Past Event

Paula Findlen - Newton’s Prisms: Why Francesco Algarotti Became an Experimenter

September 26, 2016
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
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Faculty House, Columbia University, New York

Speaker: Paula Findlen, Chair, Department of History, Stanford University

In the decade before Francesco Algarotti became internationally known for his Newtonianism for Ladies (1737) he first came to the attention of an international community of experimental philosophers for his role in the successful replication of Newton’s prism experiments during his philosophical studies in Bologna. This talk explores the circumstances that led the teenage Algarotti to become a celebrity experimenter in relation to debates about Newtonian science in Italy in the early eighteenth century. This episode has been studied and explained rather differently by Simon Schaffer and Alan Shapiro, emphasizing different dimensions of why Algarotti and his mentor succeeded with his prisms. Paula Findlen will offer another perspective that emerges from examining Algarotti and his world, and considering the long legacy of the prisms that Algarotti kept among his possessions that still exist today.

This event is free and open to the public.

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:
New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Columbia University in the City of New York
City University of New York
The New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Medicine