A Tenth of a Second: A History by Jimena Canales

By Jimena Canales

In the overdue 15th century, clocks got minute palms. A century later, moment palms seemed. however it wasn’t until eventually the 1850s that tools may possibly realize a 10th of a moment, and, when they did, the influence on smooth technology and society used to be profound. Revealing the background in the back of this infinitesimal period, A 10th of a Second sheds new gentle on modernity and illuminates the paintings of significant thinkers of the final centuries.

Tracing debates concerning the nature of time, causality, and unfastened will, in addition to the creation of recent technologies—telegraphy, images, cinematography—Jimena Canales locates the reverberations of this “perceptual second” all through tradition. as soon as scientists linked the 10th of a moment with the rate of proposal, they constructed response time experiments with lasting implications for experimental psychology, body structure, and optics. Astronomers and physicists struggled to manage the profound results of effects that have been a 10th of a moment off. And references to the period have been a part of a common inquiry into time, attention, and sensory event that concerned rethinking the contributions of Descartes and Kant.

Considering its impression on for much longer time classes and that includes appearances via Henri Bergson, Walter Benjamin, and Albert Einstein, between others, A 10th of a Second is eventually a major contribution to background and a unique viewpoint on modernity.

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Example text

57. , 92. Baily contrasted these dots to the “fine” and “scarcely perceptible” lines of the French meter. 58. Ibid. ”61 Anything that touched a ruler would alter its pristine length. Focus now switched to the ruler’s bedding and to things affecting the bedding—not only temperature but also the floors and walls of the laboratory. These concerns led him to an infinite regress that spread from the inside of the observer to the world outside of the laboratory. But the problem did not end there. In despair, he recommended that all measurements involving rulers, even those undertaken with a micrometer, be signed.

From his examinations of humans, he concluded that “the quickness of reflection is . . by no means so great as seems to be assumed in the expression 10. , trans. William Baly (London: Taylor and Walton, 1838– 42), 729. Originally published as Johannes Müller, Handbuch der Physiologie des Menschen (Coblentz: Hölscher, 1834), 1:581. 11. For Helmholtz’s work with frogs and the graphic method, see Frederic L. Holmes and Kathryn M. Olesko, “The Images of Precision: Helmholtz and the Graphical Method in Physiology,” in The Values of Precision, ed.

Cutting across the life and physical sciences, personal equation errors affected disciplines far from astronomy—everywhere exact measurements were used. The history behind these efforts can help us understand how measurement gained the privileged position it would hold for the next century. It can help us voice the complex negotiations behind the establishment of measurement-based science. In most accounts, measurement appears as a simple, straightforward activity. Inasmuch as it is simple, it is not worthy of examination.

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A Tenth of a Second: A History by Jimena Canales
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