Earlier this year, I received a grant funding my next fieldwork (soils in Iceland!) from the American Philosophical Society. This past Thursday, I was invited to join the travelling APS contingent for “cocktails and conversation,” and to check out the collection of crazy old books and papers they brought from Philadelphia. It was an interesting little evening. I got to hear about some research that’s very different from mine: an APS fellow at Michigan discussed his work in historical anthropology (I think), working with some of the extensive APS collections for his work on the relationship between anthropologists and the communities they study. His focus was the southwest, with a special interest in one community who worked with one female anthropologist, whose papers and records are all with the APS. It was an eye-opening talk that gave me some insight into the sort of work that modern anthropologists are doing, and definitely something I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. (It also made me wonder how the APS got interested in funding science work like mine – via the Lewis & Clark Astrobiology grant.)
I also got to see some of Galileo’s original writings and a first edition of one of his books, which was insanely cool and unexpected. They also had some old, apparently quite famous medical illustration books (1400s to 1600s). I poked around online a little, and their collections are impressive to say the least: their library in Philly contains Lewis & Clark’s journals, Ben Franklin’s papers, and some of Charles Darwin’s letters, among countless other cool things. It was neat to learn about that.
My fieldwork funded by this grant won’t be until next summer – Iceland in the winter isn’t so great for soil sampling – but I’m definitely looking forward to it. I might combine it with a trip to Norway to sample 2.4 Ga paleosols in a core repository… but that’s planning for further down the road.
This was the paper I saw! Apparently it’s where he noted something about the moons of Jupiter. It’s from 1610. No big deal.