12:00 Monday, February 16 GAR 4.100
“The Bottom Line: Cables, Commerce, and Electrical Physics in the Victorian British Empire”
This talk is part of the Institute for Historical Research’s series of workshops, so please RSVP Courtney to receive the pre-circulated paper.
The networks of telegraph lines that began to spread across Britain, the United States, and Continental Europe in the 1840s and early 1850s had far-reaching effects on the dissemination of news and the operation of markets. They also had deep effects on electrical science. In this paper, I will argue that what might at first appear to be a prime example of pure science—the development of electromagnetic field theory in Britain in the middle decades of the 19th century—was in fact driven in important ways by developments in the telegraph industry, particularly British scientists’ and engineers’ encounters with puzzling new phenomena that turned up on underground wires and undersea cables in the early 1850s.
Bruce J. Hunt completed his Ph.D. in the history of science at Johns Hopkins University in 1984 and has taught at The University of Texas since 1985. He is the author of The Maxwellians (1991) and Pursuing Power and Light: Technology and Physics from James Watt to Albert Einstein (2010) and numerous articles on the history of electrical science and technology. His current work focuses on the growth of the global telegraph network in the nineteenth century, and how work in that industry shaped the development of electrical physics, particularly in Britain.
12:00 Friday, February 13 GAR 4.100
“Parachute Colonization: Aviation and Frontier Settlement in Brazil”
Brazil has a very large territory, but one that has remained sparsely populated over the centuries. Most of Brazil’s population has lived in coastal cities, while the vast inland frontiers remained out of reach. During the twentieth century, however, the Brazilian state saw aviation as a technological fix to this demographic and territorial problem – seeking to colonize the interior by air. This talk will provide a brief overview of the history of aviation in Brazil, focusing on both the aspirations and realities of an “aeronautical frontier,” that is, a region colonized primarily by air. We will see the ways in which this new method for settling the interior both broke with and continued some colonial traditions.
A PhD Candidate in History at UT Austin, Cruz was awarded a Kranzberg Dissertation Fellowship by the Society for the History of Technology