History Department
History Department

Bruce J. Hunt delivered George Sarton Memorial Lecture in the History and Philosophy of Science

Thu, March 8, 2018
Bruce J. Hunt delivered George Sarton Memorial Lecture in the History and Philosophy of Science
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Kudos to Prof. Bruce Hunt who last week had the distinction of delivering one of the most important lectures in the field of the History of Science, when he gave the George Sarton Memorial Lecture in the History and Philosophy of Science at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Professor Hunt followed many History of Science luminaries as the Sarton Memorial Lecturer, including Thomas Kuhn, Roy Porter and Stephen Jay Gould.


huntProf. Hunt spoke about his current research on the relationship between the telegraph industry and electrical physics in the 19th century. He showed how the formulation of James Clerk Maxwell’s canonical equations of the electromagnetic field was driven not just by abstract science but also by the demands of running the global network of submarine telegraph cables that served as the nervous system of the Victorian British Empire.

According to Dr. Jay Malone of the HSS, “The Sarton Lecture has a long history with AAAS and is reserved for the most distinguished members and practitioners in the history of science (view a list of prior speakers). The lecture is named after one of the founders of the HSS and is one of the more popular events at the AAAS annual meeting. It is supported by the HSS, by AAAS, and by Section L of AAAS (the History and Philosophy of Science).”

 hunt2"I’m really glad that the HSS Committee chose Bruce to speak for the AAAS," remarked Dr. Alberto Martínez, Professor of History at UT. "He’s always done highquality work in his field while at the same time studying in meticulous detail the developments in many other branches of history of science. Bruce has kept History of Science going and growing, and knows its history as well or better than anyone else I know.”

Professor Hunt completed his Ph.D. in the history of science at Johns Hopkins University in 1984 and has taught at The University of Texas since 1985. He is the author of The Maxwellians (Cornell University Press, 1991) and Pursuing Power and Light: Technology and Physics from James Watt to Albert Einstein (Johns Hopkins University, 2010) and numerous articles on the history of electrical science and technology. His current work focuses on the growth of the global telegraph network in the nineteenth century, and how work in that industry shaped the development of electrical physics, particularly in Britain.

For more on this topic, watch an interview with Professor Hunt on technology & science in the 19th century, on Not Even Past. And, view a few links featuring Dr. Hunt's work on Not Even Past, including: Austin’s First Electric Streetcar Era, At the Debates: Rick Perry and Galileo, How Tall is Too Tall?, and The Rise and Fall of the Austin Dam. You can follow his work at: brucejhunt.blogspot.com.

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