Institute for Historical Studies, Wednesday May 5, 2021 The History Faculty New Book Series presents:Imperial Science: Cable Telegraphy and Electrical Physics in the Victorian British Empire(Cambridge University Press, 2021) A book talk and discussion withBRUCE J. HUNTAssociate Professor of HistoryThe University of Texas at Austinhttps://liberalarts.utexas.edu/history/faculty/huntbj In the second half of the nineteenth century, British firms […]
From the Editors: The Climate in Context: Historical Precedents and the Unprecedented conference will take place on April 22-23, 2021. It is free and open to the public. Register to attend here. In preparation for the conference, we are delighted to present this introduction to the work of Dr. Naomi Oreskes. Dr Oreskes is the […]
As Austin considers building a new electric light rail system—streetcars, really—it is worth looking back to the city’s first streetcar era. For fifty years, from 1891 until 1940, Austin had an extensive network of electric streetcar lines, running from Hyde Park in the north to Travis Heights in the south, and from Lake Austin in the west to the heart of East Austin.
Albert Einstein is perhaps the most recognizable figure of modern times. In 1999 Time magazine picked him as its “Person of the Century,” and in the public mind he certainly stands as the iconic scientist. He is generally pictured as an otherworldly genius, inhabiting a cosmic realm far above the mundane affairs of ordinary life, and in some ways he was. Yet when Einstein hit on his most famous and revolutionary idea, his Theory of Relativity, in 1905, he was working as a patent examiner at the Swiss Federal Patent Office in Bern, spending his days scrutinizing the designs of electrical machinery.
If you cross the Colorado River at Redbud Trail and look upstream toward Tom Miller Dam, there amid the tumbled rocks you can still see the wreck of Austin’s dream. In 1890, the citizens of Austin voted overwhelmingly to put themselves deeply in debt to build a dam, in hopes that the prospect of cheap waterpower would lure industrialists who would line the riverbanks with cotton mills.