Peter Galison

Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. He is the author of Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps: Empires of Time, How Experiments End, and Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics, among other books, and coeditor (with Emily Thompson) of The Architecture of Science (MIT Press, 1999).

  • Objectivity

    Objectivity

    Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison

    The emergence of objectivity in the mid-nineteenth-century sciences, as revealed through images in scientific atlases—a story of how lofty epistemic ideals fuse with workaday practices.

    Objectivity has a history, and it is full of surprises. In Objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison chart the emergence of objectivity in the mid-nineteenth-century sciences—and show how the concept differs from its alternatives, truth-to-nature and trained judgment. This is a story of lofty epistemic ideals fused with workaday practices in the making of scientific images.

    From the eighteenth through the early twenty-first centuries, the images that reveal the deepest commitments of the empirical sciences—from anatomy to crystallography—are those featured in scientific atlases, the compendia that teach practitioners what is worth looking at and how to look at it. Galison and Daston use atlas images to uncover a hidden history of scientific objectivity and its rivals. Whether an atlas maker idealizes an image to capture the essentials in the name of truth-to-nature or refuses to erase even the most incidental detail in the name of objectivity or highlights patterns in the name of trained judgment is a decision enforced by an ethos as well as by an epistemology.

    As Daston and Galison argue, atlases shape the subjects as well as the objects of science. To pursue objectivity—or truth-to-nature or trained judgment—is simultaneously to cultivate a distinctive scientific self wherein knowing and knower converge. Moreover, the very point at which they visibly converge is in the very act of seeing not as a separate individual but as a member of a particular scientific community. Embedded in the atlas image, therefore, are the traces of consequential choices about knowledge, persona, and collective sight. Objectivity is a book addressed to anyone interested in the elusive and crucial notion of objectivity—and in what it means to peer into the world scientifically.

    • Hardcover $38.95 £26.95
    • Paperback $29.95 £24.00
  • The Architecture of Science

    The Architecture of Science

    Peter Galison and Emily Thompson

    The Architecture of Science offers a dazzling set of speculations by historians of science, architecture, and art; architectural theorists; and sociologists as well as practicing scientists and architects.

    How do the spaces in which science is done shape the identity of the scientist and the self-conception of scientific fields? How do the sciences structure the identity of the architect and the practice of architecture in a specific period? And how does the design of spaces such as laboratories, hospitals, and museums affect how the public perceives and interacts with the world of science? The Architecture of Science offers a dazzling set of speculations on these issues by historians of science, architecture, and art; architectural theorists; and sociologists as well as practicing scientists and architects. The essays are organized into six sections: "Of Secrecy and Openness: Science and Architecture in Early Modern Europe"; "Displaying and Concealing Technics in the Nineteenth Century"; "Modern Space"; "Is Architecture Science?"; "Princeton after Modernism: The Lewis Thomas Laboratory for Molecular Biology"; and "Centers, Cities, and Colliders."

    • Hardcover $75.00 £51.95
    • Paperback $74.00 £57.00

Contributor

  • For Want of a Nail

    For Want of a Nail

    Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, and Futurefarmers

    Three nails for J. Robert Oppenheimer, more than half a century after the Manhattan Project.

    For Want of a Nail takes as its starting point a series of curious memoranda sent from J. Robert Oppenheimer's office in October 1943 and archived in the Los Alamos Historical Museum, in which the eminent scientist repeatedly requests a nail in the wall upon which he could hang his hat. The persistence and specificity of the request for this nail inspired the international art collective Futurefarmers to create, by hand (and after more than a half-century delay), three nails for the theoretical physicist: one forged from a meteorite, one cast using 1943 steel pennies, and a third made by re-fusing Trinitite, a material formed by residue from the Trinity nuclear bomb test.

    Growing out of a site-specific contribution to an exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this book engages the region's complex nuclear history as it relates to land use, resource extraction, and the far-reaching decisions that were made within the Manhattan Project. Throughout this multidisciplinary project, Futurefarmers constructs a narrative that runs parallel, and in some cases counter to, the conventional accounts of the Manhattan Project and Oppenheimer, its chief architect. Through video stills, production shots, essays, and interviews—presented in a book with uncut, unopened pages that the reader may cut to access more images—For Want of a Nail not only opens new ways to think about the region's particular atomic history, but also prompts more general reflections on how knowledge and narrative are embedded and communicated in material objects, both ephemeral and ancient.

    Contributors Peter Galison, Patrick Kiley, Lucy Lippard, Megan Prelinger and Rick Prelinger, Anne Walsh

    • Paperback $30.00 £24.00
  • The View from Above

    The View from Above

    The Science of Social Space

    Jeanne Haffner

    The role of aerial photography in the evolution of the concept of social space”and its impact on French urban planning in the mid-twentieth century.

    In mid-twentieth century France, the term “social space” (l'espace social)—the idea that spatial form and social life are inextricably linked—emerged in a variety of social science disciplines. Taken up by the French New Left, it also came to inform the practice of urban planning. In The View from Above, Jeanne Haffner traces the evolution of the science of social space from the interwar period to the 1970s, illuminating in particular the role of aerial photography in this new way of conceptualizing socio-spatial relations.

    As early as the 1930s, the view from above served for Marcel Griaule and other anthropologists as a means of connecting the social and the spatial. Just a few decades later, the Marxist urban sociologist Henri Lefebvre called the perspective enabled by aerial photography—a technique closely associated with the French colonial state and military—“the space of state control.” Lefebvre and others nevertheless used the notion of social space to recast the problem of massive modernist housing projects (grands ensembles) to encompass the modern suburb (banlieue) itself—a critique that has contemporary resonance in light of the banlieue riots of 2005 and 2007. Haffner shows how such “views” permitted new ways of conceptualizing the old problem of housing to emerge. She also points to broader issues, including the influence of the colonies on the metropole, the application of sociological expertise to the study of the built environment, and the development of a spatially oriented critique of capitalism.

    • Hardcover $37.00 £29.00
  • 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 £10.99
    • Paperback $9.75 £7.99
  • Sensorium

    Sensorium

    Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art

    Caroline A. Jones

    Artists and writers reconsider the relationship between the body and electronic technology in the twenty-first century through essays, artworks, and an encyclopedic "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium."

    The relationship between the body and electronic technology, extensively theorized through the 1980s and 1990s, has reached a new technosensual comfort zone in the early twenty-first century. In Sensorium, contemporary artists and writers explore the implications of the techno-human interface. Ten artists, chosen by an international team of curators, offer their own edgy investigations of embodied technology and the technologized body. These range from Matthieu Briand's experiment in "controlled schizophrenia" and Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller's uneasy psychological soundscapes to Bruce Nauman's uncanny night visions and François Roche's destabilized architecture. The art in Sensorium—which accompanies an exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center—captures the aesthetic attitude of this hybrid moment, when modernist segmentation of the senses is giving way to dramatic multisensory mixes or transpositions. Artwork by each artist appears with an analytical essay by a curator, all of it prefaced by an anchoring essay on "The Mediated Sensorium" by Caroline Jones. In the second half of Sensorium, scholars, scientists, and writers contribute entries to an "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium." These short, playful pieces include Bruno Latour on "Air," Barbara Maria Stafford on "Hedonics," Michel Foucault (from a little-known 1966 radio lecture) on the "Utopian Body," Donna Haraway on "Compoundings," and Neal Stephenson on the "Viral." Sensorium is both forensic and diagnostic, viewing the culture of the technologized body from the inside, by means of contemporary artists' provocations, and from a distance, in essays that situate it historically and intellectually. Copublished with The MIT List Visual Arts Center.

    • Hardcover $46.95 £37.00