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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Jun 11, 2018

Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Acclaimed author Simon Winchester joined us to discuss this complex quandary with insight from his newest book The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World. He explored whether we are missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be—and whether the precise and the natural can co-exist in society.

Winchester traced the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to examine the component he contends is most crucial to human advancement—precision. He outlined how the application of increasingly precise tools and methods resulted in the creation and mass-production of crucial innovations from guns and camera lenses to gene splicing and microchips. Winchester charted the rise of the manufacturing era and the development of unprecedented new fabrication tools: machines that make machines. Join Winchester for a conversation on the fundamental importance of precision in our tools, our minds, and our methods—and the capacity of this force to change the course of the modern world.

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Map That Changed the World, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen.

Recorded live at University Prep by Town Hall Seattle on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.