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Simon Schaffer

Simon Schaffer
File:Simon Schaffer 2015.JPG
Simon Schaffer @ Cambridge, 2015
Simon Schaffer at a pub in Cambridge, UK (2015)
Born (1955-01-01) 1 January 1955 (age 65)
Institutions University of Cambridge
Darwin College, Cambridge
Imperial College, London
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Thesis Newtonian cosmology and the steady state (1980)
Doctoral advisor Template:If empty
Notable awards Erasmus Prize (2005); Sarton Medal (2013)

Simon J. Schaffer (born 1 January 1955)[1] is a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at University of Cambridge and was until recently editor of The British Journal for the History of Science.[2]

Early life and education

Schaffer was born in Southampton in 1955, but his family moved to Brisbane in Australia the same year, returning to the UK in 1965 to live in Brighton.[3] His father Bernard was an academic social scientist who was a professorial fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex from 1966 until his death in 1984;[4] Simon's mother Sheila, who died in 2010, was a university librarian and Labour councillor who was Mayor of Brighton in 1995.[5]

Schaffer attended Varndean Grammar School for Boys in Brighton before studying Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge, specialising in the history and philosophy of science in his final year.[3] While at Trinity, he captained the winning college team in the 1974 University Challenge.[citation needed] After completing his BA, Schaffer went to Harvard University for a year as a Kennedy Scholar to study history of science. Schaffer returned to Cambridge in 1976 and gained his PhD in 1980 with the thesis Newtonian cosmology and the steady state.[3][6]


Schaffer has taught at Imperial College London and the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1985, Schaffer has been a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge.

Schaffer has authored or co-authored numerous books, including Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life with Steven Shapin.[7] In addition to his work at Cambridge, he has been a presenter on the BBC,[8] in particular the series Light Fantastic broadcast on BBC Four in 2004.[9][10][11]

Awards and honours

In 2005 he shared the Erasmus Prize with Steven Shapin for Leviathan and the Air-Pump. In 2013 he received the Sarton Medal, the most prestigious honor awarded by the History of Science Society, in recognition of his "lifetime of scholarly achievement".

Selected bibliography


  1. ^ "Schaffer, Simon, 1955-". Library of Congress Name Authority File. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c Macfarlane, Alan (2008-11-17), Harrison, Sarah, ed., Interview of Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge 
  4. ^ "Bernard Schaffer Collection". University of Bath. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Avis, Peter (18 March 2010). "Sheila Schaffer obituary". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ Schaffer, Simon (1980). Newtonian cosmology and the steady state (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. 
  7. ^ Schaffer, Simon; Shapin, Steven (2011). Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (New in Paper). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-15020-6. 
  8. ^ "BBC Four - Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams". 
  9. ^ "BBC - Press Office - Light Fantastic Simon Schaffer interview". Archived from the original on 2013-06-03. 
  10. ^ Light Fantastic at the Internet Movie Database
  11. ^ Simon Schaffer at the Internet Movie Database

External links