Continuing my Oxford adventures from my last post, I thought I’d show you a few things from inside the Oxford Museum of the History of Science. Given that flash photography wasn’t allowed some of these photos have turned out rather strange but I like them. Whilst I am very interested in many branches of science I can’t say I’ve ever really stopped to contemplate the history of science before. Amongst the many thoughts I scribbled down in my museum notebook (it’s a thing…) was “In 100 years everything new to us will be archaic”.
It’s fascinating to think that whilst we may think we have a huge scientific understanding of the world around us in the present day, in the future scientists will look back at our time and think “oh how quaint, they didn’t know about the (insert future scientific discovery here)” in the same way that we look back at globes featuring only half the world we know today or periodic tables missing most of the elements and think how much we know now.
I particularly fell in love with the pocket sundials (above; how beautiful is the star shaped one?) and there was an interesting accompanying text about sundials and clocks. With a clock or watch, we set the time and do what we can to ensure that watch/clock will continue to keep in time; they are timekeepers. My watch frequently needs rewinding or a clock may need a battery change in order to keep up with the time again. A sundial, provided it’s in the right place, will always tell the correct time according to the sun; they are timetellers.
I think as technology advances there are always qualities unique to the older technologies that get left behind. I thought of film cameras and digital cameras: completely different branches of technology that achieve the same outcome. I think I much prefer film cameras, and I’d rather have a timeteller than a timekeeper. What about you?
Pictures taken at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science