NYR DAILY

Atomic Light

The gas-dynamic plasma trap, used by scientists of Institute of Nuclear Physics to hold and heat the plasma in a magnetic field, Akademgorodok, 2014

What is most astonishing about this genuine relic of Soviet science that Ortiz Monasterio has brought to light in his photographs is the precarious nature of the installations, the austere conditions in which the scientists worked and lived. None of those immaculate laboratories illuminated by fluorescent lighting that Hollywood has made us come to expect. Unplugged science, I might be tempted to call it, if it were not for the tangles of cables that appear in so many of the images.