Science is influenced by historical, cultural, and social factors.
What scientists consider to be relevant, what they consider to be an appropriate methodology and how they define what is considered to be a scientific fact is the result of a discourse which is - among other factors - also shaped by historical, cultural, and social factors.
Stories where this aspect plays an important role are:
♦ The dutch physician Christiaan Eijkman is trying to cure people from a strange illness. Beri-Beri was known in the dutch colonies for a long time, but researchers were unable to identify the cause for the disease. The history of finally understanding cause and effect of Beri-Beri is far from being straightforward.
Eijkman and Beri-Beri
♦ In 1778, a strange line pattern in the grass leads Martin, Andreas and Michael to a talk of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. He describes the geneation of these patterns in his laboratory in Goettingen and why these patterns form at all.
Lichtenberg and the electrophorus
♦ When Emma Muspratt, daughter of one of Liebig's friends, became so ill she could not eat anymore, Justus von Liebig made the attempt to produce a meat extract which she could drink instead of eating the meat. The result is a precursor to modern bouillon cubes.
Liebig and nutrition
♦ Meet Marie Curie on her way from a promising student, who was born and raised in difficult times, to one of the most renowned female natural scientists in the 20th century and especially her lifetime achievement to verify the existence of yet unknown radioactive elements.
Maria Skłodowska-Curie: discoverer of two radioactive elements
♦ The immediate use of solar energy is indeed known for quite some time already. This story tells you about the development of the first solar powered cookstove and the political and economical reasons, why it did not become a best practice model.
Mouchot and the solar cooker
♦ The Bavarian War Secretary Benjamin Thompson has to solve the problem how to feed his army as economically as possible. But potatoes, which could provide the solution to this challenge, had a bad reputation at that time.
Rumford and nutrition
♦ What is the nature of heat – is it a substance or infinitesimal movement of matter? Among others, the Bavarian War Minister Benjamin Thompson, later known as Count Rumford, found an answer by analysing the drilling process for manufacturing cannons.
The mechanical theory of heat and Rumford's contribution