Characterizing radio channels : the science and technology of propagation and interference, 1900-1935
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
David A. Mindell.
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Guglielmo Marconi's trans-Atlantic wireless experiment in 1900 marked the beginning of a communication revolution that transformed the open space above the earth into channels of information flow. This dissertation grapples with the historical conditions that gave rise to such a transformation: the studies of radio-wave propagation and the treatments of radio interferences in early twentieth-century America and Western Europe. The part on propagation examines the debate between the surface diffraction theory and the atmospheric reflection theory for long waves, the development of the ionic refraction theory for short waves, the evidential quests for the existence of the ionosphere, and the studies of the geomagnetic effects on propagation. The part on interferences focuses on the engineering efforts toward the characterization of atmospheric noise and signal-intensity fluctuations, the policies of radio-channel allocation for fighting man-made interference, and the scientific research into electronic tube noise. By the mid-30s, the results from these endeavors had considerably improved the quality of radio communication. Characterizing Radio Channels builds a bridge between the history of science and the history of technology by inspecting an immaterial engineering entity--radio channels--whose control required significant scientific research. In the history of science, it contributes to an integrated study of electrical physics and geophysics. In the history of technology, it enriches radio history, epistemology of engineering knowledge, consumer studies, and the studies of technological policies. Combining both fields with the concept of radio channels enables a new understanding of the historical conditions that made the information society(cont.) social factors that facilitated the modern research organizations in academia, industry, governments and the military.
Thesis (Ph. D. in History and Social Study of Science and Technology (HASTS))--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2004.Includes bibliographical references (p. 409-429).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Program in Science, Technology and Society.