The Quantum Origins Of Television

Quantum Mechanics had a moment last summer, thanks to ‘Oppenheimer.’

But ‘Oppenheimer’ also reminded me of an important historical footnote that too often gets overlooked in our preoccupation with blowing things up and the prospect of human annihilation: that television, and video in general, also derives from the same scientific breakthroughs in the early 20th century that produced nuclear weapons.

Also over the summer I was asked to give a presentation about Farnsworth to a communications class at Chapman University in California.

Since ‘Oppenheimer’ set me to thinking about all this in a particular way, this is the presentation that I came up with.

Money quote: Like Oppenheimer (b. 1904), Philo Farnsworth (b. 1906) grew up in a world that had never not known Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

Oppenheimer and Farsworth: Very much contemporaries, but their destinies took them in very different directions.

While Farnsworth has been largely forgotten despite developing the basics of a technology that we now use all day every day, Oppenheimer spearheaded the development of technology we can only hope that Mankind never uses again.

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