Symposium of Scientific Instruments Commission

We are delighted to announce that next symposium of Scientific Instruments Commission will be held at the University of Tartu History Museum, Estonia, 25-29 August 2014. The Scientific Instrument Commission is a constituent organization of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science (IUHPS). It seeks to encourage scholarly research on the history of scientific instruments, and the preservation and documentation of collections of instruments, as well as their use within the wider discipline of the history of science.

This is a wonderful opportunity to explore the many activities undertaken recently for the protection of the scientific heritage of the University and the surrounding region. The historical observatory with its famed Fraunhofer refractor was refurbished and re-opened, and work is now being done on the instrument collections and anatomical theater. Rather helpfully, all of the University collections are situated in a compact area reachable by foot and ample meeting space will be available for the Symposium sessions within University buildings. Nearby are also sites relating to the meridian arc established by Struve, now on the UNESCO World Heritage List, as well as several other collections and historic sites that could be visited on an excursion – for example, Tallinn.

The date for the symposium has now been set for Monday, 25 August to Friday, 29 August with subsequent excursions to places further away currently under discussion. This date was chosen for the following reasons:

1) In an attempt to keep costs down: Before 1 September cheap accommodation (for example in student housing) will be available from about €20 upwards - clearly a very attractive option.

2) To permit more participants to take part, especially those coming from overseas who have frequently told us in the past that they were unable to attend if the symposium was scheduled after 1 September.

3) To enable those who whish to do so to attend other relevant meetings before and after, namely

a) the Baltic Conference for the History of Science taking place the week before (21-23 August) in Helsinki (Finland)

b) the meetings of History of Physics and of the European Society for the History of Science the week afterward (4-5/6 Sept.) in Cambridge (UK) resp. Lisbon (Portugal)

4) To avoid certain religious holidays.

The topic of this meeting will be New Views on Old Instruments (working title!), with the potential to include sections such as:

- New analytic methods

- New ways of public engagement with instruments

- New political aims (for example UNESCO recognition for material heritage)

- New challenges posed through (mostly, but not exclusively) post-war scientific instruments (conservation, selection, issues of storage or preservation in situ, documentation etc.)

- New networks emerging

- Newly revealed sources

We will soon be announcing further details, but please save the date now. If you have never attended a symposium before be assured that the SIC is a very friendly and welcoming group with no formal membership. All will be welcome - and the more participants we have the easier it will be to raise further funds and to help keep costs down!


Informal pre-registration: To enable Dr. Lea Leppik and her colleagues to begin applying for grants, please send an e-mail to Janet Laidla on with the simple (non-binding) sentence 'I intend to participate ...' by Monday, 28 October.