Objects' biographies as strategic element for tracing the transformation of research instruments into teaching devices in XXth Century Physics

The project investigates the relationship between experimental physics and experimental teaching of physics during the twentieth Century by focusing on two milestones in the history of scientific instruments: the Geiger-Muller counters and the cloud chambers. Their biographies will show how these instruments, which had a golden age in fundamental research in the first half of the last Century, found successively their way in different contexts of science populated by different actors with different purposes such as risk prevention of nuclear industry; it will show also that, among the others, the context of education played a significant role in this transition.

The reconstruction of the specific trajectory for each instrument will be carried out along two interrelated levels which are technological and performative one: in this respect, the aim is that of understanding how recalcitrant laboratory devices which required expert skills to the researchers could become robust, portable, and relatively unproblematic instruments and, consequently, which kind of knowledge they still require, and provide, to their users.


experimental physics; experimental teaching; Geiger Muller; Cloud Chamber
01.08.2015 - 31.07.2016
Institution der EUF
Institut für Physik und ihre Didaktik und Geschichte



Alexander von Humboldt Foundation