SYMPOSIUM: The lure of the ether

21 February 2014 10.00am 4.30pm


160257 (Map)



'All that is solid melts into air' …

In scientific theory and popular imagination, it was proposed up to the 19th century that electromagnetic waves must move, like the waves of an ocean, through an all-pervading medium. The ether was the material substance which was thought to be constantly vibrating with the force of many electromagnetic waves.

But experiments and Einstein's theory of relativity challenged the very existence of this supposed substance, just at the time when radio was promoting the importance of the ether as the medium through which nation would speak to nation. What were the ripples, throughout cultural and intellectual life, of the demise of the ether? 

Speakers :

Imogen Clarke, 'The ether at the crossroads of classical and modern physics'

Jaume Navarro, 'Ether and wireless: an old medium into new media'

Richard Noakes, 'The ethereal in scientific cultures, 1880-1930'

Richard Staley, 'Einstein's ether'

Michael Whitworth, 'Ether and its Metaphors'


This event is free but booking is essential. Email, with subject line: ETHER

This event is listed under: Free events
Back to top