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Schedule of Upcoming Speakers

Date Time / Location Speaker(s)/Panel Topic

Previous Speakers

Date Time / Location Speaker(s)/Panel Topic
31 March 2015 12:30pm - 2:20pm,
Connections Centre, Mills
Various Student Presentations

Brief communications by Level II Integrated Science students who chose to complete an individual history of science project. The topics the students will present are wide ranging.
12 March 2015 2:30pm - 3:20pm,
Connections Centre, Mills
Dr Ingrid Hehmeyer Traditional medicine in Yemen and its roots in the classical literature

The World Health Organization defines traditional medicine as "the sum total of the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health, as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness". Traditional medical knowledge and practice in Yemen are based on two main sources: classical Arabic medicine that has its foundations in Greek medical theory, and local traditions that can be traced in some instances to pre-Islamic origins. Religious and magical rituals are employed side by side with materia medica, i.e. the substances of natural origin that are applied for their medicinal properties.

This paper takes the example of the colocynth (Citrullus colocynthis, Cucurbitaceae) and explores the plant's properties and cultural dimensions in light of the WHO's definition. Today's practices were observed during anthropological fieldwork on the Red Sea coastal plain of Yemen. Their origins are traced in the classical pharmaceutical and botanical literature that includes works by well-known authors such as Sabur Ibn Sahl (9th cent.), al-Biruni (11th cent.) and Ibn al-Baytar (13th cent.), complemented by a Yemeni treatise on materia medica by the third Rasulid sultan al-Ashraf 'Umar (13th cent.).
12 February 2015 2:30pm - 3:20pm,
Connections Centre, Mills
Dr Ellen Amster The Politics of Birth in Morocco: A History Between Muslim Midwifery, French Colonial Obstetrics, and the Postcolonial Arab Spring

What is at political stake in birth? Control over birth is control over population, but birth is also the moment a person is constituted, when he becomes a political, legal, and social being. No wonder then that the efforts by the republic of France to govern and colonize the sultanate of Morocco should ultimately become a battle over Muslim birth itself. The social history of PMI (Protection Maternel et Infantile) in Morocco shows how medicine negotiates the line between the biological and the social; Muslim midwives mediated between Galenic, Islamic, and biomedical knowledge, a medical authority French male obstetricians sought to usurp. Yet women.s therapeutic networks survive the rise and fall of colonial medical systems. And a clinical epidemiology of birth allowed the reproductive Muslim body to speak--food for thought as the polities of North Africa and Egypt are publicly renegotiated through bodies in the Arab Spring.
22 January 2015 2:30pm - 3:20pm,
Connections Centre, Mills
Dr John Shiga Listening in the Dark: Science, Politics and Metaphor in the History of Underwater Sound

"Sonar," or Sound Navigation and Ranging, refers to a set of acoustic techniques for detecting, locating and monitoring objects in underwater environments where vision is very limited due to the scarcity of light. By the middle of the twentieth century, undersea events that were previously imperceptible to human beings - the communication of whales, the implosion of submarines, subsea earthquakes and volcanic eruptions - became audible through sonar systems initially developed for undersea warfare. This presentation explores the technological, political and cultural contexts that shaped research in underwater acoustics and communication during the Cold War, including the development of the U.S. Navy's global sonar network and the establishment of military research programs in human-dolphin communication. The presentation will give particular attention to the figuration of ocean sound in terms of signatures, channels and networks and will suggest that these metaphors reveal a broader struggle between competing understandings of ocean sound in the Cold War military-industrial-academic complex.
24 November 2014 1:30pm - 2:20pm
Connections Centre
Dr Craig Fraser J. C. Fields and the Utility of Mathematics

John Charles Fields (1863-1932) was a native of Hamilton, Ontario who became a prominent Canadian mathematician. He is best known for his establishment of the Fields Medal for mathematical achievement. The abstract character of Fields. mathematical research, its remoteness from applications, reflected the prevailing tenor of advanced mathematics of the period. It was somewhat at odds with public positions taken by Fields, who emphasized the utility of science and mathematics and their usefulness in industry in his appeals for government support of research. This contrast is also apparent in his organization of the 1924 International Mathematical Congress held in Toronto, where papers on pure mathematics were presented side by side with a range of topics in engineering, physics and economics. In his address to the congress Fields proclaimed that the congress brought together .the mathematician whose occupation it is to spin fine webs and elaborate beautiful configurations in the realm of the subjective and the applied man who takes all the risk of assuming that over against the subjective network presented by the mathematician there is something corresponding to the external universe.. (Quoted in Turbulent Times in Mathematics: The Life of J. C. Fields and the History of the Fields Medal by Elaine McKinnon Riehm and Frances Hoffman (2011, American Mathematical Society and the Fields Institute), p.148.) We examine the relationship between Fields the mathematical researcher and Fields the public advocate for mathematics and science. The First World War is seen as a defining event that shaped government perception of the value of scientific research in Canada and its willingness to support such research.
23 October 2014 2:30pm - 3:20pm
Wong Room
Dr David Brown Unravelling the Mysteries of the Norman Coinage

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the only coins produced in England were silver pennies. They were produced in most of the principal towns and bore the name of the goldsmith under whose supervision they were struck. For reasons not fully understood, every two or three years all the coins in circulation were withdrawn and reminted using a different design. Between 1066 and 1124 twenty eight different coin types were issued. Combining these with the names of over a hundred active goldsmiths resulted in around 3000 officially different varieties issued during half a century. Because each coin circulated for only a couple of years, few coins were lost and only around 2000 of the 3000 or so varieties survive. Written records are scarce so we do not know how many dies were issued, much less the names they bore, nor do we know how long each type was in circulation, making it difficult to assign secure dates. The 2000 known varieties constitute a statistically significant sample, and even though each variety may be known from only a few surviving coins, it is possible to determine the total number of active goldsmiths as well as the length of time during which each type was issued. The surprisingly high accuracy of the results can be attributed to the non-random nature of the selection processes.
8 April 2014 3:30pm - 4:20pm Various Student Presentations

Brief communications by Level II Integrated Science students who chose to complete an individual history of science project. The topics the students will present are wide ranging. More details to follow.
13 March 2014 1:30pm - 2:20pm Dr Spencer Pope Numismatic and Metallurgical Research at McMaster University

This paper presents an update to research in progress at McMaster University in the study of ancient numismatics. Using resources at McMaster, a team ofresearchers are examining the composition of ancient Greek and Roman coins in order to better understand the circumstances regarding their production. Discerning the exact metallurgical content sheds light on the political and economic context and also helps reconstruct ancient trade routes and connectivity.
11 February 2014 3:30pm - 4:20pm Dr Howard Jones Defending Galileo: The Politics of Discretion

The general subject will be the hazards of promoting the Copernican hypothesis after the decree against Galileo in 1633. The central part of the paper will consist of an examination of the defence of Galileo by the seventeenth-century French scientist and philosopher Pierre Gassendi. The early part of the paper will set the stage for this by rehearsing some of the factors which hindered acceptance of the Copernican hypothesis and likewise some of the discoveries which weighed in its favour. The final part of the paper introduces the issue of faith versus reason and the manner in which Gassendi attempted to resolve it.
23 January 2014 1:30pm - 2:20pm Dr Sarah Symons &
Dr Robert Cockcroft
Ancient Egyptian Astronomical Diagonal Star Tables

We describe the outcomes from our 2013 survey of astronomical texts in museums and sites in Egypt, including new sources identified and updates on previously published pieces. As part of the process to update our body of knowledge in this field, we have been collecting data and photographs of astronomical tables in museums and astronomical texts found in tombs, temples, and on objects. We present highlights of our most interesting discoveries, including two astronomical tables in the Mallawi Monuments Museum which we documented for the first time shortly before the Museum was looted. We also discuss the challenges we faced obtaining the new data, and we give a perspective of what this new information means for astronomical tables and ancient Egyptian astronomy in general.
5 December 2013 1:30pm - 2:20pm Dr Walter Peace Mapping Our World: A Cartographic History of Beliefs, Ideas and Knowledge about the Earth

How did ancient civilizations understand our world? What impact did the great Age of Discovery have on this understanding? What do we not yet know about the Earth in the early twenty-first century? Throughout human history our awareness of the world in which we live has been based on cultural influences, seemingly strange beliefs about our terrestrial home and, of course, an ever-changing body of scientific knowledge. This talk examines the evolution of our knowledge and understanding of our world as reflected in a selection maps spanning the period from ancient Babylon to the present day. These maps reveal, among other things, our knowledge, prejudices, and dreams over the past two thousand years.
12 November 2013 3:30pm - 4:20pm Panel Discussion History of Science in the Classroom
24 October 2013 1:30pm - 2:20pm Dr Miroslav Lovric Who is a Scientist? Is it Fun to do Science?

How does the life of a 21st century scientist differ from the lives of Galileo, Archimedes or Newton? By examining case studies and interesting stories in math and elsewhere, we will discuss the ever-changing relationships between a scientist and her/his science, and between the science and other areas of human endeavour.
24 September 2013 3:30pm - 4:20pm Launch Event Networking Opportunities