Over the course of the last thirty years, the investigation of objects at the nano scale has rocketed. Nanoscale scientific research has not only powerfully affected the amount and orientation of knowledge, it has perhaps even more significantly redirected the ways in which much research work is carried out, changed scientists' methodology and reasoning processes, and influenced aspects of the structure of career trajectory and the functioning of scientific
This book identifies key historical moments and episodes in the birth and evolution of nanoscience, discusses the novel repertory of epistemological concerns of practitioners, and signals sociological propensities. As Galileo's telescope explored the moon's surface four hundred years ago, nano instrumentation now makes it possible to see the surface of single molecules. Moreover, practitioners are able to manipulate individual atoms and molecules at will to produce pre-designed synthetic
materials, non-existent in nature. The combinatorial of heightened observational capacity and the tailoring of synthetic artificial materials exhibiting hitherto novel physical properties has widened and transformed the worlds of scientific knowledge and technical artefact. This book invites the question:
to what extent does nanoscale scientific research constitute a kind of 'scientific revolution'?
Anne Marcovich is a historian and sociologist of science and medicine based at the Paris Maison des Sciences de l'Homme. Her research work entails studies of the relations between human body representations and representations of the social body; the history of ideas and theories concerning cancer, the human brain, and the processes and mechanisms of the mental development of children; the diffusion of Chinese medicine in the French medical context; and form and internal structure as invariants in the organisation and evolution of society. Terry Shinn is a historian and sociologist of science based at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme. His research covers themes such as relations between social structure and educational hierarchy in the sciences; linkage between the organisation of research work and the structure of scientific disciplines; correlations between research question, reasoning modes, and intra-laboratory hierarchy and research function; the place of "generic instrumentation" in the growth of 20th century scientific knowledge in the physical sciences; and transversality in the circulation of knowledge between scientific fields.
Introduction ; 1. Mainstays of nanoscale research ; 2. Worlds of nanophysics ; 3. The scale of life? ; 4. Epistemological frames and practices ; 5. The role of combinatorials in structuring NSR cognitive trajectories ; 6. Which disciplinarity for nanoscale research? ; General conclusion