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.
My work gravitates to what I call “applied history of science.” I’m 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 — all historical topics, but also intermingled with politics, people, and popular culture.
As a professor in the History Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara and a co-founder of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, 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 they emerged.
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 every few weeks or so with an extended reflection or essay about science and technology, past and future.