Politics, Morality, Innovation and Fraud in Physical Science and Technology

Speaker: 
Prof. Jed Buchwald
Event Date and Time: 
Wed, 2017-02-08 19:30 - 21:00
Location: 
St. John's College - Fairmont Lounge / 2111 Lower Mall (UBC)
Local Contact: 
Swarn Rai - 604-822-1383 or pitpoffice@phas.ubc.ca
Intended Audience: 
Public

The pressures of politics, moral convictions, the desire to be first in innovation, and the potential dangers of unwitting error are all factors at work in the history of science and technology. Historians think and argue best through stories, so I’ve chosen several tales which exemplify one or more of these factors, some reaching back nearly 200 years. The first concerns the depletion of the ozone layer (the "ozone hole"); the second the discovery of electric waves by Heinrich Hertz in 1888; the third concerns the controlled production of electromagnetic radiation by Marconi and Fleming in the early 1900s; the fourth portrays Fraunhofer’s discovery and use of spectral lines in the 1810s; and our final case describes a bitter controversy between the Baron Hermann von Helmholtz and Friedrich Zöllner in the 1890s.

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