October 14, Monday, 4pm, Olin 1
by Annelie Drakman, Uppsala University & Harvard University
Co-sponsored by the Natural Science Division & Department of Physics and Astronomy
Science is repeatedly said to be an endeavor free of emotion; in fact, a crucial criterion for an activity to being called scientific is often said to be its disinterestedness. And yet, many autobiographies of successful scientists are overflowing with descriptions of joy. In this presentation, I will explore how two Nobel laureates in physics, Donna Strickland (2018) and Richard Feynman (1965) use ‘fun’ as a central concept to describe science and the life of a scientist. I will explore several connotations of fun — independence, incorruptibility, potential virtuosity, approachability, exceptionality, harmlessness, open mindedness and charisma — in the context of Cold War politics (Feynman) and of being one of very few women Nobel Laureates (Strickland).
Annelie Drakman earned a Ph.D. in the History of Science and Ideas from Uppsala University, Sweden. Her dissertation was awarded the Carl Johan Society’s Prize for outstanding work in history. She is a full member of the Swedish National Committee for History of Technology and Science, affiliated with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and is in charge of the history of emotion lecture series and network at Uppsala University. Currently, Drakman is a visiting scholar at the Department for the History of Science at Harvard University, where she is working on her postdoctoral project, “The joy and excitement of science — the historical transformation of self-described virtues, values, emotional life and personality by Nobel laureates in physics.” She conducts very popular and informative tours of Stockholm and spreads joy wherever she goes.