5 June, 2020, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Barr & Stroud Rangefinder – or, the Magic and Mayhem of Optics (Juha Saatsi, Kiara

Juha Saatsi, Kiara White, Greg Radick


All Welcome

Archibald Barr and William Stroud met while teaching at the Yorkshire College of Science, the University of Leeds’ predecessor. In 1888, a War Office competition advertised in Engineering magazine led them to start work on building an optical rangefinder, a device used to accurately determine distances for military purposes. Barr and Stroud’s design was adopted by the Royal Navy in 1892, and later by the Army. It remained in use until it was replaced by radar technology in World War Two. This lecture follows the struggles Barr and Stroud faced to make their instrument a success and explores the philosophical and historical questions raised by optical science in the Victorian era. How does optical theory pose a problem for understanding the relationship between science and reality? What is the difference between pure and applied science? What can we learn from Barr and Stroud about the nature of intellectual ownership in science? 

Click here to watch Juha Saatsi, Kiara White and Greg Radick explain more…

Then, if that fires your imagination and curiousity, why not join the online discussion group at 4pm Fri 5th June. For details of how to access the discussion group, please click here.

This lecture is the 15th in a series of 20 as part of a free online course offering an introduction to the History of Science by the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds.