History of science and technology

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The history of science and technology (HST) is a field of history which examines how humankind's understanding of the natural world has changed over the millenia, and how this understanding has allowed us to generate technologies which have modified that world. Discoveries such as those of natural selection, the structure of genes and DNA, and within psychology have radically altered how we humans see ourselves, often conflicting with religious views. New technologies let us visit other planets, travel faster than sound, and kill each other with greater efficiency.

HST aims to understand how science and technology progress and how we form theories by studying the lessons of the past, while also exploring the socio-political and cultural mileau within which scientists and technologists work.


People: Thomas P. Hughes, Arne Kaijser.

Note: Charles Darwin is mentioned below because he played an important role in history, not because he studied the history of science and technology. How can we make this distinction clear?


Major areas/Sub-fields

  1. /Historiography
    1. Biography of inventors, explorers, and scientists (see also /Scientists and inventors)
  2. /Science
    1. Life Sciences
      1. Biology
        1. Evolutionary Thought
          1. Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species
        2. Genetics
          1. /Discovery of DNA
      2. Paleontology
      3. Biochemistry
    2. Bio-Medical Sciences
    3. Psychology and Allied Sciences
    4. /Natural Sciences
      1. Chemistry
      2. Physics
      3. /Astronomy and Astrophysics
      4. Aerospace
  3. Technology
    1. Household technology
      1. Electricity
      2. Refrigeration
      3. Communications (TV, radio)
    2. Kranzbergs 5th Law of Technology
    3. History of the Petroleum Industry
      1. Prior to 1859
        1. Early uses of petroleum
        2. In the USA
          1. Salt Drilling
          2. Early Coal Oil
      2. 1859 to 1913
        1. The Industrial Revolution
      3. 1914 to 1941
      4. 1941 to 1973
      5. 1973 to 1998
    4. Should this perhaps be chronological?

Society for the History of Technology Classification

From Technology and Culture, "Current Bibliography in the History of Technology, 1996-1997"

Chronological Divisions

  1. 20th Century and works covering more than one chronological division
  2. Prehistory, antiquity, and traditional societies
  3. Middle Ages
  4. Renaissance through 17th century
  5. 18th and 19th centuries

Classifications (these are repeated within each chronological division)

  1. General and Collected works
  2. Historiography and Documentation
  3. Biography
  4. Technical societies, technical education
  5. Economic, political, and social history
  6. General relationships between technology and culture; philosophy of technology
  7. Civil engineering
    1. Architecture and building construction
    2. Bridges, harbors, tunnels, dams
    3. Surveying, instruments and maps, cartography, urban engineering, water supply and sewerage
  8. Transportation
    1. Land
    2. Marine
    3. Air and space
  9. Energy conversion
  10. Materials and processing
    1. Metals: mining, processing, metallurgy
    2. Chemical industries, oil and gas, coal, rubber, plastics
    3. Ceramics, glass, cement, stone, salt
    4. Paper, lumber, textiles, leather, bone
    5. Biotechnology
  11. Electronics; mechanical and electro-mechanical technology
  12. Computing technology: History of computers
  13. Communication and records
  14. Agricultural and food technology
  15. Industrial organization and labor
  16. Military technology
  17. Industrial archaeology

What are our priorities for writing in this area? To help develop a list of the most basic topics in History of Science and Technology, please see History of Science and Technology basic topics.

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