Cain, Joe

Head of Department, and
Professor of History and Philosophy of Biology

Prof Cain's research interests include the history of evolutionary studies (especially the synthesis period in evolutionary studies), Darwin and Darwinism, history of science in London, and history of natural history.

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0207 679 3041 (UK)
+442076793041 (intl)
Twitter: @profjoecain

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Seeing Science Sideways

Seeing Science Sideways

About the series

Seeing science sideways is a series of three lectures focusing on our role as observers of science. What can science and technology studies tell us about science? What can it tell us about scientists and the people who interact with it? 


We’ll focus on several case studies to really dig in. One each per lecture.

First, play. Studying jokes and pranks reveals a lot about scientists and their disciplines, especially their informal worlds. We’ll focus on the spectacular prank of the Rhinogradentia (“snouters”). Other cases, such as Eoornis petrovelox gobiensis will come into the analysis.

Second, romance. The lone researcher tucked away in an isolated lab simply is a myth. Studies of collaboration between intimate partners provides a springboard for rethinking patterns of work and the flow of creativity we find at the heart of scientific activity. I’ll center this analysis around the relationship between palaeontologist George Gaylord Simpson and psychologist Anne Roe.

Third, show. Science does many things. One thing it does quite well is entertain. Entertainment embeds ideas, priorities, and particular claims to success. Underlying struggles are easy to forget. Also easy to forget is the way some scientists use the spotlight to push their own agenda forward. When successful, this strategy can relegate dissenters to the margins. We’ll travel to the 1854 Crystal Palace and focus on the famous statues of dinosaurs and other antediluvian beasts. We’ll walk through the park and look closely at these displays.

Lectures are for a general audience. You’ll certainly laugh. Hopefully, you’ll think a little bit more about science and the ways we both shape it and are shaped by it.

seeing sideways


26 April 2011: Seeing Science Sideways 1. Play

28 April 2011: Seeing Science Sideways 2. Romance

29 April 2011: Seeing Science Sideways 3. Show

More information

OSU Department of History Website (link)

Page last modified on 20 apr 11 07:44 by Joe Cain

Professor Joe Cain
UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies