Reading the Rocks

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Was it coincidence that geology offered a revolutionary way of looking at the earth at the same time that British and French societies were agitating for political reform? Both early nineteenth-century upheavals were stirred, as Martin Rudwick shows, by the burgeoning press. In Britain the growing network of railways carried newspapers (fed by the electric […]

On the Slab

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Gray’s Anatomy was 150 years old this summer, and the fortieth edition is about to roll off the presses. Its original publication marked a quiet revolution in medical textbooks – with all the flab of wordy text, confusingly sited captions, windy footnotes and over-elaborate illustrations pared away to leave an unprecedentedly helpful (and affordable) student’s […]

Watchers of the Skies

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Whatever C P Snow may have decreed about an unbridgeable divide between the Two Cultures, Romantic writers were fully aware of recent scientific discoveries. As a twenty-year-old medical student, John Keats spent a drink-fuelled night enthusing over a newly purchased verse translation of Homer’s Iliad. Early the next morning, he took less than four hours […]

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