Inside Science Conversations

James Poskett: Science Has Always Been Global

March 21, 2022 Season 1 Episode 6
Inside Science Conversations
James Poskett: Science Has Always Been Global
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Inside Science Conversations, James Poskett tells host Chris Gorski about his new book, Horizons: The Global Origins of Modern Science. The book takes readers on a whirlwind trip through history and science, from the precolonial scientific and mathematical insights developed in West Africa, the Middle East and Polynesia to the important discoveries made by people from the Americas and India. The conversation weaves through how Europeans adopted a lot of these ideas, and how those turned into simplified narratives and led to the origins of the idea of the lone scientific genius. James also delves into some of the dark themes of the history of science and why the future of science depends on fully reckoning with its global history.

 Chris Gorski  00:11

Hi, welcome to Inside Science Conversations. I'm your host, Chris Gorski. I'm the senior editor at Inside Science, a science news website supported by the American Institute of Physics. This is a show about what makes scientists tick about how their brains work. And today on the show, we have an interview with James Poskett, a historian of science and technology at the University of Warwick. James has written a book that comes out on March 22, called Horizons, the Global Origins of Modern Science. As the subhead describes, it is indeed a story about how people from around the globe contributed to scientific knowledge over time, and how that a lot of those stories have been lost in many ways. And the full story is so much more interesting. James, thanks for joining me.

 

James Poskett 01:01

Thanks very much. Thanks for having me.

 

Chris Gorski  01:04

Yeah. So So one of the reasons we wanted to talk, of course, is you have a new book coming out? Yep. Horizons, the global origins of modern science. And it's pretty broad. How did you decide you wanted to write this kind of book?

 

James Poskett 01:26

Yeah, thank you. So what really, the breadth is what motivated me, I was kind of frustrated with the history of science as it sat at the moment where there were quite a few, quite local or national histories of science. And those tended to be very much focused on Europe and the United States. And this story about the origins of modern science in particularly Europe. And I really wanted to write a much broader history of science that connected up the world. And as the title I mean, the argument of the book is in the title, it's about the global origins of modern science, that the classic narrative of the origins of modern science in early modern Europe with the scientific revolution, that this narrative really is a bit of a myth, to be honest, as I put it in the book. And instead, we can think about all the different ways in which people and cultures from outside of that standard history focusing on Europe contributed to the making of modern science.

 

Chris Gorski  02:28

Well, it's a, it's really compelling and told me so many stories that I didn't quite realize I had overlooked along the way, when you I'm really curious about how you kind of, you know how you saw yourself as a 10 or 12 year old, maybe? What kind of things did you think you would be doing? Was it historian was that where you were looking?

 

James Poskett 02:49

Great question I prefer, they asked me this very much. So yeah, I'm a professional historian. Today, I work in the history department University. I teach, you know, world history, not just the history of science. When I was a child, I, I wanted to develop computer games as it happens. And I loved computer games, and I loved science, actually. So I didn't think I'd be a historian. I wasn't very interested in history at all at school, actually, I dropped it as soon as you were allowed to. And I began a degree in computer science, actually. So I started my degree in computer science thinking I wanted to develop computer games, or at least work in the tech kind of industry, this was before it kind of all blew up as well. So maybe I should have stayed a bit a bit richer if I'd stayed in that, but maybe not as happy. But in I was always interested in more the philosophy of science actually, as as well. So when I got to university, I started taking modules. And I was, I was lucky enough study at Cambridge that that was a separate department for the history and philosophy of science. So I moved into that as I went through the degree and really fell in love with it and fell in love with the philosophical and the historical and more and more the political aspects of science really gripped me. So I, so I moved from kind of computer scientist to philosophy of science, and then all the way through to history of science, and now just just history. And I think that is reflected in the book actually quite a lot in that. It's not just about the technical aspects of science, I try and treat the science seriously. And I have that scientific background. You know, I took the physics and maths and biology exams at Cambridge, but I try and inject a lot of serious world history into it. So it's about, you know, the colonization of the Americas the growth of the Atlantic slave trade, the Industrial Revolution, the communist revolutions of the 20th century and so on. So I take this the history as seriously as the science.

 

Chris Gorski  04:58

I think a lot of the history of science books that I'm familiar with are, you know, biographies of single people, or maybe or maybe have a decade of massive change, right? So it's really interesting to, you know, this isn't about Heisenberg or Oppenheimer or he Mendeley have, right. It's about, it's about all of them, and everything that influenced them, and so much more. Right. But, you know, one of the things that he, as I'm reading, it just kind of really struck me is the concept that as Columbus came to the Americas and other explorers, it was those things that they brought back, the tomatoes, the potatoes, the astronomy that changed how people looked at your how Europeans rather looked at the world and science and it, I mean, is that something that's been building in the field? Or is that a synthesis that you're creating? How is that kind of story coming together?

 

James Poskett 06:08

Yeah, I'm really pleased you picked up on that. So the the book sort of starts in the historical moment of Columbus in the Americas, as you say. And the book isn't just about scientific discoveries. It's also about the meaning of science and how that was radically transformed, which is what you're describing. And for Europeans, they had long relied and placed a lot of emphasis on ancient knowledge, and everything worth discovering, you could discover by reading the works of classical, and ancient authors like Aristotle. And the discovery and colonization of literally a new world sort of challenged that in quite a fundamental way. And it wasn't just that they you're right, they they found all these new things that they didn't know about, obviously, the indigenous people of the Americas were perfectly familiar with potatoes and tomatoes. And that that was interesting in its own right. But that also made Europeans start thinking much more about, Well, how should we do science. And of course, the classic metaphor is one of discovery. People talk about making scientific discoveries today. And that metaphor has its origins in exactly that period, where people like, the English philosopher, Francis Bacon, literally made that direct comparison saying, the regions of the known geographical world have opened up, we now know there are more things. And this kind of world of discovery needs to be mirrored in the understanding of the natural and physical world. So that that is, that's something in the case of the Americas historians of science have been quite aware of over the last, say, like, couple of decades, I think the the synthesis I really tried to show in the book was, this wasn't actually just a European thing. And it wasn't just about the Americas. And that's, I think, the difference between the history I've written and some of the academic history of science as it exists today. So I go on in the next few chapters of the book, to show that actually, other cultures around the world had a similar reconfiguration of how they thought about knowledge when I encountered other cultures. So I talk about Ming Dynasty China and what they thought was happening when they encountered Jesuit astronomers from Europe coming that to China to Beijing. And they often kind of said similar things about that this was a way in which to access new knowledge from afar that maybe this was a way to reconceptualize ancient knowledge in a new way. And so I traced this history of what I call a scientific Renaissance, actually around the world where all different kinds of cultures between around 15 117 100 cultural exchange thing, particularly global cultural exchange, seems to be this real driver for making people think differently about science and knowledge.

 

Chris Gorski  09:10

Yeah, it's interesting be one of the, I guess, assumptions I had was that the global collaboration and Science Global kind of back and forth, was, was really growing, but it's it you know, you're the stories in the book, explain how much of that was going on? I was not aware of all the things happening, kind of along the Silk Road, especially with astronomy from Samarkand to India, and more, you know, what stands out about those, that kind of astronomy to you? And

 

James Poskett 09:46

in a way, I sometimes like to think that Europe was weird, not because it was modern and connected, but Europe was weird because it was especially unmonitored and unconnected, and then kind of was that really a middle point of a much longer history from the year maybe 1000 onwards where the world was becoming interconnected. So you're right there are these connections between particularly the Islamic the the massive Islamic world of the early, early modern period, the late Medieval Period stretching all the way from Beijing where there are there's a Muslim astronomical contingent at the observatory there, through, as you say, India to Northern India with the Moogles. And the astronomers there through Persia through what's now as Becca, Stan, Samarkand all the way through the Ottoman Empire and and indeed, to West Africa, as well. And I think to answer your question about what stands out for me, one of the things I was really pleased I was able to do, but took a lot of work was to integrate that story of pre colonial West African science into this history of the scientific revolution. Because it even in academic work, it basically doesn't figure there is a sort of limited acknowledgement that there was some kind of mathematical or astronomical tradition in West Africa in places like Timbuktu and modern day Mali. But that's never talked about as part of the same story of the scientific revolution, or the kind of transformation in Islamic astronomical and mathematical sciences that were happening north of the Sahara. And what I show in the book is that, unsurprisingly, like the Silk Road was running from West Africa, all the way to East Asia, and those astronomers and mathematicians in West Africa in Timbuktu in Kaino. And what's modern Nigeria, they were reading critiquing earlier, often Arabic, Islamic works on astronomy and mathematics, particularly, and they were just as much part of that story as elsewhere. So that's the thing that stood out to me. I guess the other big thing is the presence of these astronomical observatories,

 

Chris Gorski  12:02

right? And they're pretty stunning in size and scale, right?

 

James Poskett 12:05

Yeah, it's many of them still exist, right?

 

Chris Gorski  12:08

Yeah, I was actually lucky enough to go to die poor and go to the Jantar Mantar there. It's extraordinary.

 

12:14

James Poskett Yeah, yeah. Include a few. Even my own photos, my publisher was probably very pleased, because some of the images in the book Yeah, I took when I visited, particularly the gentleman through a very nasty and often do

 

Chris Gorski  12:27

a lot of the story of science, you know, when you learn science in school is is smoothed out, right? They don't tell you the exceptions to the rules until much later. Right. I think perhaps it's kind of similar with the his history in some ways, because you've got this story of succession of geniuses, right? Copernicus, Newton, Einstein, right? Basically all Western but, you know, Can you can you tell me a little bit about how some of those people were taking in a lot of other texts and other information to help take it one step farther than anyone had before? Like that. That's the way I think of it. Anyway.

 

James Poskett 13:13

100%. So you're right, there is this narrative of the lone genius scientist. And the names you said, Exactly, the ones pop up, right. And you turn Darwin, earlier, Copernicus, Einstein. And that was really a narrative that developed really in the 20th century to try and create this image of the scientist as the rational individual, that fitted very much with the Cold War mindset. In the western United States. In particular, obviously, as you say, this, this was not the case, basically, all these individuals, and they acknowledged it at the time, none of this none of the history I tell without being a surprise to anyone. In the early modern period. They were quite happy and to acknowledge their debts to earlier thinkers, including those from outside Christian and European cultures. So Copernicus is not hidden. He cites five different Islamic authors in on the revolutions of the heavenly spheres. He was steeped in a culture where people were continually reading and critiquing and developing ideas based off Arabic manuscripts. Copernicus himself couldn't read them Arabic but he was taught by people that could he could also read Hebrew so he would have been able to read some of the Byzantines Greek texts so he draws particularly on this very influential earlier Islamic astronomer called NASA I'll Denali to see to solve a technical astronomical problem about why it is that the planets wobble basically so they they circle the sun, but they don't circle in perfect circles and This earlier Islamic technique, Copernicus was able to draw on. Similarly, plenty of later thinkers, Newton happily acknowledged. I mean, Newton famously said that everyone knows I don't make any observations myself. And that standing on the shoulders of giants kind of quote, he meant it like that was the way in which science was done in the early modern period by collating all different kinds of work from all different kinds of sources, and creating this kind of synthesis. It wasn't just about observation. And you see that right through, like, throughout the 19th century, in the 20th century, this kind of work of cultural synthesis continues to be a core part of science. That was swiftly forgotten from the 1950s onwards.

 

Chris Gorski  15:45

While you're putting this together, what are some of the stories that I mean, were there any stories that you had to leave out that you desperately wanted to include?

 

James Poskett 15:59

Yeah, there's so the stories I left out that I didn't desperately want to include. So one of the challenges of writing this book is I was aware people were going to say, oh, you know, what about so and so? And what about so and so in the traditional European traditions, like where's Galileo? Where's so, you know, where's this, that and the other. And I was very conscious that I couldn't tell the old story and tell if I wanted to tell the new story. In terms of people, places, I didn't kind of address as much I would have liked to write more about modern 20th century African science. So I was very conscious about talking about pre colonial Africa that the history of modern science doesn't begin with slavery and colonialism. And I touch and I talk about slavery and colonialism and the place of science there. Later on. I did quite a lot of research into things like African mathematicians, African physicists in the 20th century. And part of the balancing act of the book was just to balance all these different places and regions against one another. In the end, I put more of that in the conclusion. So I have quite a contemporary discussion of Africa about AI and mathematics and computing to talk about the ways in which post colonial Africans science is really important for understanding not just the history of science, but science today, and lots of the politics of science today. Visa V, particularly China in the US,

 

Chris Gorski  17:32

I guess, I guess a lot of this more than I realized was, is politically motivated or tied. As you know, one of the things that I also caught my eye because it wasn't the way I thought about something before was the idea that referring to an Islamic kind of golden age of science, had consequences, and, and has. So I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about what you say in the book about how that places in the past?

 

James Poskett 18:06

Yeah, so this is a, as you say, we hear a lot actually. And we have in the last few decades about golden ages of science. So particularly in Islamic Golden Age, the medieval period in which there were incredible advances in the sciences in the Islamic world, things like alchemy algorithm, particularly in astronomy, or these developments. And that's all absolutely true. This was an important time of scientific advance. Of course, similarly with ancient China that compass, gunpowder, etc. Similarly, actually, with ancient and medieval Hindu science often gets kind of invoked. I always tell my students, if you hear the term golden age, you should immediately be suspicious, because it has built into it, a decline kind of narrative. So yes, there was an Islamic advance of science, but didn't suddenly fall off a cliff in the early modern period. And indeed, that narrative, served a very specific political goal. It was really invented in the late 18th and early 19th century as European empires expanded into the Islamic world, first in Egypt, also in India, in north India, with the Moogles later in the Ottoman territories. And it served a quite simple purpose, which was to portray the Islamic world as a once glorious civilization, but one that was now degraded, and needed modern Europe to become civilized and modern again. And so it has this very, like clear, almost propaganda purpose in the 19th century. And what I show in the book is basically that's not true that Islamic science didn't disappear suddenly in 1400 that it continued to develop in environments and contribute to modern science in a variety of different ways. And indeed right up until the Ottoman writing up including the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire Ottoman modernized as a very keen on science. And they have this vision of a kind of modern Islam tied to modernized science and technology with like the telegraph coordinating the times of press, there's massive interest in the sciences and technology throughout the Islamic world, including in the modern period. I can see, I can see why it's appealing, like at face value, but narrative, of course, it can provide role models, but I think it is problem if the role models are all in the ancient and distant past. And we don't have an account also of the successes of science in the Islamic world. In the more recent past it

 

Chris Gorski  20:51

so much of the story of science seems to be about navigation, right from the stars to maps to the seas, the Polynesians, the stories about the Polynesians, and navigator who came with Cook, that those stories are extraordinary. Some of the ways that you describe the Polynesians understanding navigation and hints in the waves of what's going on are, Could you could you explain a little bit about that?

 

James Poskett 21:23

Yeah, absolutely. So another big theme of the book is actually the importance of indigenous peoples and indigenous knowledge to the making of modern science. And as you say that that comes up, particularly with astronomy. And when I talk about Newtonian science, I talk a lot about how efforts to verify Newton's claims essentially involve to traveling around the world to make observations. But both the travel and the observations absolutely relied on indigenous navigational and astronomical knowledge. How else were Europeans going to navigate around the vast expanse of the Pacific except with the help of people that had been doing it for centuries, if not 1000s of years, in some cases. Similarly, in South America, the Peruvian indigenous people are really fundamental to the voyages that are made and the astronomical observations that are made because they have a very long tradition drawing on the earlier Inca empire of astronomical work. In the Pacific, yeah, there's this there's this Polynesian priest actually kind of priest navigator called to pyre that James Cook, the famous explorer, recruits basically, in Tahiti. And to Paya helps cook navigate around the Pacific, and as far as New Zealand and ultimately Australia, and the ways in which Polynesians navigated was radically different to that of Europeans. And it made absolute sense for navigating around the Pacific up until then, Europeans had mainly been used to navigating around smaller seas like the Mediterranean, and then across the Atlantic, as well later, the Indian Ocean is obviously a bigger expanse, but navigating around the Pacific, the vastness of it requires a different technique. And broadly, Polynesian navigators follow the stars, they followed star routes, star maps, and they memorize these, they didn't actually write down the directions and they didn't produce maps as we would know them. Instead, they kind of followed a set of directions that were determined by the sailing towards individual stars, and then at certain times changing direction, they'd also follow the swells of the waters, they had a very, very well developed understanding of tides, waves, currents, at a time, actually, when Europeans were very much confused about the nature of tides. And Newton spent a lot of time being very confused about and trying to work out what the deal was with tides. So they combine these much more practical and tacit ways of understanding both the stars and the landscape, to incredible effect. Basically, it was it was very effective. And the interesting bit for me is that cook gets to Paya to draw this map in the more European traditions so that Polynesian knowledge through this contact was translated into a sort of Europeanized map of the Pacific. And so again, it's not like when you just look at the artifact, okay, as this one does have two pi as name on it, but the artifacts were left with the kind of end result of science often obscures all the individuals or the cultural processes that went into its production.

 

Chris Gorski  24:58

The story of how Botanical Gardens kind of kind of lead the way was kind of a really interesting one. You know what happened with botanical gardens and collections of plants from around the world that were then analyzed and studied for what they had to do with medicines or foods or anything else?

 

James Poskett 25:19

Absolutely, I guess there's botanical gardens are really neat example for my argument, because on the one hand, they're absolutely a product of European colonial expansion. But they are explicitly established, both back in Europe as kind of treasuries of all these collections, but also in the colonial world, in places like colonial India and Kolkata, in the Cape Colony in South Africa, in Jamaica, and so on as experimental stations to test out which plants can be grown for economic purposes to extract more from the colonial economy. So there's that world history story. There's also the, there's no way you're going to be able to know anything about the plants of South Asia, unless you ask people that are there. There's the kind of running theme of the book really that of course, when Europeans were confronted with the diversity of the flora and fauna of somewhere like India, they quite swiftly realized that they would need to enlist or coerce often the expertise of local people who had been studying, often writing particularly in South Asia about these plants, who had been classifying them, who had been recommending their various medicinal uses. And again, that's something that gets raised in the process quite often, quite deliberately are raised in the process of collecting and classifying and creating these gardens. But when historians start looking back at the paper trail, we can see that for instance, the like major works of early modern botany on South Asia, particularly those done by the Dutch East India Company, were absolutely reliant on the knowledge of existing South Asian medicinal healers, classificatory seems even South Asian books and palm leaf manuscripts I talked about,

 

Chris Gorski  27:22

do you have a favorite anecdote or particular scientist that that you discuss in the book?

 

27:32

Yes. So I deliberately wrote the book about quite a few individuals to kind of give the texture of their life, the Indian physicists of the 20th century and their involvement with the anti colonial movement. I find, I find the politics of that really interesting. Many of them ended up turning to physics because they were, in some way unable to advance within the colonial state and the colonial bureaucracy, often to do with racism often because of their direct involvement in the anti colonial movement. And so I'm very interested in the politics of science. And some of those anti colonial Indian scientists, people like Meghnad Saha people, likes to change laugh boasts, they articulated why science was so important to their politics in a way that became quite because it's very rare in the 20th century, at least in the West. And it's very rare even today, and I find that exciting and kind of exemplary in some ways.

 

Chris Gorski  28:41

Can you explain a little bit more about how the how how they tied their science to their politics? Yeah, of

 

James Poskett 28:46

course. So both Meghnad Saha and searchengine as boasts were, in the early 20th century involved in a anti colonial movement called the Swadeshi movement, which was in short, a movement to boycott British goods in order to break the dependency, the economic dependency of colonial India, on the British Empire. They were actively involved in that. They also saw science as part of Swadeshi, basically. And they thought that it was really fundamental that Indian scientists should be trained should advance should teach science in order to break the dependency on India in terms of scientific training as well. And so many of them go to Britain to train. But then they returned to India with this idea that they need to do science in order to break this dependency. And they then push it a little bit further because both Meghnad Saha and searchengine lifeboats were interested In the new physics of the 20th century, basically, they were super keen on like quantum mechanics, very keen on relativity and Einstein's theories. And basically, they were keen on German science. And they explicitly saw their interest in German science as a way to break away from the quite old by that point traditions of British science that had been taught at nausea in colonial Indian universities, learning about the Maxwell equations, learning about Thompson and the laws of thermodynamics, etc, etc. So they saw the radicalism of this new German science, quantum mechanics, relativity. And they turned to that so it's a bit like, you know, you boycott the British cotton goods, but you also kind of boycott the British science and turn towards this new and exciting German science. And the smoking gun here is that Sahar and boasts produced the first in the world English translation of Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, the book. And so it was in India that these Indian anti colonial nationalists are translating German science into English as part of their movement, rather than English scientists just read it in German that wasn't translated into English and England much later. And for me, I just find that a really stark example of just how much politics does shape science, and how much the world beyond Europe and in this case, even the well beyond Britain really matter. This is a, this is a history of how India, Britain, Germany, all these connections, and these individuals from writing to Einstein to Boson Einstein wrote to one another, and collaborated late,

 

Chris Gorski  31:49

how that's really, really something the and I think those dynamics aren't really, they're still going on, right? I think so much science today is published in English, which puts its own pressure on things. Well, a lot of the papers are coming from other countries people are. So I'm curious about how you think about the future of science, based on these narratives and changes that you've seen in in writing this book?

 

James Poskett 32:21

Yeah, your point about the English language is really, really pertinent one. I know, there's been lots more discussion about that in the scientific community recently, you know, English is this global language, because of both the history of the British Empire and then later, the United States kind of hegemonic in the Cold War. And what that means for scientists in other places around the world scientists whose first language isn't English, or indeed, don't speak or write in English. I think we will see that start to change to an extent, particularly with the rise of China and Chinese Science, a lot of what the Belton Road program, part of the Belt and Road program is to increase provision for Chinese language training in places like Pakistan, in East Africa. And that actually models a longer history of, of communist language training programs, the Soviet Union was doing that in the 20th century, they were training Ghanian scientists in teaching them Russian. So I think the languages of science is something that is really open. In terms of the broader future of science, I make a claim at the end of the book, and I really meant it that the future of science does depend on understanding its global history. And what I'm what I meant by that was that after the end of the Cold War in the 90s and early noughties, the broad idea was that we didn't really need to do anything to we didn't really have to get engaged with history anymore, the world would just get better. And that included the world of science, the world of science would get more diverse, it would get more fair. Turns out that wasn't true, right? We're alive today in 2022. And the world didn't get more fair, it didn't become more equal. It didn't become more multicultural, it became more sharply polarized. And I think there's a new recognition amongst many people, including those I guess, of my generation that in order to improve the world, we're going to have to take seriously the legacies of the past. And so a lot of the book is about you know, the positive aspects of global cultural exchange, but a lot of the book is actually about some pretty dark themes. It's about how things like capitalism and slavery, indigenous genocide, political forgiveness colonial nailers more have shaped the making of modern science. I think a much greater public awareness of that is an important starting point for answering questions that are often asked but relatively divorced from history like how do we improve diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics? Well, you need to understand the history of exactly why that diversity is not there today. And in different contexts. It's different. But there's, there's broadly a history of things like slavery, racism, colonialism that help explain that. So that's part of it. The other part is what I call the new Cold War. And I think what happens next, with regards to the kind of global ambitions of China and Chinese Science, Visa V. US science is going to be really important. I think a lot of people acknowledge that. But what I try to remind readers, I guess, is that that isn't just a bipolar story, that the rest of the world also matters for thinking about Chinese and American science in the, in the years going forward, that places like India places, particularly actually Sub Saharan Africa, which is seeing a massive explosion in scientific investment, in terms of actually the growth of the middle class, those are going to be really important places for thinking about the future of science, not just is the future of science in the US or China. We've seen massive scientific investment elsewhere, as well. And there's a kind of broad recognition that science is super important to the future of geopolitics. But I want people's attention to be directed beyond the big players, I guess, as

 

Chris Gorski  36:49

well. Right. Right. I mean, that fits really well into the theme of the book as well. Yeah,

 

James Poskett 36:53

yeah. It's not by coincidence.

 

Chris Gorski  36:57

Right. And so what's, you know, now that you've written a spanning, you know, a very far reaching history of global science, what's next for you,

 

James Poskett 37:08

um, I'm working on sort of two projects. So one is a history of science of the Empire. So I realized writing this book that there is much, much more work to be done on thinking about how the end of European empires shaped the development of science and the relationships between particularly places like Britain and other and science in other states, but around the world. So I'm thinking about how the process of decolonization shaped both the process of science but actually scientific lives and careers. I have a PhD students at the minute who's working on the oral history of South Asian scientists in the post war period and their experiences coming to Britain and returning to South Asia, particularly India. So that's a big theme. i After writing this, I did think, ah, you know, I've written this 500 600 year history, do I have to go bigger again? You know, when does it stop? You know, I mean, I'm only in my 30s. There's only so much I can do. That said I have toyed with the idea of going back a bit further. So thinking about Valerie Hanson, wrote this great history book called the year 1000, about how the year 1000 Was this important moment in globalization. And I started to think a lot more about how the story I've told, could be applied to earlier periods as well. So I chose to focus on this period from 1500 onwards, because that's the classic story of the origins of modern science, the scientific revolution. So I needed to call start with that, to flip it on its head to start with the thing people are familiar with. But I'm wondering about, you know, ancient global science or medieval global science and how that might change our understanding of the development of science over the really long term. So yeah, I'm ever going to come in, I'm doing a bit of both smaller and bigger.

 

Chris Gorski  39:11

Well, that sounds wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading that too. James. Thanks for joining us today.

 

James Poskett 39:16

Thanks for having me. I really, really appreciate it. And it was really nice to have a chat talk about the book comes out marks the 22nd in the US horizons global origins of modern science.

 

Chris Gorski  39:29

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Inside Science conversations. If you liked this episode, please Like and Subscribe on YouTube or your podcast platform of choice. We'll have another episode of Inside Science conversations for you soon. I'm Chris Gorski thanks