International networks of production and distribution of scientific instruments in eighteenth-century Europe

Isabel Malaquias

Abstract


The eighteenth century met a growing interest in the production of scientific instruments (mathematical, astronomical, nautical and philosophical) offering the means to achieve new physics concepts and greater precision, offering answers to some of the big questions, such as the shape of the Earth and longitude at sea. International scientific programmes promoted the production, acquisition and perfection of instruments and the progressive dissemination of experimental physics education set the tone for these instruments. The connections between instrument makers and the gentry in relation to these instruments produced or constituted important influences that were previously almost unthinkable. The spread of scientific instruments developed in close connection between producers and recipients, with the global spread of major scientific quests to solve and naturally with the impact Newtonian physics and experimental philosophy acquired at the time. J. H. de Magellan, who had a particular interest in and knowledge of scientific instruments, was actively engaged in this process of dissemination across Europe. After spending twenty years in London he could accept the demands of the Iberian courts for instruments that would allow them to carry out their work in South America.


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