Olivet professor releases new book on astronomy and history of science

“Any work of scholarship is a communal endeavor.” — Dr. Stephen Case, Department of Chemistry and Geosciences

October 24, 2018 Uncategorized

Researching and sharing about the astronomy of Sir John Herschel (1792 – 1871) — one of the most important scientists of the Victorian era — was a career-defining experience for Dr. Stephen Case ’05.

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Making Stars Physical: The Astronomy of Sir John Herschel, published by University of Pittsburgh Press in 2018, is the first ever book-length treatment about the historically significant contributions Herschel made to astronomy. Currently, there is no book-length biography about this scientist available.

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“John Herschel was the pioneer of photography, among his numerous achievements,” Dr. Case says. “He coined the terms snapshot and negative. As a scientist, he was the big name between Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. In fact, Herschel is buried next to Darwin in London’s Westminster Abbey.”

Working with an academic press to publish his book challenged and grew Dr. Case as a writer. This work is an expanded version of the dissertation he wrote for completing his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. He successfully navigated the vetting, editing and publishing process. His first nonfiction book was published and released in spring 2018.

“Working with my editors and this publisher was a positive learning experience for me,” Dr. Case says. “I’m really happy and really impressed with the quality of this book.” 

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As Dr. Case moved through this process, he quickly realized that he was part of a communal endeavor. He expresses his thanks to the Olivet community for helping him research, write and publish this book. Pam Greenlee and Sandy Harris of Benner Library and Resource Center worked with interlibrary loan to obtain any research materials Dr. Case requested. Dr. Stephen Lowe, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Carol Summers, vice president for academic affairs, provided encouragement and support in helping him carve out time and space for this work. A grant from the Craighton T. and Linda G. Hippenhammer Faculty Scholarship fund helped cover the professional indexing costs prior to publication.

As a scholarly work, Making Stars Physical is ideal for anyone who’s interested in astronomy and its history, libraries, upper level astronomy and history of science courses for students, and scholars. The book is currently available at Olivet’s Hammes Bookstore in the Ludwig Center on campus.

“The Stars flourish, and in spite of all my attempts to thin them and … stuff them in my pockets, continue to afford a rich harvest.” 
John Herschel in a letter to James Calder Stewart
July 17, 1834

To learn more about Olivet’s areas of study in the physical sciences, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

Published: 10/24/2018

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