With the creation of the BBC in 1922, wireless sets ceased to be obscure devices for military and commercial communication, and became household goods to entertain the British middle classes. Wireless amateurs, electrical engineers, inventors, and specialized physicists engaged in a cultural exchange among themselves and with the general public to explain and understand the mechanisms and possibilities of the new technology. This created a new arena for discussions on the existence of the ether at a time when highly esoteric physics (mainly relativity, but also quantum physics) had triggered a debate about its very existence. In this paper I explore the ways in which the ether saw its popularity renewed by its link to the modern wireless technologies. I argue that far from being part of an old, outdated physics, radio broadcasting was instrumental for the ether to remain popular, and even an element of modernity, among many wireless amateurs, engineers, and the general public in the 1920s and early 1930s.
Research Article| September 01 2016
Ether and Wireless: An Old Medium into New Media
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (2016) 46 (4): 460–489.
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Jaume Navarro; Ether and Wireless: An Old Medium into New Media. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 September 2016; 46 (4): 460–489. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2016.46.4.460
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