Rendering Life Molecular: An Interview

After reading Natasha Myers’s new book, the world begins to dance in new ways. Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015) is a sensory ethnography of protein crystallographers that is based on five years of fieldwork conducted between 2003-2008 at a research university on the East Coast of the US. “Protein modelers are the scientists to watch in order to see what forms … Continue reading Rendering Life Molecular: An Interview

Making Marie Curie: An Interview

When we study the history of a famous scientific figure – especially one that has gone on to become a cultural icon – we are dealing not just with a person, but also with an identity or series of identities that have been constructed over time. Eva Hemmungs Wirtén’s new book looks carefully at the work that has gone into the making of Marie Curie (1867-1934) … Continue reading Making Marie Curie: An Interview

From Sight to Light: An Interview

A. Mark Smith’s new book is a magisterial history of optics over the course of two millennia. From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics (University of Chicago Press, 2015) suggests that the transition from ancient toward modern optics was accompanied by a turn in optical studies from a concern with explaining sight to a focus on light by optical scholars. In the course … Continue reading From Sight to Light: An Interview

Chromatic Algorithms: An Interview

Carolyn L. Kane’s new book traces the modern history of digital color, focusing on the role of electronic color in computer art and media aesthetics since 1960. Chromatic Algorithms: Synthetic Color, Computer Art, and Aesthetics after Code places color at the center of media studies, exploring some amazing works of art and technology to understand the changing history of the relationship between color as embodied in machine … Continue reading Chromatic Algorithms: An Interview

Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon: An Interview

Matthew Stanley’s wonderful new book introduces James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) and T.H. Huxley (1825-95) as they embodied theistic and naturalistic science, respectively, in Victorian Britain. Moving well beyond the widespread assumption that modern science and religion are and always have been fundamentally antithetical to one another, Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon offers a history of scientific naturalism that illustrates the deep and fundamental commonalities between positions on the proper practice … Continue reading Huxley’s Church and Maxwell’s Demon: An Interview

Observing by Hand: An Interview

In Omar Nasim’s new book, a series of fascinating characters sketch, paint, and etch their way toward a mapping of the cosmos and the human mind. His book examines the history of observation of celestial nebulae in the nineteenth century, exploring the relationships among the acts of seeing, drawing, and knowing in producing visual knowledge about the heavens and its bodies. We had a chance to talk about … Continue reading Observing by Hand: An Interview

How the Hippies Saved Physics: An Interview

David Kaiser’s new book takes readers into the “hazy, bong-filled excesses of the 1970s New Age movement” in order to explain and reveal the origins of some of the most transformative breakthroughs in twentieth-century quantum physics. It is an exceptionally well-written history of science that is also tremendous fun to read, and you can find our conversation about it here. Continue reading How the Hippies Saved Physics: An Interview

The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes: An Interview

It was a pleasure to talk with Conevery Bolton Valencius about her new book on the making and forgetting of knowledge surrounding a series of earthquakes that rocked the Mississippi Valley in the 19th century. It’s a great story about the history of early American science, with particularly awesome footnotes, and you can find our conversation here. Continue reading The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes: An Interview