Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The nationalism of science

I was talking with a fellow stumbler and marvelous friend acompas about innovation in Australia (understand that we do not really "speak", we co-stumble) and it came to my mind that the history of science is still so driven by nationalism. For instance, who is the most important inventor of the cinema? For an American, Edison; for the French two brothers named Lumiere who actually invented/commercialized the first projectors. For me, being of Belgian origin, I hold for Joseph Plateau who invented in 1832 the Fantascope...What is the claim of the Australians? "In 1906 Dan Barry and Charles Tait of Melbourne produced and directed The Story of the Kelly Gang, a silent film that ran continuously for a breathtaking 80 minutes, definitely the world's first feature film."(quote from www.powerhousemuseum.com/).
Of course in a serious history of the cinema, you will find all these names, but in schoolbooks, the national hero has the largest part, and what we remember as adults is "our guy" (I will tackle the history of women later).

Now can you tell me ten Russian, ten Chinese or ten Australian inventions? Don't you know that there are great inventors in these countries? And coming back to America, could you give me the name of five great black scientists?

See what I mean?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll cover for America.

George Washington Carver (of course)
Shirley Jackson (I've actually met her)
Sylvester Gates (wild haired physicist)
Neil Tyson (spoken with him by phone)
Monty Jones (would love to meet him)