Cobre e urânio em Latour (1999)

In the case we are using as an example, Joliot and Dautry did not achieve their goals until fifteen years later, after a terrible defeat, when General de Gaulle created the CEA, the Commissariat à l’Énergie [89] Atomique (Atomic Energy Commission). What is important in such an operation of translation is not only the fusion of interests that it allows but the creation of a new mixture, the laboratory. In fact, the shed at Ivry became the crucial juncture that would allow the joint realization of both Joliot’s scientific project and the national independence so close to Dautry’s heart. The laboratory’s walls, its equipment, its staff, and its resources were brought into existence by both Dautry and Joliot. It was no longer possible to tell, among the complex of forces mobilized around the copper sphere filled with uranium and paraffin, what belonged to Joliot and what to Dautry. (Latour 1999:88-9)

To study a single negotiation or translation in isolation would be useless. Joliot’ s labors could not of course be confined to ministerial offices. Having gained his laboratory, he now had to go and negotiate with the neutrons themselves. Was it one thing to persuade a minister to [90] provide a stock of graphite, and quite another to persuade a neutron to slow down enough to hit a uranium atom so as to provide three more neutrons? Yes and no. For Joliot it wasn’t very different. In the morning he dealt with the neutrons and in the afternoon he dealt with the minister. The more time passed, the more these two problems became one: if too many neutrons escaped from the copper vessel and lowered the output of the reaction, the minister might lose patience. For Joliot, containing the minister and the neutrons in the same project, keeping them acting and keeping them under discipline, were not really distinct tasks. He needed them both. (Latour 1999:89-90)

LATOUR, Bruno. 1999. Pandora’s Hope: essays on the reality of science studies. London: Harvard University Press.