Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter
This chapter introduces the reader to arts of protein crystallography, detailing the intricate range of techniques involved in producing crystallographic data of protein structure, from the purification of proteins, to techniques for crystallization and diffraction experiments. This chapter argues that modelers must rely extensively on embodied knowledge because of the indirect nature vision in protein crystallography. This chapter offers an account of pedagogy and training in a protein crystallography laboratory, tracking students as they cultivate an “ethos” and a “habitus,” that is, the norms, mores, comportments, affects, and skills, appropriate to building sound models of protein structure. It documents the “affective entanglements” that shape modelers’ relationships with their materials, instruments, and their data, and the affectively charged stories they come to tell about the nature of molecular life.