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Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology

This series seeks to capture the traditional history of science and technology, and emphasizes explanations of the hard science practices that it seeks to historicize.

Founded in 1540, the Society of Jesus was viewed for centuries as an impediment to the development of modern science. The Jesuit educational system was deemed conservative and antithetical to creative thought, while the Order and its members were blamed by Galileo, Descartes, and their disciples for virtually every proceeding against the new science. No wonder a consensus emerged that little reason existed for historians to take Jesuit science seriously.

From Marconi’s Black-Box to the Audion

By 1897 Guglielmo Marconi had transformed James Clerk Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic waves into a workable wireless telegraphy system, and by 1907 Lee de Forest had invented the audion, a feedback amplifier and oscillator that opened the way to practical radio transmission. Fifteen years after Marconi's invention, wireless had become an essential means of communication, as well as a hobby for many.

Adolphe Wurtz and the Battle for French Chemistry

In 1869, Adolphe Wurtz (1817-1884) called chemistry "a French science." In fact, however, Wurtz was the most internationalist of French chemists. Born in Strasbourg and educated partly in the laboratory of the great Justus Liebig, he spent his career in Paris, where he devoted himself to introducing German ideas into French scientific circles. His life therefore provides an excellent vehicle for considering the divergent trajectories of French and German chemistry—and, by extension, French and German science—during this crucial period.

Joseph von Fraunhofer and the Craft of Precision Optics

In the nineteenth century, scientific practice underwent a dramatic transformation from personal endeavor to business enterprise. In Spectrum of Belief, Myles Jackson explores this transformation through a sociocultural history of the rise of precision optics in Germany. He uses the career of the optician Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787-1826) to probe the relationship between science and society, and between artisans and experimental natural philosophers, during this important transition.

In this book, Lino Camprubí argues that science and technology were at the very center of the building of Franco’s Spain. Previous histories of early Francoist science and technology have described scientists and engineers as working “under" Francoism, subject to censorship and bound by politically mandated research agendas. Camprubí offers a different perspective, considering instead scientists’ and engineers’ active roles in producing those political mandates.

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