John L. Heilbron

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John Lewis Heilbron (born 17 March 1934, San Francisco) is an American historian of science best known for his work in the history of physics and the history of astronomy. He is Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus (Vice-Chancellor 1990–1994) at the University of California, Berkeley, senior research fellow at Worcester College, Oxford, and visiting professor at Yale University and the California Institute of Technology. He edited the academic journal Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences for twenty-five years.


Heilbron attended Lowell High School in San Francisco, California,[citation needed] and was a member of the Lowell Forensic Society. He received his A.B. (1955) and M.A. (1958) degrees in physics and his Ph.D. (1964) in history from the University of California, Berkeley. He was Thomas Kuhn's graduate student in the 1960s when Kuhn was writing The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Heilbron is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[1]



  • 2013: Love, Literature, and the Quantum Atom, with Finn Aaserud Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199680283
  • 2010: Galileo, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-958352-8.
  • 2003: The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science (ed.), Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-511229-6.
  • 2003: Ernest Rutherford and the Explosion of Atoms, Oxford Portraits in Science, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512378-6.
  • 1999: The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-85433-0. 2001 paperback: ISBN 0-674-00536-8.
  • 1999: Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries: A Study of Early Modern Physics. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-40688-1.
  • 1997: Geometry Civilized: History, Culture, Technique. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850078-5. 2000 paperback: ISBN 0-19-850690-2.
  • 1989: Lawrence and His Laboratory: A History of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, with Robert W. Seidel. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06426-7.
  • 1986: The Dilemmas of an Upright Man: Max Planck and the Fortunes of German Science, California University Press. ISBN 0-520-05710-4
  • 1979: Electricity in the 17th and 18th Centuries: A Study of Early Modern Physics, University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03478-3.
  • 1974: H. G. J. Moseley: The Life and Letters of an English Physicist, 1887-1915, University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02375-7.



  • Brief biography in AIP Center for History of Physics Newsletter, Volume XXXVIII, No. 1, Spring 2006.

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