Monday, July 03, 2006

The literary heritage of science

SideLines, July 2006
William Rees-Mogg (Yomiuri Shimbun, 2nd July 2006) boldly declares that the 'United Scholars" of England are fighting back to raise support for museums, libraries and archives for the preservation of books and literary heritage.

He notes that although the English language is England's largest and most sucessful export, there is still a need to defend the preservation of important book collections that illustrate England's literary and scientific heritage (including for example, the Macclesfield Library of Scientific Books).

If the UK with all its experience and wealth cannot properly preserve its scientific heritage, what can other nations do?!

How well preserved is scientific heritage in India, China, Japan, or - perhaps more importantly - in countries that are only just beginning to develop their own modern scientific history?

Scientific writers in the past can help educate writers of the present and future... not just through the record of results but also through the play of ideas over time. Good scientific writing can be a pleasure to read even if the information is obsolete, and even the worst writing can become valuable - as an illustration of how not to write.

To express any opinion about this matter, please use the comments link below, or contact Peter, c/o The Research Cooperative (NZ): pjm (at) gol (dot) com.

Photo: an ornamental banana in Thailand, June 2006 (PJM). While bananas are best known as fruit plants, banana plants can have many different uses, depending on species and variety. Some kinds of banana have been used as fibre sources for cloth or paper.

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