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Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology (Inside Technology) Hardcover – October 21, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Inside Technology
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (October 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262134942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262134941
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


The title is just right: Mody invites us to consider -- at once and in the same frame -- innovation in a scientific and technological instrument and innovation in organizational forms. The one gives practitioners astounding abilities to represent and intervene at micro-levels; the other permits them to extend the institutional environments in which the instrument can thrive. Instrumental Community is a major achievement.

(Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University)

This original and absorbing book brings into focus the mutual development of a new instrument -- the scanning tunneling microscope -- and its community of users. Paying close attention to both technical details and social dynamics, Mody offers keen insights on the interfaces between research and commerce, science and engineering, and the genesis of nanotechnology. A story of applied science in action.

(Angela N. H. Creager, Princeton University)

In Instrumental Community, Cyrus Mody provides one of the richest analyses to date of the ways a new tool becomes an obligatory instrument -- and how the instrument and its users evolve in tandem. Like the powerful microscopes at the center of this story, Instrumental Community reveals surprising structures and craggy interfaces: between academic disciplines, corporate laboratories, and heterogeneous networks of researchers; scientific research and commercialization; and hype and hope in the crystallization of nanotechnology. A remarkable achievement.

(David Kaiser, author of Drawing Theories Apart and How the Hippies Saved Physics)

Mody has shown us what can happen when historical scholarship of the highest quality is applied to an area of science and technology.

(Chris Toumey Nature Nanotechnology)

About the Author

Cyrus C. M. Mody is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Rice University.

More About the Author

Cyrus C.M. Mody is an associate professor in the History Department at Rice University, where he teaches the history of science and technology. His research focuses on the physical and engineering sciences, 1965-present. His book, Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology (MIT Press, 2011) explores the co-evolution of an experimental technology and the community that built, bought, used, and sold, these instruments. Currently, he is writing a history of the communities and institutions of microelectronics research, tentatively titled The Long Arm of Moore's Law.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm Barnett on December 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While this book is ostensibly about the scanning and tunneling microscope, it is more about the scientific community and its politics. It is really a fascinating view of the interplay of organizations, individuals, and business. Prof. Mody seems to have talked to all of the key players and seen many of the key documents. It is extraordinarily well written. Instrumental Community: Probe Microscopy and the Path to Nanotechnology (Inside Technology)
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