O Brave New World: Seeking Utopia Through Science and Technology; California by Kevin Starr chapter 10

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In a book that has been very pro-California this chapter is gives the loudest cheer.

Honestly, it felt like nothing but cheering.

Though it is deserved cheering, the chapter felt weaker than previous ones for it.

California has long been a leader in science and technology, from the early days of the state when Lester Pelton began working on the turbines that would make hydro-electric power a reality for the cities of California, a by-product of the desire for better hydraulic mining.   Early California also saw the first heavier than air flight when Joseph Bayma-Montgomery flew a gull-winger glider some 600 feet in 1883.

Southern California would become the center of early aviation in the United States, eventually a center for space exploration with the Jet Propulsion laboratory.  The Lick Observatory beginning in 1883 and for many years afterwards held the most advanced telescopes on earth.  Both early radio and television made great strides forward in Palo Alto based workshop and Stanford laboratories.  

Later generations would see advances in nuclear science at the Lawrence Livermore Labs and computer sciences in what would become known as Silicon Valley.  Today California is the center of research into stem-cell based medical treatments and genetic research and treatments.  That this is somehow a part of the character of the people living in California is evident in the fact that the initial funding for stem-cell research came from a voter approved tax.

But, to be honest, this didn’t make for interesting reading.  It’s all great and it’s all key to understanding the state of California, but it’s also a  bit on the dry side when compared to the rest of the book.

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