Ether and Modernity
The recalcitrance of an epistemic object in the early twentieth century

Coordinator: Navarro Jaume

Language: Anglais

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272 p. · 17.4x24.3 cm · Hardback
Ether and Modernity offers a snapshot of the status of an epistemic object, the "ether" (or "aether"), in the early twentieth century. The contributed papers show that the ether was often regarded as one of the objects of modernity, hand in hand with the electron, radioactivity or X-rays, and not simply as the stubborn residue of an old-fashioned, long-discarded science. The prestige and authority of scientists and popularisers like Oliver Lodge and Arthur Eddington in Britain, Phillip Lenard in Germany or Dayton C. Miller in the USA was instrumental in the preservation, defence or even re-emergence of the ether in the 1920s. Moreover, the consolidation of wireless communications and radio broadcasting, indeed a very modern technology, brought the ether into audiences that would otherwise never have heard about such an esoteric entity. The ether also played a pivotal role among some artists in the early twentieth century: the values of modernism found in the complexities and contradictions of modern physics, such as wireless action or wave-particle puzzles, a fertile ground for the development of new artistic languages
Jaume Navarro is Ikerbasque Research Professor at the University of the Basque Country. Trained in Physics and in Philosophy he has developed a career in the History of Science in institutions like the University of Cambridge and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He has written numerous research articles in the history of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth physics.