Nick HopwoodHaeckel’s Embryos: Images, Evolution, and Fraud

University of Chicago Press, 2015

by Laura Stark et al. on November 30, 2015

Nick Hopwood

View on Amazon

Nick Hopwood's Haeckel's Embryos: Images, Evolution, and Fraud (University of Chicago Press, 2015) blends textual and visual analysis to answer the question of how images succeed or fail. Hopwood is Reader in History of Science at Cambridge University, and creator on the online exhibition "Making Visible Embryos," which display some of the images from the book.

Hopwood's ambitious book retraces the social life of drawings of embryos first produced in 1868 by the German embryologist Ernst Haeckel. The book follows the turbulent travels of the images across 150 years and three countries. Some of the perennial controversy surrounding the images centered on debates about Darwinism, for in them Haeckel drew the development of human embryos alongside that of other animals and, in retrospect, seemed to illustrate his famous claim that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." But Hopwood argues that, while Haeckel's reputation has continued to suffer from repeated allegations of fraud, his images have actually thrived on controversy, appearing in 2010, for example, on the cover of Nature magazine. Hopwood's far-reaching and intricate analysis explains how one of the most controversial images in the history of science–namely, Haeckel's embryo grid–has also been one of its most successful. The book is an essential study in the history of images and is itself a masterpiece of visual argument.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Eric T. Meyer and Ralph SchroederKnowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities,

November 15, 2015

By now it is incontrovertible that new technology has had an effect on how regular people get information. Whether in the form of an online newspaper or a Google search, new technology has allowed individuals to access masses of information faster than ever before. What, then, has been the effect of digital tools on research […]

Read the full article →

John Allen PaulosA Numerate Life: A Mathematician Explores the Vagaries of Life, His Own and Probably Yours

November 12, 2015

John Allen Paulos, who has accomplished the unheard-of double of writing best-sellers about mathematics and inserting a word ('innumeracy') into the language, has attempted  another ambitious feat – bringing mathematics to bear on one of the few subjects it has yet to examine: biography and autobiography.  A Numerate Life (Prometheus Books, 2015) is simultaneously a charming memoir […]

Read the full article →

Anita GuerriniThe Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV’s Paris

November 4, 2015

Anita Guerrini's wonderful new book explores Paris as a site of anatomy, dissection, and science during the reign of Louis XIV between 1643-1715. The journey begins with readers accompanying a dead body to sites of dissection across the city, after which we are introduced to four anatomists – charter members of the Paris Academy of […]

Read the full article →

Eugene Raikhel, Editor; Todd Meyers, Associate Editor; Emily Yates-Doerr,

October 13, 2015

Somatosphere is "a collaborative website covering the intersections of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, cultural psychiatry, psychology and bioethics." Founded in July 2008, Somatosphere has evolved into an innovative platform for collaborative experiments, interdisciplinary exchange, and intellectual community. As such, it reveals how websites–and the communities of discourse that create and read them–have become […]

Read the full article →

Isabelle Dussauge, Claes-Fredrik Helgesson, and Francis Lee, eds.Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine

September 26, 2015

Valuation is a central question in contemporary social science. Indeed the question of value has a range of academic projects associated with it, whether in terms of specific questions or in terms of emerging fora for academic publications. In Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2015), Isabelle Dussauge, Claes-Fredrik Helgesson, and […]

Read the full article →

Sandra HardingObjectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research

September 4, 2015

Sandra Harding's new book Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research (University of Chicago Press, 2015) raises new questions about two central concepts in STS – objectivity and diversity – and in doing so it allows us to animate them in new kinds of relationships and shows that objectivity and certain forms of diversity can be […]

Read the full article →

Tom JacksonChilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again

August 19, 2015

Tom Jackson's Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again (Bloomsbury, 2015) is a completely engrossing look into the history and technology of refrigeration.  This book reads like an expanded chapter of James Burke's classic book Connections.  Refrigeration is not only one of the most important foundation stones of our technological society, it's also […]

Read the full article →

James A. SecordVisions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age

July 3, 2015

James A. Secord's new book is both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. Emerging from the 2013 Sandars Lectures in Bibliography at the Cambridge University Library, Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age (University of Chicago Press, 2014) is a fascinating exploration of books and their readers during […]

Read the full article →

Tom McLeishFaith and Wisdom in Science

May 22, 2015

Much of the public debate about the relationship between science and theology has been antagonistic or adversarial. Proponents on both sides argue that their respective claims are contradictory–that the claims of science trump and even discredit the claims of religion or theology. Some have sought to portray the relationship in a different light. The evolutionary […]

Read the full article →