Cultural History of Natural Science







Timeline, examens and credits

1. year 2. year 3. year 4. year 5. year
1. semester / credit 2. semester / credit 3. semester / credit 4. semester / credit 5. semester / credit 6. semester / credit 7. semester / credit 8. semester / credit 9. semester / credit 10. semester / credit
2Gy 42Gy 4

Language of instruction: Hungarian
Course requirements: regular attendance of lectures and active class participation; completion of take-home assignment
Method of assessing coursework: exam at the end of the semester
Marking method: based on exam and take-home assignment with participation in class work taken into consideration as well
Exam requirements: thorough familiarity with the semester?s material, independent completion of take-home assignments
Teaching method: lecture
Recommended study methods: taking notes, careful reading and familiarisation with assigned reading
Role of the course within the specialist training scheme:
The course discusses, with the use of case studies, the basics of modern scientific thinking (and the technological thinking associated with it). It is the objective of the course to provide students with a sort of ?interdisciplinary? perspective, which, integrated into their basic cultural knowledge, allows them to have some degree of familiarity with the areas of natural science (and the history of technology). As students learn the basics methodology of scientific enquiry, it becomes possible for them to move more comfortably within the adjoining territories of the ?two cultures?: natural science and art.

Course description, major areas of study (per semester):
1. Introduction
Stuart Piggot and the tree types of past. The possible advantages of the history of science and technology (Santayana). Thinking in different paradigms: Fixism and Lusi Naturae ? Beringer?s ?lying stones," 1919 solar eclipse photos taken by A. S. Eddington; the "N-rays" and Blondlot.
2. Miracle weapons
Paradigms in the history of defence technology: the concept of the miracle weapon. The Warrior ? the evolution of the steam engine and navigation; changes in oceanic warfare. Hit accuracy, firearm, and firepower. Submarine warfare in World War I and defence against submarines. Special air arms in World War I. Evolution of the machinegun. Ballistic rockets and missiles. Balloon attack against the United States in World War II. Pigeon-navigated rockets.
The paradigm of Aristotelian physics vs. Newtonian physics: zeppelins and submarines: August Piccard?s bathyscaph. Flying vehicles in the middle ages: the theory of the ?flying ships? and Aristotelian physics. Changes in the submarine as concept. Historical periods of submarine navigation.
4. Evolution of drafts
The concept of space in everyday life; biological foundations of spatial perception; proxemics and spatial perceptions in different culture. Development of maps; cognitive map and mental map. Mental draft; the role of modelling in patenting; Mongie?s geometry.

5. Evolution of timekeeping devices
The development of the concept of time; reflections of astronomical factors in the concept of time. The impossibility of the perfect calendar. The development of systems of measure. The development of timekeeping devices; the mechanical clock as world symbol. Oresmus? clock analogy. Clocks and robots.

6. The search for extraterrestrial civilisations I : from 1600 till 1910
Aristotelian physics and new physics; the role of the telescope and observation in astronomy; spectacular mistakes. 17th century thinkers on the question of inhabited planets (Kepler, Galilei, Campanella, Huygens). 18th century: Kant, Buffon and Wolff. Scröter, Bode, Herschel. 19th century: Gruithuisen; the 1935 moon lark. Plans in the second half of the 19th century to establish contact with extraterrestrials. Schiaparelli and the Mars channels. Lowell and Mars mania.
7. The search for extraterrestrial civilisations II : after 1910
The Fermi paradox; biologists and astronomers about extraterrestrials. Neodarwinists and their critics. The 1959 article of Cocconi and Morrison. The Drake formula. WASP. A LINCOS; "let?s send a picture!", The culture dependence of signs: Panovkin, Gombrich and the Pioneer plaque.
8. Rockets and the beginnings of astronautics
Early conceptions: Lukianos, Kepler, John Wilkins. Cyrano de Bergerac: to the moon in dew-filled bottles. Catapult and marry-go-round. Early sci-fi: Eyraud: Journey to Venus; Verne: From the Earth to the Moon. Edward Everett Hale: The Brick Moon. Wells and anti-gravitation. History of the rocket from the beginning till World War II. Valier?s research program. From the X-15 to the Space Shuttle: other spacecraft designs. Soviet dominance and Soviet defeat. Alternative ideas about space vehicles: the solar clipper.

9 Hollow Earth theory
Halley?s ideas about the internal structure of the Earth. Whiston: life inside the Earth. Symmes and pseudo-science (Poe: Arthur Gordon Pym). C. Reed Teed ? the theory of hollow Earth becomes a religion. 20th century: Gardner ? and the and Hörbiger?s rivalling ?cosmic ice? theory. 'Science" in nazi Germany. Hollow earth believers today. Logical slip-ups in the arguments of pseudo-scientists.
10. Colonisation of the Solar System: plans
The NASA?s present situation; expected developmental directions in space technology. The possible role of China. Plans of space hotels: do we need a moon base? The terraformation of Mars ? the history of the idea; Zubrin?s Mars Direct. Possible scripts. Dyson: further on to the Oort cloud.
11.The history of nanotechnology
The promises of nanotechnology. ?Scientific? vs. ?engineering? thinking. Drexler: Engines of creation. Feynman: So much space down there. The first and the second Feynman prize. "We will never manipulate a single atom". Scanning tunnelling microscope and the IBM-logo. Nanocrackers and the active shield; grey goo. The pros and cons of nanotechnology.
12. Ancient robots
Daedalus and Heron; a Roman neurospastes. Homer "walking" machines. Medieval talking heads and the Papal Bulls of 1326. Sylvester II, Roger Bacon and quotations taken out of context. Raymundus Lullus and the Ars magna. Descartes, and his follower, Bayle: is there an essential difference between man and animal? Matthew Hale against Cartesians. La Mettrie. Automaton-makers: the de Caus siblings; Vaucanson: the rude duck and ?human being? with working circulation. Le Cat?s competition. The androids of the Droz brothers.
13. Anthropomorphic monsters: ancient times
The development of taxonomy from Aristotle to Cesalpino. The taxonomy of Lem?s impossible monsters. One possible explanation for the monsters of ancient times: the griffin and the dinosaur finds of the Gobi dessert. Homer, Ktesias and Megastenes on monsters. Monster breeds of Plinius. What made someone a monster in ancient days? Ethnocentrism and xenophobia.
14. Ornithopters
Ideas in ancient times. Aristotle: Why can?t man fly?
Travelling motifs and early experiments ? the unreliability of sources. The first documented experiment. Frigyes Hohenstauf, Danti and Leonardo. A typical 17th century scientist: Wilkins. Borelli and the anatomy of the flight of birds. The zeppelin: the possible ?dangers? of flying. Engineering vs. ?bionic? approach in the 19th century. The aircraft of the Wright brothers; the different approaches taken by the American and the European constructor schools. The "air bicycle" and muscle-powered experiments in the 20th century. izomerejű kísérletek a 20. sz- ban.