University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy
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Alan Shapiro

MCNAMARAC 160 (office), 624-5770
ashapiro @


Guggenheim Fellow, 1985-86, AAAS Fellow, 1988; International Academy of the History of Science, Member,1984, Vice President, 2005-13. President, 2013-2017.

Section L (History & Philosophy of Science), AAAS; Chair-elect, Chair, Retiring Chair, 1998-2001; Physics in Perspective, Editorial Board, 1997-2007; Physics Today, Book Review Advisory Board, 1997-2007; Centaurus, Associate Editor, 1994-2009; Early Science and Medicine, Board of Editors, 2002-; Nuncius, Editorial Board, 2005-09.

About My Work

My research area is the history of the physical sciences from antiquity to the early 19th century. I specialize in the history of optics from the 16th to 19th centuries and am working on the final two volumes of an edition of Isaac Newton's optical papers. I am also interested in the historical development of scientific methodology and the interaction of science, technology, and art in the problem of color.

Selected Publications

Newton’s optical theories and vibrating media: the electrical spirit of the general scholium and the electrical queries of the Opticks, Archives internationales d’histoire des sciences 65(2015):77-99.

Newton's Optics,", The Oxford Handbook of the History of Physics, ed. Jed Buchwald and Robert Fox (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 166-198.

“Twenty-nine years in the making: Newton’s Opticks,”, Perspectives in Science (2008)

“Images: real and virtual, projected and perceived, from Kepler to Dechales,”, Early Science and Medicine (2008)

“Newton’s ‘experimental philosophy’,”, Early Science and Medicine (2004)


Ph.D. History of Science, Yale, 1970.
M.Phil., History of Science, Yale, 1969.
M.S., Physics, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, 1965.
B.S., Physics, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, 1962.