Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop

Location: McKenna Hall

Diffusion of Astronomical Knowledge across and within Cultures

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It is a well recognized phenomenon that astronomical ideas, theories, and data have historically crossed cultural and disciplinary boundaries. For the Eleventh Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop, we invite submissions that explore the theme of diffusion of astronomical knowledge. We understand “diffusion” to be a broad category: How did astronomical theories pass from on culture to another? What ideas expressed in one language or worldview were modified when passing into another system? How do subcultures within a single broader culture, such as professional and amateur within the same geographical region, interact? How do new discoveries make their way through a scientific community, and how do they eventually get rejected or accepted? How does knowledge pass from specialists to the broader popular culture? How do instruments play a role in transferring and shaping knowledge, especially as they pass between cultures? As in previous years, we expect that the theme can encompass a number of different time periods and geographical locations. Proposals that directly address the theme will receive preferential treatment.

Saturday Schedule:

8:30 - 10:00 am  Paper Session
Chair: Steven L. Renshaw, Kanda University of International Studies

“Were Franciscan Friars Early Copernicus Readers?,” Durruty Jesús de Alba Martínez, Universidad de Guadalajara and Salvador Galindo Uribarri, Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares

“Circulation of Scientific Knowledge in Mexico: Annals of the National Astronomical Observatory of Chapultepec (1880–1900),” Silvia Zueck, UNAM, and Jorge Bartolucci, UNAM

“Establishing the San Luis Observatory: The First Astronomical Project Supported by The Carnegie Institution to Explore the Southern Hemisphere (1903–1913); A Singular Case of the Global Dimension of Science,” Jorge Bartolucci, IISUE/UNAM

10:00 - 10:30 am  Break

10:30 am - 12:30 pm 
Panel: Teaching the History of Astronomy: Using the Past to Inform Present Pedagogy
Organizer and Chair: Todd Timberlake, Berry College (abstract)

“’You Who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever’: One Scientist’s Conversation with Those who Oppose Science with Scripture,” Christopher Graney, Jefferson Community and Technical College

“Stepping into History: Reacting to the Past with Galileo’s Trial,” Jonathan Klauke, Central Michigan University

“Defusing the Diffusion of Incorrect Knowledge: Hooke’s Parallax, van Maanen’s Rotations, and the Resolution of Orion,” Todd Timberlake, Berry College

“Using the ‘Biography of Objects’ to Teach the History of Astronomy,” Voula Saridakis, Lake Forest College

12:30 - 2:00 pm  Lunch

2:00 - 4:00 pm 
Panel: Adventures in Astronomical Transmission: Case Studies from the Premodern Period
Organizer and Chair: F. Jamil Ragep, McGill University
Commentator: Michael Shank, University of Wisconsin

“’All their books are in verse’: The Assimilation of Numerical Table Texts in Indian Astronomy,” Kim Plofker, Union College

“Astronomical Diffusion over the longue durée: Three Centuries of Immanuel Bonfil’s Book of Six Wings,” Richard Kremer, Dartmouth

“The Broader Context of Renaissance Astronomy,” Robert Morrison, Bowdoin

4:00 - 4:15 pm  Break

4:15 - 6:15 pm  Paper Session
Chair: Amanda Richard, Florida State University

“Ptolemy’s Criteria for Constructing Models,” Elizabeth Hamm, Saint Mary’s College of California

“Some Statements about Astronomy and Extraterrestrial Life in Canonical Texts of the Baha’i Religion,” Lee Minnerly, Harper College

“It is a good thing for every man to know a little about astronomy; it will make him a better man,” Nora Boyd, University of Pittsburgh

“My Reflection on the Telescope’s Four Hundredth,” Thomas Hockey, University of Northern Iowa

6:15 - 7:00 pm  Free Time

7:00 pm  Banquet in Dining Hall, basement floor of McKenna Hall

Banquet Lecture. Title: “The Other Transmission, or How Did Muslims Manage to Transfer Astronomical Knowledge over Fifty Generations?,” F. Jamil Ragep, McGill University, and Sally Ragep, McGill University. Location: McKenna Hall rooms 210–214.

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