Category Archives: History of Science and Technology

Science as Vocation and Life

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By Dimitry Zakharov Gerhard Herzberg was a man of science. His life revolved around his office, where he spent countless hours, often working six days a week going over spectrograms, interpreting and writing results, and familiarizing himself with the latest research in his own field and quantum physics in general. Spectroscopy and the scientists involved in this field were his… Read more »

Physics in Exile: Nazism, Anti-Semitism, and the 1933 Scientific Exodus

By Dimitry Zakharov In September, 1935, physicists Gerhard and Luise Herzberg arrived in Saskatoon, Canada. This move was a leap of faith, as they had only learned of the small prairie city’s existence shortly before their journey, and secured a university position due to a chance friendship with the University of Saskatchewan chemistry professor John Spinks, and a generous grant… Read more »

Dr. Gerhard Herzberg and The Prize

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By Denisa Popa In Gerhard Herzberg: An Illustrious Life in Science, Boris Stoicheff recalls the amusing way in which Herzberg found out he had received the Nobel Prize. On November 2nd, 1971, as Herzberg was seated on a train waiting to leave Leningrad station, the Secretary of the Soviet Academy of Science ran up to his cabin and informed him… Read more »

Scientific Freedom and “the Golden Years”: Gerhard Herzberg and the National Research Council of Canada

Denisa Popa From 1948 until his retirement in 1994, Dr. Gerhard Herzberg conducted ground-breaking research at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). As his close friend and biographer Boris Stoicheff has noted, Herzberg’s early period at the NRC– culminating in his Nobel win in 1971 — were truly “the golden years” of his career.[1] Recognizing the essential nature of… Read more »

Humanity, Humility and Humour: Dr. Gerhard Herzberg’s Pursuit of Scientific Study & Progress

By Denisa Popa On January 17th, 1985, Dr. Gerhard Herzberg attended a dinner in his honour after receiving the Great Cross of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany.[1] At this event, he looked back on his scientific career and life journey, highlighting the various people, places and values that had influenced him. In 1935, Gerhard Herzberg and… Read more »

Introducing Herzberg50

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Denisa Popa This year marks the 50th anniversary of German-Canadian scientist Dr. Gerhard Herzberg’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The prize was awarded in recognition of “his contributions to the knowledge of electronic structure and geometry of molecules, particularly free radicals.” In celebration of this anniversary, Defining Moments Canada, in collaboration with Heritage Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, University… Read more »

Public Health, Rights, and Protest in the Age of COVID-19

Jennifer Tunnicliffe COVID-19 and the steps taken to inhibit its spread have inspired significant opposition across Canada over the past ten months. Protestors have rallied against measures implemented by provincial governments, and movements such as The Line Canada and March to Unmask have used public demonstrations and social media platforms to denounce mandatory mask-wearing, quarantine procedures, travel restrictions, and lockdown… Read more »

Immersed in the Past: Room-Scale Virtual Reality for Public History

Sean Kheraj Last year, I wrote about my early impressions of the possible uses of virtual reality technology for public history and history education. I also led a session in my fourth-year digital history class on virtual reality and its potential for generating a sense of historical presence, an ability to simulate the sensation of standing in past places. I… Read more »

Canada, UFOs, and Wishful Thinking

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Matthew Hayes If you’ve ever done even a cursory search on UFOs, chances are you’ve come across that mythical American investigation, Project Blue Book. It officially ran from 1952 until 1969, at which point the infamous Condon Report denied any scientific basis to UFOs and the US Air Force shut down its investigation. Depending who you talk to, the American… Read more »

Rediscovering the “Oracle of Wheat”

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By Anne Dance E. Cora Hind, first-wave feminist and famed agricultural journalist, was never one to back down from a fight. In the 1930s, the septuagenarian recommended reforms to a federal cabinet minister. The Canadian politician quickly dismissed Hind’s suggestions, much to her disgust. “This merely shows his colossal ignorance of the whole situation,” Hind later wrote in one of her… Read more »