First Day of Class

Today is our first class meeting and, in addition to our class syllabus, we will be discussing the following questions:

  1. What is Science?
  2. What is History?
  3. What is the History of Science?

I will then give a lecture over the history of astronomy from Aristotle to Kepler to contextualize the course’s focal subject: the history of science after Newton.

Below is a link for the course files for today.  Note that if you want to download the pptx file you should click the link, but the file will likely not render correctly in your web browser.  You need to download it to your computer and open it using PowerPoint.  To view the file in your browser, please use the Google Slides or .pdf format.


  • Read “A Student’s Guide to Academic Integrity” from the University of Oklahoma and take a quiz over it in on our course page in
  • Read chapter one from Peter Dear’s The Intelligibility of Nature (pdf available in the course files).  This is a brief reading on Galileo and Newton.
  • Answer the following question in the comments for this blog post: What should our goals as a class be?  What can we hope to achieve with a history of science class?  List three things you would like to learn more about, one skill you would like to develop, and any suggestions you have for the course.


16 thoughts on “First Day of Class”

  1. Our goals as a class should be to understand how peoples’ perception of science and the universe changed–and what caused that change–over the course of history.
    We can hope to achieve exactly what our goals are: that is, a better understanding of science, how it has changed our view of the world, and how our view could shift with current discoveries.
    Three things I would like to learn more about are: 1) The emergence of superstring theory and how that could change the scientific landscape today 2) If and how darwin and other scientists were perceived by the people of their days, especially as it pertains to religion 3) How advances in the 20th century have shaped our society.
    One skill I would like to develop is my writing ability.
    I would suggest only completion grades for the course…

  2. As a class our goals should be to maintain a steady pace and making it through all the material that is relevant to this subject with enough emphasis on each part to have at least a good understanding of the material. What I hope to achieve with this class is having a good understanding of what has lead to the modern scientific age we currently live in. One thing that I would like to know more about is something you mentioned earlier in class today and that is the god particle. It sounds very interesting and I have not seen anything about it. Secondly I would like to learn about the different scientific tools pertaining to medicine back then and how it has lead to different advances in medicine today. I would also like to learn about the development of nuclear weapons. A skill I would like to develop is the ability to write a good essay that flows logically and sounds decent. I don’t have any real suggestions for the course except that I really like multiple-choice questions and having those on the midterm and final would be great.

  3. The main goal of this class is to learn about the scientific discoveries which have changed our world, as well as the local politics behind them. Hopefully we can achieve this through discussions and readings.

    For me personally, I’d like to learn more about nuclear history and ongoing issues post Fukushima. I’m personally very interested in the modern energy industry in general (oil, nuclear, wind, etc). I’d also like to learn more about the politics and influence of the Roman Catholic Church post-Newton. And I’m also interested in learning more about more modern greats like Einstein, Hawking, the Curies, Oppenheimer, and others. As for skills, I would like to learn how to better time manage homework and papers in a fast paced class.

    So far, no suggestions.

    1. I would think we should endeavor to learn about the evolution of scientific theory from Newton to present and how this process has effected society. In particular, I would be interested in learning about Tesla and early electrical engineering, about the space race, and about Turing, Boole, Lovlace and the development of our current understanding of computation.

  4. I believe that as a class we should make it our primary goal to collectively gain an intellectual understanding of the subjects to be presented. Being a history of science class we should be able to learn from past economic, social, and political trends. With that knowledge, be able to trace how those trends may have changed or how they still exist in today’s society.
    Personally, I would like to learn more about the following; Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy (I lived in Japan before, during, and after the 2011 disaster. I plan to move back soon, and that knowledge may be beneficial someday in my life/work.), social impact of electricity, and the history of anatomy.
    I would like to further improve my writing skills.
    So far, I really don’t have any suggestions at this time.

  5. As a class, I believe our goal should be to make it through the assigned material in an effective and engaging method. I would hope we are able to learn a lot about how scientific thought has progressed and about the individuals involved with this progression as well as how new scientific ideas were perceived by the public in that time.
    Personally, I would like to know more about the progression of science in regards to the medical field. Also, I would like to know about if and how science has influenced politics throughout history and also about the most recent scientific discoveries.
    One skill I would like to develop during this class is becoming a better writer, and my only suggestion for the class is that we have clear instructions on all our assignments.

  6. Goals as a class should be to gain a better understanding of what science is and how it functions, as well as how scientific knowledge/discoveries have impacted history and culture. Hopefully, this will be achieved through in-class discussion and assignments.
    I hope to learn some about the history of medicine and its perception by people and religion, the effects of advancing science on warfare, and nuclear fission. In this class, I also expect to improve upon my writing skills in a fast pace course. A suggestion that I have for this class is for some sort of test review so that we can be made aware of the information expected to be known.

  7. A good class goal could be to make it to the end of the summer semester with a good understanding of the course material and how it has shaped science today. I don’t have any specific key things I would like to learn more about, so I am going to say I would like to learn about it all. I hope to get a good understanding of how the work of earlier scientists helped improve the science I am learning today. I would like to develop better writing skills while in this class.

  8. For this class our goal should be to obtain a better understanding of the ways in which science has evolved over the past couple of centuries. We can hope to achieve a deeper knowledge of how the cultural, philosophical, and religious views of the time period may have influenced or inhibited the progression of scientific discoveries and theories.
    I’m interested in evolution and would like to learn more about Charles Darwin and how he was able to develop his theories. I would also like to know more about the development of medicine the discoveries that led to modern treatments. Another topic that interests me is the science behind space exploration and what knowledge the scientific community hoped to gain from it. In this course I would like to further develop my writing skills and improve my research abilities. The only suggestion I would have for this class at the moment would be to have less group work.

  9. Our goals, as a class,should be to examine the path that science has travelled to get to this point, determine how major historical events have affected modern science, and compare how historical generations’ views on science compare with our own.
    This class should broaden our perspective on science to include situations were science wasn’t totally driven by money. Hopefully, it will give us a historical glimpse of when major breakthroughs occurred in science and how the public accepted these changes to the status quo.
    I would love the opportunity to look in-depth at several topics.Firstly, the work of Pasteur has always intrigued me and I would love to delve into how a single human could have had such a varied set of original thoughts. Secondly, I would love to look at the long term effect, both positive and negative, of the gathering of great scientific minds by Hitler and the Nazi regime. Lastly, I would love to look at the historical context of the Olympics and see how scientific thought/advancements have altered the world’s greatest competitive showcase.

  10. Our goals should be to learn as much as we can about how science has developed since the time of newton, their influence, and about the events that lead to those developments, and the people linked to those events, and to do so in such a way that it’s interesting enough that we won’t forget it a week after the class ends.

    We can hope to acheive the aforementioned goals, and to gain a much better understanding of the history that lead up to modern science and technology.

    I’d like to learn more about the kind of stuff I use as an engineering major, so things like the developement of our modern understanding of electricity and chemistry, the physics behind them, and the people and experiments that helped verify the physics behind them.

    I suppose I’d like to develop a skill for talking about history and science, and the history of science, and legitimately being interested and at least somewhat passionate about what I’m talking about.

    As for suggestions, I suppose I only hope for there not to be a huge volume of reading and writing I have to do on any particular night; spread it out.

  11. Reblogged this on dollyjpatel and commented:
    Our goals as a class should be to have a better understanding all of the important scientist after the Newton era. We can hope to achieve more knowledge of the significant people and key events that occurred in the past along with the present relative to science. I would like to learn more about Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein; unfortunately, I have never seen the movie and barely know anything about it. I would like to learn how chemistry came about, and how it played a role in pharmaceuticals. Also, I would like to learn more about the most recent scientific discoveries.
    One skill I wish to better form this class is becoming a better writer.
    I have a few suggestions for the class: the blogs should be due before class, we have clear instructions for all of our papers, and a review guide for the midterm and final.

  12. What should our goals as a class be?

    I’ve always been interested in the background behind the science and what was going through their heads as a new theory was invented.

    What can we hope to achieve with a history of science class?

    I would like to gain a greater understanding of the people who pioneered our modern age.

    List three things you would like to learn more about, one skill you would like to develop, and any suggestions you have for the course.

    I would like to learn more about:

    Richard Feynamn

    Henry Cavendish

    The Manhattan Project.

    I would like to be able to analize the impact science has had on society better.

  13. The goal of the class should be to help each student comprehend the evolution of scientific thought. In this way, we should achieve a better understanding of the origins of and context surrounding certain ideas and discoveries in the realm of natural and social science. From this we should be able to see how those advancements have led our species to a greater quality of life, as well as a more humble and accurate view of our place in the universe.

    If there’s one think I’d like to learn about most, it would be anything pertaining to our realization and current understanding of black holes, dark matter, and dark energy. Nothing excites me more than where we are in understanding the fabric of the universe. Other than that, I am very interested to know more about our grasp of the concept of time, and how we’ve built a system which keeps the world turning (in some sense) around something we have such little definition for. I’d also like to learn about how we got to the point of working with molecules on a sub-particle level.

    The skill that I’d most like to develop within the parameters of the class would have to be reading comprehension. Given that this is a summer class, a lot of material is covered in a very short amount of time. I grasp well, but it comes slow, and many times I’ll have to sit with a piece of information for a long time before being able to move on. But with the time parameters of this course, I do not have that luxury. Hopefully by pushing myself to keep up with this pace, I will achieve my goal.

    The thing that I can suggest at this time about the course is maybe cutting down on some of the reading. Having to do two book reports along with two major exams, and other daily reading and homework, is quite a lot to handle in only 4 weeks.

  14. The main goals of this course are to observe and analyze the impact science has had on the world throughout history, as well as how historical times have influenced the direction science has taken. Three things I would like to learn about are how science fiction may have impacted science, the advancements during world war II, as well as our space exploration achievements. A skill that I hope to improve would be my writing as I don’t write as much as I think I should. One suggestion for the course is to also cover is the history and advancements of computing.

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