Technology Rules; We Submit, by Paul Josephson, 

Colby Magazine (Winter 2010)

Fleming Testifies on Capitol Hill

Colby Magazine (Winter 2010)

Past Events

Tues. March 2 at 4:00 pm in the Parker Reed Room of the Alumni Center

Scone Fest III (with tea, scones, clotted cream, and white linens)

Elizabeth Finch, Lunder Curator of American Art, Colby Museum of Art

An Artist at MIT: Gyorgy Kepes and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies

Gyorgy Kepes (lower right) with students at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT, c. 1969.

The Hungarian artist Gyorgy Kepes left Europe in 1937 to accept an invitation to teach at the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Although the attempt to establish an American branch of the famous German school was short-lived, Kepes went on to have a long career as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as an influential editor of books championing connections between the arts and sciences. His crowning achievement was the founding of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT in 1967, one of the longest running fellowships for artists seeking to collaborate with scientists and engineers. My talk will examine the lasting significance of Bauhaus ideas and ideals in the United States, and specifically at MIT, through the work Gyorgy Kepes, a lesser-known but highly influential European émigré.

Elizabeth Finch is the Lunder Curator of American Art at the Colby Museum where she has organized exhibitions on the work of Hiraki Sawa, Andy Warhol, and Joe Brainard, among others. An advisor to the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, Elizabeth is writing an article related to her dissertation on Gyorgy Kepes (CUNY 2005) with support from the Arts Writers Grant program of the Andy Warhol Foundation.


Tues. Mar. 16 at 4:00 pm in Miller 14


Dr. Marits W. Ertsen, Water Resources Management, Univ. of Delft, Netherlands

Nothing but Stored Environment: Structuring properties of irrigation systems

Irrigation systems are generally regarded as important means to control natural environments. They are also generally conceptualized as passive artifacts. However, the physical shape of irrigation systems constrains and enables human actions. The basic hypothesis of this paper is that hydraulic behavior of irrigation systems structures human actions.

Human actions and hydraulic behavior together create spatial and temporal patterns of water flows. In turn, these flow patterns are very likely to provoke new actions at individual and/or collective level. The system’s hydraulic properties then constrain the set of possible actions. In other words, irrigation systems are both outcome of and medium for human actions. Such a structuration perspective allows the linking of human and hydraulic domains in irrigation archaeology, something which has not been achieved successfully so far.

As context and shape of irrigation systems are important variables, some cases will be discussed to provide some empirical basis for analysis. Each case has different temporal and spatial characteristics. Although the focus of the conference is on the Mediterranean and Middle East, the operation of pre-Columbian irrigation in Peru is analyzed to clarify how water distribution and agriculture were organized within regional settlement patterns. A case from Jordan will be discussed in terms of how in different periods water systems would have been used to deal with uncertainties in terms of water availability.

Maurits Ertsen is senior lecturer within the Water Resources Management group of Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. Having a background in irrigation engineering, he has extensive experience with irrigation design and management, historical research and learning processes in water management. Maurits has research experience in Argentina, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania and Vietnam. Maurits is treasurer of the International Water History Association (IWHA) and secretary of the Dutch Association of Water History. He is chair of the Working Group on Modernization of Irrigation Services of the International Committee of Irrigation and Drainage. Maurits is main editor of Water History, the IWHA journal.

Wed. and Thurs. April 7-8

Wed. 7th Andrew Lawler’s visit

4:00 Andrew Lawler with Margaret and Scott, “Politics of Global Warming.” OSTROVE AUDITORIUM, DIAMOND

5:30 Tray dinner with students, HURD ROOM, ROBERTSThurs. 8th Margaret Geller and Scott Kenyon, Two Personal Views of the Universe.  public program in Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond, to be hosted by Murray Campbell

Thurs. April 22 noon, Dana Private Dining Room

 Teasel Muir Harmony, History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program, MIT

MIT graduate students rock!

A discussion of graduate school challenges and opportunities in STS

Source: Joan Brigham, Proposal for a steam installation atop the Rogers Building at MIT, c. 1975


Thurs. April 22 4:00 pm, Miller 14

Teasel Muir Harmony, History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program, MIT

From Spacecraft to Icon: Friendship 7’s Second Mission

Friendship 7 thespace capsule with was designed to orbit the Earth. On February 20, 1962, with John Glenn, Jr. on board, it circled the globe three times before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. In May Friendship 7 began its second journey around the earth but this time the capsule served another function: to represent the United States’ space program in nearly thirty countries around the world. This paper examines the capsule’s second mission. Historians have analyzed the significance of the Friendship 7 mission in relation to the early space program, the extensive resources and manpower that went into the flight, the scientific and engineering information gained from the flight, and the flight’s political implications in the context of the Cold War and the space race. This paper, in contrast, will focus on the implications of what the capsule came to symbolize after the flight, as well as how NASA and the United States Information Agency (USIA) harnessed this symbolism to promote America and its human spaceflight program abroad.

Teasel Muir-Harmony is a second-year graduate student in the MIT’s History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program. She received an M.A. in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Notre Dame and a B.A. in the Great Books program at St. John’s College. Her work focuses on the exhibition of the American space program abroad during the 1960s and 1970s, and she is interested in the history of science, technology, and diplomacy during the Cold War.


Thurs. April 29 , Parker Reed Room and the Colby Green

You are cordially invited this Thursday April 29 from 4:00-6:00 pm to the STS Celebration of Research, Parker Reed Room and the Colby Green featuring the NSF EPSCoR history posters, the “Flight of the UAV,” and the STS seniors.


NSF EPSCoR Belgrade Regional History Posters
 Parker Reed, SSW
4:00 – 4:30 PM
Danielle Sheppard (’11)  A Case Study of Two Historic Camps on Great Pond
Erin Schnettler (’11) Geology, Geography, and Change Over Time
James Westhafer (’10) A History of Artistic Expression in the Belgrades

UAV Demonstration Flight Colby Green
4:30 – 5:00 PM
Dan Opalacz (’10) and Foster Huntington (’10)

STS Senior Poster Presentations Parker Reed, SSW (refreshments available)
5:00 – 6:00 PM
James Westhafer (’10)  The Maturation of the Armed Sky: A Comparison of the Progression and Development of American and German Aerial Warfare Technologies, 1914-1945
Alice Evans (’10)  Examining Alternative Medicines and Therapies: The NIH and China
Zach Rich (’10)  The Cost of Breathing: Air Pollution in Modern China
Nick Bromley (’10)  30 Pieces of Silver: A Politically Charged Science Fiction Story
Dan Opalacz (’10) and Foster Huntington (’10) UAV Aerial GIS Data Acquisition and Colby Systems Integration6:00 pm dinner

6:45 pm banquet speaker

Dr. Dale Potts

Colby STS Research Scholar

R. Porter & Co.: Aerial Transports, the Useful Arts, and the “Best Route to California, 1849.

American interest in balloon flight dovetails closely with the European experience of the eighteenth century.  By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, few individuals on either side of the Atlantic had actively promoted or stood poised to create a means of mass aerial transportation.  In 1849, after decades of inquiry into the subject, Massachusetts’ artist and inventor Rufus Porter developed the concept in commercial pamphlets.  Porter sold shares for a seven-day-round-trip flight from New York to California. Despite his editorship of the Scientific American, as a largely self-educated individual, Porter endured a press that labeled such inventors idle dreamers or outright frauds.  Through close reading of his publications, it is possible to illuminate Porter’s place in the overall history of nineteenth-century scientific inquiry as well as balloon flight. After examining his publications, public demonstrations, and patents, an overall picture emerges of the creative process that led Porter to his, then, bold assertion.  As a product of the Jacksonian era’s interest in the common person, Porter stressed the utility of technology to solve concrete problems.

Dale Potts received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maine at Orono and a master’s degree in humanities from the Pennsylvania State University.  His research interests involve popular attitudes toward the environment.