Director, Science, Technology, and Society
James Evans pursues research interests including the history of science, ancient Greek astronomy, science in the Enlightenment, history of physics from the 18th through the 20th centuries, and the history of cosmology from antiquity to the present. Evans has received international recognition for his work contributing to understanding the nature of and the historical timeline behind the ancient Greek Antikythera mechanism (often referred to as the “world’s first computer”), which was found in the sea off Greece in 1901. Together with Christian Carman, Evans published a 2014 paper in the Archive for History of Exact Science pinpointing the date the mechanism was timed to begin. The New York Times, The Smithsonian, and other mediacovered the research, which indicated the mechanism was older than believed. Evans is associate editor of the Journal for the History of Astronomy, and has been a reviewer for nine other journals, five presses, and three grant funders, including the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities. Evans has published three books: The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy; Quantum Mechanics at the Crossroads: New Perspectives from History, Philosophy and Physics; and Geminos's Introduction to the Phenomena: A Translation and Study of a Hellenistic Survey of Astronomy. Other publications include the book chapter “Astronomy,” in The Classical Tradition (2010) and articles in publications including Journal for the History of Astronomy and Historia Mathematica. Evans teaches courses including the history and practice of ancient astronomy, theoretical physics, and cosmological thought. He helped design the solar analemma in Harned Hall, and composed music to illustrate Johannes Kepler’s theory of the harmony of the world—a revival of the ancient Pythagorean doctrine that each planet utters a musical note (or a scale, in Kepler’s version).
B.S., Purdue University, 1970; Ph.D., University of Washington, 1983