Simon Schaffer

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Simon Schaffer (1955, Southampton) was trained in natural sciences and the history of science at the universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He was Lecturer in History of Science at Imperial College London between 1981 and 1984 before joining the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge where he is now Professor of History of Science.

In 1985 he co-authored Leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life with Steven Shapin. He has subsequently co-edited books on the history and sociology of experiment, on Robert Hooke, on William Whewell, on the sciences in enlightened Europe and on inquiry and invention in Europe between 1580 and 1820.

In 2005 he and Steven Shapin were awarded the Erasmus Prize. Between 2004 and 2009 he was Editor of British Journal for the History of Science. In 2008-2010 he holt a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to research the history of astronomy and British colonialism.

He also has been a presenter on the BBC, in particular the series Light Fantastic broadcasted on BBC Four in 2004.


Book chapters
  • "Glass works: Newton's prisms and the uses of experiment", in The Uses of Experiment: Studies in the Natural Sciences, edited by David Gooding, Trevor Pinch, and Simon Schaffer, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, pp 67-104.
  • "The History and Geography of the Intellectual World: Whewell's Politics of Language", in William Whewell: A Composite Portrait, edited by Menachem Fisch and Simon Schaffer, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, pp 201-31.
  • "Making Up Discovery", in Dimensions of Creativity, edited by Margaret A. Boden, MIT Press, 1994, pp 13-51.
  • "The Leviathan of Parsonstown: literary technology and scientific representation", in Inscribing Science: Scientific Texts and the Materiality of Communication, edited by Timothy Lenoir, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998, pp 182-222.
  • "Enlightened Automata", in The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, edited by William Clark, Jan Golinski, and Simon Schaffer, University of Chicago Press, 1999, pp 126-165.
  • "OK Computer", in Ansichten der Wissenschaftsgeschichte, edited by Michael Hagner, Frankfurt/M.: S.Fischer, 2001, pp 393-429. (German)
  • "The charter'd Thames': naval architecture and experimental spaces in Georgian Britain", in The Mindful Hand: Inquiry and Invention From the Late Renaissance to Early Industrialisation, edited by Lissa Roberts, Simon Schaffer, and Peter Dear, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2007, pp 278-305.
  • "Keeping the Books at Paramatta Observatory", in The Heavens on Earth: Observatories and Astronomy in Nineteenth-Century Science and Culture, Duke University Press, 2010, pp 118-147.
Journal articles
Other writings