Scientific Instruments: Knowledge, Practice, and Culture [Editor’s Introduction]

Isaac Record


To one side of the wide third-floor hallway of Victoria College, just outside the offices of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, lies the massive carcass of a 1960s-era electron microscope. Its burnished steel carapace has lost its gleam, but the instrument is still impressive for its bulk and spare design: binocular viewing glasses, beam control panel, specimen tray, and a broad work surface. Edges are worn, desiccated tape still feebly holds instructive reminders near control dials; this was once a workhorse in some lab. But it exists now out of time and place; like many of the scientific instruments we study, it has not been touched by knowing hands in decades.

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