Seminar on History and Philosophy of Science
Abstract: When Alexander von Humboldt introduced the term "magnetic storm" for disturbances of Earth's magnetic environment that sweep across the globe, the only manifestations were the northern lights and the errant magnetic compass. This talk explores how an arcane phenomenon once known mainly to scientists has become an environmental, technological, and policy concern. The phenomenon – indeed, phenomena – have always been there, but they did not matter until our science and technology made them matter. Hence, the story of coming to terms with solar-terrestrial interactions crosses boundaries between history of science, history of technology, and environmental history.