International Commission on the History of Mathematics

Annual Meeting of the History of Science Society (USA)
Arlington, VA, 1-4 November, 2007

ICHM Co-Sponsored Session on
"The Peirces of Boston: Snapshots of Science in 19th-Century America"
Friday, 2 November, 2007

By Deborah Kent

The life and work of both the American mathematician Benjamin Peirce and his logician/philosopher son, Charles Sanders Peirce, demonstrate the coalescence, growth, and increasing specialization of the American scientific community throughout the nineteenth century. This session examined, by considering the Peirces, the issues surrounding the conceptualization and practice of science in the context of philosophical currents, theological transitions, and scientific developments in nineteenth-century Boston. More specifically, it explored Benjamin Peirce's views of the role of mathematics and the influence this had on Charles and his study of the history of science. It investigated Charles Peirce's thoughts on the nature of creative genius and abduction, as well as his assimilation of Georg Cantor's work.

From left to right: Albert Lewis, Matt Moore, Deborah Kent, and Joe Dauben.

The speakers and their titles were:

"Peirce and Sherlock Holmes: The Abductive Scientific Method and Creative Genius"

Joseph W. Dauben, City University of New York (USA)

"Like Father, Like Son?: Peircean Approaches to Mathematical Thinking"

Deborah A. Kent, Hillsdale College (USA)

"On Peirce's Proofs of Cantor's Theorem"

Matthew E. Moore, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York (USA)

Albert Lewis of Indiana University—Purdue University, Indianapolis (USA) served as the session commentator and Karen Parshall of the University of Virginia (USA) was chair. The session was organized by Deborah Kent.

ICHM Co-sponsored Session on
"Leonhard Euler: On the Tercentenary of His Birth: Primary Sources, Rivalry with Clairaut and d'Alembert, and the Second St. Petersburg Period"
Sunday, 4 November, 2007

By Ronald Calinger

The papers in this session examined selected latest findings in Euler scholarship in the United States. The first described the construction and application of the internet Euler Archives, which provide a readily accessible source of Euler's extensive publications and correspondence for the investigation of his seminal contributions to mathematics, mechanics, astronomy, optics, ship theory, and more. The second talk investigated Euler's Enlightenment competition with Alexis Clairaut and Jean d'Alembert over lunar-apsides motion. This was seen as the most crucial test in celestial mechanics of the correctness of Newtonian dynamics without modification. The third paper addressed Eulerí»s little known second St. Petersburg period. Drawing upon the Academy's Protocols, Euler's correspondence, and his publications, the talk explored Euler's many tasks at the Russian Imperial Academy of Science, the achievements of his research circle, his family life and health, and how Princess Ekaterina Dashkova, the director of the academy, honored him.

From left to right: Dominic Klyve, Alexey Lopatukhin, Rob Bradley, Shelley Costa,
Curtis Wilson, and Ron Calinger.

The speakers and their titles were:

"The Euler Archive and the Benefits of Universal Availability of Primary Sources"

Dominic Klyve, Carthage College (USA); Director, the Euler Archive

"Clairaut, d'Alembert, and Euler and their Interactions Regarding the Problem of the Lunar-Apsides Motion"

Craig B. Waff, Air Force Research Laboratory (USA)

"Leonhardo Eulero: Academia Petropolitanae"

Ronald Calinger, The Catholic University of America (USA)

Each of the three papers had a separate commentator: Shelley Costa, an independent scholar and Ph.D. from Cornell University (USA), commented on Klyve's paper; Curtis Wilson, emeritus professor of St. John's College, Annapolis (USA), commented on Waff's paper (which was read in absentia by the session chair); and Alexey Lopatukhin of St. Petersburg State University (Russia) commented on Calinger's paper. Rob Bradley of Adelphi University (USA) served as the session's chair. The session was organized by Ron Calinger.