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Biomedicine in museums

Is there a special beauty in science tied to the making of new things, new materials, new smells, new colours?

A few minutes ago — as I was sitting in my beautiful and quiet room in Schokofabrik (the best B&B in Berlin), struggling with my paper on art and science in medical museums for the SLSA-session on Friday — a mail dropped in announcing a lecture by science writer Phillip Ball on Thursday 10 July, which may be quite interesting for us in the medical museum business.

Phillip Ball lecture is occasioned by his receipt of the 2007 Dingle Prize for communicating the history of science and technology through his book Elegant solutions: Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2005):

Scientists frequently talk about ‘beauty’ in their work, but rarely stop to think quite what they mean by it. What makes an experiment beautiful? Is it the clarity of the design? The elegance of the apparatus? The nature of the knowledge gained? There have been several recent attempts to identify ‘beautiful’ experiments in science, especially in physics. But Philip Ball argues that, not only is chemistry often neglected in these surveys, but it has its own special kinds of beauty, linked to the fact that it is a branch of science strongly tied to the art of making things: new molecules and materials, new smells and colours (my emphasis)

The making of new molecules and materials, smells and colours isn’t restricted to chemistry, of course. Same with biotechnology, tissue engineering, etc. The beauty of, say, a new bladder tissue should then lie, pace Bell, in its new materiality, smells and colours. Good point. Must read the book!

The Royal Institution, 21 Albemarle Street, London, at 7pm

(thanks to Patricia for the mail).

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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