Mary Somerville and the Clash between Science and Religion


Jul 14, 2018 – 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA Map

More Info

Mary Somerville was not born to be a scientist or even someone significant. But she made such a name for herself in early-19th-century Britain that she was given the unofficial title “Queen of Science.” Somerville lived at a time when the British and French were fierce scientific competitors. For the British it was bad enough that French scientists had taken over Isaac Newton’s mantle of greatness in astronomy and physics, leaving the British in their scientific dust. It was possibly even worse that these French scientists were atheists whose work had no room for God. Join us to learn how Somerville reconciled the French astronomy research of her time with Britain’s sensibilities about religion.

This talk will be followed by a Q&A or discussion over complimentary tea and coffee. Afterward, feel free to mingle with other guests or spend time visiting our museum.

Admission is free, and no reservations are necessary.

About the Speaker
Michal Meyer is editor in chief of Distillations magazine and manager of public history initiatives in the Roy Eddleman Institute. She holds a PhD and a master’s degree in history from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in physics and a diploma in applied science from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Michal has previously worked as a weather forecaster in New Zealand and Fiji, as magazine editor of the Jerusalem Post, and as editor of the History of Science Society Newsletter.


Thomas Phillips. Mary Fairfax, Mrs William Somerville, 1780 - 1872. Writer on science. Oil on canvas, 1834. National Galleries Scotland.

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