Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 203–205 | Cite as

David P. D. Munns, Engineering the Environment: Phytotrons and the Quest for Climate Control in the Cold War (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017), 360 pp., 38 b&w illus., $49.95 Hardcover, ISBN 9780822944744

  • Dominic J. BerryEmail author
Book Review

Not all phytotrons are called phytotrons, and no two phytotrons are alike. All are highly specialised growth facilities that aspire to increase the number and sensitivity of controls available to biologists, particularly plant scientists, when designing experiments in development, adaptation, physiology, and beyond; anything that hangs on the maintenance of particular environmental conditions or their systematic manipulation. Phytotrons, as scientific sites and historical objects, can therefore be found at the borderlands of many different epistemologies and histories. A short list includes plant science versus the rest of biology, laboratories versus fields, national versus private funding, biology versus technology, neo-imperialism versus post-colonialism, and so on. Phytotrons also cost large sums of money and sound cool. From the outset they are exceedingly interesting places to study, ones that historians of biology and technology might mine for all sorts of purposes. They are...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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