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Rediscovering Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell is most famous for being credited with the invention of the telephone. But did you know that he also invented the metal detector and the tetrahedral kite, to name a few? Or that it was his deaf mother who inspired his study of acoustics and sound, which resulted in his inventing the telephone?

Join AAAS MemberCentral on Tuesday, December 17 at 12pm ET for a webinar on this famous inventor. Learn from a panel of experts including Charlotte Gray, a Bell biographer; Carl Haber, a physicist who recovered sound off of cylinders and discs recorded by Bell; and Matthew Higginbottom, a designer who creates artwork inspired by Bell's tetrahedral kites.

Despite Bell's status as a household name, there are still many aspects of his life and work that are not common knowledge. For instance, though his invention of the telephone brought him fame and fortune, Bell actually believed that his invention of a different device, the photophone, would be more influential. The photophone transmitted sound through a beam of light, and while it was not as popular as the telephone in its time, the technology was actually a precursor to fiber-optic communication systems that came about in the late 20th century. After Bell was awarded the U.S. patent for the telephone, he founded the Bell Telephone Company which later evolved into the American Telegraph & Telephone Company, also known as AT&T (still in operation today!). Finally, for all of Bell's great contributions to scientific inquiry, he was also a supporter of the eugenics movement in the United States, specifically against deaf people. It was not uncommon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for scientists and politicians to support eugenics.

This hour-long webinar from AAAS will be a great opportunity for teachers and students to get an in-depth understanding of this famous inventor and his legacy. For resources to use with students before or after the webinar, take a look at our new Inventors and Inventions collection, specifically curated with teaching materials related to this event.

We hope you'll join us on December 17!

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