Eric Francoeur, Ursula Klein, Peter Ramberg, Sara Vollmer
This project, which began in January 1999 and was completed in most of its parts by the end of 2001, studies the tools and modes of representing invisible scientific objects in nineteenth- and twentieth-century laboratory sciences. The work of experimental scientists consists to a considerable extent in purifying experimental signals, processing marks and data, and constructing, manipulating and reading tables, graphs, diagrams, pictures, three-dimensional models, computer generated images, chemical and mathematical formulas and so on. The project’s aim is to historically and philosophically reconstruct such representational practices. It tackles questions such as: To what extent do specific sign systems and their tool-like manipulation contribute to reference in a given experimental practice? How do scientists’ preferences of sign systems, such as chemical formulas rather than verbal language, or computer-generated images rather than three-dimensional molecular models, contribute to the differentiation of meaning of scientific concepts? Why did nineteenth-century chemists implement theoretically loaded sign systems such as chemical formulas in their experimental practice, and what were the functions of such sign systems in that practice? How did three-dimensional molecular models applied by twentieth-century biochemists contribute to the interpretation of experiments and to conceptual development? What was the impact of computer generated images of molecular structure on structural biochemical research practice after 1960? What kinds of work are constitutive of the visualization of atoms in present scanning tunneling microscopy?
To answer questions like these, conceptual resources are taken from semiotics, epistemology, historiography, and the sociology of science. The overall methodological assumption is that representational practices in laboratory sciences can be studied with the same analytic resources as have been previously applied to historical studies of experimental interventions, skills, and laboratory instruments. The specific historical focus is on nineteenth- and twentieth-century chemistry and biochemistry and the intersections of these disciplines with other experimental cultures, such as crystallography, molecular biology, and molecular physics.
Apart from many journal articles and oral presentations, the three-year project’s results are two monographs (by Klein and Ramberg ) and one edited book (by Klein ). The latter, Tools and Modes of Representation in the Laboratory Sciences, 2001, Dordrecht: Kluwer, Boston Studies Series 222, is a revised edition of contributions to an international conference held at the Institute in December 1999. Another international conference, “The Digital Workbench: Computer Modeling, Data Processing, and Visualization in Science and Technology” (organized by Klein, co-organized by Francoeur ) took place in December 2001. Contributions from historians and sociologists of sciences as well as from computational scientists (most of them from other Max Planck Institutes) discussed problems relating to computer generated visualization, data processing, and computer simulation as a third method of scientific research complementing traditional experimental and theoretical work.
Organizer: Ursula Klein, co-organizer: Eric Francoeur (both Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
Lennart Bengtsson (Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie, Germany): On the Computer Modelling of the Earth Climate
Jed Z. Buchwald, Babak Ashrafi (California Institute of Technology, Department of History, U.S.A.) and Timothy Lenoir by video conference (Stanford University, Program in History and Philosophy of Science, U.S.A.): Collaborative Networks for the History of Contemporary Science
Eric Francoeur (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany): Science on the Screen: The Development and Use of Molecular Graphics
Peter Galison (Harvard University, Department of the History of Science, U.S.A.): Simulation against Reality
Gerd Graßhoff (University of Bern, Institute for Philosophy, Switzerland): White Dwarfs, Red Giants and Noisy Signals
Daniel Haag (University of Hohenheim, Institut für Bodenkunde und Standortslehre, Germany): Simulating the Ecosystem: Models of Ecological Complexity and Models for Human-Environment Interaction?
Joel Hagen (Radford University, Department of Biology, U.S.A.): Protein Biochemistry, Computational Biology, and the Origins of Bioinformatics
Ursula Klein (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Germany):
Introduction: The Epistemology of Computer Simulation
Michael Lynch (Cornell University, Department of Science & Technology Studies, U.S.A.): From Digits to Digitality: Transformations of Real and Metaphoric Fingerprints in Criminal Justice
Martina Merz (University of Bern and CERN, Geneva, Switzerland): Crossing Boundaries in Silico: Simulation as a Test Case for Mediation
Edgar Meyer (Texas A&M University, Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics, U.S.A.): Extending our Digital and Visual Perceptions
Mary S. Morgan (London School of Economics, UK and University of Amsterdam): Simulations: The Birth of a Technology to Create “Evidence” in Economics
Florian Mueller-Plathe (Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung, Germany): Computer Simulation in Chemistry - Understanding Experiments Better
Stephen D. Norton (University of Maryland, Department of Philosophy, U.S.A.): Scientific Experimentation, Simulation Modeling, and Experimental Control
Naomi Oreskes (University of California, Department of History, U.S.A.): From Scaling to Simulation: Models in the Earth Sciences, Changing Meanings and Ambitions
J. Ignacio Pascual (Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Germany): Scanning Tunneling Microscopy: A Computer-Based Tool to “Visualize” and Manipulate the Nano-World
Sergio Sismondo (Queen’s University, Department of Philosophy, Canada): Simulations and Naturalism: Creating a Policy-Relevant Hybrid
The development of structural theories in twentieth-century chemistry, biochemistry, and crystallography was concomitant with the development and adoption of techniques for graphically portraying molecular structures and constructing three-dimensional molecular models. Recent decades have also seen the development of computer generated interactive molecular graphics as yet another representational practice of molecular structure. As a continuation of his previous work on three-dimensional molecular models, Eric Francoeur has been conducting a study of the origin and development of interactive molecular graphics in the 1960s (partly in collaboration with Jérôme Ségal of Dept. III). The first stage of this study, which focused on the early period of this practice (1965-1970), with a special emphasis on the work of Cyrus Levinthal and his collaborators at MIT, is now completed and the result will appear in print shortly. This work was based on the analysis of interviews conducted with involved scientists and of printed and archival documents. Additionally, a wealth of rare visual material (photographs, slides, 16mm movies) has been accumulated through generous donation from various scientists. The task of digitizing this material and making it available on the web is currently under way (www.purl.org/efranc65/movie).
The next step of this research will be to look specifically at the development of molecular graphics as a technique and field of activity between 1970 and the early 1980s. By 1970, molecular graphics facilities started appearing in various universities and research centers in the US and the UK (Princeton, Washington University, Columbia University, National Institutes of Health, Oxford, University of Leeds). These facilities relied on expensive state-of-the-art computer graphics equipment and were financed by central funding organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health (US) and the National Research Council (UK). The role of these facilities was often to develop molecular graphics technology, expand the scope of its possible application (especially through interface and software development), and to serve the needs of the wider research community, i.e. provide access and collaborate with researchers whose work might benefit from molecular graphics. The research will focus on the development and the activities of these early molecular graphics facilities and their impact on areas of research such as macromolecular x-ray crystallography and drug design. The institutional dynamics of the field will also be investigated by looking in particular at the creation of the Society for Molecular Graphics and of the Journal of Molecular Graphics.
From the late 1820s onward, chemical formulas (such as H O for water), introduced by Jacob Berzelius in 1813 as a shorthand for representing the composition of inorganic compounds according to the theory of proportions, became enormously productive paper tools for representing experimentally explored chemical reactions in organic chemistry, for modeling the constitution of organic substances, and for creating novel modes of their classification. In the 1830s French and German chemists’ experiments and co-ordinated work on paper with chemical formulas generated a new concept and a new practical research agenda, “substitution,” which thoroughly altered the material culture of organic chemistry by creating a new world of synthetic organic laboratory substances. The project, which has been completed by a monograph currently in press at Stanford University Press (entitled Experiments, Models, Paper Tools: Cultures of Organic Chemistry in the Nineteenth Century), studied these historical changes of European organic chemistry between the late 1820s and the early 1840s, along with a semiotic and epistemological analysis of Berzelian formulas and their application as paper tools.
A central argument of the book is that chemists began applying chemical formulas not because they believed in the truth of disembodied theory, and not as a passive medium for expressing and illustrating extant knowledge, but rather as productive tools on paper or “paper tools” for achieving new goals. The notion of “paper tools” highlights nineteenth-century chemists’ pragmatism towards high-level theories and their use of such theories in practice for conducting experimental research and for classification. It further serves to focus historical analysis and reconstruction on the semiotic, material, and performative aspects of representation, model building, and conceptual development. Paper tools share many features of laboratory tools and performances without being identical to them. They are material devices in a semiotic sense; that is, they are visible and maneuverable marks on paper. Their manipulation is guided and constrained by their syntax and social rules of application, rather than being performed at will, just as the practical application of a physical tool is guided and constrained by technical design and collectively shared skills. Paper tools such as chemical formulas were applied by scientists as unquestioned implements for constructing chemical models. So too with laboratory instruments which, once stabilized, are no longer epistemically relevant in themselves but used as resources for new practices and goals. In the course of research, such stabilized tools, paper tools or laboratory tools, may be re-opened to scientific inquiry, for example when previous impurities become meaningful signals of a newly circumscribed scientific object. In the case of chemical formulas this happened repeatedly, the first time in the 1830s with the introduction of the concept of substitution. Any kind of tool may be developed in a variety of forms, and it may fulfill many different functions not foreseen by its inventor.
|A Chemical and Pharmaceutic Manipulations: A Manual of the Mechanical and Chemico- Mechanical Operations of the Laboratory|
Peter J. Ramberg
This project, which was completed in summer 2001, concerned the fundamental change in the practical use and meaning of chemical symbol systems from structural to stereochemical formulas during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The major part of this project was the completion of a book-length manuscript on the incorporation of spatial principles into chemical theory between 1874 and 1914. The book, entitled Chemical Structure, Spatial Arrangement: The Early History of Stereochemistry, 1874-1914 (Aldershot: Ashgate, in press) first outlines the theoretical and cultural context of the nearly simultaneous proposal of the tetrahedral carbon atom by J. H. van’t Hoff and J. A. Le Bel in 1874, and follows the research traditions created by their work in the chemistry of Johannes Wislicenus, Arthur Hantzsch, Victor Meyer, Carl Bischoff, Emil Fischer, and Alfred Werner. It shows the emergence of stereochemical ideas as a continuation of established research traditions in chemistry, while also illustrating the novel characteristics of stereochemical formulas and concepts, especially the unprecedented use of mechanistic and dynamic principles in chemical explanation.
The book also discusses issues in the philosophy of chemistry, such as the prediction of non-existent compounds by chemical theory. The stereochemical formulas developed from structural formulas in the 1870s and 1880s were mainly the result of the integration of different areas of theoretical chemical knowledge. Stereochemical formulas often referred to chemical compounds which existed only on paper, in a fictional world. Yet manipulations on paper also spurred chemists’ interests in exploring the possibilities of creating new artificial laboratory compounds. The book explores how chemists decided to isolate a previously non-existent compound predicted by the structure theory.
This project (completed in spring 2001) was concerned with the early history of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) in the 1980s and with its epistemology. Like x-ray crystallography and electron microscopy, STM permits the creation of images of the shapes of atoms and molecules. However, the way in which it produces these images is radically different from any previous method used to image particles. In STM, a tiny probe explores the surface of an object. When the probe is within a certain minimal distance of the object, electrical conductivity rapidly increases. The increase indicates the location of the “surface” of the object, and a computer interfaced with the probe records coordinates at which the electrical conductivity increases. The computer then creates an image (or images) that represents the object. These images are not unlike photographs of atoms showing, among other things, the surfaces of atoms as portions of spheres. In materials such as graphite and gold, these spheres can be seen to be arranged symmetrically, each sphere packed neatly amongst others.
This development in methods of observation raises epistemological questions. First is the question of how scientists decide that their technique is robust. How do they come to agree that their measurements report something that is not just an artifact of the instrumentation but instead a natural phenomenon? Furthermore, when scientists create images of molecules by scanning probe microscopy, it would seem that they “observe” the molecules that are imaged. Yet, scientists also emphasize that, unlike everyday observation, observation in STM is highly mediated, by instruments, skills and theories. The project’s main result is a paper, published in Philosophy of Science, that includes a philosophical analysis of these questions from the perspective of the current philosophical discourse on scientific observation.
John Dettloff, Ursula Klein, Sarah Lowengard, Susan McMahon, Jonathan Simon
This project studies the relationships between eighteenth-century and early-nineteenth-century experimentation, natural history, and artisanal practices from a historical, philosophical, and sociological perspective. The novelty of the project is that it aims to analyze and historically reconstruct a much neglected, yet very dominant style of experimentation in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which was to become the bedrock of technoscientific production in modern experimental cultures. Furthermore it no longer treats experimentation and classification in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as two distinct areas of historical investigation, but explores sites of their intersection as part of a more comprehensive historical ontology and social history of the past.
In the eighteenth century, alongside experimental philosophy, a second style of experimentation developed that shared not only instruments and skills with artisanal practices but also material objects, goals, and economic interests. This second style of experimentation, practiced mainly by chemists, also had strong ties to natural historical cultures via its objects of inquiry - minerals, plants and animals, and the components of these natural bodies - and modes of their classification. Apart from instruments and techniques, the material culture of this second, pluricentred style of experimentation implemented and further explored material artifacts produced and applied in apothecary officines, metallurgical ateliers, and other workshops - such as dye manufactures, perfumeries, distilleries, breweries, saltpeter and gunpowder ateliers - as well as natural objects, collected in fields, grown in botanical gardens, ordered in natural cabinets, and dissected in anatomical theaters.
The project’s first goal is to analyze and historically reconstruct this second, pluricentred style of experimentation and to compare it to experimental philosophy. Closely linked to this is the problem (to be explored afterwards) of how these two styles of eighteenth-century experimentation interacted and, beginning in the late eighteenth century and accelerating in the nineteenth century, partly coalesced into “experimental cultures” which transformed experimentation into a comprehensive space of production and reference and produced and individuated scientific objects totally unfamiliar to any extant practice and purpose outside research laboratories.
The second goal of the project is a comparative analysis of modes of classification linked with the pluricentred, chemical style of experimentation and other forms of practice. The project studies classification not as an isolated epistemic enterprise, and not only from its technical vantage-point, but as contextualized historical ontology. A contextualized historical ontology of classification includes questions concerning the kinds of objects to be classified and the sites and ways of their production, individuation, and demarcation. It studies the history of classification in connection with the history of types of practices and social institutions which entrench them. Practices as diverse as healing, artisanal work and labor, traveling and collecting of specimens in fields or in mines, breeding and growing of specimens in botanical gardens, ordering and storing of specimens in natural cabinets and museums, comparing and representing specimens at the writing desk, and experimentation (in private or public laboratories, pharmaceutical officines, assaying shops, arsenals, and other workshops) may all have contributed to the individuation and classification of objects that are studied in this project.
Two international workshops, which are currently being organized, relate to this project. First, a workshop entitled “Technoscientific Productivity” (organized by Klein, co-organized by David Bloor, University of Edinburgh, and Wolfgang Lefèvre, MPIWG), MPIWG, 25-27 July 2002 (http://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/TECHNOSCIENCE/). Second, a workshop entitled “Spaces of Classification” (organized by Klein ), MPIWG, 12-14 December 2002 (http://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/CLASSIFICATION/).
This project has been engaged in a detailed investigation of the interrelationships between natural history and chemical practice that developed in and around the botanical and apothecary gardens of eighteenth-century France. Chemistry first achieved sustained institutional support in the early modern French state in sites such as the Jardin du Roi and Jardin des apothicaires in Paris as well as other similar establishments located in the provinces. Chemical pedagogy and practice were established in these spaces as elements of the exercise of medicine and pharmacy; gardens provided the raw materials from which apothecaries prepared the plant distillates and extracts that composed the bulk of the official pharmacopoeia. The examination of chemical practice in gardens aims to achieve three principal historical goals. First, it describes the material, practical, and intellectual culture of the gardens where chemists worked in close conjunction with physicians and natural historians. Second, it scrutinizes the ways in which chemical practitioners constituted and treated plant and animal materials as research objects. It traces the challenges posed by these objects of inquiry to established chemical techniques of analysis and synthesis. It elucidates the ideas that chemists developed to explain the properties of plant and animal substances which included inchoate theories of chemical structure and formation as well as a novel concept of classification that abandoned the long-standing division of nature into three kingdoms and began to segregate natural beings into two categories - inorganic and organic. Third, it traces the elaboration of such notions by chemists and natural historians who worked outside the confines of botanical and apothecary gardens. Savants in diverse local contexts and with various intellectual and social interests used conceptions first articulated by medically and pharmaceutically oriented practitioners to explicate earth history and to inform a substantial experimental program in plant chemistry and physiology.
The historical study of chemistry in and around gardens constitutes one part of an ongoing larger project, which started in summer 1999, analyzing critical sites of chemical practice in eighteenth-century France. The project is moving toward the completion of a book length manuscript containing chapters on chemical laboratories, botanical gardens, mines and metallurgical manufactures, and arsenals and gunpowder ateliers. The text explores the changing economic and political pressures that pervaded these places, their social constituencies and constitution, and the material, manipulative, and intellectual patterns that developed in and around them during the second half of the eighteenth century. Ultimately, it will illuminate the dynamics of different forms of chemical practice as they evolved in specific local cultures.
Continuing an earlier survey on eighteenth-century and early-nineteenth-century plant and animal chemistry and the experimental culture of organic chemistry that developed after 1830, which is part of her book Experiments, Models, Paper Tools. Cultures of Organic Chemistry in the Nineteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, in press), Klein further explores experimental and other practices as well as modes of classification in these two cultures of organic chemistry in Germany and France. The focus is on ways of production, individuation and classification of the pluridetermined objects of inquiry in plant and animal chemistry and the experimentally circumscribed objects in organic chemistry after 1830. This historical and philosophical approach, which may be epitomized as contextualized historical ontology of experimentation and classification, complements historical and sociological inquires of other participants in the project who scrutinize social institutions and sites of the interaction between experimentation, artisanal production, and natural historical practices.
A book project (together with Wolfgang Lefèvre and Staffan Müller-Wille ) on modes of classification, experimental practices, and workshop traditions in Swedish and German mineralogy, French and German plant and carbon chemistry, and Continental European chemistry of pure laboratory substances around 1800 is currently in progress. Another goal of the project is to further elaborate analytical criteria for a subsequent larger book project on a history of eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century experimentation that compares the pluricentered style of eighteenth-century chemical experimentation with experimental philosophy and nineteenth-century experimental cultures.
Susan McMahon, who joined the research project in fall 2001, evaluates scientific classification systems within the social and political context of early 18th century Britain. In particular, her project is concerned with the classification enterprise of the natural philosopher John Ray, FRS
(1627-1705), who was the authoritative voice for a community of natural historians at the Royal Society of London and a key figure in contemporary European debates about the criteria for proper scientific classification, which were concerned with philosophical criteria for a universal science of order. McMahon’s approach seeks to embed attempts at universal classification in prior and subsequent social action, governed by institutions and rules which stabilize, maintain, and reinforce those concepts by social conventions. Thus, in addition to taxonomy as an articulated body of knowledge, classification systems are studied in terms of the social relations within a society which justifies, legitimates, and is persuaded by a particular taxonomy.
Jonathan Simon joined the research project in fall 2001 to work on the relationship between classification, collecting, and chemical theory in eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century mineralogy. The novelty of the project is in attempting to place theoretical approaches to classification in dialogue with the material practices of classification implicit in putting together a mineral collection. In an initial study, Simon is exploring the largely uncharted territory of eighteenth-century mineral collections. Basing the study on the catalogues of exemplary collections from Paris and the surrounding area, he aims to show how the organization of the collection and the evaluation of the relative worth of any specimen or series of specimens were related to the evolving sciences associated with mineralogy (chemistry, geology, and crystallography). This investigation into the changing nature of mineral collections at the end of the eighteenth century will shed new light on the complex relationships that existed between collectors, their expert advisors, scientific theories, and the actual physical objects that represented the mineral kingdom in the natural history cabinet. In this context, “The Creation of Order” applies both to the arrangement of material objects in physical space and to the cognitive classificatory structures that distributed a parallel series of mineralogical substances in mental space.
The focus for this study will be the changes that took place around 1800 when the new crystallographic theories of Romé de l’Isle and Haüy were introduced. This new wave in crystallography coincided with the reform (and often the dissolution) of natural history collections in Paris in the wake of the French Revolution. It was at this time that confiscation, liquidation, and chemical theory reshaped the mineral collection, while changes in science re-confirmed and regularized classificatory systems.
The focus of this one-year project, which was completed in summer 2000, was eighteenth-century understanding of color and color making processes. As a topic of considerable interest and conjecture in the eighteenth century for specialists and non-specialists alike, color proves to be uniquely suited to examination of the relationship between workshop or production-oriented goals and those of the academies. Eighteenth-century rhetoric stressed the combination of intellectual and economic value that might result from the application of philosophical ideas to practical endeavors. A body of knowledge about color, established by natural philosophers or physicists, supported investigations of new techniques as well as new theories. Scientific investigations of the arts and trades would provide groundwork for the improvement of established branches of industry and lead to the creation of new ones. Throughout the eighteenth century, experiments with pigments, glazes, and dyestuffs, and efforts to deepen understanding of these materials, offered obvious links between investigations into the natural world and improvements in the man-made one. A related question concerns eighteenth-century efforts to classify colors, and the role played by color making practice on theoretically derived color lines, wheels, triangles, spheres, and pyramids.
The thrust of the research has been to refine and expand the previous results of the doctoral thesis, which considered these connections in Britain and France, adding to it information from academic societies and commercial concerns in Germany. To this end, the research included: the development of a deeper fluency with eighteenth-century technical writing about color and color production, particularly that coming from or intended for Germany-based or German-speaking communities; the formulation of a clearer picture of the eighteenth-century intellectual and commercial communities in Germany; and the location of relevant archival sources to provide a clearer insight into personal and public beliefs and practices that may not have been appropriate for formal publication media.
In preparation for a biography of Sir William Crookes, William Brock spent September 2000 comparing the English translations made by Crookes of German textbooks on chemical technology and hygiene.
The purpose of Bensaude-Vincent’s research at the institute in March 2001 was to document the changing relations between nature and art over twentieth-century chemistry. She devoted some time to the study of plastics technology in the early decades of the twentieth century. Synthetic polymers such as celluloid or bakelite originated in commercial strategies as much as in the laboratories and manufactures. Their history is extremely important to point out how synthetic became a synonym of artificial and how the plasticity of synthetic polymers deeply transformed the perception of nature. The recent trends of biomimetics was the second focus of her research. Thanks to the resources of the library and on-line journals available at the Institute she has been able to identify the main actors in this field and to gather a number of key publications on the subject. The outcome of this one-month stay was a paper read at a conference in Boston in May
2001 and a paper to be published in a forthcoming collective volume on Nature and Art.
During his visit in July and August 2001 David Bloor followed two lines of work. First, he was able to devote time to translating some early papers in aeronautics, e.g. the work of W. M. Kutta (1910, 1911) who produced the first plausible mathematical analysis of the lift and drag of a wing. Second, he participated in a series of meetings with Ursula Klein and Wolfgang Lefèvre, in which they addressed philosophical and methodological problems. These culminated in the preparation of the workshop “Technoscientific Productivity,” due to be held in July of 2002.
Heather P. Ewing
Heather P. Ewing was a guest from 1 September to 30 November 2001. Her project seeks to establish in more detail the itinerary and character of the life of James Smithson (1764/5-1829), the English gentleman-scientist whose bequest established the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. It has three principal aspects: reconstructing the social and scientific networks within which Smithson interacted; gaining a clearer picture of Smithson’s scientific education and methodology; and developing a context for the forces that helped shape his philanthropic vision. Her research in Berlin focused in particular on Smithson’s contact with German chemists and mineralogists during his Grand Tour travel in the 1790s and on the period of his imprisonment in Toenning and Hamburg during the Napoleonic Wars.
Johannes Hunger was a guest of the group as a DFG Emmy Noether fellow from February until August 2001. He continued his work on the heuristics of scientific discovery with respect to twentieth-century physical chemistry.
Andrew Pickering was a visitor in June and July 2000 and July 2001. Each time he worked on two topics. The first centered on the relation between academic research in organic chemistry and the synthetic dye industry in the second half of the 19th century. In June 2000, he presented a paper on “The Alchemical Wedding of Science and Industry: Synthetic Dyes and Social Theory.” In 2001, he continued his research in that area and completed revisions of the paper, which has now been submitted for consideration by a major sociology journal.
The second focus of his research was the history of cybernetics since World War II. In July 2000, he presented his work at an Institute colloquium, in a talk entitled “Scenes from the History of Cybernetics.” In July 2001 he finished work on revisions to that paper, which has since been accepted for publication in the leading journal in science studies, Social Studies of Science, and, in French translation, in a book, La reconfiguration des sciences pour l’action dans les années 1950, edited by A. Dahan & D. Pestre. In July 2001 he also led a well attended and very lively discussion of a more general paper informed by these two projects, “In the Thick of Things.”
Stephen Weininger was a visitor in May 2000 and in May and June 2001. His work during his stays
was part of a larger study of the history of physical organic chemistry in the post-World War II period. One particular issue that occupies an important place in his study is the role of military funding in the progress of the field. His work had concentrated on the US up to his arrival at the MPIWG. The relevant historical developments in Germany, studied during his visits, presented many intriguing unknowns, such as the impact of the Cold War, a topic that would include the question of military funding as well.
After World War II physical organic chemistry began to gain ground in Germany, primarily in the Federal Republic. With the support of the MPIWG, Stephen Weininger interviewed nine of the chemists participating in these developments. The recorded interviews (in English) were transcribed and copies of the tapes and transcripts will be deposited in the MPIWG library where they will be archived and made available to scholars. They will also be the subject of appropriate publications on his part.