Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationMichigan, Ann Arbor, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10180
Approve DateOctober 7, 2021
Project TitleRoy, Arpita (Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of) "Classifying Science: Particle Physics at CERN"
The research is an ethnography of physics and physicists on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, in Switzerland. In March 2010, the Large Hadron Collider started its experimental run of proton-to-proton collisions as a probe into the structure of matter and forces of nature, which led to the monumental discovery of the Higgs boson a few years later. Drawing on two and a half years of anthropological fieldwork at the particle accelerator complex, the project touches upon the discovery of the Higgs boson to tell the parallel story of what scientists have to say about their commitments and concerns, the epistemic norms guiding their experiments, and the questions they ask of themselves and of us. In this attempt, the narrative that emerges both imitates and rivals the exploratory stance of science to disclose not so much the discovery of a new fact, as the discovery of new ways of thinking about a fact. As an account written by a non-scientist about science, the most powerful appeal of this project is its interdisciplinarity. The intention behind this remark is purely to emphasize that the research project is concerned with narrowing the gap in the mutual understanding of the social and the physical sciences. That is the only way forward from the raging “science wars.”