Lecture 4 - The pace of technology

From the 1985 lecture programme:

Communication is so important that we often want to do it quickly and over long distances. The possibilities were increased enormously by the development of electromagnetic technology and later electronics. Many of the basic principles of electromagnetism were first discovered by Michael Faraday here at the Royal Institution, and they led in turn to the telegraph, telephone, radio, television and more recently laser beams and fiber optics. We will examine how these work to send written messages, speech and pictures. They also represent an increasing scale of technical difficulty so that it is fascinating to trace the history of successive achievements and improvements.

The present rate of development is very exciting. Spectacular new feats of communication occur frequently — for instance within a month of these lectures we can expect detailed pictures of Uranus, the seventh planet of the solar system and nearly twenty times further from the Sun than we are. Mean- while ordinary domestic and commercial services can now use techniques that seemed just as spectacular only a few years ago. We will also take a look at current research projects that offer even greater opportunities in the near future. In the field of communications we are living through stirring times.








David Pye



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