Ken Alder


Curriculum vitae, April 2010

Work Address:
Department of History
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60208-2220
Tel. (847) 491-7260
Fax. (847) 467-1393


2003 - present Milton H. Wilson Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University.
2003 - present Professor of History, Northwestern.
1994 - 2010 Founding director, Science in Human Culture Program, Northwestern.
2001 - 2002 Visiting Scholar, American Bar Foundation, Chicago.
1999 - 2003 Harold and Virginia Anderson Outstanding Teaching Professor, Northwestern.
1999 - 2000 Visiting Scholar, Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole Nationale des Mines, Paris.
1997 - 2003 Associate Professor of History, Northwestern.
1991 - 1997 Assistant Professor of History, Northwestern.


1991, Ph.D. Harvard University. History of science.
1981, A.B. Harvard University. Honors physics. Phi Beta Kappa. National Merit Scholar.


The 2004 Kagan Prize of The Historical Society, for
   The Measure of All Things, co-winner for the best book in
   European history published in 2002-03.
The 2003 Davis Prize of the History of Science Society, for
   The Measure of All Things, winner for the best book directed to
   a general audience in the history of science published in 2002.
The 2003 Dingle Prize of the British Society for the History of
   Science, for The Measure of All Things, winner for the best
   book in the history of science published in 2001-02.
The 1998 Dexter Prize (now Edelstein Prize) from the Society
   for the History of Technology, for Engineering the Revolution,
   winner for the best book in the history of technology
   published in 1995-1997.


Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 2010-11.
National Science Foundation Scholar’s Award: Program in Science,
   Technology, and Society, and Program in Law and Social Sciences,
Visiting Senior Scholar, American Bar Foundation,
   Chicago, 2001-02.
National Science Foundation Scholar's Award, Science and
   Technology Studies, 1997-2000.
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Newberry
   Library, Chicago, 1997-98.
Henry M. Phillips Research Grant in Jurisprudence, American
   Philosophical Society, Summer 1997.
University Research Grant, Northwestern University, Summer 1995.
Kaplan Center for the Humanities Fellowship, Northwestern
   University, 1994-95.
Whiting Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities, Harvard
   University, 1990-91.
Mellon Graduate Fellowship in the Humanities, 1988-89.
National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1984-87.
Fulbright Fellowship, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale,
   Lausanne, Switzerland, 1982-83.


The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession.
   New York: The Free Press, March 2007.
- Foreign language editions:
   Japanese: Tokyo, Hayakawa [2008].

The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and
   Hidden Error that Transformed the World. New York: The
   Free Press, 2002; paperback, 2003.
   London: Abacus/Time Warner Books, 2002; paperback, 2004.
- Foreign-language publications:
   Italian: La misura di tutte le cose: L'avventurosa
     storia dell'invenzione de sistema metrico decimale.
     Milan: Rizzoli, 2002.
   Spanish: La Medida de Todas las Cosas: La Odisea de
     Siete Años y el Error Oculto que Transformaron el Mundo.
     Madrid: Taurus, 2003.
   Dutch: De Maat van alle Dingen: : De Zevenjarige
     zoektocht naar de Universele Meter. Amsterdam:
     Ambo/Anthos, 2003.
   Portuguese: La medida de todas as coisas: A odisséia
     de sete anos e o erro encoberto que transformaram o mundo.
     Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2003.
   Swedish: Världens Mått: Berättelsen om hur Metersystemet
     Förändrade Världen. Stockholm: Norstedts, 2003.
   Norwegian: Alle Tings Mål: Den Syv Ar Lange Odysseen
     Og Den Skjulte Feilen Som Forandret Verden.
     Oslo: Cappelen, 2003.
   German: Das Mass der Welt: Die Suche nach dem Urmeter.
     Munich: Bertelsmann, 2003; paperback 2005.
   French: Mesurer le monde, 1792-1799, l’incroyable histoire du
     mesure du mètre. Paris: Flammarion, 2005.
   Chinese (simple characters): Beijing: HuaWen, 2005.
   Chinese (complex characters): Taiwan: Owl/Cite Publishing,
   Japanese: Tokyo: Hayakawa, 2006.
   Hebrew: Tel Aviv: Kinneret-Zmora, 2007. Hakol lefee meeda
- Prizes/Honors:
   Co-winner of the Kagan Prize of The Historical Society
     for 2002-03
   Winner of the Davis Prize of the History of Science Society
     for 2002; citation in Isis 95 (2004): 263.
   Winner of the Dingle Prize of the British Society for the
      History of Science for 2001-02.
   NY Times “Notable Book” for 2002.
   Shortlisted (finalist) for The Longmann, History Today
     Prize, 2002.
   Second place, best science/fact book of year, 2004, Buchjournal
     [Germany], December 2004.
   Winner of the 2005 Prix de la Traduction Pierre-François Caillé
     from the Société Française des Traducteurs, for the French
     translation by Martine Devillers-Argouac’h.
   Cited as a “Best Book of 2002” by The Economist, Discover
      Magazine, Book Sense, Library Journal, The Sunday Times
     (London), The Sunday Telegraph, Granta, and The Spectator.

Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in
   France, 1763-1815. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
   1997. Paperback edition, 1999.
- Honors: Winner of the 1998 Dexter/Edelstein Prize of the Society
   for the History of Technology, citation in Technology & Culture 40
   (1999): 623-24.
- Featured in review essays: C. C. Gillispie, Technology & Culture
   39 (1998): 742-54; Myles Jackson, Journal of Modern History 71
   (1999): 902-13; Donald MacKenzie, London Review of Books
   (11 December 1997):18-19; Terry Shinn, Social Studies of Science
   29 (1999): 135-44.


“America’s Two Gadgets: Of Bombs and Polygraphs.” Guest-editor
   and author of an essay and introduction for an invited Focus
   Section entitled “Thick Things,”
Isis [March, 2007].

“It’s Not About France.” Why France?, pp. 189-210. Ed. Laura Lee
   Downs and Stéphane Gerson. Ithaca: Cornell Unversity Press,

"History's Greatest Forger: Science, Fiction, and Fraud along
   the Seine." Critical Inquiry 30 (2004): 702-16.
   translation: “Der Grösste Fälscher der Geschichte,” Sinn
   und Form 57 (2005): 748-64.

"A Social History of Untruth: Lie Detection and Trust in
   Twentieth-Century America."
Representations 80 (2002):

Review Essay: "The History of Science, Or, an Oxymoronic
   Theory of Relativistic Objectivity." In A Companion to
   Western Historical Thought, pp. 297-318. Eds. Lloyd
   Kramer and Sarah Maza. London: Blackwell, 2002.

"French Engineers Become Professionals, Or, How
   Meritocracy Made Knowledge Objective." In The Sciences
   in Enlightened Europe, pp. 94-125. Eds. William Clark, Jan
   Golinski, and Simon Schaffer. Chicago: University of
   Chicago Press, 1999.

"To Tell the Truth: The Polygraph Exam and the Marketing
   of American Expertise." Historical Reflections 24 (1998):

"Stepson of the Enlightenment: The Duc Du Châtelet, The
   Colonel Who 'Caused' the French Revolution."
   Century Studies 32 (1998): 1-18.

"Making Things the Same: Technological Representation,
   Manufacturing Tolerance, and the End of the Old Régime
   in France."
Social Studies of Science 24 (1998): 499-545.

"Innovation and Amnesia: Engineering Rationality and the
   Fate of Interchangeable Parts Manufacturing in France."

   Technology and Culture 38 (1997): 273-311.

"A Revolution to Measure: The Political Economy of the
   Metric System in France." In Values of Precision, pp. 39-
   71. Ed. M. Norton Wise. Princeton: Princeton University
   Press, 1995.


Published interview: “Le mètre et le méridien,” Libération (13
   August 2006): i-iii.

Popular article: “Der heisse Stuhl,” NZZ-Folio, the monthly
   magazine of the daily newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung,
   Zürich (August 2006): 26-31.

Popular article: “Der Meter misst keinen Meter!” NZZ-Folio, the
   monthly magazine of the daily newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung,
   Zürich (February 2005): 22-25.

Popular article: “The Measure of the World.” The Dibner Library of
   the History of Science and Technology. Washington, DC:
   Smithsonian Institution Libraries, 2004.

Popular article: “La démesure du mètre.” La Recherche 13
   (October-December, 2003): 16-21.

Popular article: “Europe’s Rulers.” Times Educational Supplement, 8
   November 2002, pp. 12-15.

Popular article: “The Mismeasure of All Things.” American Heritage
   of Invention and Technology (Fall 2002): 38-44.

Encyclopedia article: “Weights and Measures.” In The Oxford
   Encyclopedia of Economic History. Ed. Joel Mokyr. Oxford: Oxford
   University Press, 2003.

Popular article: “Les tours et détours du détecteur de mensonge.”
   La recherche 341 (April 2001): 48-53. Reprinted in special
   edition: La recherche, hors-series 8 (July/September 2002):
. Spanish edition: “Las mentiras del detector de
   mentieras,” Mundo Cientifico 224 (May 2001): 58-63.


The White Bus: A Novel. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.