Pre-1900s Educational Science Background?

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I read the translation of Schrodinger's original 1927 paper on quantum and realized there's a ton of stuff he already knew or was familiar with. I think we've lost a significant bit of information and training since that era. Even the space race era had better education. I'd like to discover the science as it originally happened, but it's hard enough just to translate the old English of the day.
Anyone have an idea of the kinds of stuff they were familiar with in that era? e.g. The topics of math. I know Lagrangian was already around.
Any notes on where to find the original papers would be nice. Some of that stuff has disappeared or never made it digital, it would seem.
 

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sophiecentaur
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Science education has a huge problem keeping up with the exponential growth of knowledge and Science topics. No one can hope to be a Renaissance person any more.
 
fresh_42
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I have a book from J. Dieudonné about the history of mathematics between (roughly) 1700 and 1900. It contains excellent lists of sources, direct quotations as well as general ones - per chapter. This would at least describe the mathematical background of your question, however, I don't know whether it had been translated into English.

I found pages with the original papers of Newton, Gauß, Noether, and Einstein. So chances are good that those or similar archives also have other original papers of the time. You are right, the biggest difficulty is the language which changed a lot ever since. In mathematics you can divide it basically in a pre- and post-Bourbaki era. I remember that I once had the original publication of Galois' work in hand, but didn't even see that the two subjects were the same. Similar is true for physics. I have books from the early 20th century and they are written in a completely different wording than nowadays books. E.g. Noether's two papers compared with a modern version of her theorem are hardly related.

But it is an interesting approach! It was an exciting time around 1890 +/- 40.
 
tech99
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I read the translation of Schrodinger's original 1927 paper on quantum and realized there's a ton of stuff he already knew or was familiar with. I think we've lost a significant bit of information and training since that era. Even the space race era had better education. I'd like to discover the science as it originally happened, but it's hard enough just to translate the old English of the day.
Anyone have an idea of the kinds of stuff they were familiar with in that era? e.g. The topics of math. I know Lagrangian was already around.
Any notes on where to find the original papers would be nice. Some of that stuff has disappeared or never made it digital, it would seem.
Just for interest, my school science teacher was born in 1885, before the structure of the atom was discovered. And to my astonishment even at age 12, he did teach us that the atom is the smallest thing you can have. A wonderful person, who could write copperplate with chalk approaching the speed of light!
 
sophiecentaur
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Just for interest, my school science teacher was born in 1885, before the structure of the atom was discovered. And to my astonishment even at age 12, he did teach us that the atom is the smallest thing you can have. A wonderful person, who could write copperplate with chalk approaching the speed of light!
That makes one wonder what sort of mis-information I and my colleagues were giving our students and what stories they will tell in fifty years time. Perhaps the culture change around 1900 was more drastic than what we have been subjected to - culture, not Scientific ideas.
 
WWGD
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Just for interest, my school science teacher was born in 1885, before the structure of the atom was discovered. And to my astonishment even at age 12, he did teach us that the atom is the smallest thing you can have. A wonderful person, who could write copperplate with chalk approaching the speed of light!
Born in 1885? I dont get it.
 
sophiecentaur
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Born in 1885? I dont get it.
The teacher clearly didn't "get it" either. That teacher got his first Science input in the early 1890s - possibly from a 60 year old. No TV Science or cuddly kids Science books in those days but information from the mid 1800s. I wonder how PF posts of the time would have read.
My Grandad was born in 1893 and had no idea why the Satelloon stayed up there without an audible engine. He also had no idea about Darwin's ideas. But he completed the Telegraph Crossword nearly every day - so not that dumb.
 
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Science education has a huge problem keeping up with the exponential growth of knowledge and Science topics. No one can hope to be a Renaissance person any more.
You're correct: Not in the traditional sense. But I find it important to have a real-world connection to the scientific ideas. Often, people new to scientific ideas go, "Oh that's cool. Now how is it applicable to my life?" and by that, they don't want a "physics" explanation, they want a DIY one. "What are electrons?" I managed to answer that in a practical way: "They are the things making the weird, glowing beam in a cathode ray tube." If I want electrons, I just need to make a cathode ray gun. (Easier said than done, but for demo, it's easy enough to show people the parts of an old CRT TV.)

I found pages with the original papers of Newton, Gauß, Noether, and Einstein. So chances are good that those or similar archives also have other original papers of the time. You are right, the biggest difficulty is the language which changed a lot ever since. In mathematics you can divide it basically in a pre- and post-Bourbaki era. I remember that I once had the original publication of Galois' work in hand, but didn't even see that the two subjects were the same. Similar is true for physics. I have books from the early 20th century and they are written in a completely different wording than nowadays books. E.g. Noether's two papers compared with a modern version of her theorem are hardly related.

But it is an interesting approach! It was an exciting time around 1890 +/- 40.
Fascinating! I don't recall hearing of Bourbeki before... Just glancing at overviews, it looks like they are responsible for abstract algebra.

It's sad that the wording has changed. When someone writes for the first time about an idea, they have to describe it to an audience who has never heard of the subject before, and either they do it the best or someone else shortly after is able to explain it. I've found that being so far removed from the originals results in the tendency to want to include so many of the new ideas rather than - as we should - start with the origins and then revisit.

Related to archives: I did find Einstein's "Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies" modern translation, which tries to stay true to the original but makes some corrections for translation errors. But I wouldn't know where the translator got his copy. You said you found the originals? Whereabouts?

Where did you get your old 20th century books?
 
fresh_42
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Where did you get your old 20th century books?
I received a few by chance, but Dieudonné's book about the history of science is relatively modern (1978), and the original papers I mentioned can be found on the internet. I only downloaded them as pdf.
 
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the original papers I mentioned can be found on the internet.
I guess the right search query helps. I just now managed to find the original Gauss paper.
http://www.deutschestextarchiv.de/book/show/gauss_theoria_1831Of course, I can't find the Disquisitiones Arithmeticae original, and lots of people want to sell an English translation. Such is the price of the internet...
 
tech99
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Born in 1885? I dont get it.
Well, he was teaching me in about 1957, so he was 72, which is plausible. I think it was very difficult to obtain scientific papers and books when he was young. Public libraries outside the large cities had very little. Maxwell writes that he needed to wait until the vacation ended and he would return from Scotland to Cambridge before he could see the latest research, in a new book at the university library.
 
WWGD
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Well, he was teaching me in about 1957, so he was 72, which is plausible. I think it was very difficult to obtain scientific papers and books when he was young. Public libraries outside the large cities had very little. Maxwell writes that he needed to wait until the vacation ended and he would return from Scotland to Cambridge before he could see the latest research, in a new book at the university library.
Makes sense. I didn't crunch numbers right.
 

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