Time and noise: The stable surroundings of reaction experiments, 1860-1890

The 'Reaction experiment with Hipp chronoscope' is one of the classical experiments of modern psychology. This paper investigates the technological contexts of this experiment. It argues that the development of time measurement and communication in other areas of science and technology (astronomy, the clock industry) were decisive for shaping the material culture of experimental in psychology. The chronoscope was constructed by Matthaus Hipp (1813-1893) in the late 1840s. In 1861, Adolphe Hirsch (1830-1901) introduced the chronoscope for measuring the 'physiological time' of astronomical observers. Hirsch's observatory at Neuchatel (Switzerland) served to control the quality of clocks produced in the nearby Jura mountains. Hipp provided the observatory with a telegraphic system that sent time signals to the centers of clock production. Time telegraphy constituted the stable surroundings of the reaction time experiments carried out by both astronomers and psychologists. This technology permitted precise measurements of short time intervals and offered to Hirsch, as well as to Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), a useful metaphor for conceptualizing their respective 'epistemic objects'. But time telegraphy also limited the possibilities of the experimental work conducted within its framework. In particular, noise from outside and inside the research sites at Neuchatel, Leipzig and elsewhere disturbed the precise communication of time.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/S1369-8486(03)00024-4
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,719
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
„Feinere Messungen in der Mitte einer belebten Stadt”—Berliner Großstadtverkehr und die apparativen Hilfsmittel der Elektrophysiologie, 1845–1910.Sven Dierig - 1998 - NTM International Journal of History and Ethics of Natural Sciences, Technology and Medicine 6 (1):148-169.
The Developing Technology of Apparatus in Psychology's Early Laboratories.Fairfid M. Caudle - 1983 - In Joseph Warren Dauben & Virginia Staudt Sexton (eds.), History and Philosophy of Science: Selected Papers. New York Academy of Sciences.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Haunted Thoughts of the Careful Experimentalist: Psychical Research and the Troubles of Experimental Physics.Richard Noakes - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:46-56.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index

Total downloads
15 ( #325,293 of 2,197,306 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #299,047 of 2,197,306 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature