Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter
This chapter delves into the embodied nature of molecular modeling, to examine how seeing, feeling, and knowing are intertwined with the work of crafting molecular models. It offers a phenomenological account of the role of the modeler’s imagination, judgment, and intuition in rendering molecular structures. It introduces the concept of the “kinesthetic imagination” to account for the ways that modelers can both “see” molecular structures in their mind’s eye, and “feel” through the forces between atoms in a molecule with their moving bodies. It argues that the kinesthetic intuitions they build up over time allows them sculpt a fleshed-out twin of their model alongside the virtual models flicker on their computer screens. These embodied models become crucial to the ways that modelers adjudicate between good and bad models. In this sense, modelers’ claims to truth can be seen to hinge on such forms of affectively charged, embodied knowledge.