MIT model explains how the brain can learn novel tasks while still remembering what it has already learned.
The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology has announced the appointments of 17 Dibner Institute Resident Fellows for 1995-1996. Next year's Dibner Fellows come from several nations and pursue many different aspects of the history of science and technology. Their names and scholarly projects are:
Pnina Abir-Am, research associate, Center for History and Philosophy of Science, Boston University, specializes in the history of 20th-century science, especially molecular biology and the history of women and gender in science. Her Dibner project is entitled "The Multi-Disciplinary History of Truth in Early Molecular Biology: How Physicists, Mathematicians and Chemists Disputed Protein Structure, 1931-1965."
Leo Corry of the Cohn Institute, Tel Aviv University, held a 1994-1995 Guest Research Fellowship at the Max Planck Institut fur Wissenschaftsgeschichte in Berlin, where he completed Modern Algebra and the Rise of Mathematical Structures, 1870-1945, now in press with Birkhauser. At the Dibner Institute, he will work on a project entitled "Hilbert and Relativity."
Robert Friedel, professor of history, University of Maryland, has published several works on the history of technology, including Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty (1994) and (with Paul N. Israel) Edison's Electric Light: Biography of an Invention (1986). He plans to explore how the concepts of "invention" and "novelty" have been understood in the West and their links to technological applications.
Frederick Gregory, professor and chair of the Department of History, University of Florida at Gainesville, is the author of Nature Lost? Natural Science and the German Theological Traditions of the Nineteenth Century (1992). His project, "Naturphilosophie and Alternative Science," will focus on the rise of naturphilosophie as an example of alternative science in a time of political and social change and uncertainty.
Ole Knudsen, associate professor in the history of science department, University of Aarhus, Denmark, plans to explore further several ideas in his recent paper, "Electromagnetic Energy and the Early History of the Energy Principle," studying the interplay between thermodynamics and electromagnetism in the latter half of the 19th century beginning with the exchanges between Helmholz and Clausius.
Trevor H. Levere is director of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Society at the University of Toronto. Among his recent books is Science and the Canadian Arctic: A Century of Exploration, 1818-1918. At the Dibner Institute, he plans to write about the role of instruments and apparatus in the development of 18th-century chemistry.
Michael S. Mahoney, professor of history, Princeton University, is the author of The Mathematical Career of Pierre de Fermat, 1601-1665. He is author of many works on the history of 19th-century mathematics and of computers. He will complete a book tentatively titled "No Royal Road: Programming, Productivity, and the Origins of Software Engineering."
Ulrich Majer is professor at the Philosophical Seminar of the Technical University, Hannover, Germany. His recent articles include "Hilbert, Reichenbach und der Neu-Kantianismus" and "`Mechanisches' Rechnen und `Reflektierendes' Denken in der Mathematik." At the Dibner Institute, he will work on his manuscript, "The Emergence of Structuralism in Nineteenth-Century Mathematics and Science."
George Molland is honorary senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. His most recent articles include "Semiotic Aspects of Medieval Mathematics, Roger Bacon's Appropriation of Past Mathematics." He plans to continue work on a new edition of Roger Bacon's Opus Tertium and his investigation of its relationship to Bacon's earlier works, including the Opus minus.
Richard Noll was a postdoctoral fellow in the history of science at Harvard University in 1994-95. His book, The Jungian Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, was published this year. His project at the Dibner Institute is an examination of the community of scientists involved in the Monistenbund of German zoologist Ernst Haeckel at the turn of the 19th century.
Stuart Peterfreund is professor and chair of the Department of English at Northeastern University. His recent articles include "Colonization by Means of Analogy, Metaphor and Allusion in Darwinian Discourse." At the Dibner Institute, Professor Peterfreund plans to work on a collection of essays dealing with the social thematics of British natural history from John Ray to Charles Darwin.
Antoine Picon is Directeur de Recherches at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chausses, Paris. He is the author of L'invention de l'ingenieur moderne, L'Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees,1747-1851. At the Dibner Institute, his project is "La Formation des Ingenieurs: Une Comparaison France/Etats Unis, fin XIX - milieu XX Century."
Robert C. Post is editor-in-chief of the periodical Technology and Culture and curator-at-large at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of American Maritime Enterprise and High Performance: The Culture and Technology of Drag Racing, 1950-1990. His Dibner project is "Technical Cultures in Collaboration: Motor Racing, Television and the Tobacco Industry."
Robert Richards is professor of history, philosophy and psychology at the University of Chicago. He was awarded the Pfizer Prize by the History of Science Society for Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior. He plans to continue work on his manuscript, tentatively entitled "Romantic Biology: From Goethe to the last Romantic, Ernst Haeckel."
David E. Rowe is professor in the history of mathematics and science at the Johannes Gutenberg Universitat, Mainz, Germany. Works now in press include Abel's Theorem and its Role in Algebraic Geometry. He has two projects planned: "Noether's Theorem," focusing on the prehistory of Emmy Noether's theorem in the calculus of variations, and a biography of Dirk Jan Struik.
Bruce Seely is associate professor of social sciences at Michigan Technological University. He was editor of and contributor to the Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography: The Iron and Steel Industry in the Twentieth Century. He plans to examine American transportation policy in the 20th century and continue his earlier studies on the history of engineering education and research.
George E. Smith, associate professor and chair of the philosophy department, Tufts University, has been an industrial consultant in structures and aerodynamics and has written articles on the history of science, particularly in Newtonian studies. He will continue studying the writings of J.J. Thomson on the composition of cathode rays and also finish compiling lecture notes for a volume, "Companion to Newton's Principia."
Also announced were the appointments of three Dibner Institute Visiting Fellows, who will spend two to three months at the Dibner Institute:
Arthur Fine is the John Evans Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. He is co-editor of Bohmian Mechanics and Quantum Theory: An Appraisal, and the author of The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism and the Quantum Theory. At the Dibner Institute, he will pursue his studies on the role of gauge symmetry as a tool for theory construction in modern physics.
Claudio Pogliano, associate professor at the University of Trieste, Italy, is the author of Storia delle scienze, Natura e vita: l'eta moderna; Il cammino impedito and "Between Form and Function: A New Science of Man," in The Enchanted Loom: Chapters in the History of Neuroscience.
Heinz-Jurgen Schmidt, professor of physics, Osnabruck University, Germany, is the co-editor of "Semantical Aspects of Spacetime Theories" and of "Reduction in Science." At the Dibner Institute, he will continue his studies for a work entitled "Understanding Hertz's Principles of Mechanics."
The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology became affiliated with MIT in 1992. Along with the renowned Burndy Library-the Dibner Institute's own scholarly resource-this center for advanced research in the history of science and technology is housed in the Dibner Building at 38 Memorial Drive. MIT is the host university with Boston University, Brandeis University and Harvard University as consortium members.
The Institute's goals are to foster and disseminate outstanding scholarship in the history of science and technology and allied fields and to initiate new directions in these fields. In addition to having distinguished scholars from around the world in residence and supporting the dissertation research of advanced graduate students, the Institute holds a lunchtime colloquium series, workshops, seminars and lectures on diverse topics in the history of science and technology that are open to the public.
Graduate Fellows also named
The Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology has announced awards to five PhD candidates enrolled in programs at Dibner Institute consortium-member institutions: Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard University and MIT. Dibner Institute graduate fellowships are given to candidates nominated by their departments and are based on excellence and scholarly promise, without regard for need.
Karl P. Hall is a PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He received the BS degree in physics and the AB in history from Stanford University in 1989. He participated in a University of Washington/CIEE Summer Language Program in Leningrad and was a postgraduate exchange student at Moscow State University in 1989-1990. His dissertation is entitled "Schools for Scandal: Theoretical Physics in Stalin's Russia."
Robert Martello received the SB degree from MIT in 1986 in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and the SM degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1993. Currently a PhD candidate in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT, he will investigate environmental implications of technological change.
David A. Mindell, also a PhD candidate in STS, received the BS degree in electrical engineering and the BA degree in literature from Yale University in 1988. In his dissertation, "From Machinery to Information: A History of Control Systems, 1916-1945," he will explore governors and feedback devices used in specific systems developed by two corporate organizations, an academic institution and a federal agency.
Babak Razzaghe-Ashrafi was graduated in 1986 from MIT with the SB degree in physics and mathematics, and he received the PhD in physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1993. He is now a PhD candidate in STS, where his area of concentration is the history of 19th and 20th century physics.
Thomas D. Wilson earned the MA degree in history at Central Missouri State University in 1991. He is a doctoral candidate at Brandeis University in the Department of Comparative History. His dissertation topic is "Early Modern Conceptions of Scientific Fraud: Allegations of Fabrication at the Royal Society and the Academie des Sciences, 1662-1793."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 3, 1995.