I. Bernard Cohen

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I. Bernard Cohen
Born 1 March 1914
New York City
Died 20 June 2003(2003-06-20) (aged 89)
Waltham, Massachusetts
Fields History of science
Institutions Harvard University

I. Bernard Cohen (1 March 1914 – 20 June 2003) was the Victor S. Thomas Professor of the history of science at Harvard University and the author of many books on the history of science and, in particular, Isaac Newton.

Cohen was the first American to receive a Ph.D. in history of science, was a Harvard undergraduate ('37) and then a Ph.D. student and protégé of George Sarton who was the founder of Isis and the History of Science Society. Cohen taught at Harvard from 1942 until his death, and his tenure was marked by the development of Harvard's program in the history of science. He went on to succeed Sarton as editor of Isis (1952-1958) and, later, president of the Society (1961-1962); he was also a president of the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science.

Cohen was an internationally recognized Newton scholar; his interests were encyclopedic, ranging from science and public policy to the history of computers, with several decades as a special consultant for history of computing with IBM. Among his hundreds of publications were such major books as Franklin and Newton (1956), The Birth of a New Physics (1959), The Newtonian Revolution (1980), Revolution in Science (1985), Science and the Founding Fathers (1995), Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer (1999), and his last book, The Triumph of Numbers (2005), not to mention two jointly authored contributions, the variorum edition and new English translation of Newton's Principia.

Cohen's April 1955 interview with Albert Einstein was the last Einstein gave before his death, in that same month. It was published that July in Scientific American, which also published Cohen's 1984 essay on Florence Nightingale.

In 1974 he was awarded the Sarton Medal by the History of Science Society. Many consider Cohen's most important work to be his 1999 translation, with the late Anne Whitman, of Newton's Principia. This 974-page work took Cohen over 15 years to fully translate.

Among Cohen's students and protégés were the Islamic philosopher Seyyed Hosein Nasr, Tufts University professor George E. Smith, Bucknell University professor Martha Verbrugge, and Allen G. Debus.

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