Tag Archives: Evelyn Fox Keller

Evelyn Fox Keller: culture/biology at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver ScienceOnline’s latest event

I finally got the location for Evelyn Fox Keller’s upcoming April 4, 2013 visit to the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. I had hoped to get an email interview with her but she didn’t have the time. I assume that visiting both the University of Alberta (April 2, 2013) and the University of Calgary (April 1, 2013) just prior to UBC is the cause for this lack of time. For interested parties, I have more details about Keller and the other visits in my Mar. 14, 2013 posting.

Without any more ado (from the Situating Science event page for Evelyn Fox Keller: What Kind of Divide Separates Biology from Culture?),

University of British Columbia
Date:
Thu., Apr. 4, 5:00 PM – , 6:30 PM

What Kind of Divide Separates Biology from Culture?
Evelyn Fox Keller, History and Philosophy of Science, MIT
April 4 2013 5pm (refreshments at 4:30)
Room 130, Liu Institute, 6476 NW Marine Drive [emphasis mine]

There are directions (bus, car, and more) for the Liu Institute here.

An April 9, 2013 meeting of the Vancouver ScienceOnline group (they seem to have changed their website location and possibly their name) features an event titled, Adding your science to the online community,

How do you respond to an online scientific misconception? At first I thought this was a bit of a weird topic to be discussing within the ScioVan [ScienceOnline Vancouver] community, but during a long night with Susan (Vickers) and Catherine (Anderson) we [including Anne Steino] kept coming up with new dilemmas revolving around online responses.

For example: What if your distant family member posts a scientific myth on facebook? Should you correct them, and if yes, should you do it on facebook for everyone to see or in a private email? It turns out, we often keep quiet for the sake of harmony, but are we selling out our own principles? As science communicators we pray at the altar of helping people understand science. However, when it comes to correcting friends and family, we often hesitate. Why do we not hold our nearest and dearest to the same standard as “the rest of the world”? Maybe there’s a lesson to learn here. Maybe our way of communicating science has a high likelihood of alienating the people we are trying to reach. And maybe we don’t realize this when it comes to strangers, because we are less concerned with their opinion of us. However, when it comes to people close to us we often hear a small voice in our head going “perhaps this is not going to make everyone thank me for the clarification but instead make them really annoyed.” Does that mean that our way of communicating is not working in general or is it only true in our inner circles? Would it be a good idea to always imagine that you were talking to a distant cousin before embarking on an online scientific discussion?

In common with many of this group’s previous events, the talk will take place on a Tuesday,

April 9, 2013 at 7 pm

Science World at TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver, BC
Canada V6A 3Z7

You can find maps and parking here.

Evelyn Fox Keller, Lee Smolin, or Kathleen M. Vogel may be speaking at a science event near you

More details are emerging about Evelyn Fox Keller’s April 2013 visit to western Canada (first mentioned in my Jan. 23, 2013 posting). Fox Keller is an eminent scholar as per this description, from my Oct. 29, 2012 posting about her talk in Halifax, Nova Scotia,

Before giving you details about where to go for a link [to her livestreamed Oct. 30, 2012 talk], here’s more about the talk and about Keller,

Fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn irrevocably transformed our thinking about the sciences with the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. For all his success, debate about the adequacy and applicability of his formulation persists to this day. Are there scientific revolutions in biology? Molecular genetics, for example, is currently undergoing a major transformation in its understanding of what genes are and of what role they play in an organism’s development and evolution. Is this a revolution? More specifically, is this a revolution of the sort that Kuhn had in mind? How is language used? What implications can we draw from this?

Dr. Keller is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award and author of many influential works on science, society and modern biology such as: A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983), Reflections on Gender and Science (1985), Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender, and Science (1992), The Century of the Gene (2000), Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors and Machines (2002) and The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture (2010).

Keller Fox will be visiting the University of Calgary (Alberta) on April 1, the University of Alberta on April 2, and the University of British Columbia on April 4, 2013.  I’ve not found details about the University of Calgary visit but did find this for the University of Alberta visit (from the  Situating Science network node for the University of Alberta web page),

Tue., Apr. 2, 4:00 PM – , 6:00 PM

Dr. Keller visits U. Alberta as part of her travels as the Cluster Visiting Scholar.

Dr. Keller will speak at 4 pm in the Engineering and Technology Learning Centre, room 1-017d. There will be a reception directly after the talk.

PARADIGM SHIFTS AND REVOLUTIONS IN CONTEMPORARY BIOLOGY

Details about the visit to the University of  British Columbia are a little sparse, Situating Science network node for the University of British Columbia web page

Network Node:
University of British Columbia
Date:
Thu., Apr. 4, 5:00 PM – , 6:30 PM

What Kind of Divide Separates Biology from Culture?
Evelyn Fox Keller, History and Philosophy of Science, MIT
April 4 2013 5:00 – 6:30 pm, with reception to follow

Presented by Science and Society Series at Green College
Location: TBD

I did try to find more information about where and who might be allowed to attend her University of British Columbia (UBC) visit on the UBC site (Science and Technology Studies colloquium webpage, which lists her visit) and on their Green College site but no more details were available.

The Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario (the other side of Canada) has announced, with full details, an April 3, 2013 talk by Lee Smolin. Smolin moved to Canada in 2000 to become a founding member of the Perimeter Institute as per the biographical information attached to this event announcement. From their Mar. 13, 2013 announcement,

Time Reborn(Live webcast)

Wednesday, April 3 @ 7:00 pm
Mike Lazaridis Theatre of Ideas
Perimeter Institute, Waterloo

Lee Smolin
Perimeter Institute

What is time? Is our perception of time passing an illusion which hides a deeper, timeless reality? Or is it real, indeed, the most real aspect of our experience of the world? Einstein said that, “the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion,” and many contemporary theorists agree that time emerges from a more fundamental timeless quantum universe. But in recent cosmological speculation, this timeless picture of nature seems to have reached a dead end, populated by infinite numbers of imagined unobservable universes.

In this talk, Lee Smolin explains why he changed his mind about the nature of time and has embraced the view that time is real and everything else, including the laws of nature, evolves. In a world in which time is real, the future is open and there is an essential role for human agency and imagination in envisioning and shaping a good future. Read More

Win tickets to be part of the live audience at Perimeter Institute for Time Reborn.

Sign up to receive an email reminder to watch the live webcast of Time Reborn.

As a service to audience members,
Words Worth Books will be onsite at this event.

Thank you for your support!

There is no information about accessing the webcast in the announcement. I last mentioned Smolin (briefly) in a June 4, 2009 posting,

… a physicist at Canada’s Perimeter Institute, Lee Smolin who, based on his work with Roberto Mangabeira Unger, a Brazilian philospher, suggests that the timeless multiverse (beloved of physicists and science fiction writers) does not exist.

This last event with Kathleen Vogel takes place in Washington, DC. From the Mar. 13, 2013 Woodrow Wilson Center announcement,

Invitation from the Woodrow Wilson Center

and the Los Alamos National Laboratory

Book Discussion: Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats

Speaker: Kathleen M. Vogel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Science & Technology Studies

Acting Director, Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies

Cornell University

Date/Time: Friday, March 22, 2013, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Location: 5th Floor Conference Room

Woodrow Wilson Center in the Ronald Reagan Building,

1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

(“Federal Triangle” stop on Blue/Orange Line)

Please RSVP (acceptances only) at iss@wilsoncenter.org

For directions see the map on the Center’s website at www.wilsoncenter.org/directions. Please bring a photo ID and allow additional time to pass through a security checkpoint.

This meeting is part of an ongoing series that provides a forum for policy specialists from Congress and the Executive, business, academia, and journalism to exchange information and share perspectives on current nonproliferation issues. Lunch will be served. Seating is limited.

Situating Science in Canada; excerpts from the Winter 2013 newsletter

Situating Science is a SSHRC (Social Science and Humanities Research Council) funded network for Canadian Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Philosophy and History of Science scholars amongst others who examine the social impacts of science both in the present and in the past. The network is in its seventh and final year of funding (sunsetting) although there are plans for the future as per its most recent newsletter. Here’s a brief description of Situating Science’s  recent activities along with a listing of activities taking place in various Canadian cities over the next several months, as well as, a hint about future plans, from the Winter 2013 newsletter,

Happy New Year!

It’s been a busy few months. Members of the Cluster are now able to present you with all the latest in this Winter 2013 newsletter. In this issue, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Strategic Knowledge Cluster, Situating Science: Cluster for the Humanist and Social Study of Science (www.situsci.ca) is pleased to update you on activities …

Given our past successes, Cluster members plan to move forward with a few grant applications to sustain and initiate partnerships and activities. Some partners and stakeholders met in October to begin the planning process for a national and international partnership to explore sciences, technologies and their publics. They also plan to arrange to meet again this year to concretize plans for a sustainable network and national centre.

The Cluster hopes to build upon partnership activities with scholars and institutions in Southeast Asia and India. Members are currently planning to seek support for a Canada-Southeast Asia and India partnership to explore cosmopolitanism and circulation of knowledge.

The Cluster Centre and its many and varied local partners kept Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller busy during her 3.5 week fall visit to Halifax as the Cluster Visiting Scholar. Her time here allowed her to research genotypic plasticity, biological information and mathematical biology on top of participating in several activities, including a public lecture on “Paradigm Shifts and Revolutions in Contemporary Biology”. She then continued to Montreal to present and discuss her work at McGill [University] and UQAM [Université de Québec à Montréal] (CIRST) [Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la science et la technologie] and then to Toronto for discussions at York University, a University of Toronto IHPST [Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology] Brown Bag colloquium and a Wiegand Memorial Foundation Lecture on “Self-organization and God.” Select videos and podcasts of her public events are available on our website.

Dr. Anne Harrington, professor of History of Science at Harvard University, came to the Cluster Centre in October for a packed history of medicine luncheon conversation on “Culture in the Brain and Under the Skin”. This was followed by a post-performance discussion of placebo effect and medical attitudes and treatments after an original 2b Theatre production of “The Story of Mr. Wright.” Other recently supported events and visiting speakers to the Cluster Nodes include the Reading Artifacts Summer Institute at the Canada Science and Technology Museum (CSTM); Toronto’s Technoscience Salon on Ecologies; Women in Science and Engineering Symposium at McGiIll University; Dr. Suzanne Zeller, Wilfrid Laurier University in Halifax; Dr. Arun Bala, National University of Singapore at York University; Dr. Michael Lynch, Cornell University at U. Alberta [University of Alberta]; and many more.

II. UPCOMING WORKSHOPS, CONFERENCES AND EVENTS    

All of our events are supported by a host of partners and some are recorded, streamed live online or blogged about. Please visit our website for more information.

Fri. January 25, 5 PM, University of Toronto: “Technoscience Salon: Queer(y)ing Technologies.”

Wed., Feb. 27-28, National University of Singapore: “The Bright Dark Ages: Comparative and Connective Perspectives.”

Fri. Mar. 22-23, UBC [University of British Columbia]: Workshop on “Bodies in Motion: Translating Early Modern Science.”

Mon. April 1- Th. April 4, Calgary [University of Calgary], Edmonton [University of Alberta], Vancouver [University of British Columbia]: Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller continues her Node visits out west as the Cluster Visiting Scholar.

Fri. April 5, U. [University] King’s College: “Aelita: Queen of Mars” screening with live music.

Fri. Apr. 26-27, McGill University: McGill Node supports the Indian Ocean World Centreconference on “Histories of Medicine in the Indian Ocean.”

Fri. May. 3-4, York University: Conference on “Materiality: Objects and Idioms in Historical Studies of Science and Technology.”

Fri. Jun. 7-9, 2013, University of Calgary: Workshop on “Where is the Laboratory now? “Representation”, “Intervention” and “Realism” in 19th and 20th Century Biomedical Sciences.”

Mon. Oct. 21-23, 2013, U. Ottawa: Conference on “Science and Society.” In partnership with University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy and the Professional Institute for the Public Service of Canada.

V. BLOGS, VIDEOS AND PODCASTS

Blogs: A fascinating array of blog entries on summer, fall and winter workshops, lectures and events are now available on our website here: www.situsci.ca/blog.

The entries treat topics as diverse as

  • “The Women Question in Science: Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium (WISEMS) 2012”,
  • “The Play’s the Thing: Putting History of Science on Stage”,
  • “The story I hold about myself: the epistemology of Mr. Wright”,
  • “Narrative Theory, Historical Ethics, Sound Reasoning Through Pseudo-Science, and Testing Implicit Bias: a day at the WISEMS”,
  • “A Week with the Wonder Photo Cannon”,
  • “Reflections on Reading Artifacts Summer Institute 2012”,
  • “Gender and the Digital Silo: Cultures of Knowledge at Situating Early Modern Science Networks Workshop” and
  • “Notes on Caring in a Technoscientific World”. Please feel free to share and comment.

Videos and Podcasts: Videos and podcasts of events are constantly uploaded and announced on our website and via our social media. The latest uploads include:

Evelyn Fox Keller speaking on “Self-Organization and God”, “Paradigm Shifts And Revolutions In Contemporary Biology” and “Legislating for Catastrophic Risk”.

Heinrich von Staden’s HOPOS 2012 presentation entitled “Experimentation in Ancient Science?

Inside story on doping; build it and they will collide; and physicist, feminist, and philosopher superstar Evelyn Fox Keller visits

Here are a few events being held in Vancouver (Canada) over the next weeks and months. This is not an exhaustive list (three events) but it certainly offers a wide range of topics.

Inside story on doping

First, Café Scientifique will be holding a meeting on the subject of doping and athletic pursuits at The Railway Club on the 2nd floor of 579 Dunsmuir St. (at Seymour St.) next Tuesday,

Our next café will happen on Tuesday January 29th, 7:30pm at The Railway Club. Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Jim Rupert.[School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia]

The title and abstract for his café is:

The use of genetics in doping and in doping control

Sports performance is an outcome of the complex interactions between an athlete’s genes and the environment(s) in which he or she develops and competes.  As more is learned about the contribution of genetics to athletic ability, concerns have been raised that unscrupulous athletes will attempt manipulate their DNA in an attempt to get an ‘edge‘ over the competition. The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) has invested research funds to evaluate this possibility and to support studies into methods to detect so-called “gene doping”.  Superimposed on these concerns is the realisation that, in addition to contributing to performance, an athlete’s genes may influence the results of current doping-control tests. Natural genetic variation is an issue that anti-doping authorities must address as more is learned about the interaction between genotype and the responses to prohibited practices. To help differentiate between naturally occurring deviations in blood and urine ‘markers’ and those potentially caused by doping, the ‘biological-passport’ program uses intra-individual variability rather than population values to establish an athlete’s parameters.  The next step in ‘personalised’ doping-control may be the inclusion of genetic data; however, while this may benefit ‘clean’ athletes, it will do so at the expense of risks to privacy.  In my talk, I will describe some examples of the intersection of genetics and doping-control, and discuss how genetic technology might be used to both enhance physical performance as well as to detect athletes attempting to do so.

This is a timely topic  given hugely lauded Lance Armstrong’s recent confession that he was doping when he won his multiple cycling awards. From the Lance Armstrong essay on Wikipedia (Note: Footnotes and links have been removed),

Lance Edward Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson, September 18, 1971) is an American former professional road racing cyclist. Armstrong was awarded victory in the Tour de France a record seven consecutive times between 1999 and 2005, but in 2012 he was disqualified from all his results since August 1998 for using and distributing performance-enhancing drugs, and he was banned from professional cycling for life. Armstrong did not appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Armstrong confessed to doping in a television interview in January 2013, two-and-a-half months after the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sport’s governing body, announced its decision to accept USADA’s findings regarding him, and after he had consistently denied it throughout his career.

Build it and they will collide

Next, both TRIUMF (Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics) and ARPICO (Society of Italian Researchers and Professionals in Western Canada) have sent Jan. 23, 2013 news releases concerning Dr. Lyn Evans and his talk about building the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (European Particle Physics Laboratory) which led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. The talk will be held at 6:30 pm on Feb. 20, 2013 at Telus World of Science, 1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver,

Fundamental Physics Prize winner to deliver public lecture Wed. Feb. 20 at Science World

Back to the Big Bang – From the LHC to the Higgs, and Beyond
Unveiling the Universe Lecture Series
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 6:30 PM (PST)
Vancouver, British Columbia

(Vancouver, B.C.)  The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is history’s most powerful atom smasher, capable of recreating the conditions that existed less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. The construction of the LHC was a massive engineering challenge that spanned almost 15 years, yielding the most technologically sophisticated instrument mankind ever has created.

Join Science World and TRIUMF in welcoming Dr. Lyn Evans, project leader for the LHC construction, in his Milner Foundation Special Fundamental Physics Prize lecture. In this free event, Dr Evans will detail some of the design features and technical challenges that make the LHC such an awe-inspiring scientific instrument. He will also discuss recent results from the LHC and touch on what’s next in the world of high-energy physics. The lecture will be followed by an audience question and answer session.

Dr Evans, born in Wales in 1945, has spent his whole career in the field of high energy physics and particle accelerators. In 2012, he was awarded the Special Fundamental Physics Prize for his contribution to the discovery of the Higgs-like boson. See http://www.fundamentalphysicsprize.org

Tickets are free, but registration is required.

See  http://fpplecture.eventbrite.ca

Physicist, feminist, philosopher superstar Evelyn Fox Keller

Here’s the information available from the Situating Science Cluster Winter 2013 newsletter,

The UBC [University of British Columbia] Node and partners are pleased to welcome Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller as Cluster Visiting Scholar Th. April 4th. The Node and partners continue to support the UBC STS [University of British Columbia Science and Technology Studies] colloquium.

There is more information Fox Keller and the first talk she gave to kick off this Canadawide tour in an Oct. 29, 2012 posting. She will be visiting the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary (Alberta) just prior to the April 4, 2013 visit to Vancouver. There are no further details about Fox Keller’s upcoming visit either on the Situating Science website or on the UBC website.

Evelyn Fox Keller’s address: “Paradigm Shifts And Revolutions in Contemporary Biology” being livestreamed on Oct. 30, 2012 at 3 pm PDT

Mentioned in my Oct. 3, 2012 posting (mortifyingly, I listed the wrong date in the headline), Evelyn Fox Keller’s talk is accessible to anyone who has an internet connection. Before giving you details about where to go for a link, here’s more about the talk and about Keller,

Fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn irrevocably transformed our thinking about the sciences with the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. For all his success, debate about the adequacy and applicability of his formulation persists to this day. Are there scientific revolutions in biology? Molecular genetics, for example, is currently undergoing a major transformation in its understanding of what genes are and of what role they play in an organism’s development and evolution. Is this a revolution? More specifically, is this a revolution of the sort that Kuhn had in mind? How is language used? What implications can we draw from this?

Dr. Keller is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award and author of many influential works on science, society and modern biology such as: A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983), Reflections on Gender and Science (1985), Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender, and Science (1992), The Century of the Gene (2000), Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors and Machines (2002) and The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture (2010).

You can go here tomorrow (Oct. 30, 2012) to watch Dr. Keller at 3 pm PDT. She is being hosted by,

The Situating Science Strategic Knowledge Cluster, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and its partners are pleased to announce Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller as the Situating Science Visiting Scholar in Halifax Oct. 15th-Nov.7th. During her stay, Dr. Keller will participate in a series of public events (below), including a special public evening lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 30th.

THIS EVENT AND HALIFAX VISIT ARE GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY:
Situating Science Strategic Knowledge Cluster; Evolution Studies Group (funded with assistance from Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, CIFAR); Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Genetics Community Support Program, Dalhousie University Department of Biology, Department of Philosophy and Health Law Institute; University of King’s College President’s Office, History of Science and Technology Programme, Contemporary Studies Programme, and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research; Nova Scotia Institute of Science; Saint Mary’s University Department of Philosophy and Faculty of Science;  Mount Saint-Vincent NSERC Atlantic Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Dean of Arts, and Science and Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice.

Evelyn Fox Keller live in person in Halifax, Nova Scotia and on livestreaming video on Oct. 30, 2012

I got this announcement yesterday (Oct. 2, 2012),

The Situating Science Strategic Knowledge Cluster, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and its partners are pleased to announce Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller as the Situating Science Visiting Scholar in Halifax Oct. 15th-Nov.7th. During her stay, Dr. Keller will participate in a series of public events (below), including a special public evening lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 30th.

PARADIGM SHIFTS AND REVOLUTIONS IN CONTEMPORARY BIOLOGY
Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller,
Professor Emerita of History and Philosophy of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30th, 7PM Atlantic Time [for those of us on the West Coast that means 3 PM]
Alumni Hall, New Academic Building at the University of King’s College,
6350 Coburg Road., Halifax, NS
“Join” our Situating Science Page Facebook event
http://www.facebook.com/events/386348911437524/

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

For event poster, live online viewing and latest information on all her activities, please visit our website: www.situsci.ca.

Fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn irrevocably transformed our thinking about the sciences with the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. For all his success, debate about the adequacy and applicability of his formulation persists to this day. Are there scientific revolutions in biology? Molecular genetics, for example, is currently undergoing a major transformation in its understanding of what genes are and of what role they play in an organism’s development and evolution. Is this a revolution? More specifically, is this a revolution of the sort that Kuhn had in mind? How is language used? What implications can we draw from this?

Dr. Keller is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award and author of many influential works on science, society and modern biology such as: A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983), Reflections on Gender and Science (1985), Secrets of Life, Secrets of Death: Essays on Language, Gender, and Science (1992), The Century of the Gene (2000), Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors and Machines (2002) and The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture (2010).

From Oct. 15th to Nov. 7th, Dr. Keller will conduct research on genomic plasticity and developmental stability. She will be housed jointly at the University of King’s College and the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University and will engage in various disciplinary and interdisciplinary sessions with students, faculty and the public. She will then continue on to Montreal and Toronto for other events. Please visit our website for more on those events.

THIS EVENT AND HALIFAX VISIT ARE GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY:
Situating Science Strategic Knowledge Cluster; Evolution Studies Group (funded with assistance from Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, CIFAR); Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Genetics Community Support Program, Dalhousie University Department of Biology, Department of Philosophy and Health Law Institute; University of King’s College President’s Office, History of Science and Technology Programme, Contemporary Studies Programme, and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research; Nova Scotia Institute of Science; Saint Mary’s University Department of Philosophy and Faculty of Science;  Mount Saint-Vincent NSERC Atlantic Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, Dean of Arts, and Science and Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice.

For anyone who would like to learn a little more about Evelyn Fox Keller, I’ve found two articles, one written by Andrew Brown for the UK Guardian, Nov. 4, 2000, and another written by Cornelia Dean for the New York Times, April 12, 2005.

ETA Oct. 29, 2012: Oops! I see the date for the livestreamed event was incorrect in my heading. It has now been corrected from Oct. 20, 2012 to Oct. 30, 2012.

A sciences and humanities in Canada spring update from Situating Science

For anyone unfamiliar with the Situating Science ‘cluster’ which brings together the sciences and the humanities in Canada, here’s a self-description from the Spring 2012 newsletter,

Created in 2007 with the generous funding of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant, Situating Science is a seven-year project promoting communication and collaboration among humanists and social scientists that are engaged in the study of science and technology. We operate on a hub and spoke model of six nodes spread across the country and explore a set of four interrelated themes. These are: “Science and its Publics”; “Historical Epistemology and Ontology” (including philosophy of science); “Material Culture and Scientific/ Technological Practices”; and “Geography and Sites of Knowing”.

For more information on your local “Network Node” events, video recordings and podcasts, research themes and network, please visit: www.situsci.ca.

I think the most interesting part of the newsletter was the list of upcoming events,

HOPOS 2012

The University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, institutions of the Atlantic Node, are hosting the 9th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science occurring in Halifax, June 21-24th, 2012.
Link:  http://hopos2012.philosophy.dal.ca/ 

VISITING SCHOLAR

The Cluster is pleased to announce Dr. Evelyn Fox Keller as the Cluster Visiting Scholar for 2012-13. Details will be available in coming weeks on our website.

WORKSHOPS

Two major Cluster workshops are planned for early summer 2013. The University of British Columbia will host “Translating Early Modern Science” while the University of Calgary will host “Where is the Laboratory Now?: ‘Representation’, ‘Intervention’ and ‘Realism’ in 19th and 20th Century Biomedical Sciences”.

CONFERENCES

York University will host the Cluster conference on the theme of Material Culture and Scientific / Technological Practices in the summer of 2013. Details will be available in coming months on our website.  

A conference on the theme of “Scientific Communication and its Publics” is being planned in Ottawa for the fall of 2013. The event, co-organized with the Institute of Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa (ISSP) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) will provide a unique opportunity and platform on which to follow up Cluster activities over the years.  Details will be available in coming months on our website.

I imagine Evelyn Fox Keller’s impending visit is causing great excitement. She is a professor emerita in MIT ‘s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Science, Technology, and Society Program and considered a groundbreaking academic. From her webpage on the MIT website,

Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, Emerita (STS)

Evelyn Fox Keller received her B.A. from Brandeis University (Physics, 1957) and her Ph.D. from Harvard University (Physics, 1963). She came to MIT from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric, History, and Women’s Studies (1988-1992). Professor Keller has taught at Northeastern University, S.U.N.Y. at Purchase, and New York University. She has been awarded numerous academic and professional honors, including most recently the Blaise Pascal Research Chair by the Préfecture de la Région D’Ile-de-France for 2005–07, which she spent in Paris, and elected membership in the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Science. In addition, Professor Keller serves on the editorial boards of various journals including the Journal of the History of Biology and Biology and Philosophy.

Keller’s research focuses on the history and philosophy of modern biology and on gender and science. She is the author of several books, including A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983), Reflections on Gender and Science (1985), The Century of the Gene (2000), and Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors and Machines(2002). Her most recent book, The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture, is now in press.

That listing of upcoming events gives you a sense of the Situating Science cluster’s scope. Luckily, there are many podcasts and blogs of previous events so you can catch up on anything you may have missed. Here’s a listing of some of the latest presentations which have been made available,

Isabelle Stenger’s “Cosmopolitics: Learning to Think with Sciences, Peoples and Natures”:
Link:
Paul Thompson’s “Ethical Issues in Agriculture: Organic, Locavore and Genetic Modification”
Link:
Gordon McOuat’s keynote address in India for “Sciences and Narratives of Nature: East and West” workshop entitled “Orientalism in Science Studies: Should We Worry?”  (podcast in process)
Link:

Owen Flanagan Jr’s “The Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized”
Link:
Charis Thompson’s keynote for the “Politics of Care in Technoscience” workshop entitled “The Politics of Care: Beyond Altruism and Anonymity in Biomedical Donation”
Link:

Bernie Lightman’s NS Institute of Science address “Communicating Knowledge to New Audiences: Victorian Popularizers of Science”
Link:

Enjoy!

Ideas becoming knowledge: interview with Dr. Rainer Becker (part 1 of 2)

ETA Mar. 11, 2013: I was notified by Rainer Becker that his participation was cancelled and the organizers took the project in another direction. Consequently, much of what follows is no longer relevant. However, the discussion about knowledge and ideas and Becker’s theorists may be of some interest.

I’m very pleased to publish this interview (part 1 today) with Dr. Rainer Becker on a topic (how an idea becomes knowledge in the field of science) that has long interested me. First, some information about the research project and Dr. Becker from the April 22, 2010 news item on Nanowerk,

How do sensational ideas become commonly accepted knowledge? How does a hypothesis turn into certainty? What are the ways and words that bring results of scientific experiments into textbooks and people’s minds, how are they “transferred” into these domains? Science philosopher Dr. Rainer Becker has recently started dealing with such questions. Over the next three years, Becker will accompany the work of Professor Dr. Frank Rösl’s department at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ), which studies cancer-causing viruses. He is one of three scientists in an interdisciplinary joint project which is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with a total sum of approximately € 790,000.

Becker’s mission in Heidelberg is part of a research project entitled “Transfer knowledge – knowledge transfer. About the past and present of the transfer between life sciences and humanities.” The project is carried out by DKFZ jointly with the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies (Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, ZfL) in Berlin. Project leaders are Professor Dr. Frank Rösl of DKFZ and Dr. Falko Schmieder of ZfL. It comprises three individual projects in which forms of knowledge transfer related to three different constellations of science history are studied in a cultural-scientific approach.

Dr. Becker’s project,

The third and final project, which is pursued by Rainer Becker at DKFZ, deals with the question of the relevance of current knowledge concepts such as the one that understands and experimentally studies cancer as a consequence of viral infections.

“I am pleased that we will explore the relevance of tumor virology across disciplinary borders and I hope we will gain fundamental insights into how scientific discourses develop and how they are ultimately accepted in scientific thought collectives,” said departmental head Frank Rösl about the relevance of the current project.

This is not Dr. Becker’s first such project, his doctoral thesis touched on some of the same themes of how scientific discourse develops,

Rainer Becker wrote his doctoral thesis while he was employed at the Institute of Philosophy of Darmstadt Technical University. There he made parallel studies of the social history of the computer and the “universal science” of cybernetics. Back then he already chose a topic that transcends borders between humanities and natural sciences. “While I was working on my doctoral thesis, I explored the question of ‘transfers’ – namely between technology, natural sciences and philosophy in the 1940s: The development of computers and cybernetics would not have been possible without prior conceptual and metaphorical ‘transfers’ between life sciences and technical sciences.”

In his future project, the philosopher will study in real time, so to speak, how natural science data are being obtained, processed and communicated. As a “researcher of science”, he will observe the laboratory work from the perspective of the humanities and cultural science, he will do research in archives and will interview scientists. It is for good reason that the project is located at DKFZ, because this is the place where findings from basic biological research become relevant for medicine and the public. Thus, the Nobel Prize-winning discovery by DKFZ’s former Scientific Director, Professor Harald zur Hausen, that particular viruses cause cervical cancer has led to a vaccine against this type of cancer.

Now for the interview:

1. First, congratulations on receiving funding for such a fascinating line of query. When does the project start and what is the period of time during which it will run?

A: Indeed, the funding delighted all of us. My sub-project in Heidelberg started in late October 2009, it will be supported for 3 years.

2. Will you be working alone or will you be working with an interdisciplinary team?

A: Currently I am doing my study in Heidelberg on my own, getting assisted locally by one of the project leaders, a biologist highly interested in interdisciplinary work: Prof. Frank Roesl, head of the department where I am doing my research. The other project leader, Dr. Falko Schmieder and two other science philosophers support me in Berlin, at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL). Like me, both of them work on their own sub-projects while getting support by Dr. Schmieder: he does ensure the convergence of the sub-projects. We discuss the topics during our regular meetings – but also via email, skype, wikis for sharing documents etc.

Because the main focus of the project is historical, both of the other sub-projects work –like me in the past – in a more historical way: they try to elucidate the current situation in the Heidelberg lab of 2010 – molecular biological work on supposedly tumourgenic viruses – by working in archives, on in part comparable fields, but different time scales: (a) Dr. Birgit Griesecke – mainly doing studies on Ludwig Fleck – is working on the 1930s, (b) PD Dr. Peter Berz – researching contexts esp. around Jacques Monod – is working on the 1970s. Both help me to understand the current scientific situation in the corresponding historical context.

We also try to get additional funding options for one or two other researchers (e.g. sociologists, communication scientists) supporting our work in a interdisciplinary way.

3. Are there any theorists that have influenced how you are approaching this project?

A: The whole project is closely related to the work of the Polish bacteriologist and sociologist of science Ludwig Fleck. Its main theoretical references point to him – by as well trying to ‘refresh’ his approaches in ways more adequate to the current scientific situation: not only everything that happened after the ‘linguistic turn’ and all the concerns on ‘media’, but also dealing with questions on the significance of ‘things’ in the labs around 2010. This confrontation of Fleck with the present research raises several questions, for example:

Do apparatuses reflect or even materialize special sorts of scientific ‘thought-styles’?

Do specific ‘thought-collectives’ gather or even get constituted around special lab equipments to what extent do they form prior styles of thinking – what kind of ‘migration-background’ has each ‘thing’ with what implications and what styles of local adoption?

What exactly is the correlation between assemblages of things, humans, animals, discourses and what Mary Douglas coined ‘worlds of thought’ – and their inhabitants / participants?

What is their contribution to the specific local – and the same time globally connected – scientific way of worldmaking (in the field of cancer research)?

What political implications potentially are embedded in all that fields – from specific ways of problematisation to its effects?

My own theoretical background was mainly influenced by the philosophical tradition of structuralism and so called ‘post-structuralism’, especially Michel Foucault – so phenomenological traditions also interest me. Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, J.-F. Lyotard, M. Serres and M. de Certeau framed my more traditional approaches to political philosophy on the one hand (from Plato, Hobbes, Kant, Nietzsche, Weber, Arendt to the early/middle Frankfurt School, French Postmodernist to current debates on ‘radical democratic’-thinkers as well as philosophical experiments like tiqqun) but on the same time on the other hand to different fields of knowledge, esp. concerning the relation technology – art – bios (I wrote my dissertation on a ‘coevolutionary’ history of the ‚universal machine’/ computers and ‘first’ cybernetics in connection to what Foucault termed ‘biopower’ – coming from Canguilhem and handing this concept over to E. Fox-Keller, I. Hacking, D. Haraway and L. Kay).

In my field, a biological laboratory dealing with viruses and cancer, Michel Serres’ thoughts on different phenomena of ‘inbetween’/’3rds’ as well as Foucault’s spatial approaches in their connection to knowledge/power (heterotopia, taxonomy/order, diagrams like ‘panoptism’) currently form reflections of my experiences more and more – as well as my contention with prominent ‘first wave’ researchers in the field of science/laboratory studies, e.g. B. Latour (esp. the ‘early’), K. Knorr-Cetina, H.J. Rheinberger (esp. beyond his Heidegger-References), P. Rabinow (both theoretical and practical work) and D. Haraway (esp. ‘when species meet’), flanked by what could be coined a wide field of ethnology in the broadest sense (C. Lèvi-Strauss, M. Douglas, C. Geertz, E. Goffman): ethnology of the own, western culture interested me since my first contacts with poststructuralism/Nietzsche. In that range, scientific and everyday practices and their relation to ‘strangeness’ of the field (for the lab-practitioners, for me) more and more comes to focus (think of the concept of ‘problematisation’) – and also theorist of  ‘practice’ keep framing my attention (A. Pickering, K. Sunder-Rajan, M. de Certeau). I hope the projects (my colleagues and mine) will contribute something at least in that latter field.

4. The description in the press release for how you plan to go about your project reminded me of Bruno Latour’s Laboratory Life where he described the creation of a ‘scientific fact’. Obviously you won’t be repeating that work, so I’m wondering if you could describe your process and goals in more detail.

see (3)

Tomorrow: more details about the project and how the research will be disseminated.