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Auroral Research and the Character of Astronomy in Enlightenment Sweden
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2012 (English)In: Acta Borealia, ISSN 0800-3831, Vol. 29, no 2, 137-156 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The observation of the magnetic effects of the aurora borealis by Olof Hiorter in the 1740s was hailed by Swedish scientists as one of the major discoveries in contemporary research. This article investigates the political and academic context of the discovery, focusing on the astronomical ideals promoted by Hiorter. He used the discovery in order to buttress the importance of his own scientific character - technically competent, hard-working and research-oriented. He contrasted this ideal with the character of an ordinary university professor who was described as more of a bureaucrat, interested in science only as long as it could boost his reputation, and not averse from stealing results of technically more competent underlings. Hiorter's opponents at the university decried his lack of theory and devalued the importance of technical skill. This conflict is discussed in the context of ideals concerning cultural, political and economic values of science and scientists.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 29, no 2, 137-156 p.
Keyword [en]
History of Science, Aurora Borealis, Sweden, Eighteenth Century, Olof Hiorter, Anders Celsius
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-188575DOI: 10.1080/08003831.2012.732282ISI: 000311116000003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-188575DiVA: diva2:578400
Available from: 2012-12-18 Created: 2012-12-17 Last updated: 2012-12-18Bibliographically approved

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Widmalm, Sven
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