This essay brings together and builds upon histories of cold war American science and studies of objectivity, scientific personae, and the self by exploring the physicist Merle A. Tuve‘s career in the late 1940s and 1950s as a history of selfhood and the emotional dimensions of scientific identity. As director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington after World War II, Tuve followed a convoluted path through the institutions, politics, identities, and sensibilities of science in the cold war, and he struggled to preserve a sense of meaning and identity centered on the humanistic and aesthetic possibilities of scientific inquiry in an era of rapidly growing instrumentalism. His predicament highlights not just the political and institutional shifts within postwar science, but also the intricate entanglements between feeling, selfhood, and the cold war order.
- Merle A. Tuve
- Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
- Carnegie Institution of Washington
- scientific personae
- scientific identity
- pure science
- cold war
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