The Meaning of Color in the Sciences, Berlin, July 6

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From amazingly colorful antique relics to the attempts to standardize colors in biomedical imaging – color is gaining in relevance in the sciences. The history of the ontology of color has already gained some attention in history of science. It is of course not to disentangle from its meaningful use or non-use. Yet the epistemic role of color, its long-standing neglect due to historic symbolic, in part gendered, ascriptions, and the function of color in visualizations for internal scientific use have not received much attention in the sciences and humanities to date. This is especially the case for non-mimetic color use where color is not meant to copy nature, but rather carries implicit or explicit symbolic meanings.This session focuses on the meaningful interpretation and application of color by the sciences – in historical perspective and across disciplines. How was color and the use of color understood, what did/do specific colors mean, how did this change?

For more information, and to register, see


The Meaning Of Color in the Sciences (Public event)

09.30  Registration, Welcome address & Coffee

Chair: Bettina Bock von Wülfingen (HU Berlin/Image Knowledge Gestaltung)

10.15  Sophia Roosth (Department of the History of Science, Harvard University)

               Spectral Analysis of the Specters of Life: Molecular Ecology, Microbial Mats, and the Origins of Life

10.45  Alma Steingart (Department of the History of Science, Harvard University)

               Mathematics on the Spectrum 

11.15  Coffee break

11.30  Michael Rossi (Department of History, University of Chicago)

               »Green is Refreshing«: Color and Healing in Nineteenth Century Medicine

12.00 Alexander Nagel (Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, USA)

                Research on Color Matters: Towards a Modern Archaeology of Ancient Polychromies

12.30  Lunch



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