W. Bernard Carlson

Department of Science, Technology, and Society
School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903
wc4p@virginia.edu

W. Bernard Carlson is a Professor at the University of Virginia, with appointments in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (School of Engineering) and the History Department (College of Arts and Sciences). He received his Ph.D in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania and did his postdoctoral work in business history at the Harvard Business School. He has held visiting appointments at Stanford University and the University of Manchester.

Professor Carlson is an expert on the role of technology and innovation in American history, and his research focuses on how inventors, engineers, and managers used technology in the development of major firms between the Civil War and World War I. His publications include Technology in World History, 7 volumes (Oxford University Press, 2005) as well as Innovation as a Social Process: Elihu Thomson and the Rise of General Electric, 1870-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 1991; paper reprint 2002). With support from the Sloan Foundation, he is currently completing a biography of the inventor Nikola Tesla.

Factoid from the encyclopedia

Q. Why do traditional Chinese coins have a square hole in the middle?
A. The hole was put there by the first emperor of China, Shihuangdi (259-210 BCE), as an everyday reminder to people of his imperial authority. (Shihuangdi also had his tomb guarded by an army made up of thousands of terra cotta soldiers.

Podcasts

Why were there no wheeled vehicles in America before Columbus?

Why did Africans domesticate cattle and donkeys, but not zebras?

Bernie Carlson discusses "Technology in World History."

The kiwi fruit and globalization.

The paradox of the pyramids

Why Chinese coins have square holes

Technology and world history