How Scientists Learned to Stop Deuling With Each Other (Literally) and Start Cooperating

History Unplugged Podcast

21-12-2023 • 41 mins

Scientists have always been rivals—for priority, prizes, and positions within science, and for fame and funding. This can be seen when Newton and Leibniz fought over who invented calculus (and the former destroyed the reputation of the latter), or Tycho Brahe losing part of his nose in a duel with his third cousin over a differing opinion on a mathematical formula, or when Thomas Edison publicly electrocuted animals to prove Nikola Tesla’s alternating current was dangerous. Yet, scientific rivals must co-operate in order for progress to be made, especially on massive projects that require international teams. But how?

Today’s guest, Lorraine Daston, author of Rivals: How Scientists Learned to Cooperate,” guides us through a few major efforts of scientific collaboration over the ages, including the creation of the map of the stars and the Cloud Atlas, both of which we still use today.