Workshop: The Experimental and Interdisciplinary Reconfiguration of Dense and Rare in the Long Sixteenth-Century

December 11 2017 (9:30 – 15:30). Technische Universität Berlin, Marchstraße 23, room MAR 4.064 (4th floor)

 Presenters: Arianna Borrelli, Stephen Clucas, Dana Jalobeanu, Silvia Manzo, Cesare Pastorino

The theme of this workshop is the multidisciplinary research and experimentation on “dense and rare” –the rarefaction and condensation of matter– in the long sixteenth-century. Presenters will discuss work-in-progress towards a journal special issue. Papers will consider cases in which observation and practical experimentation on dense and rare played a major part in investigations, informing and/or complementing philosophical discussions. The workshop will adopt a markedly multidisciplinary perspective, examining examples often connecting quite different areas of experimentation, learning and natural-philosophical reflection.

[funded by DFG-Projekt-Nr.: 339935097, “The Weight of Things. Quantification of Matter and the Exchange of Technical and Learned Knowledge in Early Modern Europe”]


Arianna Borrelli (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany)
Dense and rare between physics and metaphysics in Bernardino Telesio’s natural philosophy.

Stephen Clucas (Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom)
“The Curious ways to observe weight in water:” Thomas Harriot’s experiments on specific gravity.

Dana Jalobeanu (University of Bucharest, Romania)
Quantitative estimates and comparative observations: forms of quantification in Francis Bacon’s History of Dense and Rare.

Silvia Manzo (Universidad Nacional de La Plata – IdHICS/CONICET, Argentina)
Reassessing experience and theory in the quantification of metals: late Renaissance and early modern discussions on the weight of lead.

Cesare Pastorino  (Technische Universität Berlin, Germany)
Reconstructing an overlooked experimental research tradition: the discussion of specific gravities in Johannes Kepler’s Messekunst Archimedis (1616).

For additional info, contact Cesare Pastorino, at