De-mobilized atoms as boundary objects: The short lives of isotopes in the USSR
The article studies the peaceful use of atomic energy in the USSR in the 1950s-1960s on the basis of radioactive isotopes. The author considers isotopes as boundary objects that connect the worlds of secret production of radioactive material with the worlds of the latter’s open use in the national economy. Special attention is paid to interfaces of de-mobilization – infrastructures and hybrid institutional venues (from Glavatom to the Isotopes store on Leninskii Prospekt) that ensure the functioning of isotopes as boundary objects. The techno-social order, in which the project of transforming production, improving the quality of life and creating the material conditions of communism with the help of radioactive materials, coexists with the complexities of implementation, recognized risks and a crisis of nuclear optimism, is described as socialism of isotopes.