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Lorraine and Tom Pangle, Co-Directors BAT 2.116, C4100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-6648

Alberto A. Martínez

Associate Professor Ph.D., 2001, University of Minnesota

Associate Professor of History
Alberto A. Martínez

Contact

Biography

Alberto Martinez is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Most recently, he is the author of The Cult of Pythagoras (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012), on the evolution of myths in the history of mathematics. He is also the author of Science Secrets: The Truth About Darwin's Finches, Einstein's Wife, and Other Myths (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011). And previously, he published Kinematics: The Lost Origins of Einstein's Relativity (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), and Negative Math (Princeton University Press, 2005). He has also published articles in several journals and periodicals including The American Journal of Physics, Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Physics in Perspective, The American Mathematical Monthly, School Science Review, Physics World, and Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.

Research interests

History of physics, especially the origins of Einstein's special theory of relativity, history of mathematics.

Courses taught

HIS329U Perspectives on Science and Math, HIS322M History of Modern Science, TC302/UGS302 Scientists and Religion in History, HIS350L Einstein in an Age of Conflicts, HIS366N Biology, Behavior and Injustice, HIS380K Science and Conjectures.

Awards/Honors 

Weisman Instructor in History of Science, Caltech, 2004–2005
Fellow, Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, M.I.T., 2001-03
Smithsonian Fellow, National Museum of American History, 2001 




Interests

History of physics, Einstein, special relativity, history of math, scientific creativity.

CTI 370 • Bio, Behavior, & Injustice

33365 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm UTC 3.112
(also listed as HIS 366N )
show description

This course explores interesting episodes in the history of science, focusing on questions about what aspects of human behavior are essentially determined by biological factors rather than by experiences and society. Changing beliefs about what is natural have affected how some people are treated, so we will discuss the social consequences of such notions. The course will include the following topics: theories of race, Darwin’s works, evolution in schools and U.S. courts, American eugenics and Nazi science, differences between women and men, IQ testing, the controversy about DNA and Rosalind Franklin, studies of twins separated at birth, genetic engineering, ethical issues on cloning animals and humans, biotechnology, the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks, designer babies, biology in forensic science. This is a lecture course, with participation encouraged.

This course fulfills a College of Liberal Arts Science Component: Alternative Science & Technology course.

Grading: First exam 20%, Midterm Exam 20%, Final Exam 30%, Quizzes 20%, Attendance 10%

Texts: Some readings are in the Course Packet, required, which will be available at Jenn’s Copy & Binding, 2518 Guadalupe St. There are no readings at the Libraries, on reserve, instead, all other readings will be available online through the UT Libraries website or on Blackboard: https://courses.utexas.edu/

Some of the readings: Francis Galton, "Comparative Worth of Races," in Hereditary Genius (1869). Charles Darwin, Descent of Man (1871), "On the Races of Man," and “Sexual Differences." Cesare Lombroso, Criminal Man (1st ed. 1876). Lombroso, The Female Offender (1895). Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Man a Machine (1748). Francis Galton, "Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims" (1904). Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1976).

 

CTI 370 • Biology, Behavior, & Injustice

34130 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm UTC 4.134
(also listed as HIS 366N )
show description

This course explores interesting episodes in the history of science, focusing on questions about what aspects of human behavior are essentially determined by biological factors rather than by experiences and society. Changing beliefs about what is natural have affected how some people are treated, so we will discuss the social consequences of such notions. The course will include the following topics: theories of race, Darwin’s works, evolution in schools and U.S. courts, American eugenics and Nazi science, differences between women and men, IQ testing, the controversy about DNA and Rosalind Franklin, studies of twins separated at birth, genetic engineering, ethical issues on cloning animals and humans, biotechnology, the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks, designer babies, biology in forensic science. This is a lecture course, with participation encouraged.

This course fulfills a College of Liberal Arts Science Component: Alternative Science & Technology course.

Grading: First exam 20%, Midterm Exam 20%, Final Exam 30%, Quizzes 20%, Attendance 10%

Texts: Some readings are in the Course Packet, required, which will be available at Jenn’s Copy & Binding, 2518 Guadalupe St. There are no readings at the Libraries, on reserve, instead, all other readings will be available online through the UT Libraries website or on Blackboard: https://courses.utexas.edu/

Some of the readings: Francis Galton, "Comparative Worth of Races," in Hereditary Genius (1869). Charles Darwin, Descent of Man (1871), "On the Races of Man," and “Sexual Differences." Cesare Lombroso, Criminal Man (1st ed. 1876). Lombroso, The Female Offender (1895). Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Man a Machine (1748). Francis Galton, "Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims" (1904). Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1976).

 

CTI 371 • Einstein In Age Of Conflict

34137 • Spring 2013
Meets W 300pm-600pm GAR 0.120
(also listed as HIS 350L )
show description

While age-old scientific concepts were being overturned by the rise of modern physics, Europe was torn apart by wars of unprecedented scale. This history course analyzes these developments, examining the rise of the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics against the stage of international political upheavals. Following the life of Albert Einstein, the course focuses on conceptual developments (from the 1880s through the 1940s) and intellectual conflicts. It also studies the lives of physicists such as Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, in the context of changing cultural and political environments. We will read and discuss various kinds of materials: manuscripts, letters, accounts by historians, physicists, essays, and even secret transcripts of controversial conversations. The material will be understandable even to students with no significant background in physics. Among the topics involved are the following: How did relativity and the quantum clash with earlier conceptions of nature? Why did physics become so apparently difficult to understand? In Europe and America, how did scientists and politicians behave in times of international catastrophe? How were the academic and social orders affected by the development of nuclear weapons?

Grading

  • One reaction essay, of 600 words in length. 
  • One historical analysis paper, 1000 words. The topic of the historical analysis paper will be individually selected by each student from a few alternatives. 
  • Final Research Paper, of at least 2500 words. A draft of the introduction or outline of the Research Paper will be expected 3 weeks before the final due date; for critical feedback. The subject of the final Research Paper will be designed by each student under advisement with the Instructor. This will equal 75% of the grade for the course.

Texts (subject to change)

  • Jürgen Neffe, Einstein: A Biography, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.
  • John Heilbron, The Dilemmas of an Upright Man. Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science. Harvard University Press, 2000.

CTI 370 • Biology, Behavior, & Injustice

34008 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm GAR 0.102
(also listed as HIS 366N )
show description

This course explores interesting episodes in the history of science, focusing on questions about what aspects of human behavior are essentially determined by biological factors rather than by experiences and society. Changing beliefs about what is natural have affected how some people are treated, so we will discuss the social consequences of such notions. The course will include the following topics: theories of race, Darwin’s works, evolution in schools and U.S. courts, American eugenics and Nazi science, differences between women and men, IQ testing, the controversy about DNA and Rosalind Franklin, studies of twins separated at birth, genetic engineering, ethical issues on cloning animals and humans, biotechnology, the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks, designer babies, biology in forensic science. This is a lecture course, with participation encouraged.

This course fulfills a College of Liberal Arts Science Component: Alternative Science & Technology course.

Grading: First exam 20%, Midterm Exam 20%, Final Exam 30%, Quizzes 20%, Attendance 10%

Texts: Some readings are in the Course Packet, required, which will be available at Jenn’s Copy & Binding, 2518 Guadalupe St. There are no readings at the Libraries, on reserve, instead, all other readings will be available online through the UT Libraries website or on Blackboard: https://courses.utexas.edu/

Some of the readings: Francis Galton, "Comparative Worth of Races," in Hereditary Genius (1869). Charles Darwin, Descent of Man (1871), "On the Races of Man," and “Sexual Differences." Cesare Lombroso, Criminal Man (1st ed. 1876). Lombroso, The Female Offender (1895). Julien Offray de La Mettrie, Man a Machine (1748). Francis Galton, "Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims" (1904). Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1976).

 

CTI 370 • Einstein In Age Of Conflicts

33865 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm GAR 2.112
(also listed as HIS 350L )
show description

Course Description:

While eccentric physicists overturned fundamental scientific concepts, Europe was torn apart by wars of

unprecedented scale. This history course analyzes these developments, examining the rise of the theories

of relativity and quantum mechanics in the stage of international political upheavals. Following the life

and work of Albert Einstein, the course focuses on conceptual developments and intellectual conflicts

(mainly from the 1880s through the 1940s). It also studies the lives of physicists such as Max Planck,

Werner Heisenberg, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, in the context of changing cultural and political

conflicts. The material will be understandable even to students with no significant background in physics.

Among the questions that we will cover are the following:

• How did relativity and the quantum clash with earlier conceptions of nature?

• Why did physics become so apparently difficult to understand?

• How did Planck navigate scientific success, duties, and tragedy as he rose in society?

• How did Einstein conceive of the special theory of relativity?

• Did Einstein’s wife secretly collaborate in his works?

• Did the intellectual climate of post-war Germany lead physicists to change ideas about nature?

• In Europe and America, how did scientists and politicians confront international catastrophe?

• Why did Einstein criticize quantum mechanics?

• How did religion relate to developments in physics?

• Did German physicists such as Heisenberg contribute to Nazi projects?

• How were the academic and social orders affected by the development of nuclear weapons?

 

From the assigned readings, each student will choose a day to present in class. Each presentation may last around 30 minutes, and will involve also our comments.

Required Readings: available at the UT Co-op:

• Ju ürgen Neffe, Einstein: A Biography, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009.

• John Heilbron, The Dilemmas of an Upright Man. Max Planck and the Fortunes of German

Science. Harvard University Press, 2000.

• Additional reading materials will be distributed in class, plus, each student will research other

reading selections, especially primary sources.

The main required readings are Neffe’s biography of Einstein and Heilbron’s biography of Planck.

 

Attendance Policy: Attendance is required.

 

Course assignments

You’ll be required to complete several writing assignments. There will be Reaction Essays (500 words

each) in which you will critically respond to material covered in class. There will also be a Research

Paper (2500 words) where you will pursue a topic of your choice by finding and using appropriate

materials from the library, both primary and secondary sources. You will have opportunities to edit and

rewrite your work, and to read other students’ papers and give them peer review feedback.

Moreover, all students will be expected to take a Subject Comprehension Exam, designed to test the

extent to which you have followed, engaged, and learned from the topics discussed in class and in the

readings.

The class will be conducted as a discussion; attendance and participation are therefore essential.

This course carries a Writing Flag. 65% of the final grade will be based on written assignments.

 

COURSE GRADES will include plus and minus: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, etc. The grading breakdown is as follows:

Class participation 15%

Writing Assignments 30%

Subject Comprehension Exam 20%

Final Research Paper 35%

minus absences – 0.5 course points per unexcused absence.

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