Strangled Science


phonograph Paris Academy of Sciences

There is a perception among many that scientists collect facts in a calm, dispassionate manner and do not give in to bouts of irrational reaction.

That perception is wrong.

A perusal the Minutes of the Paris Academy of Sciences gives a telling account of the demonstration of the first phonograph: “No sooner had the machine emitted a few words, than the Permanent Secretary threw himself upon the [person doing the demonstration], seizing his throat in a grip of iron. ‘You see, gentlemen,’ he exclaimed, ‘what it is!’ But, to the stupefaction of everyone present, the machine continued to utter sounds.”

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