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Kites

The Rise and Fall of a Scientific Object

In: Nuncius
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  • 1 Departamento de Lógica, Historia y Filosofía de la ciencia, UNED, Spainjm_suay@yahoo.com
  • | 2 Departamento de Lógica, Historia y Filosofía de la ciencia, UNED, Spaindteira@fsof.uned.es
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Between 1753 and 1914 kites constituted objects of scientific interest in different branches of physics. First, as instruments in experiments on the nature of electricity. Then, still in the 1750s, we find theoretical models of the flight of kites. In the late 19th century technologically sophisticated kites were used for aerological measurements. Finally, at the turn of the past century kites served early aeronautical researchers as scale models of wings. In each of these cases a rise and a fall can be seen: kites were reasonably successful in various applications, but they could not produce sufficiently interesting results to stand the competition of more efficient alternatives.

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