Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University, discusses his current project – writing and filming about nuclear waste sites and the future of land.
As they are usually understood, “wasteland” and “wilderness” are opposites; when they merge on the sites of decommissioned weapons lands, when land is at the same time designated as a nature preserve and a toxic site, this circumstance is commonly seen as “paradoxical” or “ironic.” I argue here that the two categories are far more elusive than this simplistic dichotomy suggests—and that their newfound overlap undermines the historical opposition of purity and corruption. These territories provoke a questioning of what relation we will have to nature, land, wilderness, and waste.
Peter Galison is the author of How Experiments End (1987), Image and Logic (1997), Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps (2003), and, with Lorraine Daston, Objectivity (2007), as well as the contributing author of several edited volumes, including The Architecture of Science (1999) and Picturing Science, Producing Art (1998). With Robb Moss, he directed the award-winning documentary film, Secrecy (2008).
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