Books  Animal & General Biology  Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 

Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter

Series: Experimental Futures

By: Natasha Myers (Author)

328 pages, 19 colour & 36 b/w illustrations

Duke University Press

Paperback | Aug 2015 | #225891 | ISBN-13: 9780822358787
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.99 $23/€21 approx
Hardback | Aug 2015 | #225892 | ISBN-13: 9780822358664
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £65.99 $81/€74 approx

About this book

What are living bodies made of? Protein modelers tell us that our cells are composed of millions of proteins, intricately folded molecular structures on the scale of nanoparticles. Proteins twist and wriggle as they carry out the activities that keep cells alive. Figuring out how to make these unruly substances visible, tangible, and workable is a challenging task, one that is not readily automated, even by the fastest computers. Natasha Myers explores what protein modelers must do to render three-dimensional, atomic-resolution models of these lively materials. Rendering Life Molecular shows that protein models are not just informed by scientific data: model building entangles a modeler's entire sensorium, and modelers must learn to feel their way through the data in order to interpret molecular forms. Myers takes us into protein modeling laboratories and classrooms, tracking how gesture, affect, imagination, and intuition shape practices of objectivity. Asking, "What is life becoming in modelers' hands?" she tunes into the ways they animate molecules through their moving bodies and other media. In the process she amplifies an otherwise muted liveliness inflecting mechanistic accounts of the stuff of life.

"Bodies in motion – bodies of all kinds and at all scales – dance together in the act of coming to palpable, knowable attention. Further, mindful bodies think best and build richer worlds of knowledge and practice when play infuses work in the symbiosis called science. In this astute and beautifully written book, it is protein models and their people and machines that dance together, tuned to the visceral sensibilities, vital affections, and kinesthetic energies that make the sciences of molecular biology work. Rendering Life Molecular shows in just how many ways biology is a full-bodied practice. Readers will be excited in all the best ways."
– Donna Haraway, author of When Species Meet

"With a lively and engaging style, a commitment to a feminist and phenomenological analysis, and an extraordinary attention to the specificity of scientists' embodied, material, and affective engagement in the creation of knowledge, Natasha Myers takes the study of the biosciences in a new direction. Rendering Life Molecular expands the laboratory studies canon as it re-animates our sense of the dynamic contingencies and relationalities of all biological entities."
– Lucy Suchman, author of Human-Machine Reconfigurations



Preface  ix
Acknowledgments  xiii
Introduction  1

Part One. Laboratory Entanglements
1. Crystallographic Renderings  35
2. Tangible Media  74
3. Molecular Embodiments  99

Part Two. Ontics and Epistemics
4. Rending Representation  121
5. Remodeling Objectivity  136

Part Three. Forms of Life
6. Machinic Life  159
7. Lively Machines  182
8. Molecular Calisthenics  204

Conclusion: What Is Life Becoming?  230
Appendix: A Protein Primer  239
Notes  243
Bibliography  277
Index  299

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Natasha Myers is Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University.

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