I am a historian of science working as a PhD researcher at the University of Amsterdam. My research focuses on twentieth-century astronomy and its relations to wider society. In my research, I explore how scientists believe scientific research should be conducted; how they actually conducted in practice; and they considered the place of science in wider society.


PhD History of Science, University of Amsterdam, expected 26 March 2021

MSc History and Philosophy of Science, Utrecht University (cum laude)

BSc Physics and Astronomy, University of Amsterdam

Other Publications

Public outreach:

Jeroen van Dongen & Chaokang Tai. 2016. “Door de ogen van Anton Pannekoek / Through the Eyes of Anton Pannekoek”. In: Out of the Box: Acht verhalen over onderzoek en erfgoed / Out of the Box: Eight Stories about Research and Heritage, edited by Esther Boeles and Sytze van der Veen, pp 12-16. Amsterdam: Bijzondere Collecties, Universiteit van Amsterdam. https://issuu.com/bijzonderecollectiesuva/docs/out_of_the_box/12

Chaokang Tai. 2016. “De Tweede Gouden Eeuw van de wetenschap”. Quantum Universe. Published on 27 November 2016. url: http://www.quantumuniverse.nl/de-tweede-gouden-eeuw-van-de-wetenschap.


Anton Pannekoek: Astronomer Marxist

This project focuses on the influential Marxist and astronomer Anton Pannekoek, who was one of the theoretical leaders of the international socialist movement and the founder of the Astronomical Institute in Amsterdam that now carries his name. The goal of the project is twofold. First of all, it is to investigate Pannekoek’s contributions to astronomy and situate his research within the developments of astronomy during the first half of the twentieth century. Secondly, it is to recover the intricate connections that existed between the scientific and socialist research of Pannekoek, connections that he himself outwardly denied. I search for these connections by uncovering Pannekoek’s epistemic virtues through a reconstruction of his scholarly persona in both socialism and astronomy. Both his epistemic virtues and his scientific persona were strongly influenced by the philosophical context of Marxism, to which he contributed, and the practical reality of being an astronomer without an observatory in a time when astrophotography, astrophysics, and international collaboration increasingly became commonplace.


Centres for History of Science:

Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences, University of Amsterdam
Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Utrecht University

Professional Societies:

History of Science Society
Belgian-Dutch Society for the History of Science and University
British Society for the History of Science
Nederlandse Astronomenclub (Netherlands Astronomical Society)
Royal Netherlands Historical Society

Chaokang Tai

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