The ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of knowledge circulation is explored in a study of the encounter between American and British nuclear scientists and engineers who together developed a gas centrifuge to enrich uranium in the 1960s. A fine-grained analysis of the transnational encounter reveals that the ‘how’ engages a wide variety of sometimes mundane modes of exchange in a series of face-to-face interactions over several years. The ‘why’ is driven by the reciprocal wish to improve the performance of the centrifuge, (...) though this motive is embedded in the asymmetric field of the ‘special relationship’ in nuclear matters between the United Kingdom and the United States. The result of the encounter is co-produced, hybrid knowledge in which the national provenance of the contributions from each side of the Atlantic is at once diluted and a contested site for the affirmation of national power. (shrink)
Why was the road to EMBL 'more difficult than anticipated', as Francois Jacob put it? The standard account, advanced by scientists, is that it was because molecular biology did not require big, complex and expensive equipment like high-energy physics. European governments therefore lacked the incentive to pool their efforts and to build together a supranational laboratory 'modeled on CERN'. This account is one-sided. It overlooks the fact that many scientists themselves were less than enthusiastic about building a European molecular biology (...) laboratory in the early 1960s. Taking John Kendrew and Conrad Waddington as representative of two different and opposing views on how best to promote molecular biology in Europe at this time, I argue that a supranational laboratory project could only come to fruition once the field had been entrenched in national institutional niches (or after determined efforts to do so had failed). Until that time, the usual fear that a European laboratory would drain essential human and financial resources away from incipient or planned programmes in universities and national research centres dominated the horizons of most molecular biologists in Europe. Hence their preference to first establish EMBO to coordinate existing activities and only later to set up a supranational laboratory. (shrink)
In the immediate post-Sputnik era, the member governments of theAtlantic community were deeply concerned about the growingquantity and quality of scientists and engineers in the SovietUnion, which threatened to outstrip the supply of manpower in theUnited States and Western Europe. One of the main tasks of theNATO Science Committee, formally established in December 1957,was to redress this educational imbalance. Its preferredinstruments were international scientific exchange and trainingin fields of basic science. This paper charts the actionsundertaken by this committee to strengthen (...) Western science,exploring its achievements, and analysing why it failed to couplethe research it supported to the interests of the defenceestablishment. (shrink)
This essay describes the microhistorical process whereby different groups of scientific actors came to claim that a new fundamental particle had been discovered at CERN. Particular attention is paid to the role of trust, and of distrust, in the directorate's planning of the experimental program and in their interpretation and promotion of its first results. Distrust demanded independent replication; it also influenced the way in which the CERN director general managed the credibility of the results for the world's press, turning (...) a plausible but not yet widely accepted hypothesis into an undisputed fact. Produced and circulated in a context that included physicists, funding agencies, governments, and national power blocs, the discovery of the bosons by physicists in Europe challenged American domination of the field and shaped U.S. accelerator policy for the 1990s. (shrink)
Popper's three?world doctrine differs significantly from an earlier position which insisted on a dualism of facts and norms. This dualism, combined with a hostility to that version of psychologism which holds that logical principles are descriptive psychological laws, initially led him to espouse the view that we are free to reject rules of inference as norms shaping our reasoning. However, in some formulations of his recently developed pluralistic epistemology, Popper appears to deny this freedom to the individual. Feyerabend has condemned (...) him for this. My critique conflicts with Feyerabend's, in that I develop an alternative view of the relationship between logic and psychology which retains the compulsive aspect of the third realm, but rejects that version of anti?psychologism which holds that truths of logic do not have normative implications for people's psychological states. More specifically, it is argued that it is logically possible, though logically impermissible, for people to be irrational: the categories of logic are inescapably evaluative and critical. (shrink)
The 1984 Nobel Prize for physics wasawarded to two European scientists for theircontributions to the `large project' that ledto the identification of two importantfundamental particles. The citation recognizedthat major discoveries in high-energy physicsdemanded more than intellectual achievement andtechnical innovation. Such qualities had to beembedded in a technological, managerial,institutional and political infrastructure.This paper aims to capture the salient featuresof that infrastructure by insisting that atleast one of the laureates should be viewed,not only as a physicist, but also as a`heterogeneous engineer', who (...) succeeded inmobilizing the human and material resourcesneeded to attain his objectives. As such, hisproject was similar to the Manhattan project,and was typical of the transformation in thepractice of physics that came about during theSecond World War. (shrink)
New Cosmic Horizons was written by a project manager, originally trained as a physicist, who worked in the European space world and in business for about twenty‐five years and then returned to academia to complete his Ph.D. It is a well‐written, comprehensive compilation of major scientific results in space astronomy obtained during the latter half of the twentieth century. As the book jacket explains, “it explores the triumphs of space experiments and spacecraft designs and the amazing astronomical results that they (...) have produced.” It is particularly useful because it does not just concentrate on American contributions in this area, as important as they have been, but tries to redress the transatlantic balance by including scientific work in the Soviet Union and Europe, notably the European Space Agency. The blurb claims that David Leverington relates the changes in space astronomy programs in these various countries to their “changing political imperatives.” This is done very sketchily, however, and merely by way of a backdrop to his main objective.Practicing astronomers, be they amateur or professional, and historians of science who could use a survey of the major milestones in space astronomy will find this a useful guide. It is seriously marred as a reference work, however, by the total absence of any reference to primary or secondary material in the text. There is a bibliography of what Leverington calls “general sources used in the preparation of this book” , which includes standard histories of space and of space science. None of these books, nor any scientific papers, are cited in the body of the argument. Everything that is said, or claimed, has to be taken on the authority of the author, an extraordinary approach that can only undermine and discredit what was otherwise a laudable objective. (shrink)
The examples with which Keith Graham has tried (in Inquiry, Vol. 17 , No. 3) to undermine certain general features of the concept of belief fail to do so. Roughly speaking, he has not shown that the persons who make the puzzling assertions which he describes really mean what they say. His discussion has the merit of emphasizing the limits of philosophical analysis in adjudicating on the application of concepts in borderline cases.