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Proceedings Paper

Late Victorian metrology and its instrumentation: a manufactory of Ohms
Author(s): Simon Schaffer
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Paper Abstract

Much scientific work helps make experiments into governable instruments. For example, during the 1660s trials by Wren and Hooke using the height of mercury in glass tubes to study the relation between the air's spring, tidal height and weather resulted in barometers and weather glasses. In the 1770s, Priestley's experimental technique for estimating the phlogiston content of airs by mixing samples with nitrous air was transformed by Italian chemists into a workable eudiometer. During the 1820s, Oersted's dramatic experiments on the magnetic effect of a current-carrying wire became embodied in the routine laboratory use of galvanometers.' Experiments with many possible messages are changed into tools with apparently straightforward, unproblematic functions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 June 1992
PDF: 34 pages
Proc. SPIE 10309, Invisible Connections: Instruments, Institutions, and Science, 1030904 (1 June 1992); doi: 10.1117/12.2283709
Show Author Affiliations
Simon Schaffer, Univ. of Cambridge (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10309:
Invisible Connections: Instruments, Institutions, and Science
Robert Bud; Susan E. Cozzens, Editor(s)

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