S&TS 201 Lectures - What do scientists do most in the...

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What do scientists do most in the lab? Observe? Experiment? Theorize? Read and write? (paper work?) Scientists are literary reasoners (Bruno Latour). They read and write lab notes, scientific papers, grant applications, data tables, and charts. They read and write referee comments, lectures, power points, e-mails, letters of recommendations, memos, etc. o Latour Wine. Ithaca’s restaurant Dano’s? sold cheap version of his wine. Inscription devices o Often scientific data take a graphical or printed form produced by what Latour calls “inscription devices” o An inscription device is: an item of apparatus or configuration of such items which can transform a material substance into a figure or diagram which is directly usable by other scientists. o Inscriptions are Reproducible and Transportable . o Inscription devices include electron microscopes, and mass spectrometers, - most devices o An important aspect of scientific activity involves reading, writing and inscriptions. o Language is indexical- in other words the meaning of a word depends on the context in which it is uttered/written o Most obvious for spoken language. Dude Skit o Indexical. Same applies to written language o For example, “Men” written on the door inside a restaurant means “bathroom for men only o “Men at work” o drive slowly o “I really dig men at work” o “I dig Australian music” o words can have different meanings depending on context, scientific facts and technological artifacts can have different meanings too. What about the stylized language of the modern scientific paper? o “Gene entered her lab late at night and peered bleary-eyed at the gel.” o “The gel was observed” o Scientific paper uses passive tense- all references to the particular person or particular occasions are removed o One link between language and science and technology is the use of metaphor.
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Metaphor: figure of speech by which a thing is spoken of as being that which it only resembles, as when a ferocious man is called a tiger Examples In religion: o “The Lord is my Shepherd” In poetry: o “Tiger, Tiger burning bright in the Forests of the Night” In Love: o “Light of blahblah comes from your eyes” Romeo & Juliet In popular Music o “I walk this empty street, on the boulevard of broken dreams” Greenday o “Oops… I did it again” Britney Spears In Science o “Greenhouse Effect”- Earth’s atmosphere is a greenhouse- namely a confined space where certain things (light or photons) enter and where other things (heat) cannot escape o “Gene Gun” invented at Cornell for adding genes in Genetically modified organisms o “Tree of Life” used by Darwin in evolution o Virus o A shot o Tunnel vision Are metaphors essential to science?
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  • Spring '06
  • PINCH,T.
  • Science, genetically modified, evidential context

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