CORVALLIS - Oregon State University will launch its annual Horning Lecture and Conference Series for 2004-05 on Friday, Oct. 29, with an all-day conference that explores systems of scientific classification and includes a keynote lecture by a noted London historian of science.

The series will focus this year on "Scientific Revolutions Old and New." It is sponsored by OSU's Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Endowment in the Humanities.

The year 2005 has been designed as the World Year of Physics commemorating the centennial celebration of Albert Einstein's "miracle year" in physics (1905), when he published revolutionary papers on relativity, quantum theory and molecular physics. The OSU series will consider the broader history of scientific revolution, bringing to campus noted scientists, historians and philosophers from the United States and abroad.

In addition to the conference, seven lecturers will speak at OSU on scientific revolutions, ranging from mathematics and astronomy in the 17th century, to modern revolutions in climate models, genetics and cosmologies.

The Oct. 29 conference is called "Classifying Things: Natural History and Natural Sciences from the 18th to the 21st Centuries." Offered free and open to the public, it will be held in OSU's Joyce Powell Leadership Center in the Memorial Union.

Eight speakers and two commentators will discuss ways in which botanists, zoologists, paleontologists, chemists and evolutionary biologists have devised systems of names and categories since the 18th century - and how these frameworks of classification have modeled and tested new knowledge of the natural world. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to noon and from 3 to 5 p.m.

Keynote speaker Joe Cain, from University College London, will give his address at 1:30 p.m. on "18,010 and Counting: Making the Species Good." He is senior lecturer in history and philosophy of biology at University College London, and president of the Society for the History of Natural History.

Cain's research has centered on the history of evolutionary studies and American science.

Speakers at the morning session include:

  • Wolfgang Lefèvre, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, on "Changing Contexts of Classification: Cuvier's Transformation of Biological Classification." 
  • Phillip Sloan, the University of Notre Dame, "The Museum as a Classificatory Landscape: Constructing Richard Owen's Archetypal Vertebrate."
  • Ursula Klein, the Max Planck Institute, "Shifting Ontologies - Changing Classifications."
  • Andrea Woody, University of Washington, "Substances and Molecules: Where is the Foundation for Chemical Classification?"

Speakers at the afternoon session include:

  • Kristin Johnson, Arizona State University, on "Classifying Naturalists: How Ornithologists and Entomologists Have Defined Their Fields."
  • Darlene Judd, Oregon State University, "The Changing Role of Empirical Studies in the Classification of Organisms." 
  • Anthony Russell, the University of Calgary, "In Search of a Natural Classification: The Tree of Life Bears the Fruit of Systematic (R)evolution(s)."

Comments will be made by Andrew Brower and Paul Farber of OSU.

The series will continue in November with the first of seven scheduled speakers, and continue through May. The speakers include:

Monday, Nov. 22 "Counter-Revolutions in Mathematics," by Sabetai Unguru, University of Tel Aviv, Memorial Union Room 206, 4 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 10 "Doing Science When the Noise IS the Signal: The Curious Case of the Computer Climate Model," by Mott T. Greene, University of Puget Sound, Memorial Union 206, 4 p.m.

Monday, March 7 "A Nobel Prize for Scientific Revolutions? Hannes Alfvén and Conflicting Cosmologies," by Svante Lindqvist, The Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Weniger Hall 153, 4 p.m.

Monday, April 25 "The Revolution in Genetics and Its Meaning for Everyday Life," by Ruth Schwartz Cowan, University of Pennsylvania, Memorial Union 206, 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 5 "Wanted! The SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION, Dead or Alive," by John Heilbron, Worcester College, Oxford and the University of California-Berkeley, the Memorial Union's Joyce Powell Leadership Center, 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 19 "Testing Einstein in Space: A Revolution in Technology," by C.W.F. Everitt, Stanford University, Weniger Hall 153, 4 p.m. -30-