Research Essay Instructions

Course outline



Essay FAQs

Study guides

Academic honesty

Students with disabilities

Web links



HSCI 3023-900

History of Science from Newton to the Present

Fall Semester 2014

Instructor:         Peter Barker 
e-mail:            (
tel.:                   325-2242
Office:              PHSC 617 

Office hours: TuTh 1:30-2:30pm, or by appointment. 

What:          HSCI 3023-900

Where:        PHSC 224

When:         TuTh 4:30 - 5:45pm 

Assistant:         Blair Stein  
e-mail:            (
tel.:                   325-2213
Office:              PHSC 608  

Office hours: M 10:00-11:30am & Tu 2:30-4:15pm, or by appointment. 

Course Goals: To acquaint students with the main theories of the universe in the Western scientific tradition, how they changed, and why they changed, from the time of Newton to the present; to develop skills in the critical evaluation of texts and the reasoned defense of conclusions reached by the individual. 


Readings form background to class material for the week they are listed and should be read before class (if possible!). 


Peter J. Bowler and Iwan Rhys Morus Making Modern Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). Study guide for Bowler & Morus.

Robert Jungk Brighter Than a Thousand Suns: A Personal History of the Atomic Scientists (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1958).

Thomas S. Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed., 1970, or 3rd ed., 1996). Study guide for Kuhn.

Hanne Andersen, On Kuhn (New York: Wadsworth, 2001)

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury Press; Reprint edition, 2011). Study guide for Oreskes and Conway.

Study guides

Study guide for Bowler & Morus.

Study guide for Kuhn.

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Course outline (subject to change - last modified 25.ix.2014, recent edits in BLUE)

Week 1 begins Aug 19: General introduction. Kuhn Preface and chap. I; Bowler and Morus chap. 1; Andersen chap.'s 1-3

Week 2 begins Aug 26: Newtonian astronomy as normal science.
Kuhn chap. II-V;  Bowler and Morus chap. 2; Aug 28 O&P test

Week 3 begins Sept 02: Lavoisier's chemistry as revolutionary science. Kuhn chap. VI - IX;  Bowler and Morus chap. 3; Andersen chap.'s 4, 6.2, 6.3

Week 4 begins Sept 09: Background to Darwin.  Bowler and Morus chap. 5

Week 5 begins Sept 16:  The Darwinian revolution? Bowler and Morus chap. 6

Week 6 begins Sept 23: The surprising reception of Darwinism. Bowler and Morus chap. 15, 7

Week 7 begins Sept 30: Life since Darwin. Bowler and Morus chap.' s 8, 19
Oct 02 Exam #1

Week 8 begins Oct 07: Early quantum theory and atomic physics. Bowler and Morus ch. 11; Junck ch. 1 - 4

Week 9 begins Oct 14: The decision to build the bomb. Junck ch. 5-6: Bohr's reply to Heisenberg . Thursday Oct 16: Research paper outline due.

Week 10 begins Oct 21: The Manhattan project and the decision to use the bomb - I; Junck ch. 7 - 10  

Week 11 begins Oct 28: The Manhattan project and the decision to use the bomb - II. Junck ch. 11 - 13; Bowler and Morus ch. 20

Week 12 begins Nov 04: The Hydrogen Bomb and the Cold War. Nov 06 Exam #2
Wednesday Nov 06: Last day to submit research paper 1st draft (optional).

Week 13 begins Nov 11: Current controversies I: Smoking and lung cancer; acid rain. Oreskes and Conway, 1-106.

Week 14 begins Nov 18: Current controversies II: Secondhand smoke: Climate change. Oreskes and Conway, 136-215. Nov 20: Research paper final draft due

Week 15 begins Nov 25 (one class only): Current controversies III: Climate change. Oreskes and Conway, 216-276, esp. 240-265.

Week 16 begins Dec 02:  The Past and Future of Science. Kuhn XII-XIII; Bowler and Morus ch. 21, 22.

Thursday December 11 Exam #3 (Final): 4:30-6:30 in PHSC 224

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Grades will be computed as follows: O&P Test = 10%; Exam 1, 2, 3= 20% each ; research paper outline = 5%; research paper = 15%, participation = 10%. There is no curve. Make up examinations and late delivery of essays will not be permitted except under circumstances of emergency or illness, verifiable to the satisfaction of the Instructor. However, it is the policy of the University to excuse absences of students that result from religious observances and to provide without penalty for the rescheduling of examinations and additional required class work that may fall on religious holidays. If you wish to be excused for religious observances, please contact your Instructor at least one week before you will be absent, in order to reschedule the corresponding work or examinations. Other than excused religious holidays, students absent from more than three classes will be penalized one letter grade in the participation section of the overall grade.

There will be a graded test covering course organization and policies on Thursday Aug 28.
There will also be three essay exams during regular class hours, #1 on Thursday Oct 02, #2 on Thursday Nov 06, #3 (the final exam) on Thursday Dec 15. Essay questions will be posted on this site, one week before each exam. Students may consult books and notes during these exams, but transcription of complete answers is prohibited.
Each student will also complete a research paper, due Nov 20, based on an approved and graded outline, due Oct 16.

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Extra Credit is available for all exams except the Final

Academic honesty

We assume you understand and adhere to the norms of academic honesty stated in A Student's Guide to Academic Integrity at the University of Oklahoma. We also assume you are honest unless proven otherwise, so if you are not sure about something ask us. We encourage you to work together (and with us) to prepare for class, exams and essays -- on the understanding that the final version is all your own work. 'Plagiarism' used to mean copying out of a book. Electronic media like Encarta and Wikipedia pose special problems. While we encourage you to use them as sources of ideas and information, no sentence that you submit as your own work should be identical to any sentence in a book or electronic medium. If we judge that work you submit fails to meet these standards, the following things will happen:
(1) On the first occasion, you will be asked to amend the work and resubmit it to receive a grade.
(2) On the second occasion you will receive a formal admonition, as explained in Rights and Responsibilities under the Academic Misconduct Code, and a grade of zero for the work.
(3) On the third occasion, a complaint of academic misconduct will be filed, as explained in Rights and Responsibilities under the Academic Misconduct Code.

Students with disabilities

Students in this course who have any disability that may prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should contact the Instructor as soon as possible to discuss accommodations necessary to ensure full participation and facilitate their educational opportunities. 

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