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Research Focus Group TALK: The Chinese Typewriter: A History

McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB Santa Barbara, CA

Chinese writing is character-based, the one major world script that is neither alphabetic nor syllabic. Over the past two centuries, Chinese script has encountered presumed alphabetic universalism at every turn, whether in the form of Morse Code, Braille, stenography, Linotype, punch cards, word processing, or other systems developed with the Latin alphabet in mind. Today, however, after more than a century of resistance against the alphabetic, not only have Chinese characters prevailed, they form the ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Cold War Curvature: Measuring and Modeling Gravity in Postwar American Physics

McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB Santa Barbara, CA

A popular image persists of Albert Einstein as a loner, someone who avoided the hustle and bustle of everyday life in favor of quiet contemplation. Yet Einstein was deeply engaged with politics throughout his life; indeed, he was so active politically that the FBI kept him under surveillance for decades. His most enduring scientific legacy, the general theory of relativity – physicists' reigning explanation of gravity and the basis for nearly all our thinking about ...

The Lawrence Badash Memorial Lecture Series: Truman’s Bomb and the Making of the Atomic Presidency

McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB Santa Barbara, CA

When we think of the importance of the atomic bomb to the Truman presidency, we think of Truman’s weighty decision regarding the use of the weapon on Japan. But historians have known for decades that the narrative of “the decision to use the bomb” is largely mythical, and his actual role was mostly peripheral. But despite this, Truman did make several decisions during the war that would have vast consequences for the future of nuclear ...

The Lawrence Badash Memorial Lecture Series: Science, Freedom, and the Cold War: A Political History of Apolitical Science

McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB Santa Barbara, CA

Why do so many U.S. scientists continue to lean on the language of apolitical science, even as political leaders display less and less interest in scientists’ claims to expertise, or even the existence of facts? In a new book, Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science, historian Audra J. Wolfe suggests the answer lies in Cold war propaganda. From the late 1940s through the late 1960s, the U.S. foreign policy establishment ...

The Lawrence Badash Memorial Lecture Series: Einstein’s War: How World War I Made Relativity

McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB Santa Barbara, CA

Einstein’s ascent to worldwide celebrity was, in large part, not his own doing. The 1919 confirmation of the German Einstein’s theory of general relativity by British astronomers soon after the end of the First World War made him an emblem of how science could rise above nationalism and petty patriotism.  But in fact international science – and relativity with it – was nearly shattered by the war. It was only the dedicated efforts of pacifist ...