Labs of the heroic age of science

On IO9, Vincze Miklós has rounded up a beautiful gallery of photos of vintage science labs, from the Renaissance to Pasteur and Edison and ENIAC. Labs like these are the source of the shared dream of what science looks like that dominates our contemporary consciousness, even though most labs today look very different (science, like many other tasks today, looks like: a person with headphones and bad posture typing at a laptop and periodically clutching at her wrists).

Incredible Pictures of Early Science Labs


  1. …though most labs today look very different

    IANARS (I am not a real scientist, despite my degree title), but most labs I’ve been in just look like an updated version of the above.  And none of those have anything on the unrival awesomness of places like LHC or NIF (despite the latters recent unfortunate failure…)

  2. That IBM lab where they made the atom-scale animated movie we saw yesterday was pretty nice looking. The STM is a maze of wires and hoses covering a stainless steel vacuum chamber, with lots of test equipment with knobs and dials in the background.

    Very scientific.

  3. It looks like one of the greatest invention in the age of science was the shelf.

    Rotwang’s lab in Metropolis also had a lot of influence as to what a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” is supposed to look like. (And you got to love a Mad Scientist named “Rotwang”.)

  4. I think a scientist from the 19th century would recognize my lab for what it is. It still has lots of glassware, it just also has lots of large, expensive equipment they wouldn’t immediately recognize.

  5. Note the subtle glow suffusing the Curie lab. Also, pipe smoking while doing science.

  6. I wish that I could show some photos of the networking lab I used to work in. Hundreds of different routers, switches, NIDs, connected by thousands of wires, cables, and fibers when testing was going on. Sadly, “no cameras allowed,” and  I’d probably be breaking an NDA or something if I posted one.

    1. As if anyone could gain a competitive advantage by looking at the photo.
      “Oh, they use *blue* CAT6 cables to connect the switches to the edge routers! We should try that!”

        1.  No, no, if Warhammer 40K has taught me anything, it’s that it’s the RED ones dat go fasta.

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