History of Science

The NLO History of Science Group

The History of Science Group holds informal meetings for talks and discussion about all topics related to the history of science and technology. The majority of talks relate to some aspect of astronomy or astrophysics, but since the first meeting of the Group in the autumn of 1999 there have been talks on a wider range of topics including meteorology, computing, lives of famous scientists, digital mapping, the electricity- supply industry, advances in electronic devices and smart materials. For each meeting there is usually one main talk, which is advertised in advance, and short discussions on other topics that have come to the attention of members. In other words the meeting format is quite variable.

The Group usually meets on the first Tuesday of each month from October to June at 2.30 pm. There is no formal membership and any member of the NLO is most welcome to attend (without notice) if a talk is likely to be of interest. The attendance of regular, occasional and one-off members fluctuates, and is around 15 members at present. Most of the talks are given by our regular members, but the Group would be pleased to welcome other NLO members, particularly those who would be willing to speak about their past work or special interests.

The monthly meetings are organised by Keith Orrell (korrell@uk2.net) and Alan Martin (martinsinvennottery@gmail.com). They are keen to increase the size of the Group somewhat and would be pleased to provide more information about any of the meetings.

Programme of Forthcoming Talks

Date Topic Speaker
2nd Oct 2018 Our Changing View of the Cosmos, Part 2, Post 1900 Keith Orrell
6th Nov 2018 James Clerk Maxwell Richard Pinion
4th Dec 2018 Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven David Strange

Our Changing View of the Cosmos, Part 2, Post 1900 by Keith Orrell – 2 October 2018
This is the second part of a talk summarizing how the prevailing view of cosmology has changed radically from the earliest times. This part attempts to explain how modern cosmological thinking has been revolutionized by the theories of Einstein and the advocates of the Big Bang origin of the universe. This has led to the current unsatisfactory situation where there is no consensus on the current and future descriptions of our universe!

James Clerk Maxwell by Richard Pinion – 6 November 2018
Richard will tell us about the life and remarkable achievements of the great Scottish scientist who formulated the theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together the theories of electricity, magnetism and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon.

Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven by David Strange – 4 December 2018
Gilgamesh was a king who ruled in Sumeria during the Early Dynastic Period (c. 2900 – 2350 BCE). He became a major figure in Sumerian legends. The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the earliest surviving great works of literature recorded on twelve clay tablets. Tablet VI is concerned with the Bull of Heaven, a mythical beast that is identified with the constellation of Taurus. David will discuss this fascinating astronomical association.