Benjamin B. Olshin, Ph.D.
o Professor of Philosophy | History and Philosophy of Science and Technology | Design
o Cross-Cultural Consultant
SELECTED PUBLICATIONS + PRESENTATIONS
Publications — Books
Benjamin B. Olshin, Lost Knowledge: The Concept of Vanished Technologies and Other Human Histories (Leiden: Brill,2019)
Benjamin B. Olshin, Deciphering Reality: Simulations, Tests, and Designs (Leiden: Brill, 2017)
Benjamin B. Olshin, The Mystery of the "Marco Polo Maps" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014)
Publications — Refereed Articles
“A Look at Harmony and Unity as Common Principles in the Confucian System and the Bahá'í Faith”, in Studies in Bahá'í Philosophy 2-3 (2013-2014): 73-100.
“A Revealing Reflection: The Case of the Chinese Emperor’s Mirror", ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology 18 (2012): 122-141.
“Sophistical Devices: Leonardo da Vinci’s Investigations of Perpetual Motion", ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology 15 (2009): 1-39.
“Lost Science: The Strange Case of Physics and Theosophy”, Symposion: A Journal of Russian Thought 14 (2009): 51-66.
“The Mystery of the ‘Marco Polo’ Maps: An Introduction to a Privately-Held Collection of Cartographic Materials Relating to the Polo Family”, Terrae Incognitae 39.1 (June 2007): 1-23.
“Cultural Heritage and the Curse of History”, in Conference Proceedings — “When Creative Industries Crossover with Cities” Conference, Hong Kong (March 2007): 76-81.
“Reality Check: The Possible Detection of Simulated Environments through Observation of Selected Physical Phenomena”, The University of Cape Coast Journal of Philosophy and Culture 3.2 (July 2006): 86-108.
“The I Ching or ‘Book of Changes’: A Chinese Space-Time Model and a Philosophy of Divination”, The University of Cape Coast Journal of Philosophy and Culture 2.2 (July 2005): 17-39.
“Debating the Authentic: An Outsider’s View of West African Culture in Ghana”, The University of Cape Coast Journal of Philosophy and Culture 1.2 (July 2004): 1-20.
“A Sixteenth-Century Portuguese Report Concerning a Javanese World Map”, Manguinhos: História, Ciências, Saúde 2.3 (Spring 1996): 97-104.
“Signs of Pre-Columbian Ventures Upon the Atlantic: André Thevet's Comments in his “Cosmographie Universelle”, Two Lines: A Journal of Translation (Spring 1996): 106-114.
Publications — Book Reviews
Review of Piero Falchetta, Fra’ Mauro’s World Map: A History, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 105.4 (December 2014).
Review of Christina H. Lee, ed., Western Visions of the Far East in a Transpacific Age, 1522-1657, in Terrae Incognitae 46.1 (April 2014): 55-56.
Review of Nicholas Popper, Walter Raleigh’s History of the World and the Historical Culture of the Late Renaissance, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 105.2 (June 2014): 429-430.
Review of Gerhard Wolf, Joseph Connors and Louis A. Waldman, eds., Colors Between Two Worlds: The Florentine Codex of Bernardino de Sahagún, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 105.1 (March 2014): 214-215.
Review of Harry B. Evans, Exploring the Kingdom of Saturn: Kircher’s Latium and Its Legacy, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 104.1 (March 2013): 163-164.
Review of Timothy W. Knowlton, Maya Creation Myths: Words and Worlds of the Chilam Balam and John M. Weeks, Frank Sachse, and Christian M. Prager, Maya Daykeeping: Three Calendars from Highland Guatemala, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 103.3 (September 2012): 567-568.
Review of Lev Berdnikov, trans., Nora Seligman Favorov, Jews in Service to the Tsar, in Symposion: A Journal of Russian Thought 16-17 (2011-2012): 69-70.
Review of William R. Shea, ed., Science and the Visual Image in the Enlightenment, in ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology 17 (2011): 118-120.
Review of John Freely, Aladdin’s Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World, in Terrae Incognitae 42.1 (September 2010): 67-68.
Review of David Woodward, ed., The History of Cartography, Volume 3: Cartography in the European Renaissance, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 100.2 (June 2009): 396-398.
Review of Serafina Cuomo, Technology and Culture in Greek and Roman Antiquity, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 100.1 (March 2009): 149-150.
Review of Ana Simões, Maria Paula Diogo, and Ana Carneiro, Cidadão do Mundo: Uma Biografia Científica do Abade Correia da Serra, in ISIS: Journal of the History of Science Society 99.3 (September 2008): 628-629.
Publications — Encyclopedia Articles
“Legends and Myths of Chinese Exploration”, in Wilfred H. Bisson, ed., World History Encyclopedia, Era 4: Expanding Regional Civilizations, 300-1000 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2011): 734-735.
“Zheng He’s Voyages”, in Alfred J. Andrea, ed., World History Encyclopedia, Era 5: Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO / Greenwood, 2011): 321-323.
“Chinese Naval Technology”, in Alfred J. Andrea, ed., World History Encyclopedia, Era 5: Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500 (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO / Greenwood, 2011): 845-846.
“Buddhist Cosmological Maps”, “Chinese Empirical Maps”, and “Fusang”, in David Buisseret, ed., The Oxford Companion to Exploration, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
"Indigenous Mapping: Culture Creates Cartography", paper given at the 27th International Conference on the History of Cartography (ICHC), Belo Horizonte, Brazil (8 - 14 July 2017).
"Design Thinking: Myth, Meaning, and Making", presentation given at the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) 2016 conference, Sarasota, Florida, U.S.A. (3 November 2016).
"The "Marco Polo" Maps: Methods and Analysis", presentation given at the conference entitled "Facts or Fictions: Debating the Mysteries of Early Modern Science and Cartography — A Celebration of the 500th Anniversary of Waldseemüller's 1516 Carta Marina", Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. (6 - 7 October 2016
"The Earliest Origins of Design: Some Notes and Observations from Brazil", University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (16 March 2016
"Design for Social Responsibility: A Natural Education Model", University of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, U.K. (8 March 2016)
"Marco Polo and Maps: The Question of Evidence", Oxford Seminars in Cartography / Oxford University, Oxford, U.K. (3 March 2016).
"Peace in the Mind: Science, Knowledge, and the Creation of a Peaceful Society", paper given at the Sixth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind, São Raimundo Nonato & Serra da Capivara, Piauí, Brazil (August 2015).
“Exploring The Mysteries of the ‘Marco Polo’ Maps”, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (5 May 2015).
“The Mysteries of the ‘Marco Polo’ Maps”, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A. (9 February 2015).
“Harmony and Unity: Common Principles in Confucianism and the Bahá'í Faith”, American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. (24 November 2013).
“Adventures in the History of Science: Maps, Marco Polo, and other Curiosities”, paper given in the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies at York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (29 October 2013).
“Harmonious Interaction: Process, Practice, and a Sustainable Society”, paper given at the Fifth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind, Lembang, Indonesia (28 May 2013).
“A Look at the ‘Marco Polo’ Maps: Curiosities and Questions”, presentation given at the New York Public Library for the New York Map Society, New York, New York, U.S.A. (12 May 2012).
“Technological Progress and Sustainability: A Look at the History and Future of Human Societies”, paper given at the Fourth Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind, Stellenbosch, South Africa (7 March 2011).
“Chinese vs. American: Cultures of Work and Home”, presentation given at Temple University, Human Resource Management Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (30 September 2009).
“Looking for New Ways of Making Sense of the Universe and the Place of Humans in It: Foundational and Non-Foundational Thought”, paper given at the Third Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind, Cairo, Egypt (12 May 2009).
“Some Daoist and Neo-Confucian Views on Physical Reality and Possible Modern Counterparts”, paper given at the Asian Studies Development Program, National Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (12 March 2009).
“Cross-Cultural Journeys through East and West: Some Truths and Falsehoods”, presentation to management and human resources study group, Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey, U.S.A. (4 February 2009).
“Speculations and Discoveries: Brazil and the Other Side of the Globe at the End of the 15th Century”, paper given as part of the “Maps and Society” lectures, Eighteenth Series (2008-2009), The Warburg Institute, University of London (22 January 2009).
“The Historian of Technology as Prognosticator and Policy-Maker: Talking Intelligently about the Rise and Fall of High-Tech Civilizations”, paper given at the Society for the History of Technology, Fiftieth Anniversary Annual Meeting, Lisbon, Portugal (12 October 2008).
“Testing the Waters: Accounts of Early Ventures into the Atlantic Ocean and their Interpretation”, paper given at the Atlantic Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (17 August 2008).
“A Look at Daoist Texts and Concepts”, presentation given at the World Affairs Council, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (9 February 2008).
“The Nature and Structure of the Chinese Language”, presentation given at the World Affairs Council, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (19 January 2008).
“A Reexamination of the Antilla Question and the Question of the Mapmaker's Sources”, paper given at the 48th annual meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. (13 November 2007).
“Scientific Thinking and Modernity Meets Traditional Culture”, paper given at the Second Advanced International Colloquium on Building the Scientific Mind, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (28 May 2007).
“Using the I Ching in Life and in the Classroom”, paper given at the Center for International Understanding, Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (7 May 2007).
“The Nature of Daoism and Buddhism”, presentation given at the World Affairs Council, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (4 February 2007).
“The Roots and Impact of Confucian Thought”, presentation given at the World Affairs Council, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (23 January 2007).
“What is This Thing Called ‘Arts and Culture’?”, presentation given at the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (15 December 2006).
“Map, Text, and Theory: An Approach to the History of Cartography and Exploration”, introductory paper given at the American Historical Association 2004 Annual Meeting, in the session entitled “The Year China Discovered America”; this session concerned ancient Chinese exploration and cartography in a rebuttal of Gavin Menzies’ book 1421: The Year China Discovered America, Washington D.C., U.S.A. (8 January 2004).
“Discovering East Asia”, guest commentator on Asian Public Radio’s “West Meets East” program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (February 2003).
“Business, Technology, Culture, and the Question of Sustainability”, presentation for the Unternehmung und Nachaltigkeit (“Business and Sustainability”) Conference, Zurich, Switzerland (6 March 2003).
“The Geopolitical Situation of Taiwan in Relation to Mainland China”, presentation given at World Affairs Council Education Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (2001).
“An Overview of U.S. Business Practices”, paper and presentation for Hewlett-Packard executives from India and Hong Kong, Palo Alto, California, U.S.A. (1998).
“An Overview of Chinese Culture and Aesthetics”, presentation and report for Intel Corporation. Santa Clara, California, U.S.A. (1998).
“Teaching Concepts of ‘Quality’”, paper given at Ming Chuan University Design Conference, Taipei, Taiwan (1996).
Selected Popular Essays
“Los Mapas Secretos de Marco Polo”, Clío: Revista de historia 13.158 (2014): 80-87.
“Culture and Catastrophe: What We Can Learn from Japan’s Earthquake", Broad Street Review (22 March 2011).
“China vs. the West: Who has Conquered Whom?", Broad Street Review (25 December 2010).
“I’ve Seen the Future and It’s in the Far East”, Broad Street Review (4 November 2010).
Selected Media Coverage / Public Interest Press
Ariel Sabar, “Did Marco Polo ‘Discover’ America?” Smithsonian Magazine (October 2014).
David Millward, “Did Marco Polo discover America in 13th century?” The Telegraph (26 September 2014).