History and Philosophy of Science Seminar: Jimena Canales

Dr Canales, from University of Illinois, will talk on the following topic: ‘Science and the History of Non-Existent Things’.

The research seminar of the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science runs fortnightly during term time.

Please note, that this event will be held on Microsoft Teams. Contact e.clarke@leeds.ac.uk for link to join the event.


‘Science and the History of Non-Existent Things’

Jimena Canales (University of Illinois)

What does not or does not yet exist plays a predominant role in science and technology. Discovery, either when considered as a process of uncovering or of creation, involves the bringing into existence of the new. As scientists search for answers and solutions, they are often confronted with problems and paradoxes that seem to escape from the realm of reason. The cause of such mischief is often anthropomorphized, called a demon, and given the last name of famous scientists, such as Descartes, Laplace, and Maxwell. The antechamber of discovery is not, as is frequently thought, an inscrutable “private art” marked by punctual “Eureka!” moments. It is a rich cultural, social, economic and political space filled with imaginary perpetrators with recognizable characteristics that have remained fairly constant throughout many centuries.  A study of the half-empty glass of scientific research reveals certain patterns in the search terms that drive discovery.