Bolman, B. (2018). How experiments age: Gerontology, beagles, and species projection at Davis. Social studies of science, 0306312718759822.
Cold War curiosities about the dangers of radiation generated significant funding for an array of biomedical projects as enticing as they were unpredictable, introducing newly standardized experimental animals into laboratories and a novel merging of scientific disciplines. The desire to understand radiation’s effects on human longevity spurred a multi-sited, multi-decade project that subjected beagle dogs to varying degrees of irradiation. One of those laboratories, located at the southern tip of the campus of the University of California, Davis, eventually hosted an elaborate experimental breeding kennel and a population of ‘control’ dogs that set new milestones for canine longevity. The present article examines this gerontological spin-off experiment, using the study of aging as a method and object in order to analyze the emergence and disappearance of the Davis Radiobiology Laboratory and explore how research using new canine model organisms mirrored the politics and anxieties faced by citizens and scientists of the era, here termed ‘species projection’.