Harry Collins

Harry Collins is Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise, and Science at Cardiff University. A Fellow of the British Academy, he is the author of Gravity's Shadow; Gravity's Ghost; Gravity's Ghost and Big Dog; Gravity's Kiss: The Detection of Gravitational Waves (MIT Press); and many other books.

  • Gravity's Kiss

    Gravity's Kiss

    The Detection of Gravitational Waves

    Harry Collins

    A fascinating account, written in real time, of the unfolding of a scientific discovery: the first detection of gravitational waves.

    Scientists have been trying to confirm the existence of gravitational waves for fifty years. Then, in September 2015, came a “very interesting event” (as the cautious subject line in a physicist's email read) that proved to be the first detection of gravitational waves. In Gravity's Kiss, Harry Collins—who has been watching the science of gravitational wave detection for forty-three of those fifty years and has written three previous books about it—offers a final, fascinating account, written in real time, of the unfolding of one of the most remarkable scientific discoveries ever made.

    Predicted by Einstein in his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves carry energy from the collision or explosion of stars. Dying binary stars, for example, rotate faster and faster around each other until they merge, emitting a burst of gravitational waves. It is only with the development of extraordinarily sensitive, highly sophisticated detectors that physicists can now confirm Einstein's prediction. This is the story that Collins tells.

    Collins, a sociologist of science who has been embedded in the gravitational wave community since 1972, traces the detection, the analysis, the confirmation, and the public presentation and the reception of the discovery—from the first email to the final published paper and the response of professionals and the public. Collins shows that science today is collaborative, far-flung (with the physical location of the participants hardly mattering), and sometimes secretive, but still one of the few institutions that has integrity built into it.

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $17.95
  • Bad Call

    Bad Call

    Technology's Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It

    Harry Collins, Robert Evans, and Christopher Higgins

    How technologies can get it wrong in sports, and what the consequences are—referees undermined, fans heartbroken, and the illusion of perfect accuracy maintained.

    Good call or bad call, referees and umpires have always had the final say in sports. Bad calls are more visible: plays are televised backward and forward and in slow motion. New technologies—the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, for example, and the goal-line technology used in English football—introduced to correct bad calls sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong, but always undermine the authority of referees and umpires. Bad Call looks at the technologies used to make refereeing decisions in sports, analyzes them in action, and explains the consequences.

    Used well, technologies can help referees reach the right decision and deliver justice for fans: a fair match in which the best team wins. Used poorly, however, decision-making technologies pass off statements of probability as perfect accuracy and perpetuate a mythology of infallibility. The authors re-analyze three seasons of play in English Premier League football, and discover that goal line technology was irrelevant; so many crucial wrong decisions were made that different teams should have won the Premiership, advanced to the Champions League, and been relegated. Simple video replay could have prevented most of these bad calls. (Major League baseball learned this lesson, introducing expanded replay after a bad call cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.)

    What matters in sports is not computer-generated projections of ball position but what is seen by the human eye—reconciling what the sports fan sees and what the game official sees.

    • Hardcover $26.95
    • Paperback $19.95
  • The Shape of Actions

    The Shape of Actions

    What Humans and Machines Can Do

    Harry Collins and Martin Kusch

    What can humans do? What can machines do? How do humans delegate actions to machines? In this book, Harry Collins and Martin Kusch combine insights from sociology and philosophy to provide a novel answer to these increasingly important questions.The authors begin by distinguishing between two basic types of intentional behavior, which they call polimorphic actions and mimeomorphic actions. Polimorphic actions (such as writing a love letter) are ones that community members expect to vary with social context. Mimeomorphic actions (such a swinging a golf club) do not vary. Although machines cannot act, they can mimic mimeomorphic actions. Mimeomorphic actions are thus the crucial link between what humans can do and what machines can do.

    Following a presentation of their detailed categorization of actions, the authors apply their approach to a broad range of human-machine interactions and to learning. Key examples include bicycle riding and the many varieties of writing machines. They also show how their theory can be used to explain the operation of organizations such as restaurants and armies. Finally, they look at a historical case—the technological development of the air pump—applying their categorization of actions to the processes of mechanization and automation. Automation, they argue, can occur only where what we want to bring about can be brought about through mimeomorphic action.

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $18.00
  • Artificial Experts

    Artificial Experts

    Social Knowledge and Intelligent Machines

    Harry Collins

    In Artificial Experts, Collins explains what computers can't do, but he also studies the ordinary and extraordinary things that they can do. He argues that the machines we create are limited because we cannot reproduce in symbols what every community knows, yet we give our machines abilities by the way we embed them in our society. He unfolds a compelling account of the difference between human action and machine intelligence, the core of which is a witty and learned explanation of knowledge itself, of what communities know and the ways in which they know it.

    • Hardcover $24.50
    • Paperback $33.00

Contributor

  • The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Fourth Edition

    Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller, and Laurel Smith-Doerr

    The fourth edition of an authoritative overview, with all new chapters that capture the state of the art in a rapidly growing field.

    Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a flourishing interdisciplinary field that examines the transformative power of science and technology to arrange and rearrange contemporary societies. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the field, reviewing current research and major theoretical and methodological approaches in a way that is accessible to both new and established scholars from a range of disciplines. This new edition, sponsored by the Society for Social Studies of Science, is the fourth in a series of volumes that have defined the field of STS. It features 36 chapters, each written for the fourth edition, that capture the state of the art in a rich and rapidly growing field. One especially notable development is the increasing integration of feminist, gender, and postcolonial studies into the body of STS knowledge.

    The book covers methods and participatory practices in STS research; mechanisms by which knowledge, people, and societies are coproduced; the design, construction, and use of material devices and infrastructures; the organization and governance of science; and STS and societal challenges including aging, agriculture, security, disasters, environmental justice, and climate change.

  • Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise

    Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise

    Creating New Kinds of Collaboration

    Michael E. Gorman

    A proposal for a new framework for fostering collaborations across disciplines, addressing both theory and practical applications.

    Cross-disciplinary collaboration increasingly characterizes today's science and engineering research. The problems and opportunities facing society do not come neatly sorted by discipline. Difficulties arise when researchers from disciplines as different as engineering and the humanities work together and find that they speak largely different languages. This book explores a new framework for fostering collaborations among existing disciplines and expertise communities. The framework unites two ideas to emerge from recent work in STS: trading zones, in which scientific subcultures, each with its own language, develop the equivalents of pidgin and creole; and interactional expertise, in which experts learn to use the language of another research community in ways that are indistinguishable from expert practitioners of that community. A trading zone can gradually become a new area of expertise, facilitated by interactional expertise and involving negotiations over boundary objects (objects represented in different ways by different participants). The volume describes applications of the framework to service science, business strategy, environmental management, education, and practical ethics. One detailed case study focuses on attempts to create trading zones that would help prevent marine bycatch; another investigates trading zones formed to market the female condom to women in Africa; another describes how humanists embedded in a nanotechnology laboratory gained interactional expertise, resulting in improved research results for both humanists and nanoscientists.

    Contributors Brad Allenby, Donna T. Chen, Harry Collins, Robert Evans, Erik Fisher, Peter Galison, Michael E. Gorman, Lynn Isabella, Lekelia D. Jenkins, Mary Ann Leeper, Roop L. Mahajan, Matthew M. Mehalik, Ann E. Mills, Bolko von Oetinger, Elizabeth Powell, Mary V. Rorty, Jeff Shrager, Jim Spohrer, Patricia H. Werhane

    • Hardcover $13.75
    • Paperback $32.00
  • The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Third Edition

    The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, Third Edition

    Edward J. Hackett, Olga Amsterdamska, Michael E. Lynch, and Judy Wajcman

    A comprehensive and authoritative overview of current research, major theoretical perspectives, and new research directions in the study of science, technology, and society.

    Science and Technology Studies is a flourishing interdisciplinary field that examines the creation, development, and consequences of science and technology in their cultural, historical, and social contexts. The New Handbook of Science and Technology Studies provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the field, reviewing current research and major theoretical and methodological approaches and analyzing emergent issues in a form that is accessible to new and established scholars from a range of disciplines. Handbook chapters review the dominant theoretical perspectives of STS, present the current state of research on a spectrum of topics in the field, analyze changes brought about by the commercialization of science, study interactions between science and other institutions, examine the role of experts and the public in scientific and technological decision making, and consider the cultural and social dimensions of new technologies. The New Handbook of Science and Technology Studies is the third in a series of volumes sponsored by the Society for Social Studies of Science that have defined the field of Science and Technology Studies. It will be an essential resource for scholars in that field as well as for those in such neighboring disciplines as anthropology, history, philosophy, sociology, law, political science, feminist and critical theory, and literary studies.

    Contributors Vincanne Adams, Warwick Anderson, Brian Balmer, Daneil Barben, Pablo Boczkowski, Steve Breyman, Massimiano Bucchi, Regula Burri, Nancy Campbell, Adele E. Clarke, H.M. Collins, Susan E. Cozzens, Jennifer L. Croissant, Park Doing, Joseph Dumit, Steven Epstein, Henry Etzkowitz, Robert Evans, Erik Fisher, Stefan Fuchs, Sonia Gatchair, Ronald N. Giere, Thomas F. Gieryn, Namrata Gupta, David H. Guston, Adam Hedgecoe, Christopher R. Henke, David Hess, Linda Hogle, Alan Irwin, Sheila Jasanoff, Deborah G. Johnson, David Kaiser, William Keith, Carol Kemelgor, Kyung-Sup Kim, Andrew Lakoff, Bruno Latour, Leah A. Lievrouw, Margaret Lock, Brian Martin, Paul Martin, Philip Mirowski, Cyrus Mody, Federico Neresini, Gonzalo Ordóñez, Nelly Oudshoorn, Trevor Pinch, Alex Preda, Brian Rappert, William Rehg, Marina Ranga, Cynthis Selin, Esther-Mirjam Sent, Steven Shapin, Sergio Sismondo, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Miriam Solomon, Susan Leigh Star, John Stone, Lucy Suchman, Anupit Supnithadnaporn, Charles Thorpe, Stephen Turner, The Virtual Knowledge Studio, Jameson M. Wetmore, Sally Wyatt, Steven Yearley