Once scientists associated the tenth of a second with the speed of thought, they developed reaction-time experiments with lasting implications for experimental psychology, physiology, and optics. Astronomers and physicists struggled to control the profound consequences of results that were a tenth of a second off. Canales offers a provocative answer to why our fingers and eyes have ended up on keyboards and screens through a careful analysis of new technologies and changes in laboratory practices. Revealing the history behind this infinitesimal interval, A Tenth of a Second sheds new light on modernity and illuminates the work of important thinkers of the last two centuries.
Tracing debates about the nature of time, causality, and free will, as well as the introduction of modern technologies—telegraphy, photography, cinematography—Jimena Canales locates the reverberations of this “perceptual moment” throughout culture.
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