Jim Bennett was educated at Grosvenor High School, Belfast, and Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated with BA and PhD degrees in 1969 and 1974 respectively. He was Director of the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University. He was appointed on 1 October 1994, on the retirement of the previous director, Francis Maddison, and retired on 30 September 2012. He is also a fellow of the Faculty of History and Linacre College. In 2010, the University of Oxford gave him the title Professor of the History of Science. Previously he was a fellow and senior tutor of Churchill College and curator of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, both part of Cambridge University.
Bennett's interests lie in the history of practical mathematics from the 16th century to the 18th century, scientific instruments and astronomy. His work in Cambridge included hands-on use of scientific and navigational instruments, using the Whipple collection to teach undergraduates how instruments worked, and gaining insight into the difficulties faced by the historical teachers of those instruments.
Jim Bennett has been President of the British Society for the History of Science and President of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science. He has also appeared in television documentaries.
- The Divided Circle: A History of Instruments for Astronomy, Navigation and Surveying, Jim Bennett. Oxford, 1987.
- Church, State and Astronomy in Ireland, 200 Years of Armagh Observatory, Jim Bennett. Belfast, 1990.
- The Garden, the Ark, the Tower, the Temple. Biblical Metaphors of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, Jim Bennett and S. Mandelbrote. Oxford, 1998.
- Practical Geometry and Operative Knowledge, Jim Bennett. Configurations, 6, 1998.
- London's Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke, Jim Bennett, Michael Cooper, Michael Hunter and Lisa Jardine. Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-852579-6.
- As editor
- The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science, John L. Heilbron (editor-in-chief), Jim Bennett, Frederic L. Holmes, Rachel Laudan and Giuliano Pancaldi (eds). Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-19-511229-6.
- "BENNETT, Prof. James Arthur". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com. 2019 (online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
- "Staff". UK: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford / Archive.org. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Staff Changes". Annual Report of the Museum of History of Science 1994–5. Supplement (2) to Gazette No. 4401. Oxford University Gazette. 20 May 1996. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
- "Dr Jim Bennett". UK: history.ox.ac.uk / Archive.org. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Museum of the History of Science Annual Report". UK: Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. March 2002. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Professor Jim Bennett". cafesci.org. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Jim Bennett on IMDb.
- "London's Leonardo: The Life and Work of Robert Hooke". USA: Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
F. R. Maddison
| Director of the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford
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