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Trouble with Images in Computational Physics

Spencer, Matt (2012) Trouble with Images in Computational Physics. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 6 (1). pp. 34-42. ISSN 1913 0465

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Over 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork with a group of computational physicists, I encountered many negative assessments of the part that images should play in the accomplishment of good research. In this essay I explore the question of where these anxieties might come from and what they mean. Using Bachelard’s philosophy, I first point to the role that the image plays in conditioning the imagination and in training intuitive judgement. But to get to the bottom of the trouble with images we are led through Rheinberger and Stiegler to a view of scientific cognition that extends beyond the mind to prosthetic circuits of artefacts, including both images and written inscriptions. Rather than locating the problem as one of the relation between the image and what it represents, I argue for the importance of general cultural difficulties in managing and manipulating artefactual assemblages.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Spencer, Matt
Depositing User: Miss Charlotte Marcotte-Toale
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2019 18:29
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2019 18:29
Item ID: 15682
Journal or Publication Title: Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: The University of Toronto
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle: DOI:
Date: 3 October 2012
Page Range: pp. 34-42
Volume: 6
Number: 1
ISSN: 1913 0465

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