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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology

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DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton Cover

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DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton

Geology and Power in Early New York

David I. Spanagel

David I. Spanagel explores the origins of American geology and the culture that helped give it rise, focusing on Amos Eaton, the educator and amateur scientist who founded the Rensselaer School, and on DeWitt Clinton, the masterful politician who led the movement for the Erie Canal. DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton shows how a cluster of assumptions about the peculiar landscape and entrepreneurial spirit of New York came to define the Empire State. Spanagel sheds light on a particularly innovative and fruitful period of interplay among science, politics, art, and literature in American history. New Yorkers' romantic views of natural majesty and ideas about improving the land influenced scientific ideas and other features of contemporary culture. The life of Amos Eaton provides a lens through which readers gain fresh awareness of scientific knowledge, economic planning, and cultural values during the first half of the nineteenth century. Scientists of the time were fascinated by questions such as: How old is the earth? When did time begin? How might the passage of time have shaped and reshaped the original landscape? In the United States, New Yorkers of the mid-1820s mounted the most concerted effort to find answers to these large questions of natural history. Both geographic conditions and historical forces led Amos Eaton and his wealthy patron Stephen Van Rensselaer to open the Rensselaer School at Troy, New York, in 1826. Eaton thus gave America its first generation of professional scientists, many of whom formed professional organizations and standards of practice still active today. Deeply researched, this book will interest historians of nineteenth-century American arts and science, politics, and technological development.

A Dictionary of the Space Age Cover

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A Dictionary of the Space Age

Paul Dickson

The launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 ushered in an exciting era of scientific and technological advancement. As television news anchors, radio hosts, and journalists reported the happenings of the American and the Soviet space programs to millions of captivated citizens, words that belonged to the worlds of science, aviation, and science fiction suddenly became part of the colloquial language. What’s more, NASA used a litany of acronyms in much of its official correspondence in an effort to transmit as much information in as little time as possible. To translate this peculiar vocabulary, Paul Dickson has compiled the curious lingo and mystifying acronyms of NASA in an accessible dictionary of the names, words, and phrases of the Space Age. Aviators, fighter pilots, and test pilots coined the phrases “spam in a can” (how astronauts felt prelaunch as they sat in a tiny capsule atop a rocket booster); “tickety-boo” (things are fine), and “the Eagle has landed” (Neil Armstrong’s famous quote when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon). This dictionary captures a broader foundation for language of the Space Age based on the historic principles employed by the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster’s New Third International Dictionary. Word histories for major terms are detailed in a conversational tone, and technical terms are deciphered for the interested student and lay reader. This is a must-own reference for space history buffs.

Digital State Cover

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Digital State

The Story of Minnesota's Computing Industry

Thomas J. Misa

Accounts of the early events of the computing industry—the Turing machine, the massive Colossus, the ENIAC computer—are well-told tales, and equally well known is the later emergence of Silicon Valley and the rise of the personal computer. Yet there is an extraordinary untold middle history—with deep roots in Minnesota. From the end of World War II through the 1970s, Minnesota was home to the first computing-centered industrial district in the world.

Drawing on rare archival documents, photographs, and a wealth of oral histories, Digital State unveils the remarkable story of computer development in the heartland after World War II. These decades found corporations—concentrated in large part in Minnesota—designing state-of-the-art mainframe technologies, revolutionizing new methods of magnetic data storage, and, for the first time, truly integrating software and hardware into valuable products for the American government and public. Minnesota-based companies such as Engineering Research Associates, Univac, Control Data, Cray Research, Honeywell, and IBM Rochester were major international players and together formed an unrivaled epicenter advancing digital technologies. These companies not only brought vibrant economic growth to Minnesota, they nurtured the state’s present-day medical device and software industries and possibly even tomorrow’s nanotechnology.

Thomas J. Misa’s groundbreaking history shows how Minnesota recognized and embraced the coming information age through its leading-edge companies, its workforce, and its prominent institutions. Digital State reveals the inner workings of the birth of the digital age in Minnesota and what we can learn from this era of sustained innovation.

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The DOs

Osteopathic Medicine in America

Norman Gevitz

Overcoming suspicion, ridicule, and outright opposition from the American Medical Association, the osteopathic medical profession today serves the health needs of more than thirty million Americans. The DOs chronicles the development of this controversial medical movement from the nineteenth century to the present. Historian Norman Gevitz describes the philosophy and practice of osteopathy, as well as its impact on medical care. From the theories underlying the use of spinal manipulation developed by osteopathy's founder, Andrew Taylor Still, Gevitz traces the movement's early success, despite attacks from the orthodox medical community, and details the internal struggles to broaden osteopathy's scope to include the full range of pharmaceuticals and surgery. He also recounts the efforts of osteopathic colleges to achieve parity with institutions granting M.D. degrees and looks at the continuing effort by osteopathic physicians and surgeons to achieve greater recognition and visibility. In print continuously since 1982, The DOs has now been thoroughly updated and expanded to include two new chapters addressing recent and current challenges and to bring the history of the profession up to the beginning of the new millennium.

Down to Earth Cover

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Down to Earth

Satellite Technologies, Industries, and Cultures

Edited by Lisa Parks and James Schwoch

Down to Earth presents the first comprehensive overview of the geopolitical maneuvers, financial investments, technological innovations, and ideological struggles that take place behind the scenes of the satellite industry. Satellite projects that have not received extensive coverage—microsatellites in China, WorldSpace in South Africa, SiriusXM, the failures of USA 193 and Cosmos 954, and Iridium—are explored. This collection takes readers on a voyage through a truly global industry, from the sites where satellites are launched to the corporate clean rooms where they are designed, and along the orbits and paths that satellites traverse. Combining a practical introduction to the mechanics of the satellite industry, a history of how its practices and technologies have evolved, and a sophisticated theoretical analysis of satellite cultures, Down to Earth opens up a new space for global media studies.

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Driving Women

Fiction and Automobile Culture in Twentieth-Century America

Deborah Clarke

Over the years, cars have helped to define the experiences and self-perceptions of women in complex and sometimes unexpected ways. When women take the wheel, family structure and public space are reconfigured and re-gendered, creating a context for a literary tradition in which the car has served as a substitute for, an escape from, and an extension of the home, as well as a surrogate mother, a financial safeguard, and a means of self-expression. Driving Women examines the intersection of American fiction—primarily but not exclusively by women—and automobile culture. Deborah Clarke argues that issues critical to twentieth-century American society—technology, mobility, domesticity, and agency—are repeatedly articulated through women's relationships with cars. Women writers took surprisingly intense interest in car culture and its import for modern life, as the car, replete with material and symbolic meaning, recast literal and literary female power in the automotive age. Clarke draws on a wide range of literary works, both canonical and popular, to document women's fascination with cars from many perspectives: historical, psychological, economic, ethnic. Authors discussed include Wharton, Stein, Faulkner, O’Connor, Morrison, Erdrich, Mason, Kingsolver, Lopez, Kadohata, Smiley, Senna, Viramontes, Allison, and Silko. By investigating how cars can function as female space, reflect female identity, and reshape female agency, this engaging study opens up new angles from which to approach fiction by and about women and traces new directions in the intersection of literature, technology, and gender.

Early FM Radio Cover

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Early FM Radio

Incremental Technology in Twentieth-Century America

Gary L. Frost

The commonly accepted history of FM radio is one of the twentieth century’s iconic sagas of invention, heroism, and tragedy. Edwin Howard Armstrong created a system of wideband frequency-modulation radio in 1933. The Radio Corporation of America (RCA), convinced that Armstrong’s system threatened its AM empire, failed to develop the new technology and refused to pay Armstrong royalties. Armstrong sued the company at great personal cost. He died despondent, exhausted, and broke. But this account, according to Gary L. Frost, ignores the contributions of scores of other individuals who were involved in the decades-long struggle to realize the potential of FM radio. The first scholar to fully examine recently uncovered evidence from the Armstrong v. RCA lawsuit, Frost offers a thorough revision of the FM story. Frost’s balanced, contextualized approach provides a much-needed corrective to previous accounts. Navigating deftly through the details of a complicated story, he examines the motivations and interactions of the three communities most intimately involved in the development of the technology—Progressive-era amateur radio operators, RCA and Westinghouse engineers, and early FM broadcasters. In the process, Frost demonstrates the tension between competition and collaboration that goes hand in hand with the emergence and refinement of new technologies. Frost's study reconsiders both the social construction of FM radio and the process of technological evolution. Historians of technology, communication, and media will welcome this important reexamination of the canonic story of early FM radio.

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East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal

Vol. 1 (2007) through current issue

Sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (EASTS) aims to bring together East Asian and Western scholars from the fields of science, technology, and society (STS). Examining issues such as human embryonic stem-cell research, family and reproductive technologies, and the globalization of Chinese medicine, the journal publishes research on how society and culture in East Asia interact with science, technology, and medicine. EASTS serves as a gathering place to facilitate the growing efforts of STS networks from Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe to foster an internationally open and inclusive community.

Eating Smoke Cover

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Eating Smoke

Fire in Urban America, 1800–1950

Mark Tebeau

During the period of America's swiftest industrialization and urban growth, fire struck fear in the hearts of city dwellers as did no other calamity. Before the Civil War, sweeping blazes destroyed more than $200 million in property in the nation's largest cities. Between 1871 and 1906, conflagrations left Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, and San Francisco in ruins. Into the twentieth century, this dynamic hazard intensified as cities grew taller and more populous, confounding those who battled it. Firefighters' death-defying feats captured the popular imagination but too often failed to provide more than symbolic protection. Hundreds of fire insurance companies went bankrupt because they could not adequately deal with the effects of even smaller blazes. Firefighters and fire insurers created a physical and cultural infrastructure whose legacy—in the form of heroic firefighters, insurance policies, building standards, and fire hydrants—lives on in the urban built environment. In Eating Smoke, Mark Tebeau shows how the changing practices of firefighters and fire insurers shaped the built landscape of American cities, the growth of municipal institutions, and the experience of urban life. Drawing on a wealth of fire department and insurance company archives, he contrasts the invention of a heroic culture of firefighters with the rational organizational strategies by fire underwriters. Recognizing the complexity of shifting urban environments and constantly experimenting with tools and tactics, firefighters fought fire ever more aggressively—"eating smoke" when they ventured deep into burning buildings or when they scaled ladders to perform harrowing rescues. In sharp contrast to the manly valor of firefighters, insurers argued that the risk was quantifiable, measurable, and predictable. Underwriters managed hazard with statistics, maps, and trade associations, and they eventually agitated for building codes and other reforms, which cities throughout the nation implemented in the twentieth century. Although they remained icons of heroism, firefighters' cultural and institutional authority slowly diminished. Americans had begun to imagine fire risk as an economic abstraction. By comparing the simple skills employed by firefighters—climbing ladders and manipulating hoses—with the mundane technologies—maps and accounting charts—of insurers, the author demonstrates that the daily routines of both groups were instrumental in making intense urban and industrial expansion a less precarious endeavor.

Edison's Electric Light Cover

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Edison's Electric Light

The Art of Invention

Robert Friedel and Paul Israel

In September 1878, Thomas Alva Edison brashly—and prematurely—proclaimed his breakthrough invention of a workable electric light. That announcement was followed by many months of intense experimentation that led to the successful completion of his Pearl Street station four years later. Edison was not alone—nor was he first—in developing an incandescent light bulb, but his was the most successful of all competing inventions. Drawing from the documents in the Edison archives, Robert Friedel and Paul Israel explain how this came to be. They explore the process of invention through the Menlo Park notes, discussing the full range of experiments, including the testing of a host of materials, the development of such crucial tools as the world's best vacuum pump, and the construction of the first large-scale electrical generators and power distribution systems. The result is a fascinating story of excitement, risk, and competition. Revised and updated from the original 1986 edition, this definitive study of the most famous invention of America's most famous inventor is completely keyed to the printed and electronic versions of the Edison Papers, inviting the reader to explore further the remarkable original sources.

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