1. November 2011
The 1930s is a period well known for the rise of militarism and fascism with growing political estrangement among powerful states. Japan's case within this context has been described in a certain way. We might ask, however, what the experience of leading Japanese scientists - or the experience of Japan in science - has to tell us about the importance of these trends within a global context. One discovers on examination that the1930s is precisely the period in which the Japanese, working within their own country, not only make truly fundamental contributions to science but are also recognized appropriately for having done so. At least some evidence suggests as much. How far this was the case and how appropriate the recognition we will explore in the seminar. Our principal subjects will be the physicist Yukawa Hideki (theory of nuclear forces and stability) and Kato Gen'ichi, a Keio professor who isolated single muscle and nerve fibers for the first time and thus revolutionized the entire field of nerve physiology.
James Bartholomew has taught Japanese history at Ohio State University for more than 30 years. His book, The Formation of Science in Japan: Building a Research Tradition, won the Pfizer Prize of the (US) History of Science Society in 1992. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. In November 2010 he lectured in Japanese to faculty members in the College of Medicine at Keio University. In March 2011 he delivered the Stover Endowed Lecture at Purdue University, and in October 2011 he spoke at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. Ohio State University held a conference in his honor (also in October).