Edward Tenner

Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture, and an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center.

  • Defining Progress Down

    The Athenaeum Club, 1830. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.When the great and good convene to ponder the future in historic landmark buildings, there is not…

  • Funny, How?

    As Niall Ferguson defends his recent exercise in feline jollity, the outcry in some quarters recalls the European journalism of the interwar years,…

  • Dictatorship, Democracy, and Design

    The Simon Wiesenthal Center has deplored comparisons of President Obama's health care plan logo with Third Reich insignia: "It is preposterous to try…

  • I Remember Mama . . . Bell

    Many newspapers now run only paid memorial announcements, but the New York Times is one of a few that still publish professionally written obituaries…

  • But Isn't Flying Safer than Driving? -- A Reply

    Coast to coast, airline travel beats jockeying with 18-wheelers over mountain passes. But for many shorter journeys, dread of driving of driving can be as irrational as fear of flying.

  • The Future of Flight Safety

    The feats of pilots like Chesley Sullenberger and United Airlines' Al Haynes remind us of the value of training and experience. But relying on superlative skills isn't enough. Bertolt Brecht's Galileo put it well: "Unhappy is the land that needs a hero."

  • Vested Interests

    Who really started the Cash for Clunkers concept? Why, those magnificent men and their sewing machines, the exuberant failed actor Isaac Merritt Singer (above) and his crafty lawyer partner Edward Clark, whose mutual enmity did not keep them from inventing much of modern consumer durable-goods marketing.

  • A Name in Vain

    The Boston Globe reports that Harvard's attorneys are -- defensively, they say -- trademarking everything from the letter H (watch out, Sesame…

  • The Future of "Statutory Senility"

    Thomas L. Friedman's column on Tom Watson, "59 Is the New 30," is a reminder that there continues to be a global pensions storm as well as a US…

  • Tall Tales and Short Shrift

    Dan Akst's post on height opens up one of the most intriguing topics in social science -- not the well-established fact that tall people earn more…

  • Police, Technology, and Liberty Reconsidered

    A Northern New Jersey newspaper reports today on the latest in forensics, use of DNA evidence to solve burglaries and other property crimes:"Everyone…

  • Mars: The New New Frontier?

    The Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin proposes in the Washington Post: Let the lunar surface be the ultimate global commons while we focus on more…

  • Liberty and License

    Bloggers are agog about the intellectual property outrage du jour, withdrawal of the works of George Orwell himself not only from the Kindle catalog…

  • Childhood Pain and the Price of Success

    Citing an aside in David Brooks's column on the Sotomayor hearings,It is amazing how many people who suffer parental loss between the ages of 9 and…

  • American Science, A Fragile Eminence? -- Replies

    Some further thoughts based on readers' comments on my original post, and other recent articles:  From Seth:It's true that funding agencies do tend…

  • American Science -- Fragile Eminence?

    The Pew Research Center report on attitudes toward science in American life is intriguing. The masses appear be more respectful of scientists than…

  • Robert McNamara and the Dreams of Reason

    The turmoil over the Vietnam War didn't involve only Ivy Leaguers like McGeorge Bundy and Walt Rostow. It was also a civil war among Berkeleyans. As…

  • The Revenge of the Bulb -- and the Tube

    The New York Times reports on a possible incandescent renaissance that could modify traditional bulbs to capture waste heat as light, improving their…

  • Duly Noted

    Nova's Science Now on Tuesday evening seemed to promise me a miracle cure. When I was in first grade and the class was singing, my teacher told me to…

  • Stars Who Invented the Stripes

    The world press is marking the 35th anniversary of the bar code. So many people have grown up with it that it no longer appears to be the sinister…


How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin


Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.


How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.


A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple


What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?



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