Theresa Levitt – Fresnel’s Brilliant Idea: Triumph and Contention in the History of Lighthouse Optics

Levitt headshotFresnel’s Brilliant Idea: Triumph and Contention in the History of Lighthouse Optics
Theresa Levitt, Associate Professor of History, University of Mississippi

Friday, October 28, 2016 – 7:30 PM
Lillie Auditorium
Lectures are free and open to the public.

Lecture Abstract:

In the 1820’s, Augustin Fresnel invented a lighthouse lens a hundred times brighter than the candles in place only a few decades before. For the first time, sailors could reliably see the light more than ten miles away, and confidently avoid the hazards it warned against. And yet this only marks the beginning of a story that saw the new technology both praised and derided in the long, slow fight to get it installed. Particularly in the United States, the introduction of the new lighthouse optics took place in a contentious context of politics, culture and personal whim, against the backdrop of a young and dynamic nation.

Theresa Levitt holds a BS in Physics from MIT and a PhD in the History of Science from Harvard. She is currently Professor of History, specializing in the history of science, at the University of Mississippi.

Dr. Levitt’s book is now available in paperback, and the author has agreed to be available for book signing. Jeffrey S. Gales, Executive Director of the U.S. Lighthouse Society, wrote:

“It is rare that we see a lighthouse-related book, historical in nature, with the level of research that was put into A Short Bright Flash. Theresa Levitt’s superior work has illustrated the genius and ongoing legacy of Augustin Fresnel, whose brilliance not only saved lives but had an everlasting impact on the development of world trade, and whose advanced ideas are still implemented in today’s modern culture.”