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The Cultural Climate of Einsteins Europe around 1905

Recording Details

Collection/Series: 
PIRSA Number: 
05100001

Abstract

Stephen Kern will set the stage for the Miraculous Year with an examination of the general cultural climate surrounding Einstein’s eventations of 1905. Taking the fact that Einstein’s most important paper begins with a discussion of simultaneity, Kern will consider how a variety of developments in the culture of the period involved a reworking of the experience of time and space, creating new ways of thinking about and experiencing simultaneity. Novelists developed new writing strategies to capture the simultaneity of events in new urban centers, painters rendered simultaneous views of frontal and profiled views of a single face, cinematic editing made it possible to offer moviegoers a sense of several things happening at once with *last minute rescues, even dramatists staged simultaneous actions on stage at the same time. Poets created simultaneous poetry, and journalists characterized it as an age of simultaneity. The entire world was becoming coordinated temporally with the introduction of World Standard Time based on solar readings in at the Greenwich Observatory in England, relayed electronically to the Eiffel Tower, and then beamed around the world electronically by telegraph over land and even to ships at sea made possible by the new wireless. The most dramatic simultaneous event of the period, the first truly international event, was the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, which was a trans-Atlantic simultaneous drama on the high seas made possible by the coordinated action of the wireless, ham radio transmission, telegraph, and mass circulation newspaper.