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For centuries, the southernmost region of the Florida peninsula was seen by outsiders as wild and inaccessible, one of the last frontiers in the quest to understand and reveal the natural history of the continent. Seeking the American Tropics tells the stories of the explorers and adventurers who-for better and for worse-helped open the unique environment of South Florida to the world.Beginning with the arrival of Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, James Kushlan describes how most of the famous Spanish explorers never made it to South Florida, leaving the area's rich natural history out of scientific records for the next 250 years. It wasn't until the British colonial and early American periods that the first surveyors were commissioned and the first naturalists-Titian Peale and John James Audubon-arrived to collect, draw, and report the subtropical flora and fauna that were so unique to North America. Moving into the railroad era, Kushlan illuminates the activities of scientists such as Henry Nehrling and Charles Torrey Simpson alongside the dabbling of wealthy amateur naturalists. He follows the story to the 1920s, when tourism was flourishing and signs of ecological damage were starting to show. Years of wildlife trade, resource extraction, invasive species introduction, and swamp drainage had taken their toll. And many of the naturalists who had been outspoken about protecting South Florida's environment had also played a part in its destruction. Today the region is among one of the most thoroughly studied places on the planet-but at a cost. In this absorbing and cautionary tale, Kushlan illustrates how exploration has so often trumped conservation throughout history. He exposes how much of the natural world we have already lost in this vivid portrait of the Florida of yesterday.
A treasure trove of illuminating and entertaining quotations from the legendary naturalist Here is Charles Darwin in his own words--the naturalist, traveler, scientific thinker, and controversial author of On the Origin of Species, the book that shook the Victorian world. Featuring hundreds of quotations carefully selected by world-renowned Darwin biographer Janet Browne, The Quotable Darwin draws from Darwin's writings, letters to friends and family, autobiographical reminiscences, and private scientific notebooks. It offers a multifaceted portrait that takes readers through his youth, the famous voyage of the Beagle, the development of his thoughts about evolution, his gradual loss of religious faith, and the time spent turning his ideas into a well-articulated theory about the natural origin of all living beings--a theory that dangerously included the origin of humans. The Quotable Darwin also includes many of the key responses to Darwin's ideas from figures across the social spectrum, scientists and nonscientists alike--and criticism too. We see Darwin as an innovative botanist and geologist, an affectionate husband and father, and a lively correspondent who once told his cousin that he liked to play billiards because "it drives the horrid species out of my head." This book gives us an intimate look at Darwin at work, at home, as a public figure, and on his travels. Complete with a chronology of Darwin's life by Browne, The Quotable Darwin provides an engagingly fresh perspective on a remarkable man who was always thinking deeply about the natural world.
The Simulmatics Corporation, launched during the Cold War, mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics, and disordered knowledge-decades before Facebook, Google, and Cambridge Analytica. Jill Lepore, best-selling author of These Truths, came across the company's papers in MIT's archives and set out to tell this forgotten history, the long-lost backstory to the methods, and the arrogance, of Silicon Valley. Founded in 1959 by some of the nation's leading social scientists-"the best and the brightest, fatally brilliant, Icaruses with wings of feathers and wax, flying to the sun"-Simulmatics proposed to predict and manipulate the future by way of the computer simulation of human behavior. In summers, with their wives and children in tow, the company's scientists met on the beach in Long Island under a geodesic, honeycombed dome, where they built a "People Machine" that aimed to model everything from buying a dishwasher to counterinsurgency to casting a vote. Deploying their "People Machine" from New York, Washington, Cambridge, and even Saigon, Simulmatics' clients included the John F. Kennedy presidential campaign, the New York Times, the Department of Defense, and dozens of major manufacturers: Simulmatics had a hand in everything from political races to the Vietnam War to the Johnson administration's ill-fated attempt to predict race riots. The company's collapse was almost as rapid as its ascent, a collapse that involved failed marriages, a suspicious death, and bankruptcy. Exposed for false claims, and even accused of war crimes, it closed its doors in 1970 and all but vanished. Until Lepore came across the records of its remains. The scientists of Simulmatics believed they had invented "the A-bomb of the social sciences." They did not predict that it would take decades to detonate, like a long-buried grenade. But, in the early years of the twenty-first century, that bomb did detonate, creating a world in which corporations collect data and model behavior and target messages about the most ordinary of decisions, leaving people all over the world, long before the global pandemic, crushed by feelings of helplessness. This history has a past; If Then is its cautionary tale.
Edited and introduced by Bill Bryson, with contributions from Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Richard Holmes, Martin Rees, Richard Fortey, Steve Jones, James Gleick and Neal Stephenson amongst others, this beautiful, lavishly illustrated book tells the story of science and the Royal Society, from 1660 to the present. Since its inception in 1660, the Royal Society has pioneered scientific discovery and exploration. The oldest scientific academy in existence, its backbone is its Fellowship of the most eminent scientists in history including Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. Today, its Fellows are the most influential men and women in science, many of whom have contributed to this ground-breaking volume alongside some of the world's most celebrated novelists, essayists and historians. This book celebrates the Royal Society's vast achievements in its illustrious past as well as its huge contribution to the development of modern science. With unrestricted access to the Society's archives and photographs, Seeing Further shows that the history of scientific endeavour and discovery is a continuous thread running through the history of the world and of society - and is one that continues to shape the world we live in today.
From Stone Age to space age, people have looked up at the stars and been inspired by their beauty, their patterns, and their majesty. Beneath the Night is a history of humanity, told through our relationship with the night sky. From prehistoric cave art and Ancient Egyptian zodiacs to the modern era of satellites and space exploration, Stuart Clark explores a fascination shared across the world and throughout millennia. It is one that has shaped our scientific understanding; helped us navigate the terrestrial world; provided inspiration for our poets, artists and philosophers; and it has given us a place to project our hopes and fears. In the stars, we can see our past - and ultimately, our fate. This is the awe-inspiring story of the universe, and our place within it.
Figuring explores the complexities of love and the human search for truth and meaning through the interconnected lives of several historical figures across four centuries - beginning with the astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, and ending with the marine biologist and author Rachel Carson, who catalysed the environmental movement. Stretching between these figures is a cast of artists, writers, and scientists - mostly women, mostly queer - whose public contribution has risen out of their unclassifiable and often heartbreaking private relationships to change the way we understand, experience and appreciate the universe. Among them are the astronomer Maria Mitchell, who paved the way for women in science; the sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who did the same in art; the journalist and literary critic Margaret Fuller, who sparked the feminist movement; and the poet Emily Dickinson. Emanating from these lives are larger questions about the measure of a good life and what it means to leave a lasting mark of betterment on an imperfect world: Are achievement and acclaim enough for happiness? Is genius? Is love? Weaving through the narrative is a set of peripheral figures - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Darwin, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman - and a tapestry of themes spanning music, feminism, the history of science, the rise and decline of religion, and how the intersection of astronomy, poetry and Transcendentalist philosophy fomented the environmental movement.
Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21 and was expected to live for only another two years. He went on to write books and deliver public lectures right up until his death at the age of 76 in 2018. Hawking achieved commercial success with several works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general. His book A Brief History of Time, a layman's guide to cosmology, appeared on the Sunday Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks and sold more than 10 million copies. As Martin Rees, the cosmologist, astronomer royal and Hawking's longtime colleague wrote, "His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more, around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds - a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination." In this concise and informative guide to Hawking's life and work, his key scientific achievements - from gravitational singularities to quantum cosmology - are covered in an approachable and accessible way. This is a celebration of an icon of modern physics, who inspired generations of scientists and changed our understanding of the universe.
In Synchronicity Paul Halpern tells the little-known story of the unlikely friendship between the Nobel-prize-winning quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the father of psychoanalysis, Carl Jung. In the 1930s, Pauli and Jung began collaborating on a unified theory of quantum and the mind, the result of which was Jung's synchronicity principle-the idea that events connected by meaning need not be explained by causality. Pauli's work on entanglement theory, which allowed for instantaneous cause and effect relationships, was particularly appealing to Jung, as it seemed to give weight to his controversial theory of a collective unconscious. Casting their relationship within a larger intellectual history of entanglement theory, Halpern poses a question that has mystified physicists and philosophers alike since the times of Aristotle: Is the speed of light finite, as Einstein posited, or is it, as Pauli and the proponents of entanglement theory asserted, variable across time and dimensions? As Halpern works his way through the history of the physics of cause and effect, he shows that this centuries-old debate is not only relevant at the smallest scales of particle physics but also at the largest scales of the cosmos itself.
The Medicine Cabinet is a beautifully curated and expertly written compendium of over 100 astonishing objects related to the story of medicine. Each object is cared for by London's Science Museum, which houses one of the largest and most significant collections of medical artefacts in the world - including a Bronze Age trepanned skull, healing water from an Ancient Greek well, a seventeenth-century barber's pole, a pharmacist's ceramic leech jar, a gold memento mori ring, First World War blood transfusion apparatus and a prototype MRI scanner. Each object is a profound reminder of the fragility of human existence, but also of the extraordinary lengths gone to by scientists, medical professionals and ordinary people in the attempt to conquer mortality. Published in association with the Science Museum, The Medicine Cabinet is a rich visual exploration of life, death and everything in between.
It began with plutonium, the first element ever manufactured in quantity by humans. Fearing that the Germans would be the first to weaponise the atom, the United States marshalled brilliant minds and seemingly inexhaustible bodies to find a way to create a nuclear chain reaction of inconceivable explosive power. In a matter of months, the Hanford nuclear facility was built to produce the enigmatic and deadly new material that would fuel atomic bombs. In the desert of eastern Washington State, far from prying eyes, scientists Glenn Seaborg, Enrico Fermi and thousands of others-the physicists, engineers, labourers and support staff at the facility-manufactured plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and for the bombs in the current American nuclear arsenal, enabling the construction of weapons with the potential to end human civilisation. With his characteristic blend of scientific clarity and storytelling, Steve Olson asks why Hanford has been largely overlooked in histories of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War. Olson, who grew up just twenty miles from Hanford's B Reactor, recounts how a small Washington town played host to some of the most influential scientists and engineers in American history as they sought to create the substance at the core of the most destructive weapons ever created. The Apocalypse Factory offers a new generation this dramatic story of human achievement and ultimately, of lethal hubris. *2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United States' detonation of nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945.
In this unique and unprecedented study of birding in Africa, historian Nancy Jacobs reconstructs the collaborations between well-known ornithologists and the largely forgotten guides, hunters and taxidermists who worked with them. Drawing on ethnography, scientific publications, private archives and interviews, Jacobs asks: How did white ornithologists both depend on and operate distinctively from African birders? What investment did African birders have in collaborating with ornithologists? By distilling the interactions between European science and African vernacular knowledge, this work offers a fascinating examination of the colonial and postcolonial politics of expertise about nature. It is also a riveting history of the discovery of certain bird species.
Chronologically recounting the story of history's silent assassin, Poison documents the gripping tales of the users and victims of these mysterious substances, from Cleopatra, the Borgias and Qin Shi Huang to contemporary secret service agents and terrorists. Profiles of the most commonly used toxins of each era reveal how the power-hungry, the dangerous and the desperate have harnessed these natural killers to achieve their ends. Poisoning is a dark art as old as human history itself. The Roman emperors used poison liberally to dispose of rivals, guests at Renaissance dinner parties were quietly assassinated with adulterated wine, and professional poisoners equipped murderous wives with toxic tonics for their husbands. In twentieth-century warfare, poisonous substances were used in new and awful ways to terrorize and obliterate both civilians and enemy forces. Today, in the search for the perfect covert weapon, shadowy figures deploy pernicious poisons which are almost impossible to trace. They are only the latest in a long line of experimenters: for the same poisons used to kill or injure others have been used throughout history as intoxicants, aphrodisiacs and even elixirs of life. As every amateur toxicologist knows, the difference between a poison and medicine is often simply the dose.
'Marcus Chown rocks!' Brian May How does it feel to know something about the universe that no one has ever known before? And why is mathematics so magically good at revealing nature's secrets? This is the story of the magicians: the scientists who, using mathematics, predicted the existence of unknown planets, black holes, invisible force fields, ripples in the fabric of space-time, unsuspected subatomic particles, and even antimatter. The journey from prediction to proof transports us from seats of learning in Paris and Cambridge to the war-torn Russian front, to bunkers beneath nuclear reactors, observatories in Berlin and California, and huge tunnels under the Swiss-French border. From electromagnetism to Einstein's gravitational waves to Wolfgang Pauli's elusive neutrino, acclaimed science writer Marcus Chown takes us on a breathtaking, mind-altering tour of the major breakthroughs of modern physics and highlights science's central mystery: its astonishing predictive power.
"Bold and compelling... Uniformly excellent, and often wryly amusing."" - The Wall Street Journal "A globetrotting historical adventure, told from the inside of the operating room... Medical writing at its most exhilarating." - Michael Paul Mason "Comprehensively researched, deftly told, and radiating both intellect and passion... Essential reading for anyone interested not only in the history but also in the future of medicine." - Frank Huyler "A history of surgery that is informative, entertaining, and highly readable." Library Journal A fascinating history of the practice of surgery from one of the leading figures in the field, chronicling centuries of scientific breakthroughs by the discipline's most dynamic, pioneering doctors. Written by an author with plenty of experience holding a scalpel, Dr. David Schneider's The Invention of Surgery is an in-depth biography of the practice that has leapt forward over the centuries from the dangerous guesswork of ancient Greek physicians through the world-changing "implant revolution" of the twentieth century. The Invention of Surgery explains this dramatic progress and highlights the personalities of the discipline's most dynamic historical figures. It links together the lives of the pioneering scientists who first understood what causes disease, how organs become infected or cancerous, and how surgery could powerfully intercede in people's lives, and then shows how the rise of surgery intersected with many of the greatest medical breakthroughs of the last century, including the evolution of medical education, the transformation of the hospital from a place of dying to a habitation of healing, the development of antibiotics, and the rise of transistors and polymer science. And as Schneider argues, surgery has not finished transforming; new technologies are constantly reinventing both the practice of surgery and the nature of the objects we are permanently implanting in our bodies. Schneider considers these latest developments, asking "What's next?" and analyzing how our conception of surgery has changed alongside our evolving ideas of medicine, technology, and our bodies.
Full of personal insights and accounts of the long journey to getting a man on the moon, Missions to the Moon is the perfect companion for anyone with a love of space travel, the moon landings, or NASA, CNSA, RFSA, and the rest of the world's space programs. With dozens of stunning photographs and fascinating memorabilia - such as Apollo 11 Mission Reports and Flight Director's Logs - track the birth of the space race and Yuri Gagarin's first space flight, to the many successes and failures of the Apollo mission, all the way to that boots-on-the-ground moment we have come to know so well. Uniquely complemented by ground-breaking digital technology you can become fully immersed in this interactive story of mankind's ongoing journey into the final frontier.
J. B. S. Haldane's life was rich and strange, never short on genius or drama-from his boyhood apprenticeship to his scientist father, who first instilled in him a devotion to the scientific method; to his time in the trenches during the First World War, where he wrote his first scientific paper; to his numerous experiments on himself, including inhaling dangerous levels of carbon dioxide and drinking hydrochloric acid; to his clandestine research for the British Admiralty during the Second World War. He is best remembered as a geneticist who revolutionized our understanding of evolution, but his peers hailed him as a polymath. One student called him "the last man who might know all there was to be known." He foresaw in vitro fertilization, peak oil, and the hydrogen fuel cell, and his contributions ranged over physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, mathematics, and biostatistics. He was also a staunch Communist, which led him to Spain during the Civil War and sparked suspicions that he was spying for the Soviets. He wrote copiously on science and politics in newspapers and magazines, and he gave speeches in town halls and on the radio-all of which made him, in his day, as famous in Britain as Einstein. It is the duty of scientists to think politically, Haldane believed, and he sought not simply to tell his readers what to think but to show them how to think. Beautifully written and richly detailed, Samanth Subramanian's A Dominant Character recounts Haldane's boisterous life and examines the questions he raised about the intersections of genetics and politics-questions that resonate even more urgently today.
In a world divided by the ideological struggles of the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, more than one-fifth of the people on the planet paused to watch the live transmission of the Apollo 11 mission. To watch as humanity took a giant leap forward. A companion book to the landmark documentary series on BBC TV. The journey from Cape Canaveral to the Moon was a tremendous achievement of human courage and ingenuity. It was also a long, deadly march, haunted by the possibility of catastrophic failure on the world's stage. In an era when the most advanced portable computer weighed 70 pounds, had a 36-kilobite memory and operated on less power than a 60-watt lightbulb, the sheer audacity of the goal is breath-taking. But the triumph of imagination and the unity of the Earth that day would change the world. Based on eyewitness accounts and newly discovered archival material, Chasing the Moon reveals the unknown stories of the individuals who made the Moon landing a possibility, from inspirational science fiction writer Arthur C. Clark and controversial engineer Wernher von Braun, to pioneers like mathematician Poppy Northcutt and astronaut Edward Dwight. It vividly revisits the dawn of the Space Age, a heady time of scientific innovation, political calculation, media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama.
A brief, accessible history of the idea of purpose in Western thought, from ancient Greece to the present Can we live without the idea of purpose? Should we even try to? Kant thought we were stuck with purpose, and even Darwin's theory of natural selection, which profoundly shook the idea, was unable to kill it. Indeed, teleological explanation--what Aristotle called understanding in terms of "final causes"--seems to be making a comeback today, as both religious proponents of intelligent design and some prominent secular philosophers argue that any explanation of life without the idea of purpose is missing something essential. In On Purpose, Michael Ruse explores the history of the idea of purpose in philosophical, religious, scientific, and historical thought, from ancient Greece to the present. Accessibly written and filled with literary and other examples, the book examines "purpose" thinking in the natural and human world. It shows how three ideas about purpose have been at the heart of Western thought for more than two thousand years. In the Platonic view, purpose results from the planning of a human or divine being; in the Aristotelian, purpose stems from a tendency or principle of order in the natural world; and in the Kantian, purpose is essentially heuristic, or something to be discovered, an idea given substance by Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection. On Purpose traces the profound and fascinating implications of these ways of thinking about purpose. Along the way, it takes up tough questions about the purpose of life and whether it's possible to have meaning without purpose, revealing that purpose is still a vital and pressing issue.
"Ants are the most warlike of all animals, with colony pitted against colony," writes E.O. Wilson, one of the world's most beloved scientists, "their clashes dwarf Waterloo and Gettysburg." In Tales from the Ant World, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Wilson takes us on a myrmecological tour to such far-flung destinations as Mozambique and New Guinea, the Gulf of Mexico's Dauphin Island and even his parent's overgrown backyard, thrillingly relating his nine-decade-long scientific obsession with over 15,000 ant species. Animating his scientific observations with illuminating personal stories, Wilson hones in on twenty-five ant species to explain how these genetically superior creatures talk, smell, and taste, and more significantly, how they fight to determine who is dominant. Wryly observing that "males are little more than flying sperm missiles" or that ants send their "little old ladies into battle," Wilson eloquently relays his brushes with fire, army, and leafcutter ants, as well as more exotic species. Among them are the very rare Matabele, Africa's fiercest warrior ants, whose female hunters can carry up to fifteen termites in their jaw (and, as Wilson reports from personal experience, have an incredibly painful stinger); Costa Rica's Basiceros, the slowest of all ants; and New Caledonia's Bull Ants, the most endangered of them all, which Wilson discovered in 2011 after over twenty years of presumed extinction. Richly illustrated throughout with depictions of ant species by Kristen Orr, as well as photos from Wilsons' expeditions throughout the world, Tales from the Ant World is a fascinating, if not occasionally hair-raising, personal account by one of our greatest scientists and a necessary volume for any lover of the natural world.
Albert Einstein is an icon of the twentieth century. Born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879, he is most famous for his theory of relativity, which is considered the founding principle of modern physics. He also made enormous contributions to quantum mechanics and cosmology, and for his work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. A self-pronounced pacifist, humanist, and, late in his life, democratic socialist, Einstein was also deeply concerned with the social impact of his discoveries. Much of Einstein's life is shrouded in legend. From popular images and advertisements to various works of theater and fiction, he has come to signify so many things: the quintessential absent-minded professor; the gentle eccentric; the pacifist; the super-human genius. In Einstein: A Biography, Jurgen Neffe presents a clear and probing portrait of the man behind the myth. He recounts Einstein's life with detail and accuracy, presenting a comprehensive account of the educational, religious, psychological and historical conditions that enabled Einstein to become the ber-physicist of all time. Unearthing new documents, including a series of previously unknown letters from Einstein to his sons, which shed a new light on his role as a father, Neffe also paints a rich portrait of the tumultuous years in which Einstein lived and worked. With a background in the sciences, Neffe describes and contextualizes Einstein's enormous contributions to our scientific legacy. He leads his readers through today's institutes and laboratories worldwide, where Einstein's work continues to thrill researchers and scholars. A bestseller in Germany, Einstein is sure to be a classic biography of the man and proverbial genius who has been called the brain of the [twentieth] century.
In 1963 a schoolboy browsing in his local library stumbled across the world's greatest mathematical problem: Fermat's Last Theorem, a puzzle that every child can understand but which has baffled mathematicians for over 300 years. Aged just ten, Andrew Wiles dreamed that he would crack it. Wiles's lifelong obsession with a seemingly simple challenge set by a long-dead Frenchman is an emotional tale of sacrifice and extraordinary determination. In the end, Wiles was forced to work in secrecy and isolation for seven years, harnessing all the power of modern maths to achieve his childhood dream. Many before him had tried and failed, including a 18-century philanderer who was killed in a duel. An 18-century Frenchwoman made a major breakthrough in solving the riddle, but she had to attend maths lectures at the Ecole Polytechnique disguised as a man since women were forbidden entry to the school. A remarkable story of human endeavour and intellectual brilliance over three centuries, Fermat's Last Theorem will fascinate both specialist and general readers.
Recent advances suggest that the concept of information might hold the key to unravelling the mystery of life's nature and origin. Fresh insights from a broad and authoritative range of articulate and respected experts focus on the transition from matter to life, and hence reconcile the deep conceptual schism between the way we describe physical and biological systems. A unique cross-disciplinary perspective, drawing on expertise from philosophy, biology, chemistry, physics, and cognitive and social sciences, provides a new way to look at the deepest questions of our existence. This book addresses the role of information in life, and how it can make a difference to what we know about the world. Students, researchers, and all those interested in what life is and how it began will gain insights into the nature of life and its origins that touch on nearly every domain of science.
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