The virtue of simplicity

A week or so ago I was fortunate enough to be included in the annual Research Day at UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies, where staff, students and Honorary Fellows get together to hear what everyone is up to. I presented a brief overview of some of the themes of our project (rather less adequately than Richard did at the Joseph Banks conference) but, more importantly, was inspired by some of the papers I heard.

One of these was from Matthew Paskins, who is a doctoral student working on ‘The Society of Arts and cultures of invention and experiment’. His paper was called ‘Simple machines’, and highlighted the frequency with which machines and tools considered by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (f. 1754) were praised for their simplicity.  [Read more]

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