Article ID: CBB834701105

Of spheres and squares: Can Sloterdijk help us rethink the architecture of climate science? (December 2016)


Martin Skrydstrup (Author)

Social Studies of Science
Volume: 46
Issue: 6
Pages: 854-876

Publication Date: December 2016
Edition Details: Guest edited issue on the Field Station, edited by P. Wenzel Geissler, Ann H. Kelly, and Sergio Sismondo
Language: English

This article explores how different visions and values of science translate into different architectural shapes. I bring Peter Sloterdijk’s ‘spherology’ to bear on my ethnographic fieldwork at the NEEM ice core base in Greenland, a significant node in the global infrastructure of climate science. I argue that the visual form of the geodesic dome of the camp materializes specific values and visions of this branch of paleoclimate science, which I elaborate vis-a-vis the pragmatic claims of the scientists/designers and the particular architectural history of Danish ice core drilling in Greenland. I argue that this aesthetic history articulates with Buckminster Fuller’s ideas of a ‘new nature’ and ‘scalar connections’ encapsulated in his geodesic form. Second, I argue that the aesthetic production of space in the camp replicates the modern distinction between science and society, in so far as the lab space is rectangular and the recreational space is spherical. Third, I argue that NEEM scientists and Sloterdijk are essentially engaged in a common project: the scientists work hard to align air bubbles in the cores with atmospheric fluctuations in the hemisphere on the evidentiary terrain of ice, and Sloterdijk attempts to connect micro-uteri with macro-uteri in an attempt to fundamentally rethink space. Fuller’s notion of ‘Spaceship Earth’, appropriated by Sloterdijk in his thinking about anthropogenic climate change, lends itself well to capturing the scalar alignments and the isolated NEEM base – on a mission to save planet Earth. In conclusion, I argue that Sloterdijk’s spherology may serve as a point of departure for rethinking the aesthetic grammar of the architecture of science.

Included in

Article P. Wenzel Geissler; Ann H. Kelly (December 2016) A home for science: The life and times of Tropical and Polar field stations. Social Studies of Science (pp. 797-808). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Francastel, Pierre
Cherry, Randall
Sherratt, Tim
Griffiths, Tom
Robin, Libby
Dansgaard, Willi
IA. The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology
Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Journal of Jesuit Studies
Oxford University Press
University of Minnesota Press
Zone Books
National Museum of Australia Press
Narayana Press
Duke University Press
Climate and climatology
India, civilization and culture
Building construction
Shannon, Claude Elwood
Freud, Sigmund
Ferriss, Hugh (1889-1962)
Fuller, Richard Buckminster
Geddes, Norman Bel (1893-1958)
Clarence Richard Young
Time Periods
20th century
16th century
19th century
18th century
17th century
20th century, late
United States
Universität Stuttgart
Delaware and Hudson Railroad Corporation
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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