Photo: Annette Hornischer

Distinguished Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles

Berthold Leibinger Fellow - Class of Spring 2012


Norton Wise is a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-director of the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics. His scholarly areas of expertise are the history of physics and the relationship between science and industrialization from the eighteenth century to the present. With co-author Crosbie Smith, Wise wrote Energy and Empire: A Biographical study of Lord Kelvin (Cambridge, 1989), which illustrates how the great transformation of physics in the mid-nineteenth century grew up together with the problems of steam engines, telegraph cables, and vortex turbines. His series “Work and Waste: Political Economy and Natural Philosophy in 19th Century Britain” developed the point further to show how the steam engine functioned as an active mediator between industrial and scientific interests, with the “work done” by the engine measuring both “labor value” in economics and “energy” in physics. On a broader scale, the edited volume The Values of Precision explored the themes of quantification, trustworthiness of numerical data, role of the professions, and relations between science and technology.