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SOLD OUT: Member's Choice: The Brick Moon: An Exemplar of 19th-Century Scientific Imagination

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

This event is SOLD OUT. You are welcome to register on our wait list.

Registration is requested
Members only with no fee

The Brick Moon: An Exemplar of 19th-Century Scientific Imagination

with Bob Gelinas

Join Athenæum member Bob Gelinas for a presentation and discussion of Edward Everett Hale’s The Brick Moon.  Published in installments within The Atlantic Monthly in 1869, the narrator of Hale’s story is the fictional Sandemanian minister Frederic Ingham, a character in several of Hale’s fictional works.  The brick moon, 200 feet in diameter, is to serve as a navigation aid. Built on a riverbank in Maine, it is accidentally launched with 39 people on board.  The story is set during the Civil War, with plot points tied to events of that conflict.

In his works of fiction, Unitarian minister Hale is best known for The Man Without a Country.  Using the same artful style of that story, weaving fact and fiction, The Brick Moon was under-appreciated by readers and reviewers of his time.  In 1968, Hale was recognized by Arthur C. Clarke as the first person to write about an artificial satellite.  Credit is also given to Hale for describing a system of satellites to aid navigation, similar to GPS.

By his upbringing and as a Harvard student (starting at the age of 13), Hale was no stranger to science.  The presentation includes images gathered from many published versions of The Brick Moon and other sources, including some unique volumes on Athenæum shelves.

Bob Gelinas is a computer engineer, working on computer system and microprocessor design for 40 years.  He was with Data General, startups Lexra and Filehand, and is currently with AMD at Boxborough, Massachusetts.

He grew up in Maine and received a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maine.  Bob is a long serving member of the Visiting Committee of the University of Maine Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

His hobbies include reading American history and biography, and building and recording from analog music synthesis gear.

Bob lives with his wife Gabrielle in Needham, Massachusetts, where they raised three children.

Assistive Listening Devices image

To request real-time captions for this event, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 no fewer than four business days prior to the event.