A Tale of Seven Scientists and a New Philosophy of Science

Dr. Eric Scerri
Faculty and Lecturer
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles
Thursday, February 18, 2021 4 PM EST
Via Video Conference (contact wfuphys@wfu.edu for link information)

All interested persons are cordially invited to join the Zoom call.


In his lecture, Dr. Scerri will discuss episodes from, “A Tale of Seven Scientists”, a book which examines the work seven little known scientists at the borders of early 20th century atomic chemistry and physics. These scientists include John Nicholson, Anton Van den Broek and Charles Janet. The study is part of an ongoing project that seeks to understand priority disputes, multiple discovery and the role of minor contributors in the development of science. The lecture will conclude with some speculations on how these studies might contribute to attempts to understand ‘the nature of science’.

BIOSKETCH (adapted from https://academicinfluence.com/people/eric-scerri)

Dr. Scerri is Lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He is also Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Foundations of Chemistry, a triannual a peer-reviewed academic journal. Scerri is widely acknowledged as an authority on the Periodic Table, appearing in the PBS documentary The Mystery of Matter. He received his bachelor’s of science degree from Westfield College, the University of London, his MPhil from the University of Southampton, and his Ph.D. from King’s College London. He is the author/editor of 12 books and over 150 publications.

Scerri is a chemist but also a noted historian and one of the pioneers of the philosophy of chemistry, a subdiscipline that began to take shape in the mid-1900s. In particular, his work on the Periodic Table has crossed disciplines, and he has worked on conceptual problems involving the reduction of chemistry to quantum mechanics (typically considered part of the philosophy of science). In 2015, Scerri was appointed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) to make a recommendation on the composition of “Group 3” in the periodic table, selecting the elements that should be included. Scerri’s latest book, published in 2020, is titled The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance. Scerri maintains a blog to go further in-depth on this topic and others; https://blog.oup.com/2016/11/new-philosophy-of-science/

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