Science and Technology Studies


STS offers degrees at each university level: undergraduate, masters, and PhD


Thrifty Science - Out Now

16 January 2019

Dr Simon Werrett's new book, 'Thrifty Science' is available to purchase now via University of Chicago Press.

Thrifty Science - Cover image

If the twentieth century was marked by “Big Science” then the seventeenth and eighteenth were marked by “Thrifty Science”, according to Thrifty Science: Making the Most of Materials in the History of Experiment, out now via University of Chicago Press. Dr Simon Werrett shows how seventeenth and eighteenth-century experimenters transformed their homes into laboratories, and recycled, repurposed, and re-used their material possessions to learn about the natural world. In an age normally associated with the rise of consumption, thrifty householders, Werrett argues, were just as busy recycling, repurposing and re-using their possessions as they were buying new, and they used these goods to investigate the natural world. An assortment of furniture, fittings, pots, pans and clothese were deployed to make investigations of everything from glow-worms and sour beer to light, electricity, and gravity. Men and women put their material possessions into the service of experiment at home, in practices ranging from cookery and distilling to chemistry and botany. Thrifty Science is a new history of the “Scientific Revolution” and a history of practices of recycling and repurposing often assumed to be recent in origin. Today, however, it seems thrifty science is making a comeback, in environmental concerns and hack- and makerspaces. Thrift might be a value for science’s future, Werrett suggests, as much as its past.

A short video with Dr Werrett, discussing the themes of the book, is currently being filmed. Simon also discussed the concept of Thrifty Science, showing an example of the methods from that period, in a short video filmed for STS, which can be found below.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3Rpansix_4


Thrifty Science is available for purchase now via the UofChicago website, or as an e-book via Amazon. The hardback edition will also be available via Amazon and in good bookshops on the official release date of February 11th, 2019.