, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 159-163,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Sep 2010

Tales of experimentation

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Usually, we think of scientific laboratories as technological environments consisting of mainly inorganic materials such as glass or metal containers, wires, electronic apparatus, technical tools, and diverse chemicals, but in many cases also living or dead organisms are used for which no technological variants exist. Harré’s general aim of studying ‘scenes from the living laboratory’ is to show the many different ways in which living materials have been used as tools for experimenting. The book presents a broad palette of colorful stories. In all these stories, organic materials, whether alive or dead, were used as instruments for performing measurements, as apparatus with which experiments were carried out, or as sources for recovering specific ingredients used as indicators in scientific or industrial applications, and sometimes as objects of study for their own sake.

Harré distinguishes between instruments, which are all sorts of detectors and measuring devices, and apparatus, which