chapter
18 Pages

Act Three A century of science

The curtain rises on the final act. Deemed by some as the “century of science,” the twentieth century launched new scientific discoveries, theories, and inventions that exceeded all the centuries before. The century framed the formation of a “scientific imaginary,” in which the discourses and discoveries of scientific research came to dominate the imagined realms of social and cultural organization. This scientific imaginary was articulated through many of the major tropes this book has sought to trace. Peopled by avatars, who dwelt in new, virtual domains, these imagined forms of embodiment managed various modes of exchange, from transformation to the transference of funds. The century began with the dominance of machines, technologies proceeding from the nineteenthcentury age of invention. As we will see, the early imaginary was a machinic one. However, the invention of electronic devices and, finally, “smart” machines, that mix the machinic with a sense of porosity, or fields, will mark a major shift in the imaginary in the later years of the century.