Roland Wittje


Associate Professor
Room No.: HSB 353A
Phone +91 44 2257 4540



Academic Background:

  • Associate Professor in History of Science and Technology, IIT Madras, since 2015
  • Lecturer in History of Science at the History of Science Unit, Department of Philosophy, University of Regensburg, Germany, 2007 – 2014
  • Dr.Philos, History of Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, 2003
  • Diploma in Physics, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany, 1996

 Courses and Teaching Interests:

  • History of science and technology
  • Science and society
  • Science and Technology in the 20th century
  • Technology and Sustainable Development
  • Historiography and methodology in history of science and technology
  • Material culture and scientific practice

 Research Interests:

  • History of the physcial sciences and engineering of the late 19th and 20th century
  • Global history of science and technology
  • History of scientific collections, research technology and scientific practice
  • History of science education and technical training
  • History of acoustics

 Professional Activities:

  • Vice-president of Universeum, European association for academic heritage 2011 -2017 (

 Current Projects:

List of publications

Monographs and edited collections

  • R. Wittje (2016a). The Age of Electroacoustics: Transforming Science and Sound 1863 – 1939. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2016. For book click here.
  • Laetitia Maison, Sofia Talas and R. Wittje, eds (2013). Shaping European University Heritage: Past and Possible Futures. Transactions of The Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters 2013/3.
  • Peter Heering and R. Wittje, eds (2012a). Guest editors of the Thematic Issue: The History of Experimental Science Teaching, Science & Education 21 (2012): 151–270.
  • Peter Heering and R. Wittje, eds (2011). Learning by Doing: Experiments and Instruments in the History of Science Teaching. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2011.
  • Bodil Børseth, Jon-Arild Johansen and R. Wittje, eds (2007). Etterklang – vitenskap, musikk og massemedia in elektroakustikkens tidsalder [Reverberations – Science, Music and Mass Media in the Age of Electroacoustics]. Trondheim: Tapir Uttrykk, 2007.
  • R. Wittje and Ola Nordal (2005). Universitetshistoriske samlinger ved NTNU [University history collections at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology]. Forum for kunnskapshistorie – skrifter no. 4. Trondheim: Tapir akademisk forlag, 2005.
  • R. Wittje (2003a). Acoustics, atom smashing and amateur radio – Physics and instrumentation at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in the interwar period. Dr.philos thesis at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Trondheim: NTNU Open, 2003 (

Peer-reviewed articles

  • R. Wittje (2016b). Concepts and significance of noise in acoustics: Before and after the Great War. Perspectives on Science 24/1 (2016): 7–28.
  • R. Wittje (2013a). The Electrical Imagination: Sound Analogies, Equivalent Circuits, and the Rise of Electroacoustics, 1863 – 1939. Osiris 28: Music, Sound, and the Laboratory from 1750 to 1980 (2013): 40–63.
  • R. Wittje (2013b). The Garching Nuclear Egg: Teaching contemporary history beyond the Linguistic Turn. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science A 44/4 (2013): 683–689.
    Per-Odd Eggen, Lise Kvittingen, Annette Lykknes and R. Wittje (2012). Reconstructing iconic experiments in electrochemistry: Experiences from a history of science course. Science & Education 21 (2012): 179–189.
  • Peter Heering and R. Wittje (2012b). An Historical Perspective on Instruments and Experiments in Science Education. Science & Education 21 (2012): 151–155.
  • R. Wittje (2007a). Nuclear physics in Norway, 1933 – 1955. Physics in Perspective 9/4 (2007): 406–433.
  • R. Wittje (2004a). A proton accelerator in Trondheim in the 1930s. Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 35/1 (2004): 115–152.

Other articles and book chapters

  • Wittje (2017). Interview with Roland Wittje (interviewer Johannes-Geert Hagmann) in Challenging Collections: Approaches to the Heritage of Recent Science and Technology, edited by Alison Boyle and Johannes-Geert Hagmann. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2017: 223–227
  • Wittje (2016c). Ferdinand Trendelenburg. In Neue Deutsche Biographie. Munich: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften.
  • Wittje (2016d). Kriterien für das Sammeln aus der Zeitgeschichte – Die Auswahlkriterien der Universeum Working Group on Recent Heritage of Science. In Zwischen Kellerdepot und Forschungsolymp: Dokumentation der Diskussionspanels der 7. Sammlungstagung vom 17. bis 19. September 2015 an der TU Bergakademie Freiberg und der TU Dresden, herausgegeben von Jörg Zaun und Kirsten Vincenz. Dresden: TU Dresden Kustodie.
  • R. Wittje (2016e). Selection criteria for recent material heritage of science at universities. In Enhancing University Heritage-Based Research, edited by Gudrun Wolfschmidt. Hamburg: Nuncius Hamburgiensis, 2016: 273–276.
  • R. Wittje (2011). Simplex sigillum veri: Robert Pohl and Demonstration Experiments in Physics after the Great War. In Learning by Doing: Experiments and Instruments in the History of Science Teaching, edited by Peter Heering and R. Wittje. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2011: 317–348.
  • R. Wittje (2010a). Reading Artifacts: Historische Sammlungen und innovative Konzepte in der Lehre [Reading Artifacts: Historical collections and innovative concepts in academic teaching]. In Universitätsmuseen und -sammlungen im Hochschulalltag: Aufgaben – Konzepte – Perspektiven, edited by Cornelia Weber and Klaus Mauersberger. Berlin: Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik, 2010: 79–86.
  • R. Wittje (2010b). XXth century scientific heritage at universities: Experiences and perspectives. In Patrimoine scientifique et technique – Un projet contemporain, edited by Catherine Ballé, Catherine Cuenca and Daniel Thoulouze. Paris: La documentation Française, 2010: 253–258.
  • Sébastien Soubiran, Marta C. Lourenço, R. Wittje, Sofia Talas and Thomas Bremer (2009). Initiatives européennes et patrimoine universitaire. La Lettre de l’OCIM 123 (May – June 2009): 5–14.
  • R. Wittje and Wolfgang Engels (2008a). What went on in the Laboratory? Replicating the Early Hertz Experiments. In Heinrich Hertz (1857 – 1894) and the Development of Communication, edited by Gudrun Wolfschmidt. Norderstedt bei Hamburg: Nuncius Hamburgiensis, 2008: 196–197.
  • R. Wittje (2007b). Teknisk akustisk forskning i mellomkrigstida [Technical acoustics in the interwar period]. In the exhibition catalogue Etterklang – vitenskap, musikk og massemedia in elektroakustikkens tidsalder, edited by Bodil Børseth, Jon-Arild Johansen and Roland Wittje. Trondheim: Tapir Uttrykk, 2007: 22–31.
  • R. Wittje (2006). The foundation of N.T.H. in 1910 in international context. In Perspectives on Scandinavian science in the early twentieth century, edited by Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze and Henrik Kragh Sørensen. Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi I. Mat.- Nat. Klasse, Skrifter og avhandlinger Nr. 1. Oslo: Novus forlag, 2006: 111–132.
  • R. Wittje (2004b). The use of centrifuges and ultracentrifuges in medical, chemical and microbiologic laboratories – A short history. Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society 81 (2004): 20–25.
  • R. Wittje (2003b). Centrifuge and ultracentrifuge. Published in The Oxford companion to the history of modern science, edited by John L. Heilbron. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003: 135–136.
  • R. Wittje (2002). Local factors of the Van de Graaff generator project at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in the mid 1930’s. Proceedings / XVIII International Scientific Instrument Symposium, Moscow-St. Petersburg, Russia, 20 – 25 September 1999. Moscow: Scientific Publishing Center “Engineer”, 2002: 131–145.
  • Haakon Olsen and R. Wittje (2001). Kjernefysikk i Norge – Arven fra Johan Holtsmark og Roald Tangen [Nuclear physics in Norway – The legacy of Johan Holtsmark and Roald Tangen]. Fra Fysikkens Verden 63/1 (2001): 22–24.
  • R. Wittje (2000a). On the beginnings of nuclear physics in Norway – The Van de Graaff proton accelerator at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in the 1930s. Det Kgl. Norske Videnskabers Selskabs Forhandlinger 2000: 166–180.
  • R. Wittje (2000b). Heinrich Hertz und die Einbettung von experimenteller Tätigkeit in theoretische Konzepte [Heinrich Hertz and imbedding experimental practice in theoretical concepts]. In Instrument – Experiment: historische Studien, edited by Christoph Meinel. Berlin, Diepholz: Verlag für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften und der Technik, 2000: 180–191.


  • Wittje. Karl Willy Wagner. In Neue Deutsche Biographie. Munich: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften.
  • Wittje. Physikalische Akustik. In Handbuch Sound, edited by Daniel Morat and Hansjakob Ziemer. Stuttgart and Weimar: J.B. Metzler.


  • Paolo Brenni and R. Wittje (2016). The Speaking Arc and the Singing Arc. Produced with Antonio Chiavacci at the Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica in Florence, Italy. Posted on the YouTube channel of the Fondazione:
  • R. Wittje and Wolfgang Engels (2008b). Replicating the Early Hertz Experiments – Experimental Lecture. Part of the documentary film Allein mit der Natur – Heinrich Hertz: Experiment und Theorie, produced by Agnes Handwerk and Harrie Willems. DVD, self- published by Agnes Handwerk (

Book Reviews

  • R. Wittje (2016f). Paired book review: Silke Fengler and Carola Sachse (eds). Kernforschung in Österreich. Wandlungen eines interdisziplinären Forschungsfeldes 1900–1978, and Silke Fengler. Kerne, Kooperation und Konkurrenz. Kernforschung in Österreich im internationalen Kontext (1900–1950). Isis 107/3 (2016): 666–668.
  • R. Wittje (2014). Book review: Chen-Pang Yeang. Probing the Sky with Radio Waves: From Wireless Technology to the Development of Atmospheric Science. Isis 105/3 (2014): 665–666.
  • R Wittje (2013c). Book review: David Pantalony. Altered Sensations: Rudolph Koenig’s Acoustical Workshop in Nineteenth Century Paris. Annals of Science 70 (2013): 131–133.
  • R. Wittje (2010c). Book review: Klaus Hentschel (Editor). Unsichtbare Hände: Zur Rolle von Laborassistenten, Mechanikern Zeichnern und Amanuenses in der physikalischen Forschungs- und Entwicklungsarbeit. Isis 101/1 (2010): 196–197.
  • R. Wittje (2008c). Book review: Myles W. Jackson. Harmonious triads: physicists, musicians and instrument makers in nineteenth-century Germany. Nuncius 23/1 (2008): 177–178.
  • Falk Müller and R. Wittje (2001). Book review: B. Finn (ed). Exposing Electronics. The British Journal for the History of Science 34/4 (2001): 480–481.

© 2019 Dept of HSS, IIT Madras