Laboratory Rituals

April 2018 Issue

Following our expedition into the field for the start of spring last month, it's now time to return to the lab for a closer analysis of our samples and new experiments. The laboratory is a unique space, where protocols involving hundreds of precise steps may unfold over days, on equipment arcane to the uninitiated, to reveal startling results. In the intense focus of the lab, such protocols take on aspects of art and performance, of precise motions and total attention, a dance of intuition and technique where even a small variation can have great consequences or lead to a surprise discovery. This month we examine the laboratory as imaginative and creative arena, where the unexpected gleams in rigorously orchestrated processes, a site of ritual and invention.