Science and Spectacle: The Work of Jodrell Bank in Post-war British Culture

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Psychology Press, 1998 - History - 260 pages
In the late 1950s, crowds massed to see a new spectacular and expensive instrument for British science. The Jordell Bank Radio Telescope built on the Cheshire plains could be seen for miles around, but was equally visible displayed in documentary film, newspaper report and public lecture.
Science & Spectacle relates the construction of the telescope to the politics and culture of post-war Britain. From radar and atomic weapons to the Festival of Britain and, later, Harold Wilson's rhetoric of scientific revolution, science formed a cultural resource from which post-war careers and a national identity could be built. Radio astronomy, more visible than particle accelerators and less deadly than atomic bombs, assumed particular significance. The Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope was at once a symbol of British science and a much needed prestige project for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, but it also raised questions regarding the proper role of universities as sites for scientific research.
 

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Contents

World War II and British Science
5
Histories of Radio Astronomy
23
Organizing Work and Discovery at Jodrell Bank
32
Summary
43
A Large Steerable Dish
49
The Significances of an Expensive Instrument
55
The Contested Boundary between Government
83
Summary
90
A Clear Message Authority and the Reith Lectures
132
Position
140
The National and International Regulation of Radio
148
Outsiders Seeking the Allocation of Frequencies
155
Insiders
169
The International Allocation of Frequencies
179
Bodily Control
193
Appeals Against the Zones
207

Photographs and the Grip of Publicity
96
Managing the Press
108
The Problem of Visitors Renewed
115
The Position of the Engineer
125
Conclusion
220
Bibliography
237
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About the author (1998)

Jon Agar lectures in the history of science and technology at the University of Manchester, UK, and manages the National Archive for the History of Computing.

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