Observing, sensing, detecting

Toward a multi-layered picture of the Universe

from historical and epistemological perspectives


International on-line workshop
5 February 2021

Organized by the Italian Society for the History of Physics and Astronomy (SISFA),

with the endorsement of Commission C3 History of Astronomy of IAU

During the 20th century and up to the recent outbreak of gravitational astronomy, the art of observing the cosmos has deeply changed both in terms of the concept of ‘telescope’ itself and in the variety of cosmic probes involved – in sensing light, for example, or in detecting cosmic particles or gravitational waves. The interface between novel research questions and the development of cutting-edge technologies has disclosed new windows on the visible and the invisible, the dark and bright side of the Universe, leading to multi-wave and ultimately to multi-messenger astronomy, and returning an increasingly composite and multifaceted picture of cosmic space.

The workshop aims at bringing together a broad range of topics related to the history and epistemology of the new astronomies, as the evolution of experiments and research tools, the transition to Big science, the emergence of new research fields and of new forms of scientific collaboration, and the impact of these processes on shaping new imageries and new multi-layered narratives of the cosmos.

The workshop is aimed at building a special issue proposal to be submitted at the next call for special issue proposals of the journal Centaurus

The workshop will be held on-line. In case of possible difficulties in attending the workshop, pre-recorded talks will be also admitted. 

The Italian Society for the History of Physics and Astronomy invites to submit abstracts of papers on the subject.

Topics might include (but are not limited to):

  • How research traditions reinvented themselves in developing new astronomies
  • Evolution of the concept and of the material culture of ‘observatory’ 
  • Blurring the lines between the sibling sciences of astronomy and astrophysics 
  • Interaction of astronomy with other branches of physics and other sciences 
  • The formation of new communities of astronomers and astrophysicists
  • The rise of international and multilateral collaborations
  • The transformation of cosmology from a largely speculative science into an observational science, using telescopes and detectors to study the structure, evolution, and origin of the Universe
  • The development of new epistemological questions
  • Mutual influence of new scientific questions and development of cutting-edge technologies
  • Social and geo-political frameworks
  • The role of computer science
  • Linguistic reconfigurations in astrophysics and astronomy

Please send abstracts (no more than 250 words) in docx or otd formats to rlalli@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de by 18 December 2020. Please, include also your institutional affiliation and a short bio (no longer than 150).

Organizing Committee: Luisa Bonolis, Roberto Lalli, Adele La Rana

Call for Abstract