H.G.Wells Science & Society Lecture 7 March - Marlowe Lecture Theatre Canterbury

Professor Simon Schaffer, ‘The Media Magnates of Victorian Physics’

The H.G. Wells Science and Society Lecture/KIASH Cross-Faculty Lecture Series.


This year’s H.G. Wells Science and Society lecturer is Professor Simon Schaffer from the University of Cambridge. Professor Schaffer is one of the foremost historians of science. In 2005 he was awarded (with Steven Shapin) the Erasmus Prize for contributions to culture in Europe, in recognition of a rich and diverse array of scholarship on the social history of science, including the influential 1985 study Leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the experimental life (with Steven Shapin and published by Princeton University Press). He is currently the principal investigator of a major AHRC research project on the British Board of Longitude, an important hub of science and innovation in the Georgian world.

Professor Schaffer is an engaging speaker with an established reputation in television and radio. His credits include the 2004 BBC series Light Fantastic and countless appearances on Radio 4’s In Our Time, where he has discussed topics as varied as seventeenth-century calculus, the discovery of oxygen and the life and times of Thomas Edison.

The title of Professor Schaffer’s H.G. Wells Science and Society Lecture is ‘The Media Magnates of Victorian Physics’. The lecture will take place at 17:00 on 7 March in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1. A wine reception will follow.



H.G. Wells' early training in the sciences was vital for his understanding of how media worked. Late Victorian physicists were masters of public showmanship: they used ingenious optical devices to win audiences and display the exotic and transient phenomena of their new sciences. This lecture explores ways in which cinematography emerged from these scientific projects; and how display was part of the physics laboratory as well as the Victorian theatre.