Michael Reidy - MSU

“Mountaineering and Science: How Alpinism Fundamentally Transformed Scientific Research in the 19th Century”

Picture of Michael ReidyA Montana State University history professor whose work focuses on the impact of mountains on some of history’s most influential scientific minds will present “Mountaineering and Science: How Alpinism Fundamentally Transformed the Nature of Scientific Research in the 19th Century.”

Michael Reidy, the Michael Malone Professor of History in MSU’s Department of History and Philosophy, studies the influence of mountaineering on important scientific thinkers, including Charles Darwin and John Tyndall. He will discuss Tyndall, an Irish scientist who was an early researcher of the natural greenhouse effect. Tyndall also was one of the pioneers of modern mountaineering, spending his summers climbing in the Swiss Alps.

Reidy contends neither science nor sport occurs in a vacuum but they are parts of a broader cultural development.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Reidy spent nine summers in Alaska and developed an interest in the science of oceans and tides.

Because there are no oceans in Montana, he turned to the mountains and how a change of perspective can revolutionize thought, something he calls “vertical thinking.”

Reidy has a doctorate in the history of science and technology from the University of Minnesota. He came to MSU in 2000. In recent years, he has become one of a handful of historians specializing in Tyndall and helping to resurrect his work.