By Laura Christine Otis

This compelling interdisciplinary examine investigates the clinical and cultural roots of up to date conceptions of the community, together with machine details platforms, the human anxious approach, and communications expertise, demonstrating that clone of the community is absolutely centuries previous. Networking areas present comparisons of nerve and machine networks in viewpoint, exploring early analogies linking nerves and telegraphs and demonstrating how 19th-century neurobiologists, engineers, and fiction writers stimulated every one other’s rules approximately communication.The interdisciplinary sweep of neuroscientist and literary pupil Laura Otis’s e-book is remarkable, focusing at the same time on literary works via such authors as George Eliot, Bram Stoker, Henry James, and Mark Twain and at the clinical and technological achievements of such pioneers as Luigi Galvani, Hermann von Helmholtz, Charles Babbage, Samuel Morse, and Werner von Siemens. Networking will attract normal readers in addition to to students within the fields of interdisciplinary reviews, 19th-century literature, and the historical past of technological know-how and expertise. The paperback version of the e-book has been up-to-date with a preface through the author.“A subtle yet jargon-free research of the ways that clinical and technological principles created novel explanatory metaphors that still grew to become strong instruments for knowing social and common systems.”—Technology and tradition

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To study muscle contractions, Helmholtz designed an electrical circuit that included the sciatic nerve and gastrocnemius muscle of a frog. At the instant the muscle contracted, it lifted a weight, breaking the circuit. In ballistics, an analogous setup had enabled experimenters to calculate high velocities by measuring the brief interval during which current had flowed (DuBois-Reymond, "On the Time Required" 102). In the organic system, Helmholtz discovered-quite by accident-that when he stimulated the nerve instead of stimulating the muscle directly, the time between the stimulus and the contraction varied significantly according to where he stimulated along the nerve.

The Russians, he pointed out, were using such a system already (Babbage 5: 85-86). If rapid, accurate communications systems were necessary for science and industry, in war they were a matter of life and death. Babbage was intrigued by sign systems throughout his life, and like Charles Wheatstone, he had a passion for cipher. crack a chal- 3 B • Networking Ienger's cipher even if he knew only a few words. For Babbage, working through a secret system of signs let him divert his mind by "overcoming a difficulty for its own sake" (Moseley 40, 129).

In the 1840s, physiologists found it difficult to specify what the material basis of the nervous principle might be. 8 What one could know about the nervous agent was its properties, just as one could know the properties of electricity without comprehending its actual nature. Emil DuBois-Reymond shared Muller's belief in experimentation, and he devoted his life to developing techniques for studying electrical activity in nerves and muscles. Both early neurophysiologists and the developers of the telegraph relied on the same discoveries about electricity and magnetism to design their apparatus, particularly the Leyden jar (1746} and later the Voltaic pile (1800).

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