I. Bernard Cohen
I. Bernard Cohen was the Victor S. Thomas Professor of the history of science
History of science
The history of science is the study of the historical development of human understandings of the natural world and the domains of the social sciences....

 at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 and the author of many books on the history of science and, in particular, Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...


Cohen was the first American to receive a Ph.D. in history of science, was a Harvard undergraduate ('37) and then a Ph.D. student and protégé of George Sarton
George Sarton
George Sarton was a Belgian chemist and historian who is considered the founder of the discipline of history of science. He left Belgium because of the First World War and settled in the United States where he spent the rest of his life researching and writing about the history of science...

 who was the founder of Isis and the History of Science Society. Cohen taught at Harvard from 1942 until his death, and his tenure was marked by the development of Harvard's program in the history of science. He went on to succeed Sarton as editor of Isis (1952-1958) and, later, president of the Society (1961-1962); he was also a president of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science.

Cohen was an internationally recognized Newton scholar; his interests were encyclopedic, ranging from science and public policy to the history of computers, with several decades as a special consultant for history of computing with IBM. Among his hundreds of publications were such major books as Franklin and Newton (1956), The Birth of a New Physics (1959), The Newtonian Revolution (1980), Revolution in Science (1985), Science and the Founding Fathers (1995), Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer (1999), and his last book, The Triumph of Numbers (2005), not to mention two jointly authored contributions, the variorum edition and new English translation of Newton's Principia.

Cohen's April 1955 interview with Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 was the last Einstein gave before his death, in that same month. It was published that July in Scientific American
Scientific American
Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

, which also published Cohen's 1984 essay on Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale OM, RRC was a celebrated English nurse, writer and statistician. She came to prominence for her pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War, where she tended to wounded soldiers. She was dubbed "The Lady with the Lamp" after her habit of making rounds at night...


In 1974 he was awarded the Sarton Medal
George Sarton Medal
The George Sarton Medal is the most prestigious award given by the History of Science Society. It has been awarded annually since 1955. It is awarded to an historian of science from the international community who became distinguished for "a lifetime of scholarly achievement" in the field...

 by the History of Science Society
History of Science Society
The History of Science Society is the primary professional society for the academic study of the history of science.It was founded in 1924 by George Sarton and Lawrence Joseph Henderson, primarily to support the publication of Isis, a journal of the history of science Sarton had started in 1912....

. Many consider Cohen's most important work to be his 1999 translation, with the late Anne Whitman, of Newton's Principia. This 974-page work took Cohen over 15 years to fully translate.

Among Cohen's students and protégés were the Islamic philosopher Seyyed Hosein Nasr, Tufts University professor George E. Smith, Bucknell University professor Martha Verbrugge, and Allen G. Debus
Allen G. Debus
Allen George Debus was an American historian of science, known primarily for his work on the history of chemistry and alchemy. In 1991 he was honored at the University of Chicago with an academic conference held in his name. Paul H...



  • 1953 - Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

    : His Contribution to the American Tradition
  • 1956 - Franklin and Newton: An Inquiry into Speculative Newtonian Experimental Science and Franklin's Work in Electricity as an Example thereof
  • 1960 - The Birth of a New Physics (LoC 60-5918, Science Study Series S10, Anchor Books, Doubleday)
  • 1971 - Introduction to Newton's Principia (1999 ed: ISBN 1-58348-601-1)
  • 1981 - The Newtonian Revolution (ISBN 0-521-22964-2)
  • 1981 - Studies on William Harvey
    William Harvey
    William Harvey was an English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart...

    (ISBN 0-405-13866-0) (alternative pagination depending on country of sale: 98-107)
  • 1985 - Revolution in Science (ISBN 0-674-76777-2)
  • 1985 - Album of Science : From Leonardo to Lavoisier, 1450-1800 (ISBN 0-684-15377-7)
  • 1985 - The Birth of a New Physics (ISBN 0-393-01994-2)
  • 1990 - Benjamin Franklin's Science (ISBN 0-674-06658-8)
  • 1994 - Interactions: Some Contacts between the Natural Sciences and the Social Sciences (ISBN 0-262-03223-6)
  • 1995 - Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Madison (ISBN 0-393-03501-8)
  • 1996 - Newton: Texts Backgrounds Commentaries (Norton Critical Editions) (ISBN 0-393-95902-3)
  • 1999 - Howard Aiken
    Howard Aiken
    Howard Hathaway Aiken was a pioneer in computing, being the original conceptual designer behind IBM's Harvard Mark I computer....

    : Portrait of a Computer Pioneer
    (History of Computing) (ISBN 0-262-03262-7)
  • 1999 - The Principia
    Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica
    Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", often referred to as simply the Principia, is a work in three books by Sir Isaac Newton, first published 5 July 1687. Newton also published two further editions, in 1713 and 1726...

    : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
    (Translator) (ISBN 0-520-08816-6)
  • 2000 - Isaac Newton's Natural Philosophy (Editor) (ISBN 0-262-02477-2)
  • 2002 - The Cambridge Companion to Newton (Editor) (ISBN 0-521-65177-8
  • 2005 - The Triumph of Numbers: How Counting Shaped Modern Life (ISBN 0-393-05769-0)


  • http://mathforum.org/epigone/historia/krunwhoxplum
  • http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hsdept/obituary.html
  • http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/abs_free.jsp?arNumber=1253895
  • http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/daily/0306/20-cohen.html
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