Gallery Talk mit Prof. Hasok Chang (Dept. of History and Philosophy of Science, Univ. Cambridge): “Who cares about this history of science? The case of voltaic batteries”

Abstract: It may seem that the history of science is irrelevant to the work of today’s practising scientists, but the benefits of history can go well beyond antiquarian curiosiy and ‘human interest’ stories. A careful look at past science can help us recover forgotten phenomena and ideas, and stimulate new directions of experimental and theoretical inquiry. I illustrate such scientific uses of history through the case of the early history of batteries, which began with the announcement of Volta’s ‘pile’, an invention that was easily replicated but presented deep theoretical challenges throughout the 19th century.

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