Margaret Thatcher, dead at 87 April 9, 2013Posted by Cameron Shelley in : Events, STV100 , comments closed
Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, has died at the age of 87. However significant, Thatcher’s death would not normally be news for this blog but, as noted in The Atlantic, she has a technology connection. Thatcher played a role in the creation of soft ice cream!
(The Sand Painter/Wikimedia commons)
The future Prime Minister graduated from Oxford in 1947 with a degree in chemistry. One of her early jobs was with a food producer named J. Lyons & Co. of Hammersmith. Her job there was to help figure out a way to whip air into ice cream using emulsifiers. This measure would make ice cream production (and consumption) more efficient:
… so that the ice cream could be manufactured with fewer ingredients, thereby reducing production costs. (And so that, additionally, the dairy-y result could flow from a machine rather than being scooped by hand.)
Everything is better at lower density!
Scott once asked in this blog, “Can you name the any U.S. Presidents or Canadian Prime Ministers with a technical background?” Among presidents, Herbert Hoover was a mining engineer and Jimmy Carter was a nuclear technician. Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie was a mason.
So, now we come to the question, “Which British Prime Ministers had a technical background?” Now we have part of the answer: Thatcher (“the milk snatcher“) was a chemist who helped to create a kind of ice cream that takes less effort to dispense and to eat. What about the others?
UW Science and Technology in Society Teaching Group November 15, 2012Posted by Scott Campbell in : Announcements, Events , comments closed
A CSTV-related annoucement to all UW faculty. Please spread the word!
Dear UW Teaching Colleagues,
Many of us on campus teach a wide range of undergraduate courses relevant to thinking about science and technology in society. In order to further facilitate both mutual understanding of our interests in this topic and awareness of the many offerings for undergraduates, we think it would be valuable (and fun!) to meet and discuss our various plans for teaching courses concerning science and technology (including math, computer science, engineering, health science, and environmental science) in society.
Please join us on Tuesday December 4 from 1-3 pm in EV2-2069. Refreshments will be served.
Not only will we get to find out about various teaching projects concerning science and technology in society across campus, but we will compile a list of courses to be offered in upcoming terms for students interested in this area.
Please RSVP Heather Douglas at email@example.com on whether you can attend.
Thanks very much and we hope to see you there!
Heather Douglas, Scott Campbell, Carla Fehr, and Katie Plaisance
(The Science and Technology in Society Teaching Group)
University of Waterloo History Department Speaker Series October 25, 2012Posted by Scott Campbell in : Announcements, Events , comments closed
Computing Services and Configured Users: A History of Academic Computing in Canada
On October 26 at 12:30, I’ll be giving a talk for the UW History Department Speaker Series on some of my research relating to the history of computing in Canada. In particular, I will explore the relation between computer technology, computing centers, and computer science in the 1950s and 1960s. Computing centers occupied a mediator role at the unstable boundary between technology and end use, and I argue that a focus on users, rather than disciplinary formation or professionalization reveals new insights. The story will focus on on TRANSCODE and WATFOR, programming languages developed at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo that would facilitate and configure users while reconstructing the technology and the computing center itself.
Location: Hagey Hall 138; Time: 12:30 to 1:30
Event: Indefensible Missile Defence May 22, 2012Posted by Scott Campbell in : Events , comments closed
An event that might interest CSTV readers:
The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) will soon be featuring a lecture by Dr. Yousaf Butt on “Indefensible Missile Defence” presented by Project Ploughshares, Canadian Pugwash and Science for Peace.
“Indefensible Missile Defence: Securing the peaceful use of space for future generations.”
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
CIGI Campus Auditorium, 67 Erb St. W, Waterloo, ON
Seating is limited, sign up now!
If you are interested in attending this FREE event, please RSVP to Debbie Hughes:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-888-6541 extension 7702
About the speaker:
Dr. Yousaf Butt is a scientific consultant to the Federation of American Scientists and a physicist in the High-Energy Astrophysics Division at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Yale University and a dual B.S. in mechanical engineering and physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Climate change seminar May 7, 2012Posted by Cameron Shelley in : Events , comments closed
Keith Hippel is giving a seminar presentation on “Tackling Climate Change: A System of Systems Engineering Perspective”, Wednesday, May 9, 11:30 a.m., E5 6111. The presentation, I believe, makes a case for a “fee and dividend” approach to tackling climate change.
Shaping the world conference May 1, 2012Posted by Cameron Shelley in : Events , comments closed
UWaterloo’s first graduating class of International Development students is presenting talks at a conference on campus. The conference is entitled Shape the World and features talks by the students regarding their experiences from their field placements.
The conference takes place on Wed., May 2, from 9am to 5pm at St. Paul’s University College on campus. Registration is free.
Talk: The rhetoric of store-window mannequins April 12, 2012Posted by Cameron Shelley in : Events , comments closed
A talk entitled “The rhetoric of store-window mannequins” will be presented next Tuesday, April 17, at 1 to 2:30pm in PAS 2464. The presenters are Marie Gelang and Emma Engdahl from the University of Orebro in Sweden. See here to get an idea of the content.
Angry geese April 4, 2012Posted by Cameron Shelley in : Events , comments closed
Anyone who attends the University of Waterloo has interacted with the Canada geese who live here year round. They move about the campus in flocks (which sometimes seem more like herds) foraging on the lawns, turning the grass into green poop.
When mating season comes around in the spring, the geese become more aggressive. Woe to you if you get near their goslings then! This year, however, the geese seem to have taken the whole anti-human thing to the next level, entering the Davis Centre Library and taking hostages!
I think that this behavior reveals an anti-technology streak in our national big bird. Recall that Canada geese were blamed for colliding with US Airways flight 1549. Now we find Canada geese attacking the technology library at uWaterloo. We’re through the looking glass here, people. We must face facts: the Canada goose is a Luddite.
Local event: Project Ploughshares 35th Anniversary Lecture February 27, 2012Posted by Scott Campbell in : Events , comments closed
Project Ploughshares, a local NGO dedicated to justice and the avoidance of war and violence, will be celebrating its 35th anniversary tonight with a Keynote lecture by Samantha Nutt. Dr. Nutt is the accomplished Canadian founder of War Child, an NGO whose vision is for a world where no child knows war. She is also the author of the recent and critically acclaimed book Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies and Aid.
The lecture will be hosted at the Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo tonight at 7pm. RSVPs Debbie Hughes (email@example.com) or call 519-888-6541 x702.
Project Ploughshares has many strong UW connections: it was founded at Conrad Grebel College in 1976, and there have been a few behind-the-scenes links to CSTV over the last few decades. I would heartily encourage our readers to attend the event to join the celebration, but also to attend what will surely be a moving and powerful talk.
2011 Hagey Lecture: Ian Hacking September 26, 2011Posted by Scott Campbell in : Events , comments closed
This year’s Hagey Lecture looks particularly interesting and relevant to CSTV. Ian Hacking is one of Canada’s foremost interdisciplinary philosophers and his talks deservedly fill rooms and lecture halls. I’d strongly recommend STV students and those with similar interests go see him at one of his talks next week!
How Did Mathematics Become Possible?
Presented by Dr. Ian Hacking, an Emeritus University Professor at the University of Toronto.
Monday, October 3, 2011 at 8:00pm
Humanities Theatre, Hagey Hall
About the Lecture
How come human beings can do mathematics? The question involves, among so many other things, capacities that have, presumably, arisen through natural selection, and discoveries of how to use those capacities, discoveries made at particular times and places in human history. We should see both as part of a broader series of questions about how this organism, on a planet like Earth, was able to become a mathematical animal, probably the only one in the universe.
At present we have only fragments of an understanding, drawn from recent cognitive science, the history of early mathematics, social studies of science, and what has been called the archaeology of mind—of how fashioning artifacts has changed the human mind itself. It is a matter of hands, minds, brain, communities, and much else about ourselves. The lecture aims less at “building bridges” between these different kinds of inquiry, than at highlighting how much we are learning right now, and how little we know.
About Professor Hacking
Ian Hacking is regarded as a leading scholar in the history and philosophy of science, although his work has touched fields as diverse as statistical inference and the emergence of multiple personality disorder. His contributions have earned many awards, including the Killam Prize for Humanities and an appointment to the Order of Canada.
Professor Hacking completed a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from the University of British Columbia and a B.A. in Moral Sciences from Cambridge University, where he subsequently received both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The scope of Professor Hacking’s academic interests is enormously broad, and his work has helped to provide a sense of the fundamental issues that unite discrete disciplines. Atrue bridge-builder, he is unequalled in his ability to connect with historians, philosophers, psychologists, logicians, scientists and sociologists across the globe. His work spans the philosophy of science, the philosophy of language, the theory of probability and statistical inference, and the socio-historical examination of the rise and fall of disciplines and theories.
Student Colloquia on Tuesday, October 4
Numbers and race: “Don’t ask for the reference (bedeutung), ask for the use.”
1-2:30 p.m. » HH 334
The 20th century Pythagoras: why did P.A.M. Dirac conjecture that the universe is a single very large integer?
3:30-5 p.m. » MC 5158