outreach

Austria’s Ahead-of-Its-Time Institute That Was Lost to Nazis

Manfred Laubichler was interviewed for an article by Chelsea Wald about the Biologische Versuchsanstalt in Vienna, published in the recent issue of Nautilus. From the article:

In 1911, Popular Science Monthly published an enthusiastic description of a young, private experimental-biology institute in Vienna, lauding its “remarkable scientific productivity resulting from only eight years of research.”

An early air-conditioning system used to control air temperatures at the Vivarium

The author, zoologist Charles Lincoln Edwards, attributed the success of the Biologische Versuchsanstalt (Insitute of Experimental Biology) to its many advanced experimental devices. The institute, popularly known as the Vivarium, boasted a wide range of terrariums, which housed hundreds of organisms, from glow-worms to kangaroos, at strictly controlled temperatures, humidity, pressure, and light levels. That wasn’t always easy—the Vivarium had to adopt or invent many cutting-edge technologies, including an early air-conditioning system. It was “a pioneer in the use of the carbonic-acid cooling machine for maintaining a cold environment,” wrote Edwards. With the help of circulating salt water and a condenser, four rooms were kept at temperatures ranging from 5°C to 20°C.

The idea of using various apparatuses to control the living conditions of plants and animals for study was new; before that, scientists mainly observed their subjects in nature. At the Vivarium, the focus was on raising many generations under the same conditions in order to probe questions of heredity and development—a unique approach at the time, and one that many consider a precursor to today’s research on evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo-devo.”

Workshop on Digital HPS @ History of Science Society, 2013

Are you fascinated by the prospect of taking your scholarship into the digital realm, but not quite sure how to get started? Heard lots of buzz, but aren't quite clear about what "digital history & philosophy of science" means in practice? Join us for an informal and informative workshop on digital HPS at the upcoming History of Science Society meeting in Boston! This workshop is a co-production of the international Digital HPS Consortium and the ASU Digital Innovation Group.

What: Workshop F1: Laying the Foundation for Your Digital or Computational Project in the History of Science: an Interactive Workshop
When: Friday, November 22nd, 8:45pm
Where: Alcott Room, Mezzanine Level, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel

Objectives

  1. To expose HSS attendees to some of the cool things happening in the Digital HPS world, and
  2. To create an informal, friendly space where people interested in digital approaches can be inspired, discuss ideas, and get more information.

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Kate & Lijing: China at the MBL: 1920-1945

On July 12, PhD candidates Kate MacCord and Lijing Jiang gave a presentation on their ongoing research into Chinese scientists who worked at the Marine Biological Laboratory from 1920 to 1945, and the impact of those affiliations on the development of scientific institutions in China. Kate and Lijing are working at the MBL this summer as part of the MBL Community Archives Project. The talk was well attended by MBL scientists and members of the Woods Hole community.