Michael Bycroft

Biography and/or project

I am a historian of early modern science with a focus on France and England and an interest in the role of materials in the development of the physical sciences. I studied at the Universities of Canterbury and Toronto before completing my doctorate at the University of Cambridge, UK.

As of January 2014 I am a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. My project at present is a study of the relationship between the craft, commerce and science of gems in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I am also working on biography of Charles Dufay, an understudied scientist whose activities went far beyond his well-known papers on electricity and luminescence.

I have published papers on the fate of wondrous phenomena during the Enlightenment, the relationship between natural history and physics in the eighteenth century, the role of academic psychology in early institutional economics, the rise of creativity research psychology around 1950, and the epistemology of robustness arguments in experimental research.

I am also exercised by methodological issues in the history of science, including anachronism, the symmetry principle, the internal/external distinction, and the historiographical legacy of Thomas Kuhn. Reflections on these topics can be found on my blog, www.doublerfraction.blogspot.com.