Syntony and Spark

Syntony and Spark: The Origins of Radio

Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 364
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  • Book Info
    Syntony and Spark
    Book Description:

    This book offers a readable narrative of the science and technology of early radio combined with sociological and economic analysis of how radio changed our lives

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5788-3
    Subjects: Technology, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Bernard Barber

    In a world where the powerful social forces of science, technology, and the economy are all too often oversimplified and stated doctrinairely, Hugh Aitken’s book has a special virtue; it gives us an account of the complex interrelationships among these three forces. Aitken treats each as a complex and partially autonomous system in its own right. But he also sees how they interact among themselves and with other elements of our total society. Professor Aitken has no preference for complexity for its own sake. But if that is the way the development of science, technology, and the economy occurs in...

  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Hugh G. J. Aitken
  4. A Word to the Reader
    (pp. xi-xii)
    H. G. J. A.
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Figures
    (pp. xv-xvii)
    (pp. 1-30)

    How new things happen is a puzzle that has aroused the curiosity of man since first he gave thought to the world in which he lived and to his place in it. It is the perennial concern of philosophers, scientists, and historians. Writers and artists must live with the search for creativity every day of their lives, must learn how to tap its springs and give it expression in words, music, sculpture, painting, or whatever is their chosen mode. No one, indeed, is absolved from the task of coping with novelty: if it is not our role to bring it...

    (pp. 31-47)

    In 1888 Heinrich Hertz, professor of experimental physics at the Technical High School in Karlsruhe, Germany, generated a string of sparks across the secondary winding of a transformer, radiated the resulting electromagnetic waves from an antenna, reflected them from a metal sheet suspended at the far end of his laboratory, and measured the distance between their crests with a simple receiver composed of a loop of wire with a small gap across which sparks were visible. By so doing, Hertz became the first man to measure the velocity of a radio wave, confirming in the process the predictions of James...

    (pp. 48-79)

    Introducing in 1893 the publication of his collected scientific papers, Heinrich Hertz wrote:

    Since the year 1861 science has been in possession of a theory which Maxwell constructed upon Faraday’s views, and which we therefore call the Faraday-Maxwell theory. This theory affirms the possibility of the class of phenomena here discovered just as positively as the remaining electrical theories are compelled to deny it. From the outset Maxwell’s theory excelled all others in elegance and in the abundance of the relations between the various phenomena which it included. The probability of this theory, and therefore the number of its adherents,...

    (pp. 80-178)

    In August 1888, Oliver Lodge, professor of experimental physics at University College, Liverpool, published in thePhilosophical Magazinean article on lightning conductors, in the course of which he reported the results of his experiments with discharges from Leyden jars and the standing waves that such discharges could set u p in long wires. While the article was in page proof, he added to it a short postscript:

    I have seen in the current July number of Wiedemann’sAnnalenan article by Dr. Hertz, wherein he establishes the existence and measures the length of aether waves excited by coil discharges;...

    (pp. 179-297)

    In the spring of 1896 a young Italian named Guglielmo Marconi called upon William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, at his office in London. He carried with him a letter of introduction written by one of Preece’s professional acquaintances, a well-known electrical engineer:¹

    Dear Mr. Preece,

    I am taking the liberty of sending to you with this note a young Italian of the name of Marconi who has come over to this country with the idea of getting taken up a new system of telegraphy without wires, at which he has been working. It appears to be...

    (pp. 298-340)

    The story we have been telling is a narrative of particular people, places, and events. But it is more than that. It is also a case study in the interaction between three fields of social action: science, technology, and the economy. It is appropriate, therefore, to ask as an epilogue or postscript what this story can tell us about how, in this instance, these three systems were related.

    Responding to this question calls for courage, but also for caution. We have been dealing with a single case and no great weight of generalization can be rested on it. This case,...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 341-347)