Visiting address: Deutsches Museum, Bibliotheksbau/Zimmer 1229, Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München
+49 (0) 89 / 2180-73937
The Search for Fundamental Physiological Mechanisms: Cooperation between Biology, Physics, and Chemistry (1918-1939)
Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Kärin Nickelsen
This project sheds light on the search for physico-chemical explanations of basic physiological phenomena in the inter-war period. During the 1920s and 1930s there was institutionalized a physico-chemical biology that aimed at applying the methods of the “exact science” to biology.
Philosophers and historians of science have mainly looked at societal, economic, and epistemic reasons for this turn of biology to reductionist and mechanistic research programs. Yet they have often omitted what this turn meant for the practice of research itself. It is not clear on which basis scientists assumed that a transfer of methods and concepts from physics or chemistry to biology would be fruitful. Nor is it understood, what explanation they were hoping for. This project aims to answer these questions, among others. I will look at four interdisciplinary research programs in order to gain a better understanding of the workings and the effects of interdisciplinary research at that time.