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WHAT IS SCIENTIFIC ABOUT A SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENT? *

In: Nuncius
Author:
J. V. FIELD Science Museum, London

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Abstract

<title> SUMMARY </title>This paper is concerned with the relationship between scientific instruments and their corresponding science, and thus with the relationship between the studies of the history of instruments and the history of science. It discusses these relationships chiefly with reference to astronomy and related mathematical sciences in the period from about 1400 to 1650, but also suggests possible parellels in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century astronomy. On the basis of this analysis, it is suggested that the history of instruments, which at present is largely conceived as the history of instruments like those to be found in museums or private collections, is of most importance to those historians of science who are interested in exploring its social context.

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