“I propose that a chair in ‘social physics’ be established at Oxford.”
— Florence Nightingale (1874), spent the years 1874, 1876, and 1890-91, in discussion with Benjamin Jowett, Francis Galton, Alfred Marshall, among others, lobbying to get chair in social physics established 
“Every university should have a Department of Applied Greek and a complementary Department of Humanized Physics, and the benefits of these departments also should be extended as freely as is practicable to those who need them most, that is, to those whose main work is in another field.”
— Edwin Slosson (1910), Great American Universities 
Oxford | Chair of Social Physics
In 1874, on the passing Belgian social physics pioneer Adolphe Quetelet, Italian-born English social theorist Florence Nightingale, in her “In Memorandum”, proposed that social physics should be taught at the University of Oxford; in 1876, she discussed the idea with Oxford administrative reformer Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), who offered to leave money in his will for the chair, suggesting that it be named after her father (i.e. Nightingale Chair of Social Physics); in 1890-91, she spent a year-and-a-half lobbying to see the chair established, including discussion with Francis Galton, among others,
“We [need] a scheme from someone of high authority as to what should be the work and subjects in teaching ‘social physics’ and their practical application, in the event of our being able to obtain a statistical professorship or readership at the University of Oxford.”— Florence Nightingale (1891), “Letter to Francis Galton”, Feb 7
Jowett, e.g., in 1891, discussed the proposal with Alfred Marshall who gave his opinion that the “government ought to do it”.  The chair, despite Nightingale's efforts, was never realized.
Thims | Queries / Responses
The following is the work-in-progress query-response list, from American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims, to the particles shown, in regards to query attempts at getting a two cultures department, a Nightingale Chair of Social Physics, or physicochemical humanities course, put into working operation, query interactions listed from newest to earliest:
|Norbert Pelc (c.1954-)|
Chair of bioengineering
| Query (2 Sep 2014): I am interested in initiating a course in “physiochemical humanities” to be taken by undergraduate engineering students, also possibly humanities and graduate students, in place of one or another standard humanities electives, at Stanford University, thematically aimed at addressing the inherent two cultures (humanities + physical sciences) divide issue, such as touched on in Stanford University’s founding physical science professor Fernando Sanford’s 1899 address “The Scientific Method and its Limitations.”|
The content of such a slated-to-be course will be to introduce engineering students, and possibly humanities students, to the works of the physical science based humanities works of the so-called “social Newtons” of history, specifically: Goethe, Adams, Pareto, Winiarski, Rossini, Henderson, Wilson, etc., as well as the modern social Newtons, e.g. Mimkes, Wallace, Beg, etc., who are currently heading the various econophysics and sociophysics symposiums and departments, sprouting up around the world (but not in the US).
I’ve now taught outlines of this course to bioengineering students at the University of Illinois, Chicago (2010-2012), to mechanical engineering students at Northern Illinois University (2013), and to mixture of economists, sociologists, physicists, and humanities students and professors at the University of Pitesti, Romania (2013). The timeline of my inquiry efforts to initiate such a course here in American are outlined here. The overarching aim is to bring into actualization a modern version of the so-called “Nightingale Chair of Social Physics”, envisioned by Florence Nightingale, to have solidified at Oxford, in the 19th century, into 21st century realization.
|No response (16 Sep 2014).|
Psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience
|Query (15 Aug 2014): “I came across you and your whole “possibly we don’t have souls”, which “could be a wonderful thing” assertion, while watching the National Geographic's “Science of Evil” documentary on Netflix sometime a month or so ago, then ordered your book, then read your 2014 bioethics meeting transcript, and started an Hmolpedia article on you: Joshua Green. Today, I’m on page 160 of your book, and have cited your rocks don’t have morality statement here: rock vs human. See the Rothbard section, in this link, to see how the issue goes back through Goethe to Spinoza.|
To make a long story short, I’m looking to revive a combination of Lawrence Henderson’s “Sociology 23” and Edwin Wilson’s “Mathematical Economics” courses, taught in the post WWI years at Harvard, centered around the model of the Nightingale Chair of Social Physics, akin to what John Q. Stewart did at Princeton, via the Princeton Department of Social Physics.
I would like to do this at Harvard and I see a connection in your work to all of this, albeit with much correction on your end, being that the corpus of your tribal utilitarianism theory is ungrounded at the moment; e.g. the Rothbard spider vs human morality, is one example of this, that when taken down the so-called “chain of being” loses its grip the closer one gets to the hydrogen atom. On your part, if interesting in participating in this objective, I would need you to be one of four simultaneous PhD advisors for me (the other three coming from: economics, sociology, and the physical chemistry departments), similar to how the University of Korea is now using a “two-supervisors system” to grant thermodynamics-based sociology PhDs: two-cultures department.
I will then complete the following as my PhD dissertation, under 4-part supervision: Chemical Thermodynamics: with Applications in the Humanities (pdf), then start the so-called “Chair of Physicochemical Humanities”, as Nightingale lobbied for at Oxford for so many years, teaching sociophysics and econophysics in general, but anchored in physicochemical humanities, i.e.
thermodynamics (heat, work, and energy principles) at root: physical humanities, then aim to get funding from the Gates foundation, the way Stewart got funding from the Rockefeller foundation, for his social physics department at Princeton (1945-55), and then aim to get someone trained to take over the chair, when I step down, a “key” something lacking in all previous two cultures departments attempted historically (see: two cultures synergy), so that a department of physicochemical humanities can take root here in America, embracing all of the so-called two cultures subjects at once (see: two cultures namesakes).
The pressing need for a department headed by such a chair is outlined, historically, ere: two cultures calls, see, e.g., the James Froude (1849, 1854) section, and his “moral mysteries” probe, to see how this connects to your neuroimaging moral research probings and to the overall aim of such a chair and or department. The timeline of my ongoing attempts to initiate such a department is shown here: two cultures inquires.
At this point, all I am asking for you to say, if interested, is that: yes, you “might” possibly be interested in such an interdepartmentalism project, if the other departments conceded likewise. If you would be interested, I would gladly be willing to fly out to your location, at your convenience, to explain to you where all the physicochemical corrections need to be amended in your logic, bioethics meeting arguments, and book. Thanks, in advance, for your consideration.”
|Response (25 Aug 2014): “Thanks for your thoughts, and sorry for the brief reply but I'm working through a large backlog. While I admire your self-starting ambition, I'm afraid that it's not possible to start teaching and doing research here in this way. I can only admit students through the Psychology PhD program, and even then it's not entirely up to me. I appreciate your interest and wish you the best of luck.”|
| Jeremy England|
Cellular and macromolecular biophysics
| Query (27 May 2014): “I was Googling around for the term “first life” and thermodynamics early today, while looking for an example “first life” conceptualized image, for a first life article I started today (while reading Neil Shubin’s 2008 Your Inner Fish), and so came across the Quanta Magazine article on you, and shortly thereafter skimmed your self-replication theory article, and started an Hmolpedia article on you: Jeremy England, also available as pdf (here) (volume A-K, pgs. 371-72), you being situated between the Friedrich Engels and Entropy entries.|
In any event, I notice your research group is hiring, and might be interesting in joining your team for possibly a year (or more)? While I see that your group’s research interest tends to be focused on protein thermodynamics, mine tends to be focused on thermodynamics in all areas, up and down the evolution scale, with specific focus on thermodynamics in the teaching and research in physicochemical humanities, akin to what has been done historically, at the University of Lausanne (1890-1923), Harvard (1932-1942), Princeton (1945-1955), Western Washington University (1977-1995), and recently University of Pitesti (2007-present): two cultures synergy.
In return, I would gladly reciprocate, in respect to group synergy, by correcting much of your group’s work and theories, as well as learn parts in return, and give you direction in regards to historical precedence; take, e.g., the cellular thermodynamics work of Herbert Salzer, whose article I wrote yesterday, Lionel Harrison being another example. At a minimum, I can bring to the group a 400+ personal thermodynamics book collection and encyclopedic knowledge in most areas of thermodynamics.
In regards to your article, “self-” prefixes tend to be code for perpetual motion of the living kind theories, much of Prigogine’s work is now outdated, your citation of Landauer is a waste of time, etc.; also, the biggest issue you will have to grapple with, when you start talking about the thermodynamics of a “living thing”, as Charles Sherrington grappled with cogently in 1938, is that chemistry and physics do not recognize the word “alive”, an issue addressed in overview here: defunct theory of life. While this is a big issue, requiring much terminology reform, e.g. terms such as biophysics and biochemistry become [defunct] neoplasms, direction in this area will tend to save you years if not decades of wasted time going down cul-de-sacs looking for thermodynamics-like circular chemical reactions mechanisms, the work of Stuart Kaufmann being one example. The following is the best I can give you at present in regards to curriculum vitae: Libb Thims..”
|Response (3 Jun 2014): “Thanks for your interest in our work. I'm afraid it won't be possible to have you join the group but I appreciate your enthusiasm. All the best.”|
| John Prausnitz | a department founder|
University of California, Berkeley
Chemical and biomolecular engineering
| Query (27 May 2013): “I cited your 1986 “Two Sources of Chemical Thermodynamics” article yesterday in an article on the history of chemical thermodynamics that I am slowly building, and upon looking up to see who you were, see that you are chemical engineering professor emeriti of UC Berkeley. Could you possibly give me some insight into the remaining structure, if there is one, of the great Lewis school of thermodynamics?|
The last member of this group, in regards to my area of interest, namely thermodynamics applied to the humanities, is the Frederick Rossini and his famous 1971 lecture “Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World” turned 2006 Journal of Chemical Education debate about the application of chemical thermodynamics to problems of terrorism and global security. Could you give me your opinion on the Rossini debate?
Also, I am presently working to found America’s first two cultures teaching department, that teaches content like that embedded in the Rossini debate. My aim is to found the department at the UC Berkeley, with the central hub located within the chemical and biomolecular engineering department, and the humanities integrated into this hub. Could you possibly give me some opinion as the potential of this “two cultures department” finding a fit at UC Berkeley?”
|Response (28 Mar 2013): “I don't know what the Rossini debate is but I hope to find out. No, your idea for a department for teaching two cultures would not be appreciated at Berkeley. In the social sciences and in some humanities, thermodynamics may be useful as an analogy, as a suggestion for looking at a problem (e.g., information theory) but beyond that, I see little use of thermodynamics outside science.”|
| Query (21 Mar 2013): “I came across your 2010 Literature and Chemistry pdf today and so started an Hmolpedia article on you: Jay Labinger. Similar to your interests in literature chemistry/thermodynamics and the two cultures issue, presently I am working to found America’s first two cultures university teaching department. What advice, suggestions, opinions, etc., do you have on this objective, having yourself waged into the two cultures wars? |
My present plan of attack is to (a) quickly complete a PhD dissertation on “Thermodynamics and the Free Energy of Human Molecules”, done possibly with two or three advisors (one form chemical engineering one or two from the humanities), a Lewis chemical thermodynamics based treatise on humans viewed as surface attached molecules (see: human molecular formula) chemically reacting to each other, mechanistically, discussed socially, economically, politically, etc., and (b) simultaneously begin teaching a graduate school “two cultures” course, teaching the history and basics of the subject. My present aim is UC Berkeley. How do you think CalTech would “fit” in regards to the establishment of such a department?
Regarding the “science wars” as you call them, what I am most-worried about is not so much the attack coming from people in the arts and humanities group, but rather from within, from the scientists and engineers themselves, such as exemplified in the Rossini debate. Having spent time at Princeton, are you aware of the 1950s “social physics” group ran at Princeton (see: Princeton department of social physics)?”
| Response (21 Mar 2013): “Gary: Are you familiar with this guy at all? I'd never heard of him, until I got this message just now out of the blue. I can't immediately tell from a quick scan of the links he includes whether or not he's mostly a crank (I will try to find some time to read more thoroughly, and in any case answer him politely), but there might be something of relevance to the Templeton project here.”|
Response (23 Mar 2013): “Thanks for the interesting message, and for your nice article about me on your website. I have not had time to do more than glance at some of the links you included; I'll try to take a more careful look, hopefully sometime during the upcoming week, and then will be better able to respond to your questions.”
| Mario Small | Department head|
University of Chicago
| Query (1 Apr 2012): “I would like to meet up with you sometime this summer to discuss a possible revival of the original physics-chemistry based sociology envisaged by Albion Small and Frank Carlton when they founded the University of Chicago’s sociology department. I’m looking to found something along the lines of what they’re doing with the econophysics department at the University of Houston (Ѻ), albeit expanded, to be a department that encompasses physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, engineering, and the humanities, all in one; something along the lines of the Lewis school of thermodynamics, but expanded into a "two cultures" cross-disciplinary department:|
The subject is essentially lacking here in America (versions are sprouting in Europe), but is one of a large untapped potential, the chemistry-based weak ties model of Mark Granovetter, the supposedly most cited sociology paper of all time, being one example. Essentially, I’m just looking to get a feel for how the physical science based works of thinkers, such as Small, Carlton, Lester Ward, the so-called father of American sociology, Henry Carey, etc., all essentially have just disappeared from modern-day American sociology? For example, I notice you stem from Harvard; hence, I’m looking to discern exactly how Pitirim Sorokin’s (the founder of Harvard’s sociology department) mechanistic school of social thermodynamics, disappeared from the American education system?
I’m teaching thermodynamics applied in the humanities to the bioengineering students next month at UIC (my third year doing this), lecturing on the following 500+ thinkers in general (see: sociology icons), with focus on the following 40 thinkers in particular: human free energy, but after that I should be free (Mondays and Tuesdays are good for me).”
|Response (3 Apr 2012): “This might be a tall order given how the discipline has evolved. However, I'll keep this in mind for after our spring quarter is over.”|
|Ali Mansoori | Thermodynamics head|
University of Illinois, at Chicago
| Dialogue: During lunches together, after giving invited guest lectures on human thermodynamics to Mansoori’s bioengineer thermodynamics students, in the years 2010-12 (see: Thims lectures), Mansoori suggested to Thims that he complete his two cultures objective at UIC, and that all he would need to do would be to apply, and Mansoori would take care of the funding and the rest. |
Thims, however, politely declined; stating that he had made a promise to himself that he would only go up the education ladder (above the University of Michigan ranking level), but not down, owing to his early very-irregular age 1-19 educational path, e.g. being made to retake second grade (age 6-7), then spending grades 2-12 doing absolutely nothing, educational wise, then jumping to acceptance to chemical engineering at University of California, Berkeley (top 3 ranked in engineering), having never taken a chemistry course prior, but going to University of Michigan (top 5 ranked in engineering), owing to financial reasons, etc., then graduating in the top of his class, then detaching completely from the engineering field, i.e. until initiating personal research in hmolscience, but doing so with a promise made to himself that he would return to the top of the educational ladder, ranking-wise, at or above the Berkeley-level of education stature and world ranking as far as intellectual prestige and respect goes.
|Main "Social Physics" Schools|
(Lausanne school: 1890-1923)
(Harvard Pareto circle: 1932-1943)
(Princeton social physics: 1945-1955)
(Romanian school: 2007-present)
|The form main universities that had or have actual functioning physicochemical humanities stylized courses and or departments (see: two cultures synergy).|
Other actual "working model" two cultures university department synergy effort models include: economist Leon Winiarski and his social mechanics course (University of Geneva, 1894-1900), physical chemist Lawrence Henderson and his physicochemical sociology course and seminars (Harvard University, 1932-1942), via the Harvard Pareto circle, polymath Edwin Wilson and his physiochemical economics course (Harvard University, 1932-1938), physicist John Q. Stewart and Rockefeller-founded social physics research group (Princeton University, 1945-1955), see: Princeton department of social physics, albeit not attempted without difficulty, as Stewart commented:
“Immaturity, lack of imagination, 'doctrinaire departmentalism', and [in particular] overspecialization is choking modern scholarship and limiting man’s communication with his fellows.”— John Q. Stewart (1955), commentary on social physics initiatives at Princeton
and sociologist Ed Stephan and his territorial social physics project (Western Washington University, 1997), and more recently economist Gheorghe Savoiu and physicist Ion Siman and their econophysics and sociophysics journal and teaching program (University of Pitesti, 2007-present), the latter of which Thims visited and studied in 2013 as key speaker of their 5th annual socioeconomic physics workshop.
The following are related quotes:
“In March 2011, I graduated with a master's degree in theoretical physics at the University of Bologna (Italy). I am strongly interested in sociophysics or in general in physics applied to human behavior: in my thesis I solved a sociological problem using statistical mechanics, and machine learning methods. I am looking for a PhD in socio-physics or human thermodynamics and or funds for it. Do you know something about it? Any advice is welcome.”— Simone Loreti (2012), email to Libb Thims and other online forum postings
● Libb Thims (lectures)
● Libb Thims (students)
1. Slosson, Edwin E. (1910). Great American Universities (pg. 96). MacMillan.
2. (a) Ball, Philip. (2001). “The Physical Modeling of Society: A Historical Perspective” (abs) (pdf); A Talk Presented at Messina, Sicily; in: Physica A, 314(1-4):1-14, 2002.
(b) Nightingale, Florence. (2003). Florence Nightingale on Society and Politics, Philosophy, Science, Education and Literature: Collected Works of Florence Nightingale (editor: Lynn McDonald) (§: Proposal for a Chair in Social Physics, pgs. 105-28; see also: pg. 11). Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
(c) Benjamin Jowett – Wikipedia.