This paper evaluates the outlooks and goals of those who helped to put Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" into action at the international level, as experts working with the United Nations, particularly through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It highlights of the failure of UNESCO to play a leading role in the scientific assessments of Atoms for Peace, and focuses upon the role of social scientists in the formation of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The social scientists believed that the major challenges to society would come from industrial automation, of which atomic technology was only one part. They downplayed negative effects of atomic technology, embraced the Eisenhower administration's drive to export the peaceful atom, and tried to prepare the lay public for it by reducing its fear. The paper discusses the concepts of public irrationality and technological accommodation.
This article investigates the representation in the Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900) of inventors and inventive activities during the British industrial revolution. We analyse a data-set of all individuals born in the period 1650–1850 whose entry credits them with at least one invention, in order to interrogate the late Victorians' concept of invention and its influence on successive narratives of the British industrial revolution. Our study suggests that the DNB's selection of inventors reflected various Victorian biases and preconceptions about the role of technology in the transformation of contemporary society. Consequently, the use of collective biographies as a source for the history of technology is open to several methodological pitfalls, of which historians need to be aware.
King Jaume the Conqueror promoted post-crusade technology in reorganizing his conquest of the thirteenth-century kingdom of Valencia along the Mediterranean coast. The massive use of paper inaugurated by his archives—Europe's "Paper Revolution"—recorded among his franchises a maritime docking machine called a gegnum, deployed along the Valencian beaches. The term does not yield its mysteries to exhaustive linguistic parsing or to reconstruction of its actual operations, once so common. What does gegnum mean in any language? What can be gleaned from archival descriptions? Can previous Muslim usage offer bicultural enlightenment? Colleagues, especially Professor Paul E. Chevedden, contribute to the debate and propose theories.
Beginning as a review essay of Peter L. Bernstein's Wedding of the Waters, this brief piece asks why publishers continue to favor derivative books by journalists and popularizers while strangling the flow of capital into the genuine scholarship on which such glosses depend. In addition to Bernstein's account of the Erie Canal, Larson references various other works on American canals, steamboats, railroads, slavery, and Founding Fathers. At issue is the future of academic scholarship if the book publishers all abandon monographic studies and focus their energies and resources on the same narrow class of Barnes and Noble blockbusters. Where will original researchers find an outlet? Where will popularizers find grist for their mills?
Nearly absent from the current popular interest in food is a sense of the political and ecological implications of corporate control over agriculture and the countryside. In Raising Less Corn, More Hell: The Case for the Independent Farm and Against Industrial Food, George Pyle expresses anger for the way that corporate agriculture and the United States government have shaped production by producing food of low quality while pushing out small-scale farmers. The logic of small-scale farming is the subject of a series of books that might be called the agrarian school of political ecology—the study of land and its control as a political process, with social as well as environmental implications. The books considered in this article consider swidden agriculture, farming for use value rather than exchange value, and the history of small-hold farmers in Europe and east Asia. All of these books speak to the independence of farmers as indistinguishable from the way they farm.