The Pulfrich Effect: Canales (2001) on Wolf's Battles

Agricola 1556, p. 172:  A bucket pump powered by a human treadmill.

Canales, J. The Single Eye: Reevaluating Ancien Regime Science. History of Science, 2001, 39, pp. 71 - 94 (in press).

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Charles Wolf, at the Paris Observatory, held the opinion that individual differences among astronomical observers could be reduced or eliminated by training them to record events in standardized ways. An opponent, Herve Faye of the Bureau des Longitudes, held that mechanization was the solution. Wolf admired and imitated Cassini, an astronomer who, in the Revolutionary period, attempted at great risk to keep the Observatory independent of central government.
These excerpts describe how the personal equation was involved in the struggles for control which ensued. At risk was safe navigation for shipping, an enormous economic and military factor in those early years of steam propulsion.

Excerpts on Personal Equation:

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The Pulfrich Effect, SIU-C. Last updated 2001-04-17