A scientist's voice in American culture: Simon Newcomb and by Albert E. Moyer

A scientist's voice in American culture: Simon Newcomb and by Albert E. Moyer

By Albert E. Moyer

In overdue nineteenth-century the United States, Simon Newcomb used to be the nation's such a lot celebrated scientist and--irascibly, doggedly, tirelessly--he made the main of it. formally a mathematical astronomer heading a central authority company, Newcomb spent as a lot of his lifestyles out of the observatory as in it, appearing as a spokesman for the nascent yet restive medical neighborhood of his time.Newcomb observed the "scientific technique" as a possible advisor for all disciplines and a foundation for all sensible motion, and argued passionately that it was once of as a lot use within the halls of Congress as within the laboratory. In so doing, he not just sparked renowned aid for American technological know-how but in addition faced a large spectrum of social, cultural, and highbrow concerns. this primary full-length learn of Newcomb strains the advance of his religion in technological know-how and levels over issues of significant public debate within the Gilded Age, from the reform of financial idea to the recasting of the talk among technology and faith. Moyer's portrait of a stressed, keen brain additionally illuminates the bustle of past due nineteenth-century the United States.

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Political Economics: Old versus the New School 98 Newcomb as Political Economist 100 Partisan Liberal Policies 105 Defending the Old School 113 Confronting Richard Ely and Edmund James 120 8. Religion: A Clash with Gray, Porter, and McCosh 128 The Saint Louis Speech 130 Asa Gray, Noah Porter, and James McCosh 135 Newcomb's Personal Religious Skepticism 139 9. Physics and Mathematics: Public Understanding and Educational Reform 146 Response to John Stallo's Critique of Physics 148 Clarifying Scientific Terminology 155 The Teaching of Introductory Mathematics 158 10.

Confronted by a mass of archival and published documents that impinge on a wide range of topics, I seek to evoke basic patterns, or at least tendencies, in Newcomb's intellectual pursuits and interactions. Ide- Page xiv ally, this initial ordering of Newcomb's career will move him further into the mainstream of scholarship, where other historians of science or of American thought and culture will refine his story. I intend the book to work on four levels. On the most detailed levelthe level that underpins the entire bookit provides a historical analysis of Newcomb's views on the nature of science and science's wider ties.

Years later, he could still rattle off the titles and recount the texts of the two dozen books that he chanced on as a child. Of course, not all the children who were reared alongside Newcomb in the small towns and villages of Nova Scotia placed such a premium on the few books around them. Young Newcomb was, as he later bemoaned, something of a lusus naturae, a sport of nature, an eccentric given over to the life of the mind. 1 In his autobiography, he titled the chapter on his earliest years "The World of Cold and Darkness," an allusion to the discomfort he felt as a lone bookworm in a rustic society of farmers and laborers.

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