Oliver Lodge's ether and the birth of British broadcasting

Hendy, David (2020) Oliver Lodge's ether and the birth of British broadcasting. In: Mussell, James and Gooday, Graeme (eds.) A pioneer of connection: recovering the life and work of Oliver Lodge. Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century . University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, pp. 183-197. ISBN 9780822945956

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This book chapter argues that the philosophical idea of the 'ether' advanced by the physicist Oliver Lodge in the late 19th century acted as a kind of 'public sphere', and hence influenced concepts of broadcasting in the early 20th century, especially in the case of the BBC in Britain. The influence of Lodge's ether was not just to popularise the notion of the airwaves as an intrinsically public space; it was also to suggest a notion of knowledge as something that could be synthesised across several intellectual domains. In setting out this argument, the chapter traces the passage of Lodge's thinking through popular magazines in the Edwardian era, and into concepts of broadcasting articulated by Reith and other founders of the BBC in the post-war era. It concludes that the BBC might be considered to be the real world embodiment of Lodge's etheric thinking.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Broadcasting, BBC, Lodge, Ether, Public Sphere
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Research Centres and Groups: Public Culture Hub
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics > BJ0071 History and general works Including individual ethical philosophers
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History, 1453- > D299 1789- > D351 19th century. 1801-1914/1920
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History, 1453- > D299 1789- > D410 20th century
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D720 Period between World Wars (1919-1939)
D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA110 Social life and customs. Civilization. Intellectual life
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and communications > HE7601 Telecommunication industry. Telegraph > HE8689 Radio and television broadcasting
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change > HM0836 Causes > HM0846 Technological innovations. Technology
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism > HX0806 Utopias. The ideal state
Q Science > QC Physics
T Technology > T Technology (General) > T0173.2 Technological change
Depositing User: David Hendy
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2019 10:42
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2020 13:53
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/83156

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