Thomas Hughes did his graduate work in European History at
the University of Virginia. He has published books on American
and European history with especial attention to the history
of modern technology, science, and culture.
- Networks of Power: Electrification of Western Society,
1880-1930 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
- Elmer Sperry: Inventor and Engineer (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971) won the Dexter Prize
for outstanding books in the history of technology.
- American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological
Enthusiasm, 1870-1970 (New York: Viking, 1989) was a
finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history, 1990.
- With Agatha Hughes, he edited Lewis Mumford: Public
Intellectual (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990)
and Systems, Experts and Computers (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
- Rescuing Prometheus (New York: Pantheon Books,
1997) is about creating large technological systems.
- His most recent book is Human-Built World: How to
Think about Technology and Culture (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 2004.)
Among his essays are
- "Walther Rathenau: System Builder," in Ein Mann vieler
Eigenschaften (Berlin: Klaus Wagenbach, 1990);
- "L'Histoire comme systèmes en évolution,"
Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales, Vol. 53, Nr.
4 (July-October 1998), p. 839-857
Hughes is a member of the American Philosophical Society;
U.S. National Academy of Engineering; the Royal Swedish Academy
of Engineering Sciences; and a Fellow of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences. The Society for the History of Technology
awarded him the Leonardo da Vinci Medal; the Society for the
Social Studies of Science gave him the John Desmond Bernal
Award. The Johns Hopkins University named him a member of
the Society of Fellows. The Royal Institute of Technology
in Stockholm awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering
in 2000 and Northwestern University conferred a Doctorate
of Humane Letters in 2001.
He has been a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study,
Berlin and a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology; the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm;
Collegium Helveticum, ETH Zurich; Stanford University; Technische
Hochschule, Darmstadt; New School for Social Research; and
the Wissenschaftszentrum, Berlin. Among his fellowships are
the Guggenheim and Fulbright. He has been chairman of the
Dept. of the History and Sociology of Science, University
of Pennsylvania; of the NASA History Advisory Committee; of
the U.S. National Committee for the History and Philosophy
of Science; and president of the Society for the History of
The late Agatha Hughes (1924-1997) has been his long-time
editor and adviser. He is now married to Mary Hill Caperton.
John Heilbron was educated at the University of California
at Berkeley where he received the A.B. and M.A. degrees in
physics in 1955 and 1958 and a Ph.D. degree in history in
1964 under Thomas S. Kuhn. He made most of his academic career
at Berkeley, rising through the academic ranks to become Professor
and Director of the Office for the History of Science and
Technology in 1973, Class of 1936 Professor of History and
History of Science in 1985, and Professor Emeritus in 1994.
He also served as Vice Chancellor of the University from
1990 to 1994. He has held visiting appointments as Andrew
Dickson White Professor at Large at Cornell University (1985-1991),
the California Institute of Technology (1995), Yale University
(2002-2004), and the University of Göttingen (2005).
Since 1996 he has been a Member of the Modern History Faculty
of the University of Oxford and Senior Research Associate
at the Oxford Museum of History of Science. He is also an
honorary fellow of Worcester College, Oxford.
The subjects of Heilbron's books on the history of science
include electricity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
Max Planck and his moral dilemmas, the use of churches in
early modern Europe as solar observatories, the development
and application of geometry, Ernest Lawrence and his laboratory,
and biographies of Henry Moseley and Ernest Rutherford. These
works, and the large number of papers he has published, deal
with the technical aspects of science as well as the social,
political, and institutional contexts in which science has
been pursued in the past.
- For over twenty-five years he edited Historical Studies
in the Physical Sciences (which he expanded in 1986
to include the biological sciences), one of the leading
journals in the history of science.
Heilbron's scholarly work has brought him widespread international
recognition. He has received the Sarton Medal of the History
of Science Society, its highest award, the Koyré Medal of
the Académie internationale d'histoire des sciences, the Pictet
Medal of the Association for the History of Science and the
Société de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle of Geneva, the
Pais Prize of the American Physical Society, the Premio Internazionale
Galileo Galilei of the University of Pisa and the Rotary Club
Internazionale d'Italia, and the Wilkins' Prize Lectureship
of the Royal Society of London.
He has honorary doctorates from the University of Bologna,
the University of Pavia, and the University of Uppsala, and
the Berkeley Citation from the University of California. He
is a member (foreign) of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American
Philosophical Society (1990).