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Sean F. Johnston
University of Glasgow
  1. The Technological Fix as Social Cure-All: Origins and Implications.Sean F. Johnston - 2018 - IEEE Technology and Society 37 (1):47-54.
    On the historical origins of technological fixes and their wider social and political implications.
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  2. Making Light Work: Practices and Practitioners of Photometry.Sean F. Johnston - 1996 - History of Science 34 (3):273-302.
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  3. The Construction of Colorimetry by Committee.Sean F. Johnston - 1996 - Science in Context 9:387-420.
    This paper explores the confrontation of physical and contextual factors involved in the emergence of the subject of color measurement, which stabilized in essentially its present form during the interwar period. The contentions surrounding the specialty had both a national and a disciplinary dimension. German dominance was curtailed by American and British contributions after World War I. Particularly in America, communities of physicists and psychologists had different commitments to divergent views of nature and human perception. They therefore had to negotiate (...)
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  4. In Search of Space: Fourier Spectroscopy, 1950-1970.Sean F. Johnston - 2001 - In B. Joerges & T. Shinn (eds.), Instrumentation: Between Science, State and Industry, Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. pp. 121-141.
    In the large grey area between science and technology, specialisms emerge with associated specialists. But some specialisms remain ‘peripheral sciences’, never attaining the status of disciplines ensconced in universities, and their specialists do not become recognised professionals. A major social component of such side-lined sciences – one important grouping of techno-scientific workers – is the research-technology community. An important question concerning research-technology is to explain how the grouping survives without specialised disciplinary and professional affiliations. The case discussed illustrates the dynamics (...)
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  5.  53
    From Eye to Machine: Shifting Authority in Color Measurement.Sean F. Johnston - 2002 - In B. Saunders & J. Van Brakel (eds.), Theories, Technologies, Instrumentalities of Color: Anthropological and Historiographic Perspectives. Lanham, MD 20706, USA: University Press of America. pp. 289-306.
    Given a subject so imbued with contention and conflicting theoretical stances, it is remarkable that automated instruments ever came to replace the human eye as sensitive arbiters of color specification. Yet, dramatic shifts in assumptions and practice did occur in the first half of the twentieth century. How and why was confidence transferred from careful observers to mechanized devices when the property being measured – color – had become so closely identified with human physiology and psychology? A fertile perspective on (...)
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  6. Scaling Up: The Evolution of Intellectual Apparatus Associated with the Manufacture of Heavy Chemicals in Britain, 1900-1939.Colin Divall & Sean F. Johnston - 1998 - In A. S. Travis, H. G. Schroter & Ernst Homburg (eds.), Determinants in the Evolution of the European Chemical Industry, 1900-1939: New Technologies, Political Frameworks, Markets and Companies. Dordrecht, Netherlands: pp. 199-214.
    On intellectual foundations that distinguished chemical engineering from other disciplines.
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  7.  8
    Below the Belt: The Founding of a Higher Education Institution.Carol Hill & Sean F. Johnston (eds.) - 2005 - Dumfries, UK: University of Glasgow Crichton Publications.
    On the formation of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Glasgow. -/- When the University of Glasgow’s new 'Crichton College' opened its doors in September 1999, its small staff had that rare opportunity in an academic’s career to launch a new curriculum based on clearly enunciated ideals. In the following six years under the direction of Professor Rex C. Taylor, those ideals remained firm even as numbers grew and external circumstances mutated. The theme of this book concerns (...)
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  8.  88
    A Historian's View of Holography.Sean F. Johnston - 2008 - In H. J. Caulfield & L. Vikram (eds.), New Directions in Holography and Speckle. New York, NY, USA: pp. 3-15.
    On problems and assumptions in the historiography of holography for distinctive social groups engaged in the practice.
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  9.  57
    Antony Kamm and Malcolm Baird, John Logie Baird: A Life. Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland Publishing, 2002. Pp. XII+465. Isbn 1-901663-76-0. 25.00. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2004 - British Journal for the History of Science 37 (2):221-222.
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  10.  44
    Anne Marcovich and Terry Shinn, Toward a New Dimension: Exploring the Nanoscale. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2015 - Minerva 53 (4):431-434.
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  11. A Notion or a Measure: The Quantification of Light to 1939.Sean F. Johnston - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Leeds
    This study, presenting a history of the measurement of light intensity from its first hesitant emergence to its gradual definition as a scientific subject, explores two major themes. The first concerns the adoption by the evolving physics and engineering communities of quantitative measures of light intensity around the turn of the twentieth century. The mathematisation of light measurement was a contentious process that hinged on finding an acceptable relationship between the mutable response of the human eye and the more easily (...)
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  12. Absorbing New Subjects: Holography as an Analog of Photography.Sean F. Johnston - 2006 - Physics in Perspective 8:164-188.
    I discuss the early history of holography and explore how perceptions, applications, and forecasts of the subject were shaped by prior experience. I focus on the work of Dennis Gabor (1900–1979) in England,Yury N. Denisyuk (1927-2005) in the Soviet Union, and Emmett N. Leith (1927–2005) and Juris Upatnieks (b. 1936) in the United States. I show that the evolution of holography was simultaneously promoted and constrained by its identification as an analog of photography, an association that influenced its assessment by (...)
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  13. Attributing Scientific and Technological Progress: The Case of Holography.Sean F. Johnston - 2005 - History and Technology 21:367-392.
    Holography, the three-dimensional imaging technology, was portrayed widely as a paradigm of progress during its decade of explosive expansion 1964–73, and during its subsequent consolidation for commercial and artistic uses up to the mid 1980s. An unusually seductive and prolific subject, holography successively spawned scientific insights, putative applications and new constituencies of practitioners and consumers. Waves of forecasts, associated with different sponsors and user communities, cast holography as a field on the verge of success—but with the dimensions of success repeatedly (...)
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  14. An Unconvincing Transformation? Michelson's Interferential Spectroscopy.Sean F. Johnston - 2003 - Nuncius 18 ( 2):803-823.
    Albert Abraham Michelson (1852-1931), the American optical physicist best known for his precise determination of the velocity of light and for his experiments concerning aether drift, is less often acknowledged as the creator of new spectroscopic instrumentation and new spectroscopies. He devised a new method of light analysis relying upon his favourite instrument – a particular configuration of optical interferometer – and published investigations of spectral line separation, Doppler-broadening and simple high-resolution spectra (1887-1898). Contemporaries did not pursue his method. Michelson (...)
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  15. Alvin Weinberg and the Promotion of the Technological Fix.Sean F. Johnston - 2018 - Technology and Culture 59 (3):620-651.
    The term “technological fix”, coined by technologist/administrator Alvin Weinberg in 1965, vaunted engineering innovation as a generic tool for circumventing problems commonly conceived as social, political or cultural. A longtime Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, government consultant and essayist, Weinberg also popularized the term “Big Science” to describe national goals and the competitive funding environment after the Second World War. Big Science reoriented towards Technological Fixes, he argued, could provide a new “Apollo project” to address social problems of the (...)
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  16.  45
    Bruce J. Hunt, Pursuing Power and Light: Technology and Physics From James Watt to Albert Einstein. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2011 - Technology and Culture 52:403-404.
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  17. Creating a Canadian Profession: The Nuclear Engineer, C. 1940-1968.Sean F. Johnston - 2009 - Canadian Journal of History 44 (3):435-466.
    Canada, as one of the three Allied nations collaborating on atomic energy development during the Second World War, had an early start in applying its new knowledge and defining a new profession. Owing to postwar secrecy and distinct national aims for the field, nuclear engineering was shaped uniquely by the Canadian context. Alone among the postwar powers, Canadian exploration of atomic energy eschewed military applications; the occupation emerged within a governmental monopoly; the intellectual content of the discipline was influenced by (...)
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  18.  41
    C. C. M. Mody, Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2013 - Technology and Culture 54:221-223.
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  19.  33
    Charles C. Townes, How the Laser Happened: Adventures of a Scientist. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2003 - Ambix 50:328-329.
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  20.  65
    Chunglin Kwa, Styles of Knowing: A New History of Science From Ancient Times to the Present. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2012 - Ambix 59:294-295.
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  21.  35
    Crowd-Sourced Science: Societal Engagement, Scientific Authority and Ethical Practice.Sean F. Johnston, Benjamin Franks & Sandy Whitelaw - 2017 - Journal of Information Ethics 26 (1):49-65.
    This paper discusses the implications for public participation in science opened by the sharing of information via electronic media. The ethical dimensions of information flow and control are linked to questions of autonomy, authority and appropriate exploitation of knowledge. It argues that, by lowering the boundaries that limit access and participation by wider active audiences, both scientific identity and practice are challenged in favor of extra-disciplinary and avocational communities such as scientific enthusiasts and lay experts. Reconfigurations of hierarchy, mediated by (...)
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  22.  44
    David Knight, Travelling in Strange Seas: The Great Revolution in Science. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2015 - Ambix 62:293-294.
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  23. From White Elephant to Nobel Prize: Dennis Gabor's Wavefront Reconstruction.Sean F. Johnston - 2005 - Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 36:35-70.
    Dennis Gabor devised a new concept for optical imaging in 1947 that went by a variety of names over the following decade: holoscopy, wavefront reconstruction, interference microscopy, diffraction microscopy and Gaboroscopy. A well-connected and creative research engineer, Gabor worked actively to publicize and exploit his concept, but the scheme failed to capture the interest of many researchers. Gabor’s theory was repeatedly deemed unintuitive and baffling; the technique was appraised by his contemporaries to be of dubious practicality and, at best, constrained (...)
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  24.  33
    Geoffrey C. Bunn, The Truth Machine: A Social History of the Lie Detector. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. Pp. Ix+246. ISBN 978-1-4214-0530-8. £18.00. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Science 46 (3):540-541.
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  25. Holograms: The Story of a Word and its Cultural Uses.Sean F. Johnston - 2017 - Leonardo 50 (5):493-499.
    Holograms reached popular consciousness during the 1960s and have since left audiences alternately fascinated, bemused or inspired. Their impact was conditioned by earlier cultural associations and successive reimaginings by wider publics. Attaining peak public visibility during the 1980s, holograms have been found more in our pockets (as identity documents) and in our minds (as video-gaming fantasies and “faux hologram” performers) than in front of our eyes. The most enduring, popular interpretations of the word “hologram” evoke the traditional allure of magic (...)
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  26.  46
    Thomas P. Hughes, Human-Built World: How to Think About Technology and Culture. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2006 - British Journal for the History of Science 39 (3):441-442.
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  27. Implanting a Discipline: The Academic Trajectory of Nuclear Engineering in the USA and UK.Sean F. Johnston - 2009 - Minerva 47 (1):51-73.
    The nuclear engineer emerged as a new form of recognised technical professional between 1940 and the early 1960s as nuclear fission, the chain reaction and their applications were explored. The institutionalization of nuclear engineering channelled into new national laboratories and corporate design offices during the decade after the war, and hurried into academic venues thereafter proved unusually dependent on government definition and support. This paper contrasts the distinct histories of the new discipline in the USA and UK (and, more briefly, (...)
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  28.  73
    Peter Galison, Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 1999 - Science and Public Policy 26:75-76.
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  29.  50
    Timothy Lenoir, Instituting Science: The Cultural Production of Scientific Disciplines. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 1998 - Science and Public Policy 25.
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  30.  64
    Identity Through Alliances: The British Chemical Engineer.Sean F. Johnston & Colin Divall - 1999 - In I. Hellberg, M. Saks & C. Benoit (eds.), Professional Identities in Transition: Cross-Cultural Dimensions. Gothenburg, Sweden: pp. 391-408.
    The development of a professional identity is particularly interesting for those occupations that have a troubled emergence. The hinterland between science and technology accommodates many such ‘in-between’ subjects, which appear to have distinct attributes. Some of these specialisms disappear in the face of culturally stronger occupations. Others endure, their technical expertise becoming appropriated or mutated to serve the needs of different professional groups. This chapter is concerned with one extreme of these interstitial specialisms. Chemical engineering – a subject that by (...)
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  31.  76
    John Cantrell and Gillian Cookson , Henry Maudslay and the Pioneers of the Machine Age. Stroud and Charleston: Tempus, 2002. Pp. 192. Isbn 0-7524-2766-0. £16.99, $26.99. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2005 - British Journal for the History of Science 38 (4):483-484.
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  32.  30
    József Illy, The Practical Einstein: Experiments, Patents, Inventions. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012. Pp. Xi+202. ISBN 978-1-4214-0457-8. £31.00. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Science 47 (2):382-383.
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  33.  49
    Klaus Hentschel, Mapping the Spectrum: Techniques of Visual Representation in Research and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. XIII+562. Isbn 0-19-850953-7. £75.00. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2003 - British Journal for the History of Science 36 (1):87-127.
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  34.  60
    Maggie Mort, Building the Trident Network: A Study of the Enrollment of People, Knowledge, and Machines. Inside Technology. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press, 2002. Pp. X+217. Isbn 0-262-13397-0. £22.50. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2004 - British Journal for the History of Science 37 (4):485-486.
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  35.  33
    Michael M. Woolfson, Materials, Matter and Particles: A Brief History. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2011 - Ambix 58:182-183.
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  36. Making the Invisible Engineer Visible: DuPont and the Recognition of Nuclear Expertise.Sean F. Johnston - 2011 - Technology and Culture 52 (3):548-573.
    Between 1942 and the late 1950s, atomic piles (nuclear chain-reactors) were industrialized, initially to generate plutonium for the first atomic weapons and later to serve as copious sources of neutrons, radioisotopes and electrical power. These facilities entrained a new breed of engineering specialist adept at designing, operating and maintaining them. From the beginning, large companies supplied the engineering labor for this new technology, and played an important role in defining the nature of their nuclear expertise. In the USA, the most (...)
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  37.  42
    Nicholas J. Wade, Destined for Distinguished Oblivion: The Scientific Vision of William Charles Wells . History and Philosophy of Psychology. New York, Boston, Dordrecht, London and Moscow: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. Pp. Xi+310. ISBN 0-306-47385-2. $95.00. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2006 - British Journal for the History of Science 39 (2):292-292.
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  38.  62
    J. Hurley, Organisation and Scientific Discovery. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 1998 - Science and Public Policy 25:66-67.
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  39.  52
    Klaus Hentschel, Physics and National Socialism. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 1997 - Science and Public Policy 24:63-64.
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  40. Professional Identity and Organisation in a Technical Occupation: The Emergence of Chemical Engineering in Britain, C . 1915–30.Sean F. Johnston, Colin Divall & James F. Donnelly - 1999 - Contemporary British History 13:56-81.
    On the origins of British chemical engineering,.
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  41. Professional Identity and Organisation in a Technical Occupation: The Emergence of Chemical Engineering in Britain, C . 1915–30.Colin Divall, James F. Donnelly & Sean F. Johnston - 1999 - Contemporary British History 13:56-81.
    The emergence in Britain of chemical engineering, by mid‐century the fourth largest engineering specialism, was a hesitant and drawn out process. This article analyses the organisational politics behind the recognition of the technical occupation and profession from the First World War through to the end of the 1920s. The collective sense of professional identity among nascent ‘chemical engineers’ developed rapidly during this time owing to associations which promoted their cause among potential patrons. -/- .
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  42.  38
    P. Klaus Hentschel and Axel D. Wittmann , The Role of Visual Representations in Astronomy: History and Research Practice. Acta Historica Astronomiae, 9. Thun and Frankfurt Am Main: Verlag Harri Deutsch, 2000. Pp. 148. ISBN 3-8171-1630-6. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2002 - British Journal for the History of Science 35 (3):347-379.
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  43.  50
    P. Weingart and N. Stehr, Practising Interisciplinarity. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2002 - Science and Public Policy 29:151-152.
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  44.  39
    Russell Burns, John Logie Baird, Television Pioneer. History of Technology Series, 28. London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, 2000. Pp. XXV+417. ISBN 0-85296-797-7. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2002 - British Journal for the History of Science 35 (2):213-250.
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  45.  41
    R. Cunningham (Ed.), Interdisciplinarity and the Organisation of Knowledge in Europe. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2000 - Science and Public Policy 27:303-304.
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  46.  37
    Richard Moore, Nuclear Illusion, Nuclear Reality: Britain, the United States and Nuclear Weapons, 1958-64. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2016 - Technology and Culture 53:28-30.
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  47.  45
    Richard Stalley, Einstein's Generation: The Origins of the Relativity Revolution. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston, P. Pyenson & A. A. Martinez - 2011 - Metascience 20:53-73.
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  48.  52
    Stathis Arapostathis and Graeme Gooday, Patently Contestable: Electrical Technologies and Inventor Identities on Trial in Britain. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 2015 - Technology and Culture 56:276-277.
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  49.  37
    Jon Agar, Science and Spectacle: The Work of Jodrell Bank in Post War British Culture. [REVIEW]Sean F. Johnston - 1999 - Science and Public Policy 26:215-216.
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  50. Security and the Shaping of Identity for Nuclear Specialists.Sean F. Johnston - 2011 - History and Technology 27 (2):123-153.
    Atomic energy developed from 1940 as a subject shrouded in secrecy. Identified successively as a crucial element in military strategy, national status and export aspirations, the research and development of atomic piles (nuclear chain-reactors) were nurtured at isolated installations. Like monastic orders, new national laboratories managed their specialist workers in occupational environments that were simultaneously cosseted and constrained, defining regional variants of a new state-managed discipline: reactor technology. This paper discusses the significance of security in defining the new subject in (...)
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