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Topic: Origins of Science/Tech. in Antiquity

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Subject: Origins of Science/Tech. in Antiquity
Date Posted: 4/25/2009 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2009
Posts: 66
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I am interested in the origins of the tools and technologies we take for granted today. In particular, how people from antiquity made their unscientific discoveries. Books by Charles Panati, Henry Pertroski, and Stephen Sass are intriguing, but I have not found more detailed texts for a general audience.

Can anyone recommend other works in this topic?


Last Edited on: 4/25/09 6:37 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 4/26/2009 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 12/25/2008
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"The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn takes a look at the history of science and shows how our ideas of "good science" change throughout its development.  He uses a lot of case studies from the ancients as well as more contemporary science (alchemy, phlogiston theory, the Leyden Jar, spontaneous generation, genetics).  The book's thesis is about the cognitive biases that scientists, as a community, hold, but I found the historical examples to be interesting.  It shows how our view of ancient science as "unscientific" is more a result of the new *type* of science that has emerged in modern times, rather than any specific shortcoming of the ancient methods.

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Date Posted: 7/9/2009 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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You might like to take a look at Pythagoras' Trousers. by Margaret Wertheim.  She's a physicist and writes of the "origins" of her science in the "metaphysics" of ancient times.  I found the book interesting, but I'm only a layman, and no scientist.  I have no idea how a modern-day scientist would feel about being considered the descendant of ancient-times "priests" who dealt with mystical rites . . . ?   (And it wasn't really all that long ago that Doctor Lister had to contend with the scoffing of his fellow physicians when  he tried to persuade them of the importance of 'sterility' in surgery, etc.  Since they couldn't SEE  those "germs" of which he spoke, of course they were simply figments of Lister's overactive imagination!