Science is a progressive enterprise, always focused on the future. So, why should anyone care about the past of science? Professor Hasok Chang argues that the historical study of science has several important purposes that are often neglected by scientists and historians alike. These purposes concern scientific knowledge in itself, rather than its social contexts and roles.
Learning about the radically different ways in which scientists have made sense of the universe over the ages can open our scientific minds, and help to raise our critical awareness.
Recovering long-forgotten ideas and facts can be a real act of scientific learning, going beyond mere curiosity and antiquarianism.
Discovering how scientists came to believe what they believe can deepen our understanding of present science.
And thinking about earlier, simpler science can help us understand the nature of science even if we cannot master the formidable technicalities of modern science.
This event was the 2015 Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar lecture, by Professor Hasok Chang, Hans Rausing professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. This year's lecture was chaired by Professor Uta Frith.