Foundations of Chemistry 2 (1):5-46 (2000)

Davis Baird
Clark University
The direct reading emission spectrometer was developed during the1940s. By substituting photo-multiplier tubes and electronics forphotographic film spectrograms, the interpretation of special lineswith a densitometer was avoided. Instead, the instrument providedthe desired information concerning percentage concentration ofelements of interest directly on a dial. Such instruments `de-skill' the job of making such measurements. They do this by encapsulatingin the instrument the skills previously employed by the analyst,by `skilling' the instrument. This paper presents a history of thedevelopment of the Dow Chemical/Baird Associates direct reader. Thishistory is used to argue for a materialist conception of knowledge.The instrument is a material form of knowledge, knowledge of aspectsof spectroscopy, analytical spectrochemistry, electronics, instrumentdesign and construction, and metal production industry economics
Keywords Philosophy   Chemistry/Food Science, general   Physical Chemistry   Philosophy of Science   History
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1009958604987
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