Every scientific discipline has its famous experiments. The case is no different for psychology. In the company of famous psychological experiments, one study is often mentioned as the fulcrum of the behaviorist revolution of American psychology – the story of a little boy named Albert and the attempt to teach him fear.
Of all sports horses competing at the most recent Olympic Games, 30 % were Dutch-bred. And of the ten gold medals available, five were awarded to horses from the Netherlands.
This is a remarkable achievement, considering that the Dutch do not have a long tradition in horse breeding like the Germans, the English and the French. Especially France and Germany, which had state-sponsored studs for centuries, have long been in the lead in sports such as show jumping and dressage, while England has been famous for its Thoroughbred racing horses since the late eighteenth century.
On the Sunday before Christmas, I bike to the UCLA campus in Westwood for the last time. Out of breath and full of sweat after climbing the hill in a boringly radiant sun, I find professor Norton Wise waiting for me outside Bunche Hall. With a special key he activates the elevator, which takes us to the sixth floor and his office. The quarter has already ended, the campus is deserted, but the climate control still runs full power. Under these circumstances, Wise and I speak about sources, philosophy and himself in the history of science. Norton Wise was previously director of the history of science program at Princeton University, and returned to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2000 to become Distinguished Professor in History and soon Co-Director of the Institute for Society and Genetics (until 2011).
Poster for the first edition of Camille Flammarion’s Le monde avant la création de l’homme (‘The world before man’s creation’), 1886
Parisians who visited a newsstand or book store in the spring of 1886 were confronted with the frightening prospect of a dinosaurian intrusion into their sixth-floor apartments. It was introduced to them by a poster that was part of the advertising campaign for French author Camille Flammarion’s new book (and newspaper serial) Le monde avant la création de l’homme (‘The world before man’s creation’).The whole approach of the publicity campaign turned out to be a good indication of the tone of the book. Flammarion’s book was a work of popular science, and sought to awe and entertain its readers as much as inform them. Although the rather overweight dinosaur here borrows heavily from the reconstructions made about fifteen years earlier by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins for the Crystal Palace exhibition, the image of a dinosaur standing next a high building looking into its top floors would prove compelling enough to last.
Do animals carry legal obligations? To the twenty-first century reader of Shells & Pebbles this question might appear to be odd. Surely, only in fables pigs are summoned to appear before a judge to be held accountable for any misdemeanour. Not quite. In past centuries, animal trials were not unheard of. In fact, one might wonder with the advent of the animal rights movement in the twentieth century, whatever happened to animal duties? A blog post on a cat in court.
An Interview with Professor Margaret Jacob, by Jorrit Smit
On one of those sunny, warm, Californian fall afternoons, I meet professor Margaret Jacob in the Herbert Morris Seminar Room on the first floor of Royce Hall in the middle of the UCLA campus. The well-known early-modern scholar has just entertained a crowd of scholars, students and unidentified passers-by with a talk on Unitarianism in 18th and 19th century Britain. The high correlation between rich industrialists and Unitarianism, she observes, is not captured by Weber’s alleged association of capitalism with Protestantism. It is one of those things she has stumbled upon in a long and rich career in intellectual and cultural history of Early Modern Europe. On Unitarianism, she hopes to write a book one day, but for now the talk suffices.
Het was het eerste interview dat ik als promovendus afnam. Dolf de Vries woonde in Buitenveldert in een mooi groot opgezet appartement op de eerste verdieping, tegenover bejaardenhuis Beth Shalom. Een kleine Joodse mijnheer, kwiek voor zijn 86 jaar. Van zijn familie moest hij in huis altijd met een rollator lopen, maar daar had hij een hekel aan. Liever liep hij zonder. Beretrots was hij op zijn net aangeschafte ipad. “Echt de toekomst”, fluisterde hij me toe. Op tafel lag de Groene Amsterdammer.
Teylers Museum is the best preserved public institute for art and science of the 18th century world. The founders wanted to bring together all available knowledge about arts and sciences, as a microcosm of the world. It opened its doors to the public in 1784. People could come to the museum to read books and look at prints and drawings, but also to attend scientific demonstrations or listen to lectures. Throughout the 19th century Teylers Museum was an important knowledge institution. Today, the collection objects and stories are also accessible online.
Amsterdam may be known for a lot of things, but dinosaurs aren’t usually among them. However, take a walk along the central Plantage Middenlaan in Amsterdam’s Plantage (‘plantation’) district and you will be confronted by two unlikely-looking creatures in the city zoo’s gardens: one is instantly recognizable as Stegosaurus, the other is not quite as obviously a theropod of some description.Continue reading →
While the rest of the world was dedicating way too much time and resources to exterminating one another, Switzerland remained a relatively tranquil spot in 1941 Europe. In that year, the micropaleontologist Manfred Reichel published an article outlining his views on the ‘first bird’, Archaeopteryx lithographica. Reichel’s text but particularly his illustrations are at least partly inspired by the work of Gerhard Heilmann in his very influential The Origin of Birds, a book that was to dominate the field of avian and flight evolution for decades afterwards. And like Heilmann, the exquisite artwork serves to support the ideas set out in the article. And like Heilmann, Reichel can be very critical of earlier ideas.Continue reading →