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BCM206

Nerves of Iron Wire

A global nervous system: from the telegraph to cyberspace

The universe has many strings and chords that are connected. Just like us humans we have many wires and chords in our brain that allow us to feel emotion and to make us feel alive with movement. Technologies such as the telephone, the internet and the mobile phone also help us feel connected with the world and were an incredibly innovate and magical thing to strike the European nation when it first emerged in the 1800s.

Living in world today its hard to believe a time where mobiles and the internet didn’t exist. In 1837, Samuel Morse changed everything. He invented the first dot-dash telegraph that enabled communication to be accessed globally through long distance. It developed from just lines and dots to letters and numbers that make sense! This first step in electric communication technology mystified people, individuals struggling to understand how one could send the written or spoken word across the sea but not a physical entity such as a meal.

“A net-work of nerves of iron wire, strung with lightning, will ramify from the brain, New York, to the distant limbs and member”- The New York Tribune, 1895

I would like to touch on a quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne which really cements this phenomenon that sparked in the 1800s. Hawthorne states in ‘The House of Seven Gables’ (1851) that “the round globe is a vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence! Or, shall we say, it is itself a thought, nothing but thought, and no longer the substance which we deemed it”. Before this innovative period off invention, one couldn’t t possibly understand how we could communicate across the globe as fast speeds with something that couldn’t be touched. This description of the world as a brain or. system of nerves and thought is incredibly interesting as it puts a mans invention a the centre of all communication development from 1851 onwards. How cool!

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