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Re-enacting past experiments: how and why

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Silvia M. Marchiori.

In recent decades ‘re-enactment’ has become an accepted, even fashionable, mode of historical work. In this presentation, Hasok Chang distinguishes different types of historical experiments (historical replication, physical replication, and extension), and discusses the different purposes that they serve. And then he will discuss his own line of work, which he calls ‘complementary experiments’, which seeks to recover lost scientific knowledge and further extend what has been recovered. The discussion will be illustrated with his own experience with the anomalous boiling of water, and experiments in ‘galvanism’ from the early 19th century. Chang will close by considering the functions of historical experiments for history of science, for science education, and for citizen science.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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