced intelligent machines is a non-trivial issue; it is urgent and necessary for human survival and co-existence in the machine era. This is a new educational mandate. In this context, this research examined how the notion of human and machine intelligence has been defined in relation to one another in the intellectual history of educational psychology and AI studies, representing human and machine intelligence studies respectively. This study explored a common paradigmatic space, so-called ‘cyborg space,’ connecting the two disciplines through cross-referencing in the citation network and cross-modeling in the metaphorical semantic space. The citation network analysis confirmed the existence of cross-referencing between human and machine intelligence studies, and interdisciplinary journals conceiving human-machine interchangeability. The metaphor analysis found that the notion of human and machine intelligence has been seamlessly interwoven to be part of a theoretical continuum in the most commonly cited references. This research concluded that the educational research and policy paradigm needs to be reframed based on the fact that the underlying knowledge of human and machine intelligence is not strictly differentiated, and human intelligence is relatively provincialized within the human-machine integrated system.

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Date Created
2021

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The Carnegie Image Tube Committee and the Development of Electronic Imaging Devices in Astronomy, 1953-1976

Description

This dissertation examines the efforts of the Carnegie Image Tube Committee (CITC), a group created by Vannevar Bush and composed of astronomers and physicists, who sought to develop a photoelectric imaging device, generally called an image tube, to aid astronomical

This dissertation examines the efforts of the Carnegie Image Tube Committee (CITC), a group created by Vannevar Bush and composed of astronomers and physicists, who sought to develop a photoelectric imaging device, generally called an image tube, to aid astronomical observations. The Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism coordinated the CITC, but the committee included members from observatories and laboratories across the United States. The CITC, which operated from 1954 to 1976, sought to replace direct photography as the primary means of astronomical imaging.

Physicists, who gained training in electronics during World War II, led the early push for the development of image tubes in astronomy. Vannevar Bush’s concern for scientific prestige led him to form a committee to investigate image tube technology, and postwar federal funding for the sciences helped the CITC sustain development efforts for a decade. During those development years, the CITC acted as a mediator between the astronomical community and the image tube producers but failed to engage astronomers concerning various development paths, resulting in a user group without real buy-in on the final product.

After a decade of development efforts, the CITC designed an image tube, which Radio Corporation of American manufactured, and, with additional funding from the National Science Foundation, the committee distributed to observatories around the world. While excited about the potential of electronic imaging, few astronomers used the Carnegie-developed device regularly. Although the CITC’s efforts did not result in an overwhelming adoption of image tubes by the astronomical community, examining the design, funding, production, and marketing of the Carnegie image tube shows the many and varied processes through which astronomers have acquired new tools. Astronomers’ use of the Carnegie image tube to acquire useful scientific data illustrates factors that contribute to astronomers’ adoption or non-adoption of those new tools.

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Date Created
2019

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Development, evolution, and teeth: how we came to explain the morphological evolution of the mammalian dentition

Description

This dissertation begins to lay out a small slice of the history of morphological research, and how it has changed, from the late 19th through the close of the 20th century. Investigators using different methods, addressing different questions, holding different

This dissertation begins to lay out a small slice of the history of morphological research, and how it has changed, from the late 19th through the close of the 20th century. Investigators using different methods, addressing different questions, holding different assumptions, and coming from different research fields have pursued morphological research programs, i.e. research programs that explore the process of changing form. Subsequently, the way in which investigators have pursued and understood morphology has witnessed significant changes from the 19th century to modern day research. In order to trace this shifting history of morphology, I have selected a particular organ, teeth, and traced a tendril of research on the dentition beginning in the late 19th century and ending at the year 2000. But even focusing on teeth would be impossible; the scope of research on this organ is far too vast. Instead, I narrow this dissertation to investigation of research on a particular problem: explaining mammalian tooth morphology. How researchers have investigated mammalian tooth morphology and what counts as an explanation changed dramatically during this period.

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Date Created
2017

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A biography of endocrine disruptors: the narrative surrounding the appearance and regulation of a new category of toxic substances

Description

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with the hormone system to negative effect. They ‘disrupt’ normal processes to cause diseases like vaginal cancer and obesity, reproductive issues like t-shaped uteri and infertility, and developmental abnormalities like spina bifida and cleft

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with the hormone system to negative effect. They ‘disrupt’ normal processes to cause diseases like vaginal cancer and obesity, reproductive issues like t-shaped uteri and infertility, and developmental abnormalities like spina bifida and cleft palate. These chemicals are ubiquitous in our daily lives, components in everything from toothpaste to microwave popcorn to plastic water bottles. My dissertation looks at the history, science, and regulation of these impactful substances in order to answer the question of how endocrine disruptors appeared, got interpreted by different groups, and what role science played in the process. My analysis reveals that endocrine disruptors followed a unique science policy trajectory in the US, rapidly going from their proposal in 1991 to their federal regulation in 1996, even amid intense and majority scientific disagreement over whether the substances existed at all. That trajectory resulted from the work of a small number of scientist-activists who constructed a concept and category as scientific, social, and regulatory. By playing actors from each sphere against each other and advancing a very specific scientific narrative that fit into a regulatory and social window of opportunity in the 1990s, those scientist-activists made endocrine disruptors a national issue that few could ignore. Those actions resulted in the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, a heavily-criticized and ineffective regulatory program. My dissertation tells a story of the past that informs the present. In 2018, the work of researchers, public media, and policymakers in the 1990s continues to play out, evident in the deep scientific division over endocrine disrupting effects and the inability of the European Union to settle on even a definition of endocrine disruptors for regulation purposes.

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Date Created
2018