Skip navigation

History of Science

  • Page 2 of 2

In this insightful and incisive essay, Eugene Ferguson demonstrates that good engineering is as much a matter of intuition and nonverbal thinking as of equations and computation. He argues that a system of engineering education that ignores nonverbal thinking will produce engineers who are dangerously ignorant of the many ways in which the real world differs from the mathematical models constructed in academic minds.

Case Studies in Science and Technology

How do scientific principles work in the real world? Discovery, Innovation, and Risk presents brief descriptions of selected scientific principles in the context of interesting technological examples to illustrate the complex interplay among science, engineering, and society. An understanding of scientific principles is developed through the technology rather than in isolation from it. Drawn from significant contributions to modern culture that arose during the Second Industrial Revolution, examples depict events in each of the major divisions of engineering, touch on key principles in physics, chemistry, and biology, and introduce the important concept of risk.

Case studies in the first section emphasize technological developments growing directly from scientific discoveries. These cases include telegraphy and the origin of telecommunications as an application of discoveries in electromagnetism, hydroelectric power as an outgrowth of Faraday's work in electromagnetic induction, and the airplane as a product of the Wright brothers' scientific approach to an engineering problem. Case studies in the second section show that technological innovation can proceed without a full understanding of the underlying science, as in the development of steam power for use in electric power plants, the production of gasoline from crude oil, and the development of prestressed concrete for use in building bridges. The fact that new technological developments often bring risks is amply illustrated in the third section by case studies on vaccines, the greenhouse effect, and atomic power.

Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940

How did electricity enter everyday life in America? Using Muncie, Indiana - the Lynds' now iconic Middletown - as a touchstone, David Nye explores how electricity seeped into and redefined American culture. With an eye for telling details from archival sources and a broad understanding of cultural and social history, he creates a thought-provoking panorama of a technology fundamental to modern life. Emphasizing the experiences of ordinary men and women rather than the lives of inventors and entrepreneurs, Nye treats electrification as a set of technical possibilities that were selectively adopted to create the streetcar suburb, the amusement park, the "Great White Way," the assembly line, the electrified home, and the industrialized farm. He shows how electricity touched every part of American life, how it became an extension of political ideologies, how it virtually created the image of the modern city, and how it even pervaded colloquial speech, confirming the values of high energy and speed that have become hallmarks of the twentieth century. He also pursues the social meaning of electrification as expressed in utopian ideas and exhibits at world's fairs, and explores the evocation of electrical landscapes in painting, literature, and photography. Electrifying America combines chronology and topicality to examine the major forms of light and power as they came into general use. It shows that in the city electrification promoted a more varied landscape and made possible new art forms and new consumption environments. In the factory, electricity permitted a complete redesign of the size and scale of operations, shifting power away from the shop floor to managers. Electrical appliances redefined domestic work and transformed the landscape of the home, while on the farm electricity laid the foundation for today's agribusiness.

Ideas and Idealism in the Development of Technology

From cathedrals to star wars, Arnold Pacey looks at the interaction of technologies and society over the last thousand years and uses that survey to argue for a more humane form of future technological development. The second edition of The Maze of Ingenuity concentrates on Europe and North America and incorporates recent insights from the history and sociology of technology. A new series of chapters extends Pacey's discussion of the role of ideas and ideals in technology in the period since the industrial revolution. Arnold Pacey has taught the history of science and technology at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. Work on this new edition has been carried on in parallel with tutorial teaching for an Open University course entitled "Technology and Change."

Contents: The Cathedral Builders: European Technical Achievement between 1100 and 1280. A Century of Invention: 1250-1350. Mathematics and the Arts: 1450-1600. The Practical Arts and the Scientific Revolution. Social Ideals in Technical Change: German Miners and English Puritans, 1450-1650. The State and Technical Progress: 1660-1770. Technology in the Industrial Revolution. Conflicting Ideals in Engineering: America and Britain, 1790-1870. Institutionalizing Technical Ideals, 1820-1920. Idealistic Trends in Twentieth-Century Technology.

A History of Individuals and Ideas

The succinct, nontechnical essays in Technology in America cover the history of American invention from Thomas Jefferson's founding of the Patent Office to Robert Goddards space-age rockets. Each treats an individual and a concept, highlighting the important role technological change has played in the evolution of American culture. The major themes include the effects of technology transfer, the development of the American system of manufacturing, the institutionalization of knowledge and scientific research, and technology as it social process.

This new edition adds chapters on Frederick Winslow, who originated the idea of scientific management; on Peter L. Jensen, whose invention of the loud speaker was a milestone in electronic communications; and on Frederick E. Terman, godfather of Silicon Valley and exemplar of the entrepreneurial spirit of the postwar computer industry.

Carroll W. Pursell, Jr., is Director of the Program in the History of Technology and Science at Case Western Reserve, University.

New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology

The impact of technology on society is clear and unmistakable. The influence of society on technology is more subtle. The 13 essays in this book draw on a wide array of case studies from cooking stoves to missile systems, from 15th­century Portugal to today's AI labs - to outline an original research program based on a synthesis of ideas from the social studies of science and the history of technology. Together they affirm the need for a study of technology that gives equal weight to technical, social, economic, and political questions.

A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

In Matter and Consciousness, Paul Churchland clearly presents the advantages and disadvantages of such difficult issues in philosophy of mind as behaviorism, reductive materialism, functionalism, and eliminative materialism. This new edition incorporates the striking developments that have taken place in neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence and notes their expanding relevance to philosophical issues.

Churchland organizes and clarifies the new theoretical and experimental results of the natural sciences for a wider philosophical audience, observing that this research bears directly on questions concerning the basic elements of cognitive activity and their implementation in real physical systems. (How is it, he asks, that living creatures perform some cognitive tasks so swiftly and easily, where computers do them only badly or not at all?) Most significant for philosophy, Churchland asserts, is the support these results tend to give to the reductive and the eliminative versions of materialism.

A Bradford Book.

The Culture of Technology examines our often conflicting attitudes toward nuclear weapons, biological technologies, pollution, Third World development, automation, social medicine, and industrial decline. It disputes the common idea that technology is "value-free" and shows that its development and use are conditioned by many factors-political and cultural as well as economic and scientific. Many examples from a variety of cultures are presented. These range from the impact of snowmobiles in North America to the use of water pumps in rural India, and from homemade toys in Africa to electricity generation in Britain-all showing how the complex interaction of many influences in every community affects technological practice.

The Dilemma of Technological Determinism

These thirteen essays explore a crucial historical question that has been notoriously hard to pin down: To what extent, and by what means, does a society's technology determine its political, social, economic, and cultural forms?Karl Marx launched the modern debate on determinism with his provocative remark that "the hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; the steam-mill, society with the industrial capitalist," and a classic article by Robert Heilbroner (reprinted here) renewed the debate within the context of the history of technology. This book clarifies the debate and carries it forward.Marx's position has become embedded in our culture, in the form of constant reminders as to how our fast-changing technologies will alter our lives. Yet historians who have looked closely at where technologies really come from generally support the proposition that technologies are not autonomous but are social products, susceptible to democratic controls. The issue is crucial for democratic theory. These essays tackle it head-on, offering a deep look at all the shadings of determinism and assessing determinist models in a wide variety of historical contexts.Contributors : Bruce Bimber. Richard W. Bulliet. Robert L. Heilbroner. Thomas P. Hughes. Leo Marx. Thomas J. Misa. Peter C. Perdue. Philip Scranton. Merritt Roe Smith. Michael L. Smith. John M. Staudenmaier. Rosalind Williams.

  • Page 2 of 2