front cover of About Method
About Method
Experimenters, Snake Venom, and the History of Writing Scientifically
Jutta Schickore
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Scientists’ views on what makes an experiment successful have developed dramatically throughout history. Different criteria for proper experimentation were privileged at different times, entirely new criteria for securing experimental results emerged, and the meaning of commitment to experimentation altered. In About Method, Schickore captures this complex trajectory of change from 1660 to the twentieth century through the history of snake venom research. As experiments with poisonous snakes and venom were both challenging and controversial, the experimenters produced very detailed accounts of their investigations, which go back three hundred years—making venom research uniquely suited for such a long-term study. By analyzing key episodes in the transformation of venom research, Schickore is able to draw out the factors that have shaped methods discourse in science.
 
About Method shows that methodological advancement throughout history has not been simply a steady progression toward better, more sophisticated and improved methodologies of experimentation. Rather, it was a progression in awareness of the obstacles and limitations that scientists face in developing strategies to probe the myriad unknown complexities of nature. The first long-term history of this development and of snake venom research, About Method offers a major contribution to integrated history and philosophy of science.
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Animal, Vegetable, Digital
Experiments in New Media Aesthetics and Environmental Poetics
Elizabeth Swanstrom
University of Alabama Press, 2016
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
 
An audacious, interdisciplinary study that combines the burgeoning fields of digital aesthetics and eco-criticism
 
In Animal, Vegetable, Digital, Elizabeth Swanstrom makes a confident and spirited argument for the use of digital art in support of ameliorating human engagement with the environment and suggests a four-part framework for analyzing and discussing such applications.
 
Through close readings of a panoply of texts, artworks, and cultural artifacts, Swanstrom demonstrates that the division popular culture has for decades observed between nature and technology is artificial. Not only is digital technology not necessarily a brick in the road to a dystopian future of environmental disaster, but digital art forms can be a revivifying bridge that returns people to a more immediate relationship to nature as well as their own embodied selves.
 
To analyze and understand the intersection of digital art and nature, Animal, Vegetable, Digital explores four aesthetic techniques: coding, collapsing, corresponding, and conserving. “Coding” denotes the way artists use operational computer code to blur distinctions between the reader and text, and, hence, the world. Inviting a fluid conception of the boundary between human and technology, “collapsing” voids simplistic assumptions about the human body’s innate perimeter. The process of translation between natural and human-readable signs that enables communication is described as “corresponding.” “Conserving” is the application of digital art by artists to democratize large- and small-scale preservation efforts.
 
A fascinating synthesis of literary criticism, communications and journalism, science and technology, and rhetoric that draws on such disparate phenomena as simulated environments, video games, and popular culture, Animal, Vegetable, Digital posits that partnerships between digital aesthetics and environmental criticism are possible that reconnect humankind to nature and reaffirm its kinship with other living and nonliving things.
 
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Beautiful Experiments
An Illustrated History of Experimental Science
Philip Ball
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A New Scientist Best Book of 2023

Featuring two hundred color plates, this history of the craft of scientific inquiry is as exquisite as the experiments whose stories it shares.

 
This illustrated history of experimental science is more than just a celebration of the ingenuity that scientists and natural philosophers have used throughout the ages to study—and to change—the world. Here we see in intricate detail experiments that have, in some way or another, exhibited elegance and beauty: in their design, their conception, and their execution. Celebrated science writer Philip Ball invites readers to marvel at and admire the craftsmanship of scientific instruments and apparatus on display, from the earliest microscopes to the giant particle colliders of today. With Ball as our expert guide, we are encouraged to think carefully about what experiments are, what they mean, and how they are used. Ranging across millennia and geographies, Beautiful Experiments demonstrates why “experiment” remains a contested notion in science, while also exploring how we came to understand the way the world functions, what it contains, and where the pursuit of that understanding has brought us today.
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Benjamin Franklin's Science
I. Bernard Cohen
Harvard University Press, 1990

Benjamin Franklin is well known to most of us, yet his fundamental and wide-ranging contributions to science are still not adequately understood. Until now he has usually been incorrectly regarded as a practical inventor and tinkerer rather than a scientific thinker. He was elected to membership in the elite Royal Society because his experiments and original theory of electricity had made a science of that new subject. His popular fame came from his two lightning experiments—the sentry-box experiment and the later and more famous experiment of the kite—which confirmed his theoretical speculations about the identity of electricity and provided a basis for the practical invention of the lightning rod. Franklin advanced the eighteenth-century understanding of all phenomena of electricity and provided a model for experimental science in general.

I. Bernard Cohen, an eminent historian of science and the principal elucidator of Franklin’s scientific work, examines his activities in fields ranging from heat to astronomy. He provides masterful accounts of the theoretical background of Franklin’s science (especially his study of Newton), the experiments he performed, and their influence throughout Europe as well as the United States. Cohen emphasizes that Franklin’s political and diplomatic career cannot be understood apart from his scientific activities, which established his reputation and brought him into contact with leaders of British and European society. A supplement by Samuel J. Edgerton considers Franklin’s attempts to improve the design of heating stoves, another practical application that arose from theoretical interests.

This volume will be valuable to all readers wanting to learn more about Franklin and to gain a deeper appreciation of the development of science in America.

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Chemical Demonstrations, Volume 1
A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry
Bassam Z. Shakhashiri
University of Wisconsin Press, 1983

    The demonstrations capture interest, teach, inform, fascinate, amaze, and perhaps, most importantly, involve students in chemistry. Nowhere else will you find books that answer, "How come it happens? . . . Is it safe? . . . What do I do with all the stuff when the demo is over?"
    Shakhashiri and his collaborators offer 282 chemical demonstrations arranged in 11 chapters. Each demonstration includes seven sections: a brief summary, a materials list, a step-by-step account of procedures to be used, an explanation of the hazards involved, information on how to store or dispose of the chemicals used, a discussion of the phenomena displayed and principles illustrated by the demonstration, and a list of references.

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Chemical Demonstrations, Volume 5
A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry
Bassam Z. Shakhashiri
University of Wisconsin Press, 2011

Color and light are the focus of this long-awaited fifth volume in the Chemical Demonstrations series, which describes demonstrations that effectively communicate science to both students and general audiences. Using full color illustrations, the book provides meticulous instructions for safely demonstrating colorful phenomena and illustrating scientific principles. A rich introductory section explores the science of color and light, outlines the chemical processes of vision, and explains what happens when visual information enters the human eye and is perceived by the brain. With more than fifty demonstrations and multiple procedures included, this volume offers abundant opportunities to arouse and sustain interest in science for both classroom and public presentations.

Each demonstration includes:
•    a brief description of the demonstration
•    a materials list
•    a step-by-step account of procedures to be used
•    an explanation of the potential hazards involved
•    information on safely storing and disposing the chemicals used
•    a full discussion of the phenomena displayed and principles illustrated
•    a list of references.

Created by acclaimed chemists and science educators Bassam Shakhashiri and his collaborators Rodney Schreiner and Jerry Bell, these demonstrations make an impressive addition to the earlier volumes, which have been lauded for guiding teachers and scientists in effectively communicating science. Like all volumes in the series, Volume 5 communicates chemistry using pedagogical knowledge to enhance the effectiveness of demonstrations to all audiences.

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Children of the Stars
Indigenous Science Education in a Reservation Classroom
Ed Galindo
Oregon State University Press, 2022
In the 1990s, Ed Galindo, a high school science teacher on the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho, took a team of Shoshone-Bannock students first to Johnson Space Center in Texas and then to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. These students had submitted a project to a competitive NASA program that was usually intended for college students—and they earned a spot to see NASA astronauts test out their experiment in space. The students designed and built the project themselves: a system to mix phosphate and water in space to create a fertilizer that would aid explorers in growing food on other planets.

In Children of the Stars, Galindo relates his experience with this first team and with successive student teams, who continued to participate in NASA programs over the course of a decade. He discusses the challenges of teaching American Indian students, from the practical limits of a rural reservation school to the importance of respecting and incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems. In describing how he had to earn the trust of his students to truly be successful as their teacher, Galindo also touches on the complexities of community belonging and understanding; although Indigenous himself, Galindo is not a member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes and was still an outsider who had as much to learn as the students.

Children of the Stars is the story of students and a teacher, courage and hope. Written in a conversational style, it’s an accessible story about students who were supported and educated in culturally relevant ways and so overcame the limitations of an underfunded reservation school to reach great heights.
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Climate Games
Experiments on How People Prevent Disaster
Talbot M. Andrews, Andrew W. Delton, and Reuben Kline
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Can humanity work together to mitigate the effects of climate change? Climate Games argues we can. This book brings together a decade and a half of experimentation, conducted by researchers around the world, which shows that people can and will work together to prevent disasters like climate change. These experiments, called economic games, put money on the line to create laboratory disasters. Participants must work together by spending a bit of money now to prevent themselves from losing even more money in the future. Will people sacrifice their own money to prevent disaster? Can people make wise decisions? And can people decide wisely on behalf of others? The answer is a resounding yes. 

Yet real climate change is a complex social dilemma involving the world’s nearly eight billion inhabitants. In the real world, the worst effects of climate change are likely to be felt by developing countries, while most of the decisions will be made by rich, industrialized countries. And while the world as a whole would be better off if all nations reduced their greenhouse gas emissions, any given nation could decide it would be even better off if it continued emitting and let other nations take care of the problem. These disaster experiments test how real people respond to climate change’s unique constellation of challenges and deliver a positive message: People will prevent disaster.
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Crumpled Paper Boat
Experiments in Ethnographic Writing
Anand Pandian and Stuart McLean, editors
Duke University Press, 2017
Crumpled Paper Boat is a book of experimental ventures in ethnographic writing, an exploration of the possibilities of a literary anthropology. These original essays from notable writers in the field blur the boundaries between ethnography and genres such as poetry, fiction, memoir, and cinema. They address topics as diverse as ritual expression in Cuba and madness in a Moroccan city, the HIV epidemic in South Africa and roadkill in suburban America. Essays alternate with methodological reflections on fundamental problems of writerly heritage, craft, and responsibility in anthropology. Crumpled Paper Boat engages writing as a creative process of encounter, a way of making and unmaking worlds, and a material practice no less participatory and dynamic than fieldwork itself. These talented writers show how inventive, appealing, and intellectually adventurous prose can allow us to enter more profoundly into the lives and worlds of others, breaking with conventional notions of representation and subjectivity. They argue that such experimentation is essential to anthropology’s role in the contemporary world, and one of our most powerful means of engaging it.
 
Contributors. Daniella Gandolfo, Angela Garcia, Tobias Hecht, Michael Jackson, Adrie Kusserow, Stuart McLean, Todd Ramón Ochoa, Anand Pandian, Stefania Pandolfo, Lisa Stevenson, Kathleen Stewart

A School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar
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front cover of Design for London
Design for London
Experiments in Urban Thinking
Edited by Peter Bishop and Lesley Williams
University College London, 2020
Design for London is the product of a unique experiment in urban planning, design and strategic thinking. Set up in 2006 by then-Mayor Ken Livingstone and his Architectural Advisor Richard Rogers, the brief for the team was “to think about London, what made London unique and how it could be made better.” At the time, large-scale state investment was often not an option, and political consensus was fragmented. In addition, cities, by their nature, are fashioned through complex negotiation and deal making that involves many different stakeholders with different agendas. All of these factors complicated the assignment—and made the resulting projects and ideas more interesting. This book aims to provide an engaging account of the strategic approaches and work of Design for London. It outlines how key projects such as the London Olympics, public space programmes, high street regeneration and greening programs were managed.
 
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front cover of Designing Experimental Research in Archaeology
Designing Experimental Research in Archaeology
Examining Technology through Production and Use
Jeffrey R. Ferguson
University Press of Colorado, 2010
Designing Experimental Research in Archaeology is a guide for the design of archaeological experiments for both students and scholars. Experimental archaeology provides a unique opportunity to corroborate conclusions with multiple trials of repeatable experiments and can provide data otherwise unavailable to archaeologists without damaging sites, remains, or artifacts.

Each chapter addresses a particular classification of material culture-ceramics, stone tools, perishable materials, composite hunting technology, butchering practices and bone tools, and experimental zooarchaeology-detailing issues that must be considered in the development of experimental archaeology projects and discussing potential pitfalls. The experiments follow coherent and consistent research designs and procedures and are placed in a theoretical context, and contributors outline methods that will serve as a guide in future experiments. This degree of standardization is uncommon in traditional archaeological research but is essential to experimental archaeology.

The field has long been in need of a guide that focuses on methodology and design. This book fills that need not only for undergraduate and graduate students but for any archaeologist looking to begin an experimental research project.

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Desiring China
Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture
Lisa Rofel
Duke University Press, 2007
Through window displays, newspapers, soap operas, gay bars, and other public culture venues, Chinese citizens are negotiating what it means to be cosmopolitan citizens of the world, with appropriate needs, aspirations, and longings. Lisa Rofel argues that the creation of such “desiring subjects” is at the core of China’s contingent, piece-by-piece reconfiguration of its relationship to a post-socialist world. In a study at once ethnographic, historical, and theoretical, she contends that neoliberal subjectivities are created through the production of various desires—material, sexual, and affective—and that it is largely through their engagements with public culture that people in China are imagining and practicing appropriate desires for the post-Mao era.

Drawing on her research over the past two decades among urban residents and rural migrants in Hangzhou and Beijing, Rofel analyzes the meanings that individuals attach to various public cultural phenomena and what their interpretations say about their understandings of post-socialist China and their roles within it. She locates the first broad-based public debate about post-Mao social changes in the passionate dialogues about the popular 1991 television soap opera Yearnings. She describes how the emergence of gay identities and practices in China reveals connections to a transnational network of lesbians and gay men at the same time that it brings urban/rural and class divisions to the fore. The 1999–2001 negotiations over China’s entry into the World Trade Organization; a controversial women’s museum; the ways that young single women portray their longings in relation to the privations they imagine their mothers experienced; adjudications of the limits of self-interest in court cases related to homoerotic desire, intellectual property, and consumer fraud—Rofel reveals all of these as sites where desiring subjects come into being.

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Double Exposure
How Social Psychology Fell in Love with the Movies
Kathryn Millard
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Double Exposure examines the role of film in shaping social psychology’s landmark postwar experiments. We are told that most of us will inflict electric shocks on a fellow citizen when ordered to do so. Act as a brutal prison guard when we put on a uniform. Walk on by when we see a stranger in need. But there is more to the story. Documentaries that investigators claimed as evidence were central to capturing the public imagination. Did they provide an alibi for twentieth century humanity? Examining the dramaturgy, staging and filming of these experiments, including Milgram's Obedience Experiments, the Stanford Prison Experiment and many more, Double Exposure recovers a new set of narratives.
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Drift and Mastery
An Attempt to Diagnose the Current Unrest
Walter Lippmann, Introduction and notes by William E. Leuchtenburg, Foreword by Ganesh Sitaraman
University of Wisconsin Press, 2015
In 1914, a brilliant young political journalist published a book arguing that the United States had entered a period of “drift”—a lack of control over rapidly changing forces in society. He highlighted the tensions between expansion and consolidation, traditionalism and progressivism, and emotion and rationality. He wrote to convince readers that they could balance these tensions: they could be organized, efficient, and functional without sacrificing impulse, choice, or liberty. Mastery over drift is attainable, Walter Lippmann argued, through diligent attention to facts and making active choices. Democracy, Lippman wrote, is “a use of freedom, an embrace of opportunity.”
            Lippman’s Drift and Mastery became one of the most important and influential documents of the Progressive Movement. It remains a valuable text for understanding the political thought of early twentieth-century America and a lucid exploration of timeless themes in American government and politics. Distinguished historian Walter Leuchtenberg’s 1986 introduction and notes are retained in this edition.
            Ganesh Sitaraman, who has provided a foreword for this centennial edition, suggests that Lippmann’s classic still has much to say to twenty-first-century progressives. The underlying solutions for our time, he believes, are similar to those of Lippman’s era. Sitaraman contends that American society can regain mastery over drift by reforming finance and reducing inequality, by rethinking the relationship between corporations and workers, and by embracing changes in social life.
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The Experimental Fire
Inventing English Alchemy, 1300–1700
Jennifer M. Rampling
University of Chicago Press, 2020
A 400-year history of the development of alchemy in England that brings to light the evolution of the practice.

In medieval and early modern Europe, the practice of alchemy promised extraordinary physical transformations. Who would not be amazed to see base metals turned into silver and gold, hard iron into soft water, and deadly poison into elixirs that could heal the human body? To defend such claims, alchemists turned to the past, scouring ancient books for evidence of a lost alchemical heritage and seeking to translate their secret language and obscure imagery into replicable, practical effects.

Tracing the development of alchemy in England over four hundred years, from the beginning of the fourteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, Jennifer M. Rampling illuminates the role of alchemical reading and experimental practice in the broader context of national and scientific history. Using new manuscript sources, she shows how practitioners like George Ripley, John Dee, and Edward Kelley, as well as many previously unknown alchemists, devised new practical approaches to alchemy while seeking the support of English monarchs. By reconstructing their alchemical ideas, practices, and disputes, Rampling reveals how English alchemy was continually reinvented over the space of four centuries, resulting in changes to the science itself. In so doing, The Experimental Fire bridges the intellectual history of chemistry and the wider worlds of early modern patronage, medicine, and science.
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The Experimental Side of Modeling
Isabelle F. Peschard
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

An innovative, multifaceted approach to scientific experiments as designed by and shaped through interaction with the modeling process


The role of scientific modeling in mediation between theories and phenomena is a critical topic within the philosophy of science, touching on issues from climate modeling to synthetic models in biology, high energy particle physics, and cognitive sciences. Offering a radically new conception of the role of data in the scientific modeling process as well as a new awareness of the problematic aspects of data, this cutting-edge volume offers a multifaceted view on experiments as designed and shaped in interaction with the modeling process.

Contributors address such issues as the construction of models in conjunction with scientific experimentation; the status of measurement and the function of experiment in the identification of relevant parameters; how the phenomena under study are reconceived when accounted for by a model; and the interplay between experimenting, modeling, and simulation when results do not mesh. Highlighting the mediating role of models and the model-dependence (as well as theory-dependence) of data measurement, this volume proposes a normative and conceptual innovation in scientific modeling—that the phenomena to be investigated and modeled must not be precisely identified at the start but specified during the course of the interactions arising between experimental and modeling activities.

Contributors: Nancy D. Cartwright, U of California, San Diego; Anthony Chemero, U of Cincinnati; Ronald N. Giere, U of Minnesota; Jenann Ismael, U of Arizona; Tarja Knuuttila, U of South Carolina; Andrea Loettgers, U of Bern, Switzerland; Deborah Mayo, Virginia Tech; Joseph Rouse, Wesleyan U; Paul Teller, U of California, Davis; Michael Weisberg, U of Pennsylvania; Eric Winsberg, U of South Florida.

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front cover of Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic
Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic
Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project
Edited by Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, Lisa L. Moore, and Sharon Bridgforth
University of Texas Press, 2010

In Austin, Texas, in 2002, a group of artists, activists, and academics led by performance studies scholar Omi Osun Joni L. Jones formed the Austin Project (tAP), which meets annually in order to provide a space for women of color and their allies to build relationships based on trust, creativity, and commitment to social justice by working together to write and perform work in the jazz aesthetic.

Inspired by this experience, this book is both an anthology of new writing and a sourcebook for those who would like to use creative writing and performance to energize their artistic, scholarly, and activist practices. Theoretical and historical essays by Omi Osun Joni L. Jones describe and define the African American tradition of art-making known as the jazz aesthetic, and explain how her own work in this tradition inspired her to start tAP.

Key artists in the tradition, from Bessie Award–winning choreographer Laurie Carlos and writer/performer Robbie McCauley to playwrights Daniel Alexander Jones and Carl Hancock Rux, worked with the women of tAP as mentors and teachers. This book brings together never-before-published, must-read materials by these nationally known artists and the transformative writing of tAP participants. A handbook for workshop leaders by Lambda Literary Award–winning writer Sharon Bridgforth, tAP's inaugural anchor artist, offers readers the tools for starting similar projects in their own communities. A full-length script of the 2005 tAP performance is an original documentation of the collaborative, breath-based, body work of the jazz aesthetic in theatre, and provides both a script for use by theatre artists and an invaluable documentation of a major transformative movement in contemporary performance.

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Experiments in Consilience
Integrating Social And Scientific Responses To Save Endangered Species
Edited by Frances R. Westley and Philip S. Miller
Island Press, 2003

In his 1998 book Consilience, E.O. Wilson set forth the idea that integrating knowledge and insights from across the spectrum of human study -- the humanities, social science, and natural sciences -- is the key to solving complex environmental and social problems. Experiments in Consilience tells the unique story of a pathbreaking effort to apply this theoretical construct in a real-world setting.

The book describes the work of the Biodiversity Research Network, a team of experts from the United States and Canada brought together to build interdisciplinary connections and stimulate an exchange of expertise. Team members sought to understand the ecology and population dynamics of key species in particular ecosystems, to understand the impact of human populations on those species and ecosystems, and to develop tools and processes for involving a greater variety of stakeholders in conservation efforts.

In order to keep the experiment grounded, the network focused on a single type of conservation planning workshop run by a single organization -- the Population and Habitat Viability Assessment Workshop (PHVA) of the IUCN-sponsored Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG).

The book combines sections on the theoretical underpinnings of relevant concepts in population biology, simulation modeling, and social science with detailed descriptions of six PHVA workshops conducted on different species across four continents. A concluding chapter examines the lessons learned, which have application to both theory and practice, including reflections on interdisciplinarity, integrated risk assessment, and future directions for research and action. Through the combination of theory and application, combined with frank discussions of what the research network learned -- including both successes and failures -- the book offers fresh ideas on how to improve on-the-ground conservation decisionmaking.

Experiments in Consilience offers a one-of-a-kind overview and introduction to the challenges of cross-disciplinary analysis as well as cross-functional, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral action. It centers on the problem of conserving endangered species while telling the story of a new form of organizing for effective risk assessment, recommendation, and action.

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Experiments in Democracy
Interracial and Cross-Cultural Exchange in American Theatre, 1912-1945
Edited by Cheryl Black and Jonathan Shandell
Southern Illinois University Press, 2016
In the first half of the twentieth century, a number of American theatres and theatre artists fostered interracial collaboration and socialization on stage, behind the scenes, and among audiences. In an era marked by entrenched racial segregation and inequality, these artists used performance to bridge America’s persistent racial divide and to bring African American, Latino/Latina, Asian American, Native American, and Jewish American communities and traditions into the nation’s broader cultural conversation.
 
In Experiments in Democracy, edited by Cheryl Black and Jonathan Shandell, theatre historians examine a wide range of performances—from Broadway, folk plays and dance productions to scripted political rallies and radio dramas. Contributors look at such diverse groups as the Theatre Union, La Unión Martí-Maceo, and the American Negro Theatre, as well as individual playwrights and their works, including Theodore Browne’s folk opera Natural Man, Josefina Niggli’s Soldadera, and playwright Lynn Riggs’s Cherokee Night and Green Grow the Lilacs (the basis for the musical Oklahoma!). Exploring the ways progressive artists sought to connect isolated racial and cultural groups in pursuit of a more just and democratic society, contributors take into account the blind spots, compromised methods, and unacknowledged biases at play in their practices and strategies. Essays demonstrate how the gap between the ideal of American democracy and its practice—mired in entrenched systems of white privilege, economic inequality, and social prejudice—complicated the work of these artists.
 
Focusing on questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality on the stage in the decades preceding the Civil Rights era, Experiments in Democracy fills an important gap in our understanding of the history of the American stage—and sheds light on these still-relevant questions in contemporary American society. 
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Experiments in Ethics
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Harvard University Press, 2008

In the past few decades, scientists of human nature—including experimental and cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists, evolutionary theorists, and behavioral economists—have explored the way we arrive at moral judgments. They have called into question commonplaces about character and offered troubling explanations for various moral intuitions. Research like this may help explain what, in fact, we do and feel. But can it tell us what we ought to do or feel? In Experiments in Ethics, the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah explores how the new empirical moral psychology relates to the age-old project of philosophical ethics.

Some moral theorists hold that the realm of morality must be autonomous of the sciences; others maintain that science undermines the authority of moral reasons. Appiah elaborates a vision of naturalism that resists both temptations. He traces an intellectual genealogy of the burgeoning discipline of "experimental philosophy," provides a balanced, lucid account of the work being done in this controversial and increasingly influential field, and offers a fresh way of thinking about ethics in the classical tradition.

Appiah urges that the relation between empirical research and morality, now so often antagonistic, should be seen in terms of dialogue, not contest. And he shows how experimental philosophy, far from being something new, is actually as old as philosophy itself. Beyond illuminating debates about the connection between psychology and ethics, intuition and theory, his book helps us to rethink the very nature of the philosophical enterprise.

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Experiments in Mystical Atheism
Godless Epiphanies from Daoism to Spinoza and Beyond
Brook Ziporyn
University of Chicago Press, 2024
A new approach to the theism-scientism divide rooted in a deeper form of atheism.
 
Western philosophy is stuck in an irresolvable conflict between two approaches to the spiritual malaise of our times: either we need more God (the “turn to religion”) or less religion (the New Atheism). In this book, Brook Ziporyn proposes an alternative that avoids both totalizing theomania and meaningless empiricism. What we need, he argues, is a deeper, more thoroughgoing, even religious rejection of God: an affirmative atheism without either a Creator to provide meaning or finite creatures in need of it—a mystical atheism.

In the legacies of Daoism and Buddhism as well as Spinoza, Nietzsche, and Bataille, Ziporyn discovers a critique of theism that develops into a new, positive sensibility—at once deeply atheist and richly religious. Experiments in Mystical Atheism argues that these “godless epiphanies” hold the key to renewing philosophy today.
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Experiments in Plant Hybridisation
Gregor Mendel
Harvard University Press, 1965
One of the most influential and important scientific works ever written, the 1865 paper “Experiments in Plant Hybridisation” was all but ignored in its day, and its author, Austrian priest and scientist Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–1884), died before seeing the dramatic long-term impact of his work, which was rediscovered at the turn of the 20th century and is now considered foundational to modern genetics. A simple, eloquent description of his 1856–1863 study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants—Mendel analyzed 29,000 of them—this is essential reading for biology students and readers of science history.
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Experiments in Skin
Race and Beauty in the Shadows of Vietnam
Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu
Duke University Press, 2021
In Experiments in Skin Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu examines the ongoing influence of the Vietnam War on contemporary ideas about race and beauty. Framing skin as the site around which these ideas have been formed, Tu foregrounds the histories of militarism in the production of US biomedical knowledge and commercial cosmetics. She uncovers the efforts of wartime scientists in the US Military Dermatology Research Program to alleviate the environmental and chemical risks to soldiers' skin. These dermatologists sought relief for white soldiers while denying that African American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians were also vulnerable to harm. Their experiments led to the development of pharmaceutical cosmetics, now used by women in Ho Chi Minh City to tend to their skin, and to grapple with the damage caused by the war's lingering toxicity. In showing how the US military laid the foundations for contemporary Vietnamese consumption of cosmetics and practices of beauty, Tu shows how the intersecting histories of militarism, biomedicine, race, and aesthetics become materially and metaphorically visible on skin.
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Experiments with Body Agent Architecture
The 586-year-old Spiritello in Il Regno Digitale
Alessandro Ayuso
University College London, 2022
Explore the human figure as an agent of design through scholarly analysis and fiction narrative.

Experiments with Body Agent Architecture proposes the notion of body agents: non-ideal, animate, and highly specific figures integrated with design to enact particular notions of embodied subjectivity in architecture. Body agents present opportunities for architects to increase imaginative and empathic qualities in their designs.
 
Beginning with narrative writing from the viewpoint of a body agent who finds himself uncomfortably inhabiting a digital milieu, the book combines speculative historical fiction and original design experiments. It focuses on the process of creating multimedia design experiments, moving from the design of the body itself as an original prosthetic to architectural proposals emanating from the body.
 
A fragmented history of the figure in architecture is charted and woven into the designs, with chapters examining Michelangelo’s enigmatic figures in his drawings for the New Sacristy in the early sixteenth century, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s physically ephemeral putti adorning chapels and churches in the seventeenth century, and Austrian artist-architect Walter Pichler’s personal and prescient figures of the twentieth century. 
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Experiments with Empire
Anthropology and Fiction in the French Atlantic
Justin Izzo
Duke University Press, 2019
In Experiments with Empire Justin Izzo examines how twentieth-century writers, artists, and anthropologists from France, West Africa, and the Caribbean experimented with ethnography and fiction in order to explore new ways of knowing the colonial and postcolonial world. Focusing on novels, films, and ethnographies that combine fictive elements and anthropological methods and modes of thought, Izzo shows how empire gives ethnographic fictions the raw materials for thinking beyond empire's political and epistemological boundaries. In works by French surrealist writer Michel Leiris and filmmaker Jean Rouch, Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau, and others, anthropology no longer functions on behalf of imperialism as a way to understand and administer colonized peoples; its relationship with imperialism gives writers and artists the opportunity for textual experimentation and political provocation. It also, Izzo contends, helps readers to better make sense of the complicated legacy of imperialism and to imagine new democratic futures.
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Experiments with Power
Obeah and the Remaking of Religion in Trinidad
J. Brent Crosson
University of Chicago Press, 2020
In 2011, Trinidad declared a state of emergency. This massive state intervention lasted for 108 days and led to the rounding up of over 7,000 people in areas the state deemed “crime hot spots.” The government justified this action and subsequent police violence on the grounds that these measures were restoring “the rule of law.” In this milieu of expanded policing powers, protests occasioned by police violence against lower-class black people have often garnered little sympathy. But in an improbable turn of events, six officers involved in the shooting of three young people were charged with murder at the height of the state of emergency. To explain this, the host of Crime Watch, the nation’s most popular television show, alleged that there must be a special power at work: obeah.

From eighteenth-century slave rebellions to contemporary responses to police brutality, Caribbean methods of problem-solving “spiritual work” have been criminalized under the label of “obeah.” Connected to a justice-making force, obeah remains a crime in many parts of the anglophone Caribbean. In Experiments with Power, J. Brent Crosson addresses the complex question of what obeah is. Redescribing obeah as “science” and “experiments,” Caribbean spiritual workers unsettle the moral and racial foundations of Western categories of religion. Based on more than a decade of conversations with spiritual workers during and after the state of emergency, this book shows how the reframing of religious practice as an experiment with power transforms conceptions of religion and law in modern nation-states.
 
[more]

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Galileo’s Glassworks
The Telescope and the Mirror
Eileen Reeves
Harvard University Press, 2008

The Dutch telescope and the Italian scientist Galileo have long enjoyed a durable connection in the popular mind--so much so that it seems this simple glass instrument transformed a rather modest middle-aged scholar into the bold icon of the Copernican Revolution. And yet the extraordinary speed with which the telescope changed the course of Galileo's life and early modern astronomy obscures the astronomer's own curiously delayed encounter with the instrument. This book considers the lapse between the telescope's creation in The Hague in 1608 and Galileo's alleged acquaintance with such news ten months later. In an inquiry into scientific and cultural history, Eileen Reeves explores two fundamental questions of intellectual accountability: what did Galileo know of the invention of the telescope, and when did he know it?

The record suggests that Galileo, like several of his peers, initially misunderstood the basic design of the telescope. In seeking to explain the gap between the telescope's emergence and the alleged date of the astronomer's acquaintance with it, Reeves explores how and why information about the telescope was transmitted, suppressed, or misconstrued in the process. Her revised version of events, rejecting the usual explanations of silence and idleness, is a revealing account of the role that misprision, error, and preconception play in the advancement of science.

Along the way, Reeves offers a revised chronology of Galileo's life in a critical period and, more generally, shows how documents typically outside the scope of early modern natural philosophy--medieval romances, travel literature, and idle speculations--relate to two crucial events in the history of science.

[more]

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Gandhi’s Printing Press
Experiments in Slow Reading
Isabel Hofmeyr
Harvard University Press, 2013

At the same time that Gandhi, as a young lawyer in South Africa, began fashioning the tenets of his political philosophy, he was absorbed by a seemingly unrelated enterprise: creating a newspaper. Gandhi’s Printing Press is an account of how this project, an apparent footnote to a titanic career, shaped the man who would become the world-changing Mahatma. Pioneering publisher, experimental editor, ethical anthologist—these roles reveal a Gandhi developing the qualities and talents that would later define him.

Isabel Hofmeyr presents a detailed study of Gandhi’s work in South Africa (1893–1914), when he was the some-time proprietor of a printing press and launched the periodical Indian Opinion. The skills Gandhi honed as a newspaperman—distilling stories from numerous sources, circumventing shortages of type—influenced his spare prose style. Operating out of the colonized Indian Ocean world, Gandhi saw firsthand how a global empire depended on the rapid transmission of information over vast distances. He sensed that communication in an industrialized age was becoming calibrated to technological tempos.

But he responded by slowing the pace, experimenting with modes of reading and writing focused on bodily, not mechanical, rhythms. Favoring the use of hand-operated presses, he produced a newspaper to contemplate rather than scan, one more likely to excerpt Thoreau than feature easily glossed headlines. Gandhi’s Printing Press illuminates how the concentration and self-discipline inculcated by slow reading, imbuing the self with knowledge and ethical values, evolved into satyagraha, truth-force, the cornerstone of Gandhi’s revolutionary idea of nonviolent resistance.

[more]

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Gravity's Ghost and Big Dog
Scientific Discovery and Social Analysis in the Twenty-First Century
Harry Collins
University of Chicago Press, 2013
Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog brings to life science’s efforts to detect cosmic gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are predicted by general relativity, and their discovery will not only demonstrate the truth of Einstein’s theories but also transform astronomy. Although no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected, the previous five years have been an especially exciting period in the field. Here sociologist Harry Collins offers readers an unprecedented view of gravitational wave research and explains what it means for an analyst to do work of this kind.
           
Collins was embedded with the gravitational wave physicists as they confronted two possible discoveries—“Big Dog,” fully analyzed in this volume for the first time, and the “Equinox Event,” which was first chronicled by Collins in Gravity’s Ghost. Collins records the agonizing arguments that arose as the scientists worked out what they had seen and how to present it to the world, along the way demonstrating how even the most statistical of sciences rest on social and philosophical choices. Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog draws on nearly fifty years of fieldwork observing scientists at the American Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and elsewhere around the world to offer an inspired commentary on the place of science in society today.

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Gravity's Ghost
Scientific Discovery in the Twenty-first Century
Harry Collins
University of Chicago Press, 2010

In theory, at least, gravitational waves do exist. We are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation, which is generated when stars explode or collide and a portion of their mass becomes energy that ripples out like a disturbance on the surface of a serene pond. But unfortunately no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected even though the search has lasted more than forty years.

As the leading chronicler of the search for gravitational waves, Harry Collins has been right there with the scientists since the start. The result of his unprecedented access to the front lines of physical science is Gravity’s Ghost, a thrilling chronicle of high-stakes research and cutting-edge discovery. Here, Collins reveals that scientific discovery and nondiscovery can turn on scientific traditions and rivalries, that ideal statistical analysis rests on impossible procedures and unattainable knowledge, and that fact in one place is baseless assumption in another. He also argues that sciences like gravitational wave detection, in exemplifying how the intractable is to be handled, can offer scientific leadership a moral beacon for the twenty-first century. In the end, Gravity’s Ghost shows that discoveries are the denouements of dramatic scientific mysteries.

[more]

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How Experiments End
Peter Galison
University of Chicago Press, 1987
"Galison provides excellent histories of three experimental episodes: the measurement of the gyromagnetic ratio of the electron, the discovery of the mu meson, or muon, and the discovery of weak neutral currents. These studies of actual experiments will provide valuable material for both philosophers and historians of science and Galison's own thoughts on the nature of experiment are extremely important. . . . Galison has given both philosophers and historians much to think about. I strongly urge you to read this book."—Allan Franklin, British Journal of the Philosophy of Science

"Anyone who is seriously concerned with understanding how research is done should read this. There have been many books on one or another part of its subject matter but few giving such insights into how the research is done and how the consensus of discovery is arrived at."—Frank Close, New Scientist

"[Galison] is to be congratulated on producing a masterpiece in the field."—Michael Redhead, Synthese

"How Experiments End is a major historical work on an exciting topic."—Andy Pickering, Isis
[more]

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Image and Logic
A Material Culture of Microphysics
Peter Galison
University of Chicago Press, 1997
"I want to get at the blown glass of the early cloud chambers and the oozing noodles of wet nuclear emulsion; to the resounding crack of a high-voltage spark arcing across a high-tension chamber and leaving the lab stinking of ozone; to the silent, darkened room, with row after row of scanners sliding trackballs across projected bubble-chamber images. Pictures and pulses—I want to know where they came from, how pictures and counts got to be the bottom-line data of physics." (from the preface)

Image and Logic is the most detailed engagement to date with the impact of modern technology on what it means to "do" physics and to be a physicist. At the beginning of this century, physics was usually done by a lone researcher who put together experimental apparatus on a benchtop. Now experiments frequently are larger than a city block, and experimental physicists live very different lives: programming computers, working with industry, coordinating vast teams of scientists and engineers, and playing politics.

Peter L. Galison probes the material culture of experimental microphysics to reveal how the ever-increasing scale and complexity of apparatus have distanced physicists from the very science that drew them into experimenting, and have fragmented microphysics into different technical traditions much as apparatus have fragmented atoms to get at the fundamental building blocks of matter. At the same time, the necessity for teamwork in operating multimillion-dollar machines has created dynamic "trading zones," where instrument makers, theorists, and experimentalists meet, share knowledge, and coordinate the extraordinarily diverse pieces of the culture of modern microphysics: work, machines, evidence, and argument.
[more]

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Incarceration Games
A History of Role-Play in Psychology, Prisons, and Performance
Stephen Scott-Bottoms
University of Michigan Press, 2024
Do you want to play a game?

Incarceration Games reexamines the complex history and troubled legacy of improvised, interactive role-playing experiments. With particular attention to the notorious Stanford prison study, the author draws on extensive archival research and original interviews with many of those involved, to refocus attention on the in-game choices of the role-players themselves.

Role-playing as we understand it today was initially developed in the 1930s as a therapeutic practice within the New York state penal system. This book excavates that history and traces the subsequent adoption of these methods for lab experimentation, during the postwar “stage production era” in American social psychology. It then examines the subsequent mutation of the Stanford experiment, in particular, into cultural myth—exploring the ways in which these distorted understandings have impacted on everything from reality TV formats to the “enhanced interrogation” of real-world terror suspects. Incarceration Games asks readers to reconsider what they thought they knew about this tangled history, and to look at it again from the role-player’s perspective.
[more]

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Information and Experimental Knowledge
James Mattingly
University of Chicago Press, 2021
An ambitious new model of experimentation that will reorient our understanding of the key features of experimental practice.

What is experimental knowledge, and how do we get it? While there is general agreement that experiment is a crucial source of scientific knowledge, how experiment generates that knowledge is far more contentious. In this book, philosopher of science James Mattingly explains how experiments function. Specifically, he discusses what it is about experimental practice that transforms observations of what may be very localized, particular, isolated systems into what may be global, general, integrated empirical knowledge. Mattingly argues that the purpose of experimentation is the same as the purpose of any other knowledge-generating enterprise—to change the state of information of the knower. This trivial-seeming point has a non-trivial consequence: to understand a knowledge-generating enterprise, we should follow the flow of information. Therefore, the account of experimental knowledge Mattingly provides is based on understanding how information flows in experiments: what facilitates that flow, what hinders it, and what characteristics allow it to flow from system to system, into the heads of researchers, and finally into our store of scientific knowledge.
[more]

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Learning More from Social Experiments
Evolving Analytic Approaches
Howard S. Bloom
Russell Sage Foundation, 2005
Policy analysis has grown increasingly reliant on the random assignment experiment—a research method whereby participants are sorted by chance into either a program group that is subject to a government policy or program, or a control group that is not. Because the groups are randomly selected, they do not differ from one another systematically. Therefore any differences between the groups at the end of the study can be attributed solely to the influence of the program or policy. But there are many questions that randomized experiments have not been able to address. What component of a social policy made it successful? Did a given program fail because it was designed poorly or because it suffered from low participation rates? In Learning More from Social Experiments, editor Howard Bloom and a team of innovative social researchers profile advancements in the scientific underpinnings of social policy research that can improve randomized experimental studies. Using evaluations of actual social programs as examples, Learning More from Social Experiments makes the case that many of the limitations of random assignment studies can be overcome by combining data from these studies with statistical methods from other research designs. Carolyn Hill, James Riccio, and Bloom profile a new statistical model that allows researchers to pool data from multiple randomized-experiments in order to determine what characteristics of a program made it successful. Lisa Gennetian, Pamela Morris, Johannes Bos, and Bloom discuss how a statistical estimation procedure can be used with experimental data to single out the effects of a program's intermediate outcomes (e.g., how closely patients in a drug study adhere to the prescribed dosage) on its ultimate outcomes (the health effects of the drug). Sometimes, a social policy has its true effect on communities and not individuals, such as in neighborhood watch programs or public health initiatives. In these cases, researchers must randomly assign treatment to groups or clusters of individuals, but this technique raises different issues than do experiments that randomly assign individuals. Bloom evaluates the properties of cluster randomization, its relevance to different kinds of social programs, and the complications that arise from its use. He pays particular attention to the way in which the movement of individuals into and out of clusters over time complicates the design, execution, and interpretation of a study. Learning More from Social Experiments represents a substantial leap forward in the analysis of social policies. By supplementing theory with applied research examples, this important new book makes the case for enhancing the scope and relevance of social research by combining randomized experiments with non-experimental statistical methods, and it serves as a useful guide for researchers who wish to do so.
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Lost Literacies
Experiments in the Nineteenth-Century US Comic Strip
Alex Beringer
The Ohio State University Press, 2024

Lost Literacies is the first full-length study of US comic strips from the period prior to the rise of Sunday newspaper comics. Where current histories assume that nineteenth-century US comics consisted solely of single-panel political cartoons or simple “proto-comics,” Lost Literacies introduces readers to an ambitious group of artists and editors who were intent on experimenting with the storytelling possibilities of the sequential strip, resulting in playful comics whose existence upends prevailing narratives about the evolution of comic strips. 

Over the course of the nineteenth century, figures such as artist Frank Bellew and editor T. W. Strong introduced sequential comic strips into humor magazines and precursors to graphic novels known as “graphic albums.” These early works reached audiences in the tens of thousands. Their influences ranged from Walt Whitman’s poetry to Mark Twain’s travel writings to the bawdy stage comedies of the Bowery Theatre. Most importantly, they featured new approaches to graphic storytelling that went far beyond the speech bubbles and panel grids familiar to us today. As readers of Lost Literacies will see, these little-known early US comic strips rival even the most innovative modern comics for their diversity and ambition. 

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Mohandas Gandhi
Experiments in Civil Disobedience
Talat Ahmed
Pluto Press, 2016
Mohandas Gandhi, icon of Indian liberation, remains an inspiration for anti-capitalists and peace activists globally. His campaigns for national liberation based on non-violence and mass civil disobedience were critical to defeating the power of the British Empire.

This biography examines his campaigns from South Africa to India to evaluate the successes and failures of non-violent resistance. Seventy years after his death, his legacy remains contested: was he a saint, revolutionary, class conciliator, or self-obsessed spiritual zealot?

The contradictions of Gandhi’s politics are unpicked through an analysis of the social forces at play in the mass movement around him. Entrusted to liberate the oppressed of India, his key support base were industrialists, landlords and the rich peasantry. Gandhi’s moral imperatives often clashed with these vested material interests, as well as with more radical currents to his left.

Today, our world is scarred by permanent wars, racism and violence, environmental destruction and economic crisis. Can non-violent resistance win against state and corporate power? This book explores Gandhi’s experiments in civil disobedience to assess their relevance for struggles today.
[more]

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MOOCs and Their Afterlives
Experiments in Scale and Access in Higher Education
Edited by Elizabeth Losh
University of Chicago Press, 2017
A trio of headlines in the Chronicle of Higher Education seem to say it all: in 2013, “A Bold Move Toward MOOCs Sends Shock Waves;” in 2014, “Doubts About MOOCs Continue to Rise,” and in 2015, “The MOOC Hype Fades.” At the beginning of the 2010s, MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, seemed poised to completely revolutionize higher education. But now, just a few years into the revolution, educators’ enthusiasm seems to have cooled. As advocates and critics try to make sense of the rise and fall of these courses, both groups are united by one question: Where do we go from here?

Elizabeth Losh has gathered experts from across disciplines—education, rhetoric, philosophy, literary studies, history, computer science, and journalism—to tease out lessons and chart a course into the future of open, online education. Instructors talk about what worked and what didn’t. Students share their experiences as participants. And scholars consider the ethics of this education. The collection goes beyond MOOCs to cover variants such as hybrid or blended courses, SPOCs (Small Personalized Online Courses), and DOCCs (Distributed Open Collaborative Course). Together, these essays provide a unique, even-handed look at the MOOC movement and will serve as a thoughtful guide to those shaping the next steps for open education.
[more]

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A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders
Electricity and Enlightenment in Early America
James Delbourgo
Harvard University Press, 2006

Benjamin Franklin's invention of the lightning rod is the founding fable of American science, but Franklin was only one of many early Americans fascinated by electricity. As a dramatically new physical experience, electricity amazed those who dared to tame the lightning and set it coursing through their own bodies. Thanks to its technological and medical utility, but also its surprising ability to defy rational experimental mastery, electricity was a powerful experience of enlightenment, at once social, intellectual, and spiritual.

In this compelling book, James Delbourgo moves beyond Franklin to trace the path of electricity through early American culture, exploring how the relationship between human, natural, and divine powers was understood in the eighteenth century. By examining the lives and visions of natural philosophers, spectacular showmen, religious preachers, and medical therapists, he shows how electrical experiences of wonder, terror, and awe were connected to a broad array of cultural concerns that defined the American Enlightenment. The history of lightning rods, electrical demonstrations, electric eels, and medical electricity reveals how early American science, medicine, and technology were shaped by a culture of commercial performance, evangelical religion, and republican politics from mid-century to the early republic.

The first book to situate early American experimental science in the context of a transatlantic public sphere, A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders offers a captivating view of the origins of American science and the cultural meaning of the American Enlightenment. In a story of shocks and sparks from New England to the Caribbean, Delbourgo brilliantly illuminates a revolutionary New World of wonder.

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Observation and Experiment
An Introduction to Causal Inference
Paul R. Rosenbaum
Harvard University Press, 2017

A daily glass of wine prolongs life—yet alcohol can cause life-threatening cancer. Some say raising the minimum wage will decrease inequality while others say it increases unemployment. Scientists once confidently claimed that hormone replacement therapy reduced the risk of heart disease but now they equally confidently claim it raises that risk. What should we make of this endless barrage of conflicting claims?

Observation and Experiment is an introduction to causal inference by one of the field’s leading scholars. An award-winning professor at Wharton, Paul Rosenbaum explains key concepts and methods through lively examples that make abstract principles accessible. He draws his examples from clinical medicine, economics, public health, epidemiology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry to explain how randomized control trials are conceived and designed, how they differ from observational studies, and what techniques are available to mitigate their bias.

“Carefully and precisely written…reflecting superb statistical understanding, all communicated with the skill of a master teacher.”
—Stephen M. Stigler, author of The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom

“An excellent introduction…Well-written and thoughtful…from one of causal inference’s noted experts.”
Journal of the American Statistical Association

“Rosenbaum is a gifted expositor…an outstanding introduction to the topic for anyone who is interested in understanding the basic ideas and approaches to causal inference.”
Psychometrika

“A very valuable contribution…Highly recommended.”
International Statistical Review

[more]

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The Philosophy Of Scientific Experimentation
Hans Radder
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003

Since the late 1980s, the neglect of experiment by philosophers and historians of science has been replaced by a keen interest in the subject. In this volume, a number of prominent philosophers of experiment directly address basic theoretical questions, develop existing philosophical accounts, and offer novel perspectives on the subject, rather than rely exclusively on historical cases of experimental practice.

Each essay examines one or more of six interconnected themes that run throughout the collection: the philosophical implications of actively and intentionally interfering with the material world while conducting experiments; issues of interpretation regarding causality; the link between science and technology; the role of theory in experimentation involving material and causal intervention; the impact of modeling and computer simulation on experimentation; and the philosophical implications of the design, operation, and use of scientific instruments.

[more]

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Physics Demonstrations
A Sourcebook for Teachers of Physics
Julien Clinton Sprott
University of Wisconsin Press, 2015
Wow! How? Few techniques are as effective at generating interest in science as dramatic demonstrations. This fully illustrated sourcebook describes eighty-five physics demonstrations suitable for performance both inside and outside classrooms. These demonstrations will fascinate and amaze while teaching the wonders and practical science of physics. Videos for the demonstrations are online at http://physicsdemonstrationsvideos.com/.
            Dr. Sprott shares demonstrations tested over many years in his popular public lectures on “The Wonders of Physics,” which appeal to general audiences and to students from grade school to graduate school. Science teachers at all levels will find a wealth of detail showing how to present these demonstrations to students with flair. Science professionals will find indispensable information for creating educational and entertaining public programs. Organized to teach the six major areas of classical physics—motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light—Physics Demonstrations includes:
• a brief description of each demonstration
• materials lists, with sources for common materials
• preparation procedures
• discussions of the physics principles demonstrated
• potential safety hazards
• references for further information.
[more]

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Science in the Age of Computer Simulation
Eric Winsberg
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Computer simulation was first pioneered as a scientific tool in meteorology and nuclear physics in the period following World War II, but it has grown rapidly to become indispensible in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including astrophysics, high-energy physics, climate science, engineering, ecology, and economics. Digital computer simulation helps study phenomena of great complexity, but how much do we know about the limits and possibilities of this new scientific practice? How do simulations compare to traditional experiments? And are they reliable? Eric Winsberg seeks to answer these questions in Science in the Age of Computer Simulation.

Scrutinizing these issue with a philosophical lens, Winsberg explores the impact of simulation on such issues as the nature of scientific evidence; the role of values in science; the nature and role of fictions in science; and the relationship between simulation and experiment, theories and data, and theories at different levels of description. Science in the Age of Computer Simulation will transform many of the core issues in philosophy of science, as well as our basic understanding of the role of the digital computer in the sciences.

[more]

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Scientific History
Experiments in History and Politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the End of the Cold War
Elena Aronova
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Increasingly, scholars in the humanities are calling for a reengagement with the natural sciences. Taking their cues from recent breakthroughs in genetics and the neurosciences, advocates of “big history” are reassessing long-held assumptions about the very definition of history, its methods, and its evidentiary base. In Scientific History, Elena Aronova maps out historians’ continuous engagement with the methods, tools, values, and scale of the natural sciences by examining several waves of their experimentation that surged highest at perceived times of trouble, from the crisis-ridden decades of the early twentieth century to the ruptures of the Cold War. 

The book explores the intertwined trajectories of six intellectuals and the larger programs they set in motion: Henri Berr (1863–1954), Nikolai Bukharin (1888–1938), Lucien Febvre (1878–1956), Nikolai Vavilov (1887–1943), Julian Huxley (1887–1975), and John Desmond Bernal (1901–1971). Though they held different political views, spoke different languages, and pursued different goals, these thinkers are representative of a larger motley crew who joined the techniques, approaches, and values of science with the writing of history, and who created powerful institutions and networks to support their projects. 

In tracing these submerged stories, Aronova reveals encounters that profoundly shaped our knowledge of the past, reminding us that it is often the forgotten parts of history that are the most revealing.
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Scientific Practice
Theories and Stories of Doing Physics
Edited by Jed Z. Buchwald
University of Chicago Press, 1995
Most recent work on the nature of experiment in physics has focused on "big science"—the large-scale research addressed in Andrew Pickering's Constructing Quarks and Peter Galison's How Experiments End.

This book examines small-scale experiment in physics, in particular the relation between theory and practice. The contributors focus on interactions among the people, materials, and ideas involved in experiments—factors that have been relatively neglected in science studies.

The first half of the book is primarily philosophical, with contributions from Andrew Pickering, Peter Galison, Hans Radder, Brian Baigrie, and Yves Gingras. Among the issues they address are the resources deployed by theoreticians and experimenters, the boundaries that constrain theory and practice, the limits of objectivity, the reproducibility of results, and the intentions of researchers. The second half is devoted to historical case studies in the practice of physics from the early nineteenth to the early twentieth century. These chapters address failed as well as successful experimental work ranging from Victorian astronomy through Hertz's investigation of cathode rays to Trouton's attempt to harness the ether. Contributors to this section are Jed Z. Buchwald, Giora Hon, Margaret Morrison, Simon Schaffer, and Andrew Warwick.

With a lucid introduction by Ian Hacking, and original articles by noted scholars in the history and philosophy of science, this book is poised to become a significant source on the nature of small-scale experiment in physics.
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Selectivity And Discord
Two Problems Of Experiment
Allan Franklin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002

Selectivity and Discord addresses the fundamental question of whether there are grounds for belief in experimental results. Specifically, Allan Franklin is concerned with two problems in the use of experimental results in science: selectivity of data or analysis procedures and the resolution of discordant results.

By means of detailed case studies of episodes from the history of modern physics, Franklin shows how these problems can be—and are—solved in the normal practice of science and, therefore, that experimental results may be legitimately used as a basis for scientific knowledge.

[more]

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Sensing the Future
Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.)
Nancy Perloff
J. Paul Getty Trust, The, 2024
In the 1960s and '70s, collaborations between artists and engineers led to groundbreaking innovations in multisensory performance art that continue to resonate today.

In 1966, Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer, engineers at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey, teamed up with artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman to form a nonprofit organization, Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.). E.A.T.’s debut event, 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, integrated art, theater, and groundbreaking technology in a series of performances at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Its second major event, the 1970 Pepsi Pavilion in Osaka, Japan, presented a complex, multisensory environment for the first world exposition held in Asia. At these events, and in the hundreds of collaborations E.A.T. facilitated in between, its members—including John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, and David Tudor—imagined innovative ways for art and science to intersect and enrich society.

Sensing the Future tells the story of how this unique organization brought artists and engineers together to pioneer technology-based artworks and performances. Through the examination of films, photographs, diagrams, and ephemera from the archives of the Getty Research Institute, this volume provides a new perspective on multimedia art in the 1960s and '70s and highlights the ways E.A.T. pushed the role of the artist beyond the traditional art world.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the Getty Research Institute at the Getty Center from September 10, 2024, to February 23, 2025.
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Shifting Standards
Experiments in Particle Physics in the Twentieth Century
Allan Franklin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013
In Shifting Standards, Allan Franklin provides an overview of notable experiments in particle physics. Using papers published in Physical Review, the journal of the American Physical Society, as his basis, Franklin details the experiments themselves, their data collection, the events witnessed, and the interpretation of results. From these papers, he distills the dramatic changes to particle physics experimentation from 1894 through 2009.

Franklin develops a framework for his analysis, viewing each example according to exclusion and selection of data; possible experimenter bias; details of the experimental apparatus; size of the data set, apparatus, and number of authors; rates of data taking along with analysis and reduction; distinction between ideal and actual experiments; historical accounts of previous experiments; and personal comments and style.

From Millikan’s tabletop oil-drop experiment to the Compact Muon Solenoid apparatus measuring approximately 4,000 cubic meters (not including accelerators) and employing over 2,000 authors, Franklin’s study follows the decade-by-decade evolution of scale and standards in particle physics experimentation. As he shows, where once there were only one or two collaborators, now it literally takes a village. Similar changes are seen in data collection: in 1909 Millikan’s data set took 175 oil drops, of which he used 23 to determine the value of e, the charge of the electron; in contrast, the 1988–1992 E791 experiment using the Collider Detector at Fermilab, investigating the hadroproduction of charm quarks, recorded 20 billion events. As we also see, data collection took a quantum leap in the 1950s with the use of computers. Events are now recorded at rates as of a few hundred per second, and analysis rates have progressed similarly.

Employing his epistemology of experimentation, Franklin deconstructs each example to view the arguments offered and the correctness of the results. Overall, he finds that despite the metamorphosis of the process, the role of experimentation has remained remarkably consistent through the years: to test theories and provide factual basis for scientific knowledge, to encourage new theories, and to reveal new phenomenon.
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Split and Splice
A Phenomenology of Experimentation
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
University of Chicago Press, 2023
An esteemed historian of science explores the diversity of scientific experimentation.
 
The experiment has long been seen as a test bed for theory, but in Split and Splice, Hans-Jörg Rheinberger makes the case, instead, for treating experimentation as a creative practice. His latest book provides an innovative look at the experimental protocols and connections that have made the life sciences so productive.
 
Delving into the materiality of the experiment, the first part of the book assesses traces, models, grafting, and note-taking—the conditions that give experiments structure and make discovery possible. The second section widens its focus from micro-level laboratory processes to the temporal, spatial, and narrative links between experimental systems. Rheinberger narrates with accessible examples, most of which are drawn from molecular biology, including from the author’s laboratory notebooks from his years researching ribosomes.
 
A critical hit when it was released in Germany, Split and Splice describes a method that involves irregular results and hit-or-miss connections—not analysis, not synthesis, but the splitting and splicing that form a scientific experiment. Building on Rheinberger’s earlier writing about science and epistemology, this book is a major achievement by one of today’s most influential theorists of scientific practice.
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Thrifty Science
Making the Most of Materials in the History of Experiment
Simon Werrett
University of Chicago Press, 2018
If the twentieth century saw the rise of “Big Science,” then the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were surely an age of thrift. As Simon Werrett’s new history shows, frugal early modern experimenters transformed their homes into laboratories as they recycled, repurposed, repaired, and reused their material possessions to learn about the natural world.
 
Thrifty Science explores this distinctive culture of experiment and demonstrates how the values of the household helped to shape an array of experimental inquiries, ranging from esoteric investigations of glowworms and sour beer to famous experiments such as Benjamin Franklin’s use of a kite to show lightning was electrical and Isaac Newton’s investigations of color using prisms. Tracing the diverse ways that men and women put their material possessions into the service of experiment, Werrett offers a history of practices of recycling and repurposing that are often assumed to be more recent in origin. This thriving domestic culture of inquiry was eclipsed by new forms of experimental culture in the nineteenth century, however, culminating in the resource-hungry science of the twentieth. Could thrifty science be making a comeback today, as scientists grapple with the need to make their research more environmentally sustainable?
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Wetwares
Experiments In Postvital Living
Richard Doyle
University of Minnesota Press, 2003

A dizzying tour of the ways technologies, both real and imagined, can transform humanity

The mind of the machine, the body suspended in time, organs exchanged, thought computed, genes manipulated, DNA samples abducted by aliens: the terrain between science and speculation, fraught with the possibility of technological and perhaps even evolutionary transformations, is the territory Richard Doyle explores in Wetwares. In a manner at once sober and playful, Doyle maps potentials for human transformation by new ecologies of information in the early twenty-first century.

Wetwares ranges over recent research in artificial life, cloning, cryonics, computer science, organ transplantation, and alien abduction. Moving between actual technical practices, serious speculative technology, and science fiction, Doyle shows us emerging scientific paradigms where “life” becomes more a matter of information than of inner vitality—in short, becomes “wetwares” for DNA and computer networks. Viewing technologies of immortality—from cryonics to artificial life—as disciplines for welcoming a thoroughly other future, a future of neither capital, god, human, nor organism, the book offers tools for an evolutionary, transhuman mutation in the utterly unpredictable decades to come.
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What Makes a Good Experiment?
Reasons and Roles in Science
Allan Franklin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015
What makes a good experiment? Although experimental evidence plays an essential role in science, as Franklin argues, there is no algorithm or simple set of criteria for ranking or evaluating good experiments, and therefore no definitive answer to the question. Experiments can, in fact, be good in any number of ways: conceptually good, methodologically good, technically good, and pedagogically important. And perfection is not a requirement: even experiments with incorrect results can be good, though they must, he argues, be methodologically good, providing good reasons for belief in their results. Franklin revisits the same important question he posed in his 1981 article in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, when it was generally believed that the only significant role of experiment in science was to test theories. But experiments can actually play a lot of different roles in science—they can, for example, investigate a subject for which a theory does not exist, help to articulate an existing theory, call for a new theory, or correct incorrect or misinterpreted results. This book provides details of good experiments, with examples from physics and biology, illustrating the various ways they can be good and the different roles they can play.
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When Spinoza Met Marx
Experiments in Nonhumanist Activity
Tracie Matysik
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Explores concepts that bring together the thinking of Spinoza and Marx.

Karl Marx was a fiery revolutionary theorist who heralded the imminent demise of capitalism, while Spinoza was a contemplative philosopher who preached rational understanding and voiced skepticism about open rebellion. Spinoza criticized all teleological ideas as anthropomorphic fantasies, while Marxism came to be associated expressly with teleological historical development. Why, then, were socialists of the German nineteenth century consistently drawn to Spinoza as their philosophical guide? Tracie Matysik shows how the metaphorical meeting of Spinoza and Marx arose out of an intellectual conundrum around the meaning of activity. How is it, exactly, that humans can be fully determined creatures but also able to change their world? To address this paradox, many revolutionary theorists came to think of activity in the sense of Spinoza—as relating. Matysik follows these Spinozist-socialist intellectual experiments as they unfolded across the nineteenth century, drawing lessons from them that will be meaningful for the contemporary world.
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