What kind of stuff is the world made of? What is the nature or substance of things? These are ontological questions, and they are usually answered with respect to the objects of science. The objects of technoscience tell a different story that concerns the power, promise and potential of things – not what they are but what they can be. Seventeen scholars from history and philosophy of science, epistemology, social anthropology, cultural studies and ethics each explore a research object in its technological setting, ranging from carbon to cardboard, from arctic ice cores to nuclear waste, from wetlands to GMO seeds, from fuel cells to the great Pacific garbage patch. Together they offer fascinating stories  and novel analytic concepts, all the while opening up a space for reflecting on the specific character of technoscientific objects. With their promise of sustainable innovation and a technologically transformed future, these objects are highly charged with values and design expectations. By clarifying their mode of existence, we are learning to come to terms more generally with the furniture of the technoscientific world – where, for example, the 'dead matter' of classical physics is becoming the 'smart material' of emerging and converging technologies.

chapter |12 pages


The genesis and ontology of technoscientific objects

part I|74 pages

Horizon of possibilities

chapter 1|12 pages

The pyramid and the ring

A physics indifferent to ontology

chapter 2|15 pages

Cancer stem cells

Ontology matters

chapter 3|14 pages

Robots behaving badly

Simulation and participation in the study of life

part II|96 pages

Arenas of contestation

chapter 6|16 pages


Taming a drug and losing control

chapter 7|18 pages

Long live play

The PlayStation Network and technogenic life

chapter 10|16 pages

The life and times of transgenics

chapter 11|17 pages


Thinking the box

part III|78 pages

Multiple temporalities

chapter 14|17 pages

Polar ice cores

Climate change messengers

chapter 15|13 pages

Nuclear waste

An untreatable technoscientific product

chapter 16|16 pages

Biography of a ‘sand heap’

Staging the beginnings of nature