Fact Box

Blogs as a source of boundaries, values and crackpots in high energy physics



May 08, 2017, 11:00h


Hohenstaufengasse 9/9, 1010 Vienna

Blogs as a source of boundaries, values and crackpots in high energy physics

Workshop with Sophie Ritson
This talk/workshop will explore blogs in high energy physics. The talk will begin with an introduction into the string theory controversy where the scientific status of string theory was contested in a number of ways. An analysis of the different argumentative strategies and boundary discourses employed by physicists informs an understanding of scientific ideologies. This analysis draws upon blogs as source material, which has advantages and disadvantages. Blogs may be considered as windows into ‘science in the making’ but a closer examination reveals issues concerning temporality, identity and ephemerality. The talk will then examine the performativity of blogs, changes in scholarly communication and the complex constructions of identities in high energy blogs. This will be followed by a workshop on reading and analysing blogs, focusing on blogs relating to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The workshop will look at how to proceed in analysis of blogs, what is interesting & worth an investigation, is there a rulebook, ethics, and personal involvement.

Sophie Ritson is a historian and philosopher of science who is interested in integrated history, philosophy and sociology of science. Her research focuses on contemporary scientific practice with an emphasis on appraisal, science and epistemic values, and the social organisation of science. In addition, she has also examined scientific blogging as a contested form of literary technology and site of virtual witnessing practices. Her research to date has focused on history, philosophy, and sociology of physics with a focus on the string theory controversy and LHC physics. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the FWF project ‘Producing novelty and securing credibility: LHC experiments in STS-perspective’ within the research unit ‘The Epistemology of the Large Hadron Collider.’

In the context of ‘doing research’ ‘in the field’(/wild) and potential upcoming ‘intra-actions in the woods’, we would like to look at different methods of research used in fieldwork and writing. Through inviting guests to share their working processes with us, we will ask how these methods relate to what is observed, how they construct the entities produced and determine what we can know.