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Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists
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Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  61 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Looks at the life of particle physicists, showing who these people are and what their world is really like. Traweek shows their similarities and differences, how their careers are shaped, how they interact with their colleagues and how their ideas about time and space shape their social structure.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published February 1st 1992 by Harvard University Press (first published December 14th 1988)
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Super readable -- skimmed it in a few hours in an evening -- full of fascinating and engaging detail about what physicists wear and eat, how they consort, what they stress out and joke about, and what this has to tell us about their relationships to nature, gender, machines, and society more broadly. It isn't, however, very heavy handed about the "why this matters" -- it makes its points lightly a few times and mostly stays in the well-curated description so read it if you're already curious, no ...more
If you're a physicist, as I am, then reading this book is a bizarre experience. Yes: it's an anthropological study of…you. And, for the most part, it's quite astute. The author pitches wildly a few times on the science, doesn't understand physics education very well (see, for example, her silly claim that undergraduate coursework gives only a simplified and partial version of major topics because "novices are thought to be unsuited to a full disclosure of truth in these first years"), and says s ...more
L.L. Wynn
This is one of about 5 ethnographies that I recommend to my students when I want to get them thinking about how to write in a way that is accessible and engaging and not bogged down in jargon.
Not as interesting as I expected. The book concentrated on the bureaucracy of particle physics quite a bit. It also seems rather dated, as my experience with particle physics is rather different.
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