Chapter

Nature's Experiments

in Landscapes and Labscapes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780226450094
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226450117 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226450117.003.0007
Nature's Experiments

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Adapting laboratory instruments and experimental practices for use in the field is not the only way to create border practice. A more promising strategy was to give traditional field practices the force of laboratory practices but without importing the paraphernalia or protocols of laboratory culture. Field practices of observing and comparing were refashioned into instruments of causal analysis, some of which proved to be as effective as any experiment and as well suited to nature's particular places as experiment and precision measurement are to laboratories. Recognizing the places where observation and comparison can reveal how nature works, and learning to read the spatial evidence of these processes, are the crucial skills of modern field practice, just as inventing the right experimental tools is the crucial skill of laboratory work. Practitioners of place were on the right track in thinking that traditional methods of natural history could be redirected to more analytic, lablike ends.

Keywords: laboratory instruments; experimental practices; measurement; observation; practitioners

Chapter.  15555 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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