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“The Beach Boys: Classified Research with a Southern California Vibe” – Bill Leslie; The Johns Hopkins University

March 2, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Long before companies such as Apple and Google learned how to attract and indulge their high tech workforces with espresso bars, climbing walls, flextime, and other perks, laboratories likeRAND in Santa Monica, Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, and Nortronics in Palos Verdes perfected the art of concierge science.  These were venues designed to recruit, retain, and inspire researchers with bold architecture, scenic views, challenging problems, brilliant colleagues and a lifestyle best described as “cold war avant-garde”.  Whether through curated contemporary art collections, guest lecture series by recent Nobel prize winners, or simply the opportunity to live and play in some of the area’s best beachfront resorts, these companies reimagined the scientific life as a aesthetic choice for members of an emerging ‘creative class,’ with a distinctly regional flair. Southern California promised a new style of doing science where researchers themselves called the shots, where the bottom line did not constrain blue sky thinking, and where youthful exuberance had the chance to prove itself.

side shot of building in southern California


About the Speaker: Bill Leslie has taught the history of science and technology at Johns Hopkins University since 1981.  He has written on industrial research, Cold War science, corporate architecture, and most recently the architecture of science.  Much of his recent work looks at science and technology in the developing world—Iran, India, and Pakistan—and at the aerospace industry in Southern California.  He is currently writing a history of Johns Hopkins University.

A flyer for the talk is here.


March 2, 2017
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Category:


HSSB 4080
4080 Humanities and Social Sciences Building, UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106 United States


Department of History
(805) 893-4505
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