About this blog

“Finally, it was stated at the outset, that this system would not be here, and at once, perfected. You cannot but plainly see that I have
kept my word. But I now leave my cetological System standing thus
unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the
crane still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower. For small
erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true
ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever
completing anything. This whole book is but a draught—nay, the draught
of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience.”

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, ch. XXXII


Header image credit

This blog is my personal scratchpad.

It is not an academic blog, although occasional posts of minimal academic interest may appear. They likely will be categorized “History of Science,” and as likely as not will fall smack in between family notices and informal nostalgic musings of no professional interest. If you are an academic colleague who has stumbled your way here, my best advice is to filter by category: i.e., click on “History of Science” in the category list, ignore the rest, then escape while you can.*

By “personal” I mean that I write here not to create a dialogue with the world, but for family and personal friends and most of all for me. I do not seek “followers,” although you are welcome to eavesdrop if you like. Many posts will interest no one but myself. Most are written for some family members or a few close friends, more often than not related to conversations we are sharing over coffee. This is why every post is invariably autobiographical and the blog as a whole is idiosyncratic.

By “scratchpad” I mean that any given post is a work in progress. Most posts on this blog are motivated by my desire to clarify my own thinking or to share an experience or idea with one or two specific friends in mind. In both cases, I typically come back and revise any given post over several days after writing the original draft. So if a recent post interests you, stop by again after about a week and see if it has changed. Some bloggers compare themselves to news reporters. Many assume that once a post is made, it should not be revised. However, I heed Somerset Maugham:

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

This whole blog is but a draught – nay, the draught of a draught!

No post is ever finished. God will keep me from ever completing any of it.

Kerry Magruder
Norman, Oklahoma


Basic bio

Kerry V. Magruder is the Curator of the History of Science Collections of the University of Oklahoma Libraries. He has been a faculty member of the OU Department of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine since 2000, and received the John and Drusa Cable Chair of the History of Science in 2011.

He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in biology and science education from Truman State University in Missouri, and a masters in library science and a doctorate in history of science from OU. His background includes teaching high school chemistry and biology, directing a university planetarium, and teaching university courses in biology, astronomy, geology, science education, and history of science.

Magruder has researched and presented scholarly talks at many academic conferences, universities, and research labs in both America and Europe, the latter including England, Scotland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Presentations in America include at the Fermi Lab accelerator in the Chicago area and NASA headquarters in Langley, VA, as well as astronomy/physics programs at New Mexico State, Michigan State, and Florida State, among many venues in the history of science.

Magruder’s published articles deal with the history of geology, astronomy and cosmology, and science and religion. For example, a publication on Jesuit cosmology in the generation after Galileo is “Jesuit Science after Galileo: The Cosmology of Gabriele Beati,” Centaurus 2009, 51: 189-212. Magruder has curated major exhibitions in the history of science at OU, including “Darwin at the Museum” in 2009-2010 and “Galileo’s World” in 2015-2016. His digital projects include Edition Open Sources, the Thomas F. Torrance Oral History Project, Lynx Open Ed, and The Sky Tonight.

Cf. a more personal intro by Robin Roads for the OKC Astro Club here.


* Update 1/13/2018: Many of the posts in the “History of Science” category were originally posted in a now-discontinued blog for the OU History of Science Collections (ouhos.org), or on an interim professional blog (“Transpositions”) that I set up when the library shut down ouhos.org. Transpositions saw only a handful of posts but suffered for lack of continuity. I will no longer attempt to distinguish between professional and personal posts as before, in large part because, a couple years ago I resolved to re-tool my professional interests to focus more directly on science and religion, and my explorations in theology are a major theme here. The history of science and religion has always been an essential part of my professional work in the field, and it is one of three main areas of emphasis in the OU History of Science Department, but it has not been my central, sustained professional focus. That is now beginning to change, and so I have decided not to establish the Transpositions blog as a professional activity in its own right, but to manage just one blog for all interests, whether personal or professional, and see where it may lead. Education, geology and digital technology, three of my other main interests, with both personal and professional dimensions, are also represented here. So today I transferred most of the posts from ouhos.org and Transpositions to kerrysloft.com, categorizing them as “History of Science.” And I took Transpositions offline. All those posts are now found here at the dates at which they appeared on ouhos.org, interspersed with posts originally made here. Some of the transferred posts, like the “book quotes,” will be right at home here. Others might not, such as notices of “recent acquisitions.” I will not continue to post notices of that kind here, but I decided to transfer them rather than to consign them to ethereal oblivion. So the bottom line is to continue to expect what was explained above: an idiosyncratic mix written mostly for myself and a few close conversation partners. Kerry’s Loft remains a personal scratchpad, not an academic blog.

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