2011 Computer History Museum Prize

Paul N. Edwards, A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2010).

Prize Citation

This insightful, ambitious and theoretically-sophisticated study addresses hotly debated political issues of our time through a methodical historical analysis. It traces the construction of climate sciences over two centuries, from weather forecasts to highly mathematized simulation models, from local observation to worldwide networks. Epistemological reflections on the relationship between data and models are interwoven with the institutional and political narrative of the development of a global knowledge infrastructure, particularly in the context of the Cold War. Computers and telecommunications then made it possible not only to digitalize more data and process more elaborate models, but also to produce standard representations of the world.  We trust that this book, written at a high level of historiographical quality for a wide, non-specialized readership, will find a large audience.

2011 Prize Committee Members

Pierre Mounier-Kuhn (Chair) CNRS & Université Paris-Sorbonne 28 rue Serpente, 75006 Paris, France mounier@msh-paris.fr

Jennifer S. Light Northwestern University School of Communication 2240 Campus Drive, Room 2-152 Evanston, IL 60208-2952 light@northwestern.edu

Jonathan Coopersmith Associate Professor Department of History Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843-4326 j-coopersmith@neo.tamu.edu