News from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

X is for Xenarthran

11 Nov 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge’s connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, X is for Xenarthran. A must-have item for 15th-century collectors of 'curiosities' and a source of fascination for evolutionary biologist Dr Robert Asher.

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V is for Venomous Snake

28 Oct 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, V is for Venomous Snake: an animal that has long evoked fear and curiosity, but is revealing important clues for the development of treatments for some devastating conditions.

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U is for Unicorn

21 Oct 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge’s connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, U is for Unicorn. Despite being notoriously difficult to catch, they feature on maiolica plates, in 15th century heraldry, and in early recipes for anti-poison.

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A world of science

08 Oct 2015

The history of science has been centred for too long on the West, say Simon Schaffer and Sujit Sivasundaram. It’s time to think global.

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What is a monster?

07 Sep 2015

In the outrage that erupted when an American dentist killed a lion, the trophy hunter was branded a 'monster'. Natalie Lawrence, a PhD candidate in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, explores notions of the monstrous and how they tie into ideas about morality.

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Distillation in the 15th century, from Liber de Arte Distillandi de Compositis by Hieronymus Brunschwig

Men in stripes: spot the difference in early modern woodcuts

16 Jul 2015

Sixteenth-century woodcuts often depict young men wearing striped doublets or striped hose.  When historian of science Tillmann Taape embarked on a journey into the meaning of stripes, he discovered that artists used them to mark out people who were neither rich and educated nor poor and illiterate – but something in between.

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Haeckel’s embryos: the images that would not go away

06 Jul 2015

A new book tells, for the first time in full, the extraordinary story of drawings of embryos initially published in 1868. The artist was accused of fraud – but, copied and recopied, his images gained iconic status as evidence of evolution.

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Illuminating art’s history

19 Feb 2015

Scientific imaging techniques are uncovering secrets locked in medieval illuminated manuscripts – including those of a thrifty duke.

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