The photograph above — “Memories of the Future” — reflects my happily tangled interests. On one hand, most of my professional life is spent exploring and writing about the past. On the other hand, I’m invested in how this knowledge — our own memories and our collective history — shapes and informs our future, especially where science, technology, and policy intersect.
I’m especially interested in how understanding the past can tell us useful things about science and technology today. Amateur science during the Cold War, astronomers’ fascination with giant telescopes, space colonies, and nanotechnologies — these are some topics I’ve explored where science and technology intermingled with politics, people, and popular culture.
As a professor in the History Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara, my work focuses on different technological and scientific communities and their interactions with the public and policy makers. For the past ten years or so, I’ve been especially interested in the historical development of so-called “emerging technologies,” whenever and wherever they emerged. I also have some new irons in the fire that I’m heating up…
I hope you enjoy wandering around my web site. The section of it that changes most often is my Leaping Robot blog. I update this once or twice a month with a reflection or essay about science and technology, past and future.