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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Archived news for 2010


15 December 2010
Postgraduate Open Day, Wednesday 9 February 2011

Interested in learning more about graduate study or research at CHSTM? Come along to our Open Day and find out about the possibilities. Travel bursaries are available.


15 December 2010
Job: Research Associate in the history of medicine

CHSTM seeks a Research Associate help research and write a history of the Manchester Faculty of Medicine and its associated hospitals and departments since the Second World War. The deadline for applications is Friday 28 January 2011.


11 November 2010
Mental health forum meeting, 25 November

An addition to our mental health forum seminar series: on 25 November, Professor Tim Thornton of the University of Central Lancashire will speak "On the very idea of a Recovery Model for Mental Health."


10 November 2010
BSHS Postgraduate Conference 2011: final call

A reminder that the deadline for abstracts for the BSHS Postgrad Conference is Friday 12 November.


5 November 2010
Jay Kennedy in the news again!

News about news: our historian of mathematics Jay Kennedy, who found himself at the centre of a media blizzard last summer, writes about his experience in the latest edition of Times Higher Education (4 November). Jay discusses what it's like for a "shy bookworm" to be mobbed with requests for interviews and rights negotiations, and what this might mean for the "new regime" of publicity-focused academic management.


l-r: internal examiner James Sumner, Ray, lead supervisor David Kirby, and external examiner Jon Agar

5 November 2010
Viva success: Ray Macauley

Congratulations to Ray Macauley, who has successfully defended his PhD thesis "Pioneering knowledge: NASA's Pioneer plaque, Voyager record and the history of interstellar communication, 1957-1977". The examiners praised Ray for his shrewd unpicking of the (often firmly earthbound) uses of attempts at outer-space communication.

Ray will shortly be taking up a postdoc role at the Freie Universität Berlin. As part of a group investigating the history of "outer space" thinking in Europe, he will examine cultural representations of space and spaceflight in the UK during the early 1950, focusing on the Festival of Britain.


18 October 2010
CHSTM at the Manchester Science Festival 2010

This year's Manchester Science Festival runs from Saturday 23 October to Sunday 31, and CHSTM is involved in a record number of events.

Crime Scene Investigation: Past and Present
On Saturday 23 October, Ian Burney and David Kirby join forces with colleagues at Manchester Metropolitan University to explore crime scene investigations, and the gaps between real and entertainment CSI. This interactive event uses a mock crime scene to illustrate changing technologies and practices in crime scene investigation.

The Eureka Commissions
Also on Saturday 23 October, James Sumner will be on the panel at a readings event featuring new fiction from Stella Duffy and Zoe Lambert. Local independent publisher Comma Press has brought together these and other authors with scientists and historians to produce a short-story collection themed around “Eureka moments”, the monumental (and mythic?) breakthroughs that are said to change the rules of scientific thought. Zoe Lambert’s contribution, developed with advice from James, addresses the remarkable story of Lise Meitner, refugee from Nazi persecution and co-discoverer of the principle of nuclear fission.

Transport history walk
The next day, Sunday 24 October, James Sumner will lead a guided walk around the historic canals and railway bridges of the Castlefield basin, talking about how the original “shock city” of urban-industrial growth met its transport needs, and how changing priorities and possibilities lead to sometimes unexpected new uses for old structures.

Arguments and umbrella stands: Victorian Manchester's natural history collections
Also on the 24th, Leucha Veneer will discuss relations between the Geological Society and the Natural History Society in Victorian Manchester. They shared a museum, but disagreed about the admission fee – and about everything else, including the museum’s umbrella stand! This event will be repeated on Thursday 28 October.

David Kirby will be involved in a panel discussion at the Cornerhouse cinema, following the screening of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, on Monday 25 October. The classic movie has been digitally restored and includes footage not seen since the film’s 1927 release. (Sorry: this event is now fully booked!)

Pedigree chums: historical perspectives on the science of dog breeding
On Wednesday 27 October, Michael Worboys and Neil Pemberton will draw together cutting edge research in evolutionary biology and historical studies to explore the enduring appeal of pedigree dogs, tracing how different breeds have physically changed over time and what this has meant to the wider public, breeders and pet owners. The talks will also reveal Manchester’s history of dog shows and dog skulls. A display at the Manchester Museum will run from 11am, with talks starting at 2pm.

Two CHSTM events at the Briton’s Protection pub on Great Bridgewater Street will address subjects dear to many pub-goers’ hearts: smoking and drinking.

Cigarettes and smoking bans: the science and the history
On Thursday 28 October, Carsten Timmermann will give a talk on the smoking ban. For three years now smoking has been banned from all enclosed public places in England. Dr Timmermann will talk about the six decades of concern surrounding the dangers associated with cigarette smoke: the epidemiology and the politics. He will discuss who smoked and who quit, and why it has taken so long to ban smoking.

Drinking up time
On Friday 29 October, there’s another chance to catch James Sumner’s “Drinking Up Time”. The improbable story of an everyday time-traveller’s attempt to get to grips with the science of alcohol since 1600 played to a packed room at last year’s Festival, and is probably the first public event ever to feature a tavern scuffle with Sir Isaac Newton, plus Humphry Davy’s courtroom testimony on the value of putting rotten fish in beer.

Plato, new discoveries and code
A recent discovery made by Jay Kennedy made headlines around the world in the summer of 2010. Plato was a key founder of Western science and philosophy, but his books have remained mysterious. His ancient followers insisted they were written in symbolic codes, but modern scholars have denied this. Dr Kennedy has shown that Plato did indeed write in code, and deciphering its hidden meanings has brought revelations about ancient Greek music and mathematics. Dr Kennedy will speak about this revolution in our understanding of the birth of Western science at MoSI, on Sunday 31 October, at 1pm.


28 September 2010
Seminar series, October-December 2010

Both the main CHSTM seminar programme and our programme of lunchtime seminars for Semester One are now available.


20 September 2010
CHSTM Newsletter: Autumn 2010

Our latest newsletter features details of our new Wellcome Trust programme grant on translational medicine, an update on the Earth Under Surveillance project, and the latest appointments and conferences.

15 September 2010
Vacancy at CHSTM

We seek applications for the following Wellcome Trust funded position which is tenable from 1 January 2011 for 12 months:

Temporary Lecturer in the History of Medicine

Closing date: 30 September 2010
Reference: LS/10881

The full-time position is to cover staff research leave, and its main responsibilities are teaching the history of 19th and 20th Century medicine, particularly in the history of madness, history of disease, and the history of the biomedical sciences.

You will hold a PhD in the History of medicine, be IT literate and have excellent communication skills. We are seeking to appoint someone with experience of undergraduate teaching and research experience in post 1800 history of medicine, who will also play a full part in the academic life of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine.

For further particulars, application forms and information on how to apply, please visit


15 September 2010
BSHS Postgraduate Conference 2011 to be held at CHSTM

The 2011 annual postgraduate conference of the British Society for the History of Science will be held in Manchester; for more details and a call for papers see the conference page.

The deadline for abstracts is Friday 12 November 2010.


9 September 2010
The Earth Under Surveillance: two PhD studentships

Two PhD studentships are now available as part of the ERC-funded TEUS (The Earth Under Surveillance) project at CHSTM. The information page for these studentships includes details of the available research areas and how to apply. For further information, please contact Dr Simone Turchetti.

The deadline for applications is Tuesday 5 October 2010.


l-r: supervisor James Sumner, Ian, and examiners Jonathan Aylen and Alan Booth

9 September 2010
Another viva success: Ian Martin

Congratulations to Ian Martin, who last month successfully defended his PhD thesis on the computerisation of the British banking industry. Ian, one of CHSTM's several part-time PhD students, impressively combined work on the thesis with his day job as a lecturer in internet technologies at the Open University.


9 September 2010
Channel Islands evacuees project news

Gill Mawson's recent work on evacuees from the Channel Islands who settled in the North West during the Second World War has featured prominently in a number of recent public events. The anniversary commemoration of the first evacuees' arrival in Stockport in June 1940 was marked by a series of events in the town, and Gill has also given talks in Oldham and Bury, with another in New Mills to follow in November. Further information is available here.


9 September 2010
Jay Kennedy in the news

A round-up of recent news (following some technical problems with updates to the website) gives us the chance to note Jay Kennedy's many press appearances over the summer. Dr Kennedy's theory of a Pythagorean mathematical sequence underlying the structure of Plato's dialogues -- the subject of a CHSTM seminar in 2007 -- was picked up by the BBC, Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Mail (which interestingly makes Jay a "British scientist") and others, along with the inevitable "Plato code" references.

12 July 2010
Jobs: Vacancies at CHSTM

We seek applications for the following two vacancies:

Dual Role as Research Associate (0.5) and Outreach Officer (0.5) in the History of Medicine

Closing date: 25/07/2010
Reference: LS/10590

This post would suit a historian of modern medicine, science or allied field, with a recent (or imminent) PhD, who wishes to develop their profile into the expanding area of outreach, while at the same time developing their research experience and profile.
The post will be available from 1 September 2010 for up to 12 months.
Salary: GBP 28,983 - 31,671 p.a.

For further particulars, application forms and information on how to apply, please visit

Research Associate in the History of Medicine

Closing date: 25/07/2010
Reference: LS/10591

This post would suit a historian of modern medicine, science or allied field, with a recent (or imminent) PhD, who wishes to develop their profile into the expanding area of outreach, while at the same time developing their research experience and profile.
The post will be available from 1 September 2010 for up to 12 months.
Salary: GBP 28,983 - 31,671 p.a.

For further particulars, application forms and information on how to apply, please visit

Informal enquiries regarding either position: please contact Professor Michael Worboys.


12 July 2010
Exhibition on the history of the Christie Hospital: public invited to contribute stories and memories

CHSTM is currently working in partnership with The Christie Hospital in Withington to organise an exhibition on the history of the Hospital to be held on 14th October. The exhibition will focus on the experiences and views of people who have worked at or received treatment in the Christie. If you have a story you want to share about The Christie or would like further information about the project please contact Dr Joanna Baines.


12 July 2010
Call for Papers: City weathers - meteorology and urban design 1950-2010

CHSTM and the Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC), will jointly host an ESRC-sponsored workshop dealing with the application of climatological and meteorological knowledge in city planning, on 23-24 June 2011. The meeting will take a long view of climatic urbanism, bringing together scientists, historians and practitioners to learn how knowledge of weather has been applied or disregarded in the design  and management of urban areas.


27 May 2010
Manchester History of Medicine Lecture: Professor Christopher Hamlin

We are pleased to announce that this year's Manchester History of Medicine Lecturer will be Professor Christopher Hamlin of the University of Notre Dame. The lecture will be held on 2 June 2010, 5.00-6.00pm, in the Michael Smith Building Lecture Theatre. See the Manchester History of Medicine web page for details.


21 May 2010
Conference: History of post-war women's health, October 2010

New deadline for abstracts: 15 June 2010.  See the call for papers for more details on the conference.


21 April 2010
Grant success: AHRC supports research on Victorian Dog Breeding

Illustration from Punch, 1889

Neil Pemberton and Michael Worboys, with Julie-Marie Strange from the School of Arts, Histories & Cultures, have been awarded £261,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a project on 'The Dog Fancy and Fancy Dogs: Pedigree, Breeding and Britishness, 1859-1914'.  The British preference for pedigree dogs and their display has recently become the subject of intense public scrutiny and debate, with dog shows like Cruft’s portrayed as dangerous to the health of dogs, and out of touch with modern sensibilities in human-animal relations.  Little or no historical perspective has been given on this controversy, which this project will show was present at the very start of the modern 'dog fancy' in mid-Victorian Britain and was a theme throughout its early history.  The team will be investigating the emergence and character of the Dog Fancy in mid-nineteenth century Britain, especially at the changing definitions of pedigree, and how meanings of 'lineage', 'blood' and 'type' developed and were used in manufacturing particular breeds.  An important feature of their work will be how dog breeding interacted with other forms of animal breeding, and how its practitioners were influenced by new ideas in evolutionary biology and heredity.  The work will be set in a wide social and cultural context, exploring to what extent pedigree breeds reflected and shaped notions of national, regional, class and gender identity, particularly in relation to biological conceptions of blood, ancestry and character.


20 April 2010
2010 Cardwell Memorial Lecture: Professor Thomas Laqueur

We are pleased to announce that the eighth Cardwell Memorial Lecturer will be Professor Thomas Laqueur of the University of California Berkeley. Professor Laqueur will speak on 19 May at 6pm, on 'Technology and the Material Sciences of the Dead'. The venue, fittingly, is the Manchester Crematorium, first opened in 1892 and the second oldest crematorium in the United Kingdom.


31 March 2010
Conference: History of post-war women's health, October 2010

This two-day conference, on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 October, will bring together researchers interested in the politics, policy and practice of women's health after 1945.  See the call for papers for more details.


19 March 2010
Doctor Smith goes to Westminster!

l-r: internal examiner James Sumner, supervisor Jeff Hughes, Melissa and Professor Hennessy

Congratulations to Melissa Smith, who has successfully defended her PhD thesis 'Planning for the Last Time: Government Science, Civil Defence and the Public, 1945-68'. Melissa's work looks at the role of the Home Office Scientific Advisors' Branch in producing data and concepts used in the UK's civil contingency plans, in response to the threat of attack by nuclear weapons, and at the various responses of the British public. The external examiner, Professor Peter Hennessy of Queen Mary, University of London, was keen to emphasise the high quality of the thesis, describing it as a valuable contribution to the literature in the field.

Melissa is shortly to take up a post as Policy Adviser in the Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, the Civil Service group which provides cross-departmental advice on long-range policy questions. This appointment follows Melissa's temporary secondment to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, and will provide her with further opportunities to apply historical insight to contemporary questions of government in practice.


19 March 2010
New book: Tuberculosis Then and Now

*Tuberculosis Then and Now: Perspectives on the History of an Infectious Disease, edited by CHSTM's Flurin Condrau and Michael Worboys, is a new collection available from McGill-Queen's University Press.

One third of the world's population is currently infected with the TB bacillus, and up to ten per cent will go on to develop tuberculosis. Today, the disease is most prevalent in Africa and South Asia, but a century and a half ago it was the largest single cause of death in Europe and North America. Tuberculosis Then and Now reflects on changing medical, social and cultural understandings of the disease, developing a wider debate about the role of narrative in the social history of medicine, and how it informs current debates.


7 March 2010
University Challenge update

The 2010 University Challenge team, captained by CHSTM's Jakob Whitfield, is through to the semi-finals after a pair of nail-biting finishes.

Manchester required two wins from three under the Byzantine modified Swiss Pairs arrangements adopted for the quarter-finals this year. An easy initial victory was followed by an evenly-weighted match against St John's College, Oxford, which Manchester lost on a tie-breaker, before winning 170-165 against a strong University of Edinburgh side to proceed.

The most memorable answer of the match -- if not the tournament -- came three minutes from the close of play.

Jeremy Paxman: Light travels 186,282 miles per second in a vacuum. How many miles does sound travel per second in the same conditions?

Manchester, Whitfield: (in some surprise) It doesn't travel at all in a vacuum.

Paxman: Correct! It doesn't!

Manchester's semi-final will be broadcast on Monday 29 March on BBC2.


Jo with her examiners, Ian Burney and Mark Jackson

29 February 2010
Viva success: Jo Baines

Congratulations to Jo Baines, who, earlier this month, gave a successful defence of her PhD thesis on the concept of the 'cancer personality' in the contemporary period.



18 February 2010
David Kirby in the news

David Kirby, our science communication studies specialist, was interviewed for a current piece in the US Chronicle of Higher Education on 'Hollywood science' -- the film industry's use of formal scientific consultants, and the way scientists use movie fiction and other media to promote scientific ideas. The interview relates to David's book, Lab Coats in Hollywood, due out with MIT Press early next year. David's work has also been featured in a recent story concerning science and the movies on the BBC News website.


18 February 2010
Mental Health Forum programme, February-May

Details of the Mental Health Forum's monthly speaker meetings for this semester are now available.


1 February 2010
Public lecture: Bruno Strasser, 17 February

Professor Bruno J Strasser of Yale University will speak on 'The New Biology as Natural History: GenBank and the Debate over Data Sharing in Science' on Wednesday, 17 February 2010, in the Michael Smith Building Lecture Theatre (building 71 on the campus map). The public lecture begins at 5pm, and will be followed by drinks. All are welcome to attend.

Bruno Strasser's research focuses on the history of the biomedical sciences in the 20th century. His book, La fabrique d'une nouvelle science: La biologie moléculaire à l'âge atomique, 1945-1964 explores the emergence of molecular biology as new scientific discipline and professional identity in the Atomic Age. It received the Henry E. Sigerist prize in 2006. He is currently working on a new book project on collections and collectors in 20th century life sciences.


28 January 2010
Conference: Forensic cultures, 11-12 June 2010

An international conference examining the remarkable prominence of forensic science and medicine in contemporary culture. We will bring together leading scholars from history, sociology and socio-legal studies, media and cultural studies, and practitioners working within the diverse locations of forensic culture – from crime scenes and bio-medical laboratories to television studios. For more information, programme and registration form, please visit the Forensic cultures conference homepage.


26 January 2010
CHSTM seminar series, February-May 2010

Our main seminar programme for Semester Two is now available.


21 January 2010
Lunchtime seminars, February-June 2010

This semester's programme of lunchtime seminars is now available.


13 January 2010
NHS seminar news

Unfortunately, the Contemporary History of the NHS seminar scheduled for 18 January has had to be postponed. Bob Heyman's talk on swine flu will now take place later in the year. The next meeting in the seminar series will take place on 22 February.