Science History

The synthesis of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and biology, pursued in fits and starts over the years by an eccentric cast of thinkers, has produced a few scientific red herrings, but the overall idea has expanded our biophysical horizons.  I'll summarize what I've come to understand about the development of biological thermodynamics and its implications, while trying to skirt the rabbit holes.
As I wrote in Like Freedom? Thank A Scientist - How Science Made America Possible, during the meetings of the the Continental Congress during independence discussions, Thomas Jefferson noted the temperature on four separate occasions.  Jefferson, like many others present, was a citizen scientist long before there was government funding for it.   The same climate of liberalism (liberals, not busybody progressives, as I have stated too many times to count) that makes science flourish made democracy possible.
Ignaz Venetz - Climate Change Pioneer - #2

Ignaz Venetz was, in 1821, awarded a prize of 300 francs for his memoire by the Schweizerische Naturforschende Gesellschaft - the Swiss Natural Science Society.  It is my firm opinion that, accordingly, the date of publication should be cited as 1821: the date of the award of the prize, and not 1833 which was the date of its re-publication in a bound archive of science papers.
Ignaz Venetz - Climate Change Pioneer

Climate has always changed - but we have not always known it.

Events following 1816 - the year without a summer - led to a major controversy in which the scientific consensus on the one hand was countered by dogma on the other.  On reading the history of that great controversy, one gets a strong sense of Déjà vu.

Thought experiments are mental exercises, or imaginative experiments, which are often not possible to perform with current technology. They appear to be particularly popular in physics and philosophy, but are by no means limited to these two fields. There are a couple of thought experiments that employ demons. After all, an imaginary entity with awesome powers can be quite useful in a thought experiment, can’t it?


Three of the most famous thought experiments that center around a demon with amazing capabilities, are:

Descartes’ Evil Demon

History Mystery #3 - Land, Law and Science

"Words are to the Anthropologist what rolled pebbles are to the Geologist — battered relics of past ages often containing within them indelible records capable of intelligent interpretation..."
John Herschel
History Mysteries #2 - The Sawdust Coast

According to Peter Freuchen, writing of his travels in Siberia, circa 1936,  the tundra coast near Tiksi in the Lena Delta was fringed with logs and the sea bottom contained "hundreds of thousands of years of sawdust".  To the best of my knowledge, this remarkable phenomenon - a Siberian 'sawdust coast' - has never been studied scientifically.

Peter Freuchen

Peter Freuchen was a scientist.  However, for much of his life he was known to various people according to the various talents which make him seem like a character from a work of fiction.
History Mysteries #1 - Who Shot The Tomatoes?
The Astonishment of a Sailor on Finding Buckshot in His Portion of Tomatoes.

Hidden in the details of the Jeannette Expedition one finds a factor in common with the Franklin Expedition: lead poisoning.

The Jeannette Expedition

Now we come to the second part of the series

Botany: A Blooming History


History, Science and the TMT Boundary

To the extent that written records show political, religious or other personal bias, it may be truly said that history is bunk.  Or we may say with Henry Ford that history - as a list of dates of political events - is bunk.  But if we take the term 'history' as inclusive of everything known about the past that has a bearing on our current collective human knowledge, then history is a most valuable asset.