Entries Tagged 'Naming' ↓

Science of Microscopes

In their famous 1967 defence of computing as an independent discipline, Allen Newell, Alan Perlis, and Herb Simon argued that the computer is so different from other instruments, like the thermometer and microscope, that its study warrants a discipline of its own.

Given that they compared the computer with the microscope, it’s interesting to note that there once was an exciting new field called microscopical science. According to the field’s early journal Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, that science was about advancing technical information about the microscope and research findings from using the microscope. The journal stated in its inaugural issue in 1853, that improvements in technology had made the microscope readily available for research, a large numbers of researchers from various disciplines used it, and there were academic societies devoted to it. They defended the name “microscopical science” for that new, exciting, and unique field. Fast forward 100 years, replace “microscope” with “computer” and the same arguments were tossed around. The text above could easily have been from the 1960s defences of computing’s disciplinary identity.

I don’t know about the disciplinary status of microscopical science or microscopy today. But I know that the journal above was in 1966 renamed Cell Science. I wonder if the hundred-year delay will still apply, and if our field will be around 2060 eventually re-branded “informatics,” “datalogy,” or “algorithmics.”