In my current research, The Weight of Things, I am writing a non-canonical, non-disciplinary history of experimentation on the weight of substances in pre- and early modern Europe. The Weight of Things brings back to life an intricate network of pure and applied disciplines, ranging from natural philosophy and numismatics to gunnery and artillery. This new multidisciplinary perspective shows that experimenting on the weight of substances became a major concern for a heterogeneous group of European early modern experts, including antiquarians, alchemists, Jesuits, instrument makers and natural philosophers. This project has been awarded a 3-year grant from the DFG (German Research Foundation) (budget 294,000 Euro, period 2017-2020). From 2016, I received funding to develop specific aspects of this research from the Scientific Instruments Society, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung, the Vossius Center for History of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, the Huntington Library and the Deutsches Museum.
I am also writing a book titled The Thread of Experience. Francis Bacon and Mechanical Arts in Early Stuart England. The Thread of Experience is a contextual history of Francis Bacon’s experimental project, analyzing its origins in the culture of the early Stuart age, during the reign of James I. The book proposes a new interpretation of Bacon’s experimental philosophy, showing its roots in the political and courtly culture of Bacon’s time. It explores the patronage of technology and innovation under James I, and Bacon’s concrete interests in practical arts like mining, gardening and horticulture. Also, The Thread of Experience is the first study ever to examine Bacon’s role in the early Stuart patent system. While Elizabethan privileges for new industrial processes are well documented, early Stuart patents of invention are not. This set of institutional records allows for a fresh, unconventional narrative of Francis Bacon’s connections with inventors and entrepreneurs of his time.