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Research interests

My research areas are the history of physics and the history of technology from the late nineteenth century to the present. I focus on how science and engineering have shaped each other at the levels of mathematical structures, physical theories, experimentation, instrumentation, and the development of new technologies. I am particularly interested in issues related to the production, justification, circulation, application, and transformation of technical knowledge in the mutual shaping between science and engineering. I also pay close attention to the different meanings and functions of technical knowledge to distinct professional or intellectual communities.

Along this direction, I have been undertaking six research projects:

  • Conceiving Noise: From Fin de Siècle to the Information Age
  • Studies of Wave Propagation and the Emergence of Active Sensing
  • Transformation of Electromagnetic Waves from a Novel Effect to a Research Object, 1887-1901
  • Chao Yuen Ren and the Modern Soundscape of Republican China, 1912-1937
  • The Very Recent History of Quantum Information
  • Amateurs’ Knowledge in Cutting-Edge Technological Development: From Radio Hams to Computer Hackers

Selected Publications

  • “The Maxwellians: The Reception and Further Development of Maxwell’s Electromagnetic Theory,” in Raymond Flood, Mark McCartney and Andrew Whitaker (eds.), James Clerk Maxwell: Perspectives on His Life and Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 204-222.
  • Probing the Sky with Radio Waves: From Wireless Technology to the Development of Atmospheric Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).
  • “The sound and shapes of noise: Measuring disturbances in early twentieth-century telephone and radio engineering,” ICON: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology, 18 (2012), 63-85.
  • “From mechanical objectivity to instrumentalizing theory: Inventing radio ionospheric sounders,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences, 42:3 (2012), 190-234.
  • “Engineering entanglement, conceptualizing quantum information,” Annals of Science, 68:3 (2011), 325-350.
  • “Tubes, randomness, and Brownian motions: Or, how engineers learned to start worrying about electronic noise,” Archives for the History of Exact Sciences, 65:4 (2011), 437-470.
  • “Dense Delta-Sigma phased arrays,” IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, 61:4 (2013), 1825-1837 (with James Krieger as first author, Gregory Wornell).
  • “Scientific fact or engineering specification? The U.S. Navy’s experiments on long-range wireless telegraphy circa 1910,” Technology and Culture, 45:1 (2004), 1-29.
  • “The study of long-distance radio-wave propagation: 1900-1919,” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 33:2 (2003), 369-403.
  • “Towards target recognition from SAR imagery using electromagnetics-based signatures,” Optical Engineering, 42:7 (2003), 2129-2149 (with C. Cho and J. H. Shapiro).
  • “Quantum theory of second-order soliton based on a linearization approximation,” Journal of the Optical Society of America B, 16:8 (1999), 1269-1279.
  • “Atmospheric effect on microwave polarimetric passive remote sensing of ocean surfaces,” Radio Science, 34:2 (1999), 521-537 (with S. H. Yueh, K. H. Ding, and J. A. Kong).
  • “Control Technology—electronic signals,” and “Radio—continuous waves, alternators, valves,” in Colin Hempstead and William Worthington (eds.), Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Technology, New York: Rutledge, 2004.


Ari Gross, (Supervisor), “Form and Function: Seeing, Knowing, and Reasoning with Diagrams in the Practice of Science,” conferred November 2013.

Vivien Hamilton, (Supervisor), “’Incongruent Bedfellows’: Physics and Medicine in the Formation of North American and British Radiology, 1896-1930,” conferred November 2012.

Michelle Hoffman, (Co-supervisor / Y. Gingras), “Constructing School Science: Physics, Biology and Chemistry Education in Ontario High Schools, 1880-1940,” conferred June 2013.

Bruce Petrie, (Supervisory committee), “The Roots of Transcendental Numbers: 1700-1900,” in progress.

Isaac Record, (Supervisory committee), “Knowing Instruments: Design, Reliability, and Scientific Practice,” conferred March 2012.

Nicolas Sanchez-Guerrero, (Supervisor), “Science Education in Colombian High Schools: A Study on the Formation of Public Understandings of Science,” in progress.

Jonathan Turner, (Supervisory committee) “The Defence Research Board of Canada, 1947-1974,” conferred November 2012.

Aaron Wright (Supervisor), “More than nothing: A history of the vacuum in theoretical physics, 1955-1973,” conferred 2014.


Contact Information

  • Personal Title: Associate Professor and Director
  • Location: VC 309
  • Telephone number: +1 (416) 978–3968
  • E-mail address: chenpang.yeang@utoronto.ca