The Lure of the Ether: physics, modernity and the communications circuit

Friday, 21 February 2014

History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

10 am – 4 pm

‘All that is solid melts into air’ …

The inventions which created the communications revolution rely upon electromagnetic waves. Experiments and Einstein’s theory of relativity challenged the supposed ‘ether’ through which these waves were thought to move, with dramatic results for the way space and matter might be related.

How did scientists explain the apparently conflicting conceptions which organized their own studies of space and matter in the 20th century; how did the public understand these theories; and what were the ripples, throughout cultural and intellectual life, of the demise of the ether?

Speakers :

  • Imogen Clarke (Roehampton)
  • Jaume Navarro (Universidad del País Vasco)
  • Richard Noakes (Exeter)
  • Richard Staley (Cambridge)
  • Michael Whitworth (Oxford)

The symposium is convened by Jaume Navarro, Byrne-Bussey Marconi Fellow at the Bodleian Libraries in 2013.

Registration is required; e-mail [email protected]. Please include subject: ‘ETHER’.