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The British Journal for the History of Science 47 (2014), 4

Meeting places: the scientific congress and the host town in the south-west of England, Urban History 39 2 , Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion 15 , 87 Miskell, Louise. Understanding Urban Wales. Immigrants and Minorities 22 , History 88 1 , 32 Urban History 29 3 , Separate Spheres. In retrospect, however, his contribution was diminished, because his four-pole theory in Untersuchungen der Magnetismus der Erde was ultimately refuted by Carl Friedrich Gauss in Allgemeine Theorie des Erdmagnetismus Yet Hansteen's main contribution was practical rather than theoretical.

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His major impact was related to the circulation of his instruments and techniques. Thus in the decades before the magnetic crusade, Hansteen had established an international system of observation, standardization and representation based on measurements with his small and portable magnetometers. Over its long history, the buildings of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich were enlarged and altered many times, reflecting changing needs and expectations of astronomers and funders, but also the constraints of a limited site and small budgets.

The most significant expansion took place in the late nineteenth century, overseen by the eighth Astronomer Royal, William Christie, a programme that is put in the context of changing attitudes toward scientific funding, Christie's ambitious plans for the work and staffing of the Observatory and his desire to develop a national institution that could stand with more recently founded European and American rivals.

Examination of the archives reveals the range of strategies Christie was required to use to acquire consent and financial backing from the Admiralty, as well as his opportunistic approach. While hindsight might lead to criticism of his decisions, Christie eventually succeeded in completing a large building — the New Physical Observatory — that, in its decoration, celebrated Greenwich's past while, in its name, style, structure and contents, it was intended to signal the institution's modernization and future promise.

The difference in longitude between the observatories of Paris and Greenwich was long of fundamental importance to geodesy, navigation and timekeeping.


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Measured many times and by many different means since the seventeenth century, the preferred method of the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries made use of the electric telegraph. I describe here for the first time the four Paris—Greenwich telegraphic longitude determinations made between and Despite contemporary faith in the new technique, the first was soon found to be inaccurate; the second was a failure, ending in Anglo-French dispute over whose result was to be trusted; the third failed in exactly the same way; and when eventually the fourth was presented as a success, the evidence for that success was far from clear-cut.

I use this as a case study in precision measurement, showing how mutual grounding between different measurement techniques, in the search for agreement between them, was an important force for change and improvement.


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  • Despite his demanding religious responsibilities, Paolo Sarpi maintained an active involvement in science between and — as his Pensieri reveal. They show that from onwards he studied the Copernican theory and recorded arguments in its favour. The fact that for they include an outline of a Copernican tidal theory resembling Galileo's Dialogue theory is well known.

    But examined closely, Sarpi's theory is found to be different from that of the Dialogue in several important respects.

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    That Sarpi was a Copernican by is revealed by other of his pensieri, whereas at that time we know that Galileo was not. The examination of Sarpi's tidal theory and of the work of Galileo in this period indicates that the theory Sarpi recorded in was of his own creation. The appreciation that the theory was Sarpi's and that Galileo subsequently came to change his views on the Copernican theory and adopted the tidal theory has major implications for our understanding of the significance of Sarpi's contribution to the Scientific Revolution.

    Moreover, it appears that several of the most significant theoretical features of the tidal theory published by Galileo in the Dialogue — and which proved of lasting value — were in reality Sarpi's. Despite its notable successes, among them the discovery of the method to prevent Rhesus haemolytic disease of the newborn, the Liverpool School began to lose prominence in the mids, just as the field of medical genetics that it had helped pioneer began to grow. This paper explores the role of partnerships in making possible the Liverpool school's scientific and medical achievements, and also in contributing to its decline.

    In the late s and early s, the elite world of institutional British science attempted to take control of the BBC's management of science broadcasting.

    Meeting Places: Scientific Congresses and Urban Identity in Victorian Britain

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