M. Susan Lindee, “Violence in the Laboratory: How Science Changed War and War Changed Science”

Science on Tap

Science on Tap is a monthly gathering that features a brief, informal presentation by a scientist or other expert followed by lively conversation.

On February 13, 2012, Science on Tap welcomed M. Susan Lindee, associate dean for the social sciences and professor in the department of history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Over the last century both science and war have been transformed in tandem. Science has become more tightly linked to militarization and state power. Today, many forms of scientific research are supported with military funding sources even when the subject matter (e.g., mapping genes, tracking environmental change, or studying the brain) seems remote from any practical application on the battlefield. At the same time, military conflict has become more technically sophisticated in ways that have reshaped the battlefield experience for both soldiers and civilians. We now see remarkable levels of “asymmetrical risk,” for example, in which combatants commuting to a center in the American Southwest can guide attacks with drones at sites on the other side of the world. Scientific high-tech warfare changes the rules of both war and science.

In this discussion Susan Lindee raised questions about how science and war have both changed in the 20th century.

Presented by the American Philosophical Society (APS) Museum.

Sensing Change

See your environment with fresh eyes through this online exhibit.