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I propose that science be taught at whatever level, from the lowest to the highest, in the humanistic way. It should be taught with a certain historical understanding, with a certain philosophical understanding, with a social understanding and a human understanding in the sense of the biography, the nature of the people who made this construction, the triumphs, the trials, the tribulations. - I.I. Rabi

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The Wenner Collection is comprised of brilliant discoveries made by physics pioneers. The contents of the books and journals are invaluable to anyone with an interest in the history of physics. While masterful, the works can be highly technical reads, especially to the layperson. The foreign language works (Latin, French, Italian, German, Swedish, and Russian to name a few) also add a layer of complexity to English readers. As I inventory this Collection, I routinely encounter one element that can be admired without a physics or foreign language background.

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The story of physics is often told through the lens of great heroes; it is a narrative shaped by the accomplishments of lone geniuses who exuded an effortless brilliance and unquestionable dedication to the sciences. Physics textbooks highlight the accomplishments of these few scientists throughout the subject’s history to whom we credit with equations, laws, or theories in their names alone (Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s equations, Einstein’s theory of relativity, or the Schrödinger equation, just to give a few examples).

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Or how to sound like a rare book expert, part 5

In part five of our ABC blog series, we continue to explore the Wenner Collection using vocabulary defined in John Carter and Nicholas Barker’s classic book, ABC for Book Collectors. Today we are highlighting the letters, O, P, and Q. You can read the entirety of our ABC series here.

O is for Offset

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What were they wearing in 18th century France?

Scientists don’t live and work in a vacuum. They’re products of their time and space just as much as anyone else. Since the Wenner Collection covers 500 years of physics history, in many different countries and languages, we thought it would be fun to take a behind the scenes look at various aspects of history and culture when some of these scientists were writing. Today we’ll be travelling back in time to the mid 1700s, when one of the authors in Wenner's collection, Alexis Claude de Clairaut, was studying and writing. 

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A post by guest author Sally Newcomb

Again, I had the pure pleasure of approaching the stacks containing the Wenner Collection. Considering that it is still being catalogued, each approach is an adventure. But something immediately caught my attention: Two red books titled A New System of Chemical Philosophy by John Dalton. These books, volume I and the first part of volume II, are reprints of the famous editions of 1808 and 1827.

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Or how to sound like a rare book expert, part 4

We are back for a fourth installment of alphabetically organized book vocabulary. Today, we continue to explore the Wenner Collection using vocabulary defined in John Carter and Nicholas Barker’s classic book, ABC for Book Collectors. We now dive into part four of the series, though we’re skipping around and focusing on the letters J,L, and M. Be sure to catch up on part one (A, B, and C), part two (D, E, and F), and part three (G, H, and I).

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Or how to sound like a rare book expert, part 3

We are back for another installment of alphabetically organized book vocabulary. Today, we continue to explore the Wenner Collection using vocabulary defined in John Carter and Nicholas Barker’s classic book, ABC for Book Collectors. We now dive into part three of the series, focusing on the letters G, H, and I.

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Or, the tale of the secret compartment and the wave theory of light.

We're back for another Wenner Collection exclusive unboxing video!  Wait to the end to see the secret compartment.