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New Books in Science Podcast by Marshall Poe

New Books in Science Podcast

by Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scientists about their New Books.


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http://newbooksnetwork.com/category/science-technology/science/

Kathleen McAuliffe, “This is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society” (Mariner Books, 2017)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Mar 21, 2017


Kathleen McAuliffe‘s This is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society (Mariner Books, 2017) unveils the world of parasites. From the influence of parasites on the ability to transform rats brains to be…

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Stephanie Ruphy, “Scientific Pluralism Reconsidered: A New Approach to the (Dis)unity of Science (U. Pittsburgh Press, 2017)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Mar 15, 2017


The idea that the sciences can’t be unified–that there will never be a single ‘theory of everything’–is the current orthodoxy in philosophy of science and in many sciences as well. But different versions of pluralism present very different views of…

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Carl Gillett, “Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy” (Cambridge UP, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Feb 15, 2017


Are complex phenomena “nothing but the sum of their parts”, or are they “more than the sum of their parts”? Physicists, chemists, and biologists as well as philosophers have long argued on both sides of this debate between the idea…

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Berit Brogaard, “On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about a Complex Emotion” (Oxford UP, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Feb 13, 2017


Why is falling in love so exciting and painful at the same time? And what explains our longing for people who are bad for us or no longer love us back? In her book On Romantic Love: Simple Truths about

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Randy Olson, “Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story” (U. Chicago Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Feb 04, 2017


Randy Olson, author of Houston, We Have a Narrative: Why Science Needs Story (University of Chicago Press, 2015), has an unusual background. He is a Harvard-trained biologist and former tenured professor who resigned from his academic post to earn…

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Projit Bihari Mukharji, “Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Science: (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Jan 16, 2017


Projit Bihari Mukharji’s new book explores the power of small, non-spectacular, and everyday technologies as motors or catalysts of change in the history of science and medicine. Focusing on practices of Ayurveda in British Bengal between about 1870-1930, Doctoring Traditions:

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Joshua Howe, “Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming” (U. Washington Press, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jan 10, 2017


The year 2016 was the hottest year on record, and in recent months, drought and searing heat have fanned wildfires in Fort McMurray Alberta and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Arctic has had record high temperatures, leading one climate researcher…

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Brian Clegg, “Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Jan 04, 2017


Brian Clegg’s Are Numbers Real? The Uncanny Relationship of Mathematics and the Physical World (St. Martin’s Press, 2016) is a compact, very readable, and highly entertaining history of the development and use of mathematics to answer the important practical questions…

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Ian Stewart, “Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe” (Basic Books, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Dec 29, 2016


The book discussed here is Ian Stewart’s Calculating the Cosmos: How Mathematics Unveils the Universe (Basic Books, 2016). If you would like to read a book that in my opinion represents the nicest job of presenting astronomy and cosmology in…

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Pamela S. Turner, “Crow Smarts/Samurai Rising” (HMH/Charlesbridge, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Oct 28, 2016


Award-winning author, Pamela S. Turner discusses two new books, Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the Worlds Smartest Bird (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016), and Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune (Charlesbridge, 2016). In Crow Smarts,…

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J.D. Trout, “Wondrous Truths: The Improbable Triumph of Modern Science” (Oxford UP, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Oct 15, 2016


The social practice we call science has had spectacular success in explaining the natural world since the 17th century. While advanced mathematics and other precursors of modern science were not unique to Europe, it was there that Isaac Newton, Robert…

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Asif A. Siddiqi, “The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957” (Cambridge UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Sep 30, 2016


In The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), Asif Siddiqi approaches the history of the Soviet space program as a combination of engineering and imagination, both necessary to achieve the launch of the…

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Kenneth Schaffner, “Behaving: What’s Genetic, What’s Not, and Why Should We Care?” (Oxford UP, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Sep 15, 2016


In the genes vs. environment debate, it is widely accepted that what we do, who we are, and what mental illnesses we are at risk for result from a complex combination of both factors. Just how complex is revealed in…

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Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, “The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line” (Prometheus Books, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Sep 11, 2016


Alfred S. Posamentier and Robert Geretschlager, The Circle: A Mathematical Exploration Beyond the Line (Prometheus Books, 2016) goes considerably beyond what its modest title would suggest. The circle has played a pivotal role–that’s “role” with an ‘e,’ but…

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Sandra Harding, “Objectivity and Diversity: A New Logic of Scientific Inquiry” (U. of Chicago Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Sep 07, 2016


Is the scientific value of objectivity in conflict with the social justice commitment to diversity? In her latest book, Objectivity and Diversity: A New Logic of Scientific Inquiry (University of Chicago Press, 2015), Sandra Harding (Education and Gender Studies, UCLA)…

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James Rodger Fleming, “Inventing Atmospheric Science: Bjerknes, Rossby, Wexler, and the Foundations of Modern Meteorology” (MIT Press, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Aug 26, 2016


This is a book about the future – the historical future as three interconnected generations of atmospheric researchers experienced it and envisioned it in the first part of the twentieth century. James Rodger Fleming’s new book is a big picture…

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Peter Harrison, “The Territories of Science and Religion” (U. of Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Jul 21, 2016


Contemporary debates would lead you to believe that science and religion are eternally at odds with each other. In The Territories of Science and Religion (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Peter Harrison,Director, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities…

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Marta Zaraska, “Meathooked: The History and Science of our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat” (Basic Books, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jul 05, 2016


Here in the U.S. we’ve just celebrated the Fourth of July, with its parades, fireworks, and, of course, cook-outs. If you’re like me, the smell of a grilling burger can make you salivate from across the yard. I feel like…

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Michael F. Robinson, “The Lost White Tribe: Explorers, Scientists, and the Theory that Changed a Continent” (Oxford UP, 2016)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jun 03, 2016


Michael F. Robinson‘s new book is such a pleasure to read, I cant even. It’s not just because you get to say Gambaragara over and over again if you read it aloud. (I recommend doing this, even if just…

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Beineke and Rosenhouse, eds., “The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math” (Princeton UP, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, May 23, 2016


Jennifer Beineke and Jason Rosenhouse‘s new book The Mathematics of Various Entertaining Subjects: Research in Recreational Math (Princeton University Press, 2015) covers a multitude of topics and is in many ways as entertaining as the various subjects it describes.…

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Eben Kirksey, “Emergent Ecologies” (Duke UP, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Apr 18, 2016


Eben Kirksey new book asks and explores a series of timely, important, and fascinating questions: How do certain plants, animals, and fungi move among worlds, navigate shifting circumstances, and find emergent opportunities? When do new species add value to ecological…

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Eric Dietrich, “Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World” (Columbia UP, )

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Apr 15, 2016


Although there are many deep criticisms of a scientific view of humanity and the world, a persistent theme is that the scientific worldview eliminates mystery, and in particular, the wonders and mysteries of the world’s religions. In Excellent Beauty: The

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David J. Stump, “Conceptual Change and the Philosophy of Science: Alternative Interpretations of the A Priori” (Routledge, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Feb 15, 2016


Ever since Kant argued that there was a category of truths, the synthetic a priori, that grounded the possibility of empirical knowledge, philosophers have debated the concept of a priori knowledge in science. Are there kinds of scientific knowledge that…

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Ronald Chase, “Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jan 26, 2016


In his book, Schizophrenia: A Brother Finds Answers in Biological Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), biologist Ronald Chase explores the frequently misunderstood condition through an engaging combination of scientific exploration and personal memoir. In recounting the life of his…

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Dale Jamieson, “Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – and What It Means for Our Future” (Oxford UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Jan 21, 2016


How are we to think and live with climate change? In Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed – and What It Means for Our Future (Oxford University Press, 2014), Dale Jamieson (Environmental Studies and…

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Peter J. Gloviczki, “Journalism and Memorialization in the Age of Social Media” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Dec 30, 2015


Humans have coped with tragedy using ritual and memorials since the Neolithic era. Doka called a memorial a space invested with meaning, “set aside to commemorate an event such as a tragedy.” Memorialization is a ritual of bereavement, the creation…

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Natasha Myers, “Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter” (Duke UP, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Dec 21, 2015


After reading Natasha Myers’s new book, the world begins to dance in new ways. Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015) is a sensory ethnography of protein crystallographers that is based on five years of…

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Brian Clegg, “How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz Book” (Icon Books, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Dec 07, 2015


Brian Clegg, who is arguably the most prolific science writer since Isaac Asimov, and almost certainly the most prolific British one, has written a delightfully tantalizing book entitled How Many Moons Does the Earth Have? The Ultimate Science Quiz

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Eric T. Meyer and Ralph Schroeder, “Knowledge Machines: Digital Transformations of the Sciences and Humanities” (MIT Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Nov 15, 2015


By now it is incontrovertible that new technology has had an effect on how regular people get information. Whether in the form of an online newspaper or a Google search, new technology has allowed individuals to access masses of information…

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Anita Guerrini, “The Courtiers’ Anatomists: Animals and Humans in Louis XIV’s Paris” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Nov 04, 2015


Anita Guerrini‘s wonderful new book explores Paris as a site of anatomy, dissection, and science during the reign of Louis XIV between 1643-1715. The journey begins with readers accompanying a dead body to sites of dissection across the city,…

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Eugene Raikhel, Todd Meyers, Emily Yates-Doerr, “Somatosphere.net”

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Oct 13, 2015


Somatosphere is “a collaborative website covering the intersections of medical anthropology, science and technology studies, cultural psychiatry, psychology and bioethics.” Founded in July 2008, Somatosphere has evolved into an innovative platform for collaborative experiments, interdisciplinary exchange, and intellectual community. As…

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Isabelle Dussauge, Claes-Fredrik Helgesson, and Francis Lee, “Value Practices in the Life Sciences and Medicine” (Oxford UP, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Sep 26, 2015


Valuation is a central question in contemporary social science. Indeed the question of value has a range of academic projects associated with it, whether in terms of specific questions or in terms of emerging fora for academic publications. In…

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Sandra Harding, “Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Sep 04, 2015


Sandra Harding‘s new book Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research (University of Chicago Press, 2015) raises new questions about two central concepts in STS – objectivity and diversity – and in doing so it allows us to…

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Tom Jackson, “Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again” (Bloomsbury, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Aug 19, 2015


Tom Jackson‘s Chilled: How Refrigeration Changed the World and Might Do So Again (Bloomsbury, 2015) is a completely engrossing look into the history and technology of refrigeration.?  This book reads like an expanded chapter of James Burke’s classic book…

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Raf De Bont, “Stations in the Field: A History of Place-Based Animal Research, 1870-1930” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jul 24, 2015


While museums, labs, and botanical gardens have been widely studied by historians of science, field stations have received comparatively little attention.Raf De Bont‘s new book rectifies this oversight, turning our attention to the importance of biological field stations…

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James A. Secord, “Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian Age” (U of Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jul 03, 2015


James A. Secord‘s new book is both deeply enlightening and a pleasure to read. Emerging from the 2013 Sandars Lectures in Bibliography at the Cambridge University Library, Visions of Science: Books and Readers at the Dawn of the Victorian

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Tom McLeish, “Faith and Wisdom in Science” (Oxford UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, May 22, 2015


Much of the public debate about the relationship between science and theology has been antagonistic or adversarial. Proponents on both sides argue that their respective claims are contradictory–that the claims of science trump and even discredit the claims of religion…

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Chris Morgan, “The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000” (McFarland, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Apr 17, 2015


While there are many well known cult television shows still revered by fans, MST3K continues to have an incredibly large following with a thriving following 25 years after its final episode. Chris Morgan‘s book The Comic Galaxy of Mystery

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A. Mark Smith, “From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics” (U of Chicago Press, 2015)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Mar 21, 2015


A. Mark Smith‘s new book is a magisterial history of optics over the course of two millennia. From Sight to Light: The Passage from Ancient to Modern Optics (University of Chicago Press, 2015) suggests that the transition from ancient…

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Nick Wilding, “Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and the Politics of Knowledge” (U Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Mar 15, 2015


Nick Wilding‘s new book is brilliant, thoughtful, and an absolute pleasure to read. Galileo’s Idol: Gianfrancesco Sagredo and The Politics of Knowledge (University of Chicago Press, 2014) takes an unusual approach to understanding Galileo and his context by focusing…

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Edmund Russell, “Evolutionary History: Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth” (

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Mar 11, 2015


Evolution is among the most powerful ideas in the natural sciences. Indeed, the evolutionary theoristTheodosius Dobzhansky famouslysaid nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Yet despite its central place in the life sciences, relatively few geographers…

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Orit Halpern, “Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945” (Duke UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Mar 09, 2015


The second half of the twentieth century saw a radical transformation in approaches to recording and displaying information. Orit Halpern‘s new book traces the emergence of the “communicative objectivity” that resulted from this shift and produced new forms of…

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Nicolas Rasmussen, “Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jan 30, 2015


Nicolas Rasmussen‘s new book maps the intersection of biotechnology and the business world in the last decades of the twentieth century. Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) takes readers into…

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Karen A. Rader and Victoria E. M. Cain, “Life on Display: Revolutionizing U.S. Museums of Science and Natural History in the Twentieth Century” (U of Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jan 16, 2015


In lucid prose that’s a real pleasure to read, Karen Rader and Victoria Cain‘s new book chronicles a revolution in modern American science education and culture. Life on Display: Revolutionizing U. S. Museums of Science & Natural History in

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William Sheehan and Christopher Conselice, “Galactic Encounters” (Springer, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Jan 12, 2015


Galactic Encounters: Our Majestic and Evolving Star-System, From the Big Bang to Time’s End, by William Sheehan and Christopher Conselice, takes readers on a journey through time, unfolding the long history of investigation into the fuzzy objects–nebulae, galaxies,…

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David A. Rothery, “Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World” (Springer, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Dec 28, 2014


Planet Mercury: From Pale Pink Dot to Dynamic World (Springer, 2014) by David A. Rothery, introduces the innermost planet in our solar system and brings readers up to speed on recent spacecraft discoveries and the unsolved mysteries of Mercury.…

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Vera Kolb, “Astrobiology: An Evolutionary Approach” (CRC Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Dec 11, 2014


Astrobiology: An Evolutionary Approach (CRC Press, 2014) is a new volume edited by Dr. Vera Kolb that brings together 37 authors from a variety of different research backgrounds to introduce this rapidly developing interdisciplinary field.?  Anyone coming to the book…

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Daniel Margocsy, “Commercial Visions: Science, Trade, and Visual Culture in the Dutch Golden Age” (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Dec 09, 2014


Daniel Margocsy‘s beautiful new book opens with a trip to Amsterdam by Baron Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach, and closes with a shopping spree by Peter the Great. These two trips bookend a series of fascinating forays into the changing…

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James Giordano, “Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense” (CRC Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Dec 04, 2014


Neurotechnology in National Security and Defense: Practical Considerations, Neuroethical Concerns (CRC Press, 2014), edited by Dr. James Giordano, is an impressive collection of essays by authors at the cutting edge of an emerging field which links neuroscience and national…

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William J. Turkel, “Spark from the Deep” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Nov 13, 2014


“In a sense, all life consists of the colonization of an electric world. But to see that, we have to go back to the very beginning.” William J. Turkel‘s new book traces the emergence and inhabiting of an electric…

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Lawrence Lipking, “What Galileo Saw: Imagining the Scientific Revolution” (Cornell UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Nov 05, 2014


Lawrence Lipking‘s new book, What Galileo Saw: Imagining the Scientific Revolution (Cornell University Press, 2014) examines the role of imagination and creativity in the seventeenth century developments that have come to be known as the Scientific Revolution. Whereas some…

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Roberto Trotta, “The Edge of the Sky: All You Need to Know About the All-There-Is” (Basic Books, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Oct 21, 2014


Roberto Trotta‘s new book,? The Edge of the Sky: All You Need to Know About the All-There-Is? (Basic Books, 2014)? uses only the thousand (or ten-hundred) most common words in the English language to describe our current understanding and…

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Don Lincoln, “The Large Hadron Collider” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Oct 09, 2014


Don Lincoln‘s new book, The Large Hadron Collider: The Extraordinary Story of the Higgs Boson and Other Stuff That Will Blow Your Mind? (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014), presents an insider’s view of the largest physics experiment of our time…

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Mary-Jane Rubenstein, “Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse” (Columbia UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Sep 29, 2014


Where can the the boundaries of science, philosophy, and religion be drawn? Questioning the nature of the universe is an excellent place to rethink how these categories have been deployed across time. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor Religious Studies at Wesleyan…

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David N. Livingstone, “Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Aug 06, 2014


David N. Livingstone‘s new book traces the processes by which communities of the late nineteenth? and early twentieth? centuries that shared the same Scottish Calvinist heritage engaged with Darwin and Darwinians in different local contexts.? Dealing with Darwin: Place,

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Thomas McFaul and Al Brunsting, “God is Here to Stay: Science, Evolution, and Belief in God” (Wipf and Stock, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Jun 19, 2014


The book discussed in this interview is God is Here to Stay: Science, Evolution, and Belief in God (Wipf and Stock, 2014)? by Thomas McFaul and Al Brunsting, two authors with very different backgrounds. McFaul is a college professor specializing…

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Jane Maienschein, “Embryos Under the Microscope: The Diverging Meanings of Life” (Harvard UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Jun 12, 2014


Why do we study the history of science? Historians of science don’t just teach us about the past: along with philosophers of science, they also help us to understand the foundations and assumptions of scientific research, and guide us to…

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Omar W. Nasim, “Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Jun 02, 2014


In Omar W. Nasim‘s new book, a series of fascinating characters sketch, paint, and etch their way toward a mapping of the cosmos and the human mind. Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century (University of…

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Melinda B. Fagan, “Philosophy of Stem Cell Biology: Knowledge in Flesh and Blood” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, May 15, 2014


Philosophy of science has come a very long way from its historically rooted focus on theories, explanations, and evidential relations in physics elaborated in terms of a rather mythical “theory T”. But even in philosophy of biology, attention has largely…

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Richard Yeo, “Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science” (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, May 14, 2014


During the Great Fire of London in September 1666, Samuel Pepys went out to the garden and dug some holes. There he placed his documents, some wine, and “my parmezan cheese” for safekeeping as the buildings and streets of his…

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Oscar E. Fernandez, “Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us (Princeton UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Apr 17, 2014


The book discussed in this interview is? Everyday Calculus:? Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us(Princeton University Press, 2014)by? Oscar E. Fernandez, who teaches mathematics – and calculus in particular – at Wellesley College.?  While it can…

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Robert Mitchell, “Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Apr 16, 2014


Robert Mitchell‘s new book is wonderfully situated across several intersections: of history and literature, of the Romantic and contemporary worlds, of Keats’ urn and a laboratory cylinder full of dry ice. In Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and

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Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, “Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa” (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Apr 10, 2014


Abena Dove Osseo-Asare‘s wonderful new book is a thoughtful, provocative, and balanced account of the intersecting histories and practices of drug research in modern Ghana, South Africa, and Madagascar. Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa (University…

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David Kaiser, “How the Hippies Saved Physics” (W.W. Norton, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Apr 02, 2014


David Kaiser‘s recent book is one of the most enjoyable and informative books on the history of science that you’ll read, full-stop. The deservedly award-winning? How the Hippies Saved Physics:? Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival? (W.W. Norton, 2012)? …

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Matthew C. Hunter, “Wicked Intelligence” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Mar 23, 2014


The pages of Matthew C. Hunter‘s wonderful new book are full of paper fish, comets, sleepy-eyed gazes, drunk ants, and a cast full of fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) members of the experimental community of Restoration London. Wicked Intelligence: Visual

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John Hibbing et al., “Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences” (Routledge, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Feb 24, 2014


John Hibbing, Kevin Smith, and John Alford are the authors of Predisposed: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Biology of Political Differences (Routledge, 2013). Hibbing is professor of political science and psychology at the University of Nebraska, Smith is professor…

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Michael Pettit, “The Science of Deception: Psychology and Commerce in America” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Feb 19, 2014


Parapsychology. You may have heard of it. You know, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis. Spoon-bending and that sort of thing. If you have heard of it, you probably think of it as a pseudoscience. And indeed it is. But it wasn’t…

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Chuck Adler, “Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction” (Princeton UP, 2014)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Feb 14, 2014


[Re-posted with permission from Wild About Math] I’ve admitted before that Physics and I have never gotten along. But, science fiction is something I enjoy. So, when Princeton University Press sent me a copy of Physics Professor Chuck

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Hallam Stevens, “Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jan 31, 2014


Hallam Stevens‘s new book is a rich and fascinating ethnographic and historical account of the transformations wrought by integrating statistical and computational methods and materials into the biological sciences. Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics (University…

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John Waldman, “Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations” (Lyons Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Thu, Jan 16, 2014


When it comes to understanding why our planet’s biodiversity is declining so precipitously, no phrase has as much explanatory power as “shifting baselines”?  — as essayist Derrick Jensen put it, “[T]he process of becoming accustomed to, and accepting as…

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Michael Weisberg, “Simulation and Similarity: Using Models to Understand the World” (Oxford UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Jan 15, 2014


In 1956 and 1957, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided to test a plan to dam up the San Francisco Bay in order to protect its water supply: they built a 1.5 acre model of the Bay area in…

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Gabriel Finkelstein, “Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany” (MIT Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jan 14, 2014


“A good wife and a healthy child are better for one’s temper than frogs.” For Gabriel Finkelstein, Emil du Bois-Reymond was “the most important forgotten intellectual of the nineteenth century.” Most famously in a series of experimental works on…

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Angela N. H. Creager, “Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jan 07, 2014


Angela Creager‘s deeply researched and elegantly written new book is a must-read account of the history of science in twentieth-century America. Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine (University of Chicago Press, 2013) traces a history…

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Sarah S. Richardson, Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Nov 27, 2013


Men and women are different, there’s no doubt about it. And you might well want to know what the root of that difference is. What makes a man a man and a woman a woman? Before the beginning of the…

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Kim TallBear, “Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science” (University of Minnesota Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Nov 23, 2013


Is genetic testing a new national obsession? From reality TV shows to the wild proliferation of home testing kits, there’s ample evidence it might just be. And among the most popular tests of all is for so-called “Native American DNA.”…

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Muhammed Ali Khalidi, “Natural Categories and Human Kinds: Classification in the Natural and Social Sciences” (Cambridge UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Nov 15, 2013


The division between natural kinds – the kinds that ‘cut nature at its joints’ – and those that simply reflect human interests and values has a long history. The natural kinds are often thought to have certain essential characteristics that…

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William J. Clancey, “Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers” (MIT Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Nov 03, 2013


How does conducting fieldwork on another planet, using a robot as a mobile laboratory, change what it means to be a scientist? In? Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers? (MIT Press, 2012), William J.

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Dorothy H. Crawford, “Virus Hunt: The Search for the Origin of HIV” (Oxford UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Oct 16, 2013


If you think about it, pretty much everything has a history insofar as everything exists in time. Historians, however, usually limit themselves to the history of humans and the things humans make. Occasionally, of course, they make forays into the…

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Adam R. Shapiro, “Trying Biology: The Scopes Trial, Textbooks, and the Anti-Evolution Movement in American Schools” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Sep 27, 2013


During the 1924-25 school year, John Scopes was filling in for the regular biology teacher at Rhea County Central High School in Dayton, Tennessee. The final exam was coming up, and he assigned reading from George W. Hunter’s 1914 textbook…

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Tim Maudlin, “Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time” (Princeton UP, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Sep 17, 2013


Tim Maudlin‘s Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton University Press, 2012) is a clear, approachable, and engaging introduction to the philosophy of physics that focuses on fundamental notions of space and time. The book expertly interweaves the history…

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Michael Ruse, “The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sun, Sep 08, 2013


In The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet (University of Chicago Press, 2013), Michael Ruse offers a fascinating history of the Gaia Hypothesis in the context of the transformations of professional and public engagements with science and technology in…

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Hannah S. Decker, “The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual’s Conquest of American Psychiatry” (Oxford UP, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Aug 23, 2013


Like it or not, the American Psychiatric Association’s? Diagnostic and Statistical Manual? (DSM) has an enormous influence in deciding what qualifies as a mental health disorder in the United States and beyond. The each revision of the DSM directly influences…

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David Munns, “A Single Sky: How an International Community Forged the Science of Radio Astronomy” (MIT Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Jul 29, 2013


How do you measure a star? In the middle of the 20thcentury, an interdisciplinary and international community of scientists began using radio waves to measure heavenly bodies and transformed astronomy as a result. David P. D. Munns‘s new book…

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Nathaniel Comfort, “The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine” (Yale UP, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jul 05, 2013


“This is a history of promises.”So begins Nathaniel Comfort‘s gripping and beautifully written new book on the relationships between and entanglements of medical genetic and eugenics in the history of the twentieth century.Based on a rich documentary and…

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Maki Fukuoka, “The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in 19th-Century Japan” (Stanford UP, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Jun 22, 2013


Zograscope. Say it with me: zograscope. ZooooOOOOOoooograscope. There are many optical wonders in Maki Fukuoka’s new book? The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in 19th-Century Japan? ? (Stanford University Press, 2012), the zograscope not least among them.…

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Brian Clegg, “Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe” (Icon Books, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jun 04, 2013


The book discussed in this interview is Dice World: Science and Life in a Random Universe (Icon Books, 2013), by Brian Clegg, an acclaimed British writer of books on science for the general public. Brian has a knack…

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Helen Longino, “Studying Human Behavior: How Scientists Investigate Aggression and Sexuality” (University of Chicago Press, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, May 15, 2013


What explains human behavior? It is standard to consider answers from the perspective of a dichotomy between nature and nurture, with most researchers today in agreement that it is both. For Helen Longino, Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of Philosophy…

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Marlene Zuk, “Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live” (Norton, 2013)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Apr 22, 2013


The Hebrews called it “Eden.” The Greeks and Romans called it the “Golden Age.” The philosophes–or Rousseau at least–called it the “State of Nature.” Marx and Engels called it “Primitive Communism.” The underlying notion, however, is the same: there…

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Kathleen M. Vogel, “Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Apr 17, 2013


Kathleen M. Vogel‘s new book is enlightening and inspiring. Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012) uses an approach grounded in deep ethnographic analysis of exemplary case studies to…

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Meir Hemmo and Orly Shenker, “The Road to Maxwell’s Demon: Conceptual Foundations of Statistical Mechanics” (Cambridge UP, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Apr 15, 2013


Among the very many puzzling aspects of the physical world is this: how do we explain the fact that the laws of thermodynamics are time-asymmetric while those of statistical mechanics are time-symmetric? If the fundamental physical laws do not require…

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Lawrence M. Krauss, “A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing” (Atria, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Feb 13, 2013


In A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing (Atria, 2012), Lawrence M. Krauss presents this big idea: something can–and perhaps must–come from nothing. That something is, well, everything–you, me, and the entire universe. If that doesn’t…

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Christopher I. Beckwith, “Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World (Princeton University Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jan 22, 2013


In Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World (Princeton University Press, 2012), Christopher I. Beckwith gives us a rare window into the global movements of medieval science. Science can be characterized not by…

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Michael D. Gordin, “The Pseudo-Science Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe” (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jan 15, 2013


“No one in the history of the world has ever self-identified as a pseudoscientist.” From the very first sentence, Michael D. Gordin’s new book introduces readers to the characters, plotlines, and crises that have shaped the narratives of fringe science…

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Katy Price, “Loving Faster Than Light: Romance and Readers in Einstein’s Universe” (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Jan 09, 2013


You were amused to find you too could fear “The eternal silence of the infinite spaces.” The astronomy love poems of William Empson, from which the preceding quote was taken, were just some of the many media through which people…

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David Sepkoski, “Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline” (University of Chicago, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Nov 20, 2012


In Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline (University of Chicago Press, 1012), David Sepkoski tells a story that explains the many ways that paleontologists have interpreted the meaning and importance of fossils in the…

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Chris Cooper, “Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat: The Science Behind Drugs in Sport” (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Oct 09, 2012


This past August, the saga of Lance Armstrong came to its inglorious end. The seven-time champion of the Tour de France and Olympic medalist ended his defense against charges that he had engaged in blood doping during his cycling career.…

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Robert Westman, “The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and Celestial Order” (University of California Press, 2011)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Aug 29, 2012


This is an extraordinary book written by one of the finest historians of science. Ringing in at nearly seven hundred oversized, double columned pages Robert Westman‘s The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism, and the Celestial Order (University of California Press,…

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Anjan Chakravartty, “A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable” (Cambridge UP, 2007)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jul 27, 2012


Near the opening of his book A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable (Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback 2010), Anjan Chakravartty warns readers: snack before reading! Though the occasional exemplary slice of pumpkin pie and chocolate fudge brownies do…

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P. Kyle Stanford, “Exceeding Our Grasp: Science, History, and the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives” (Oxford UP, 2006)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, Jul 17, 2012


Should we really believe what our best scientific theories tell us about the world, especially about parts of the world that we can’t see? This question informs a long history of debates over scientific realism and the extent to which…

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Hanna Rose Shell, “Hide and Seek: Camouflage, Photography, and the Media of Reconnaissance” (Zone Books, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Jul 09, 2012


Imagine a world wherein the people who wrote history books were artists, the books occasionally read like poetry, and the stories in them ranged from Monty Python skits to the natural history of chameleons to the making of classic sniper…

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Philip Kitcher, “Science in a Democratic Society” (Prometheus Books, 2011)

Author: Marshall Poe
Sat, Jun 09, 2012


Philip Kitcher‘s Science in a Democratic Society (Prometheus Books, 2011) is an ambitious work that does many things at the same time. It offers a compelling theory of democracy, public knowledge, and a “well-ordered science” that engages the two.…

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D. Graham Burnett, “The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century” (University of Chicago Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, May 15, 2012


Graham Burnett’s The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2012) s an astounding book. It is an inspiring work, both in the depth of research brought to bear in Burnett’s account…

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Paul Thagard, “The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change” (MIT Press, 2012)

Author: Marshall Poe
Tue, May 15, 2012


We’ve all heard about scientific revolutions, such as the change from the Ptolemaic geocentric universe to the Copernican heliocentric one. Such drastic changes are the meat-and-potatoes of historians of science and philosophers of science. But another perspective on them is…

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Lawrence Busch, “Standards: Recipes for Reality” (MIT Press, 2011)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Apr 16, 2012


As Lawrence Busch reminds us, standards are all around us governing seating arrangements, medicine, experimental objects and subjects and even romance novels. In Standards: Recipes for Reality (MIT Press, 2011) Busch provides a wide ranging and accessible analysis of the…

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David Edwards, “The Lab: Creativity and Culture” (Harvard University Press, 2010)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Apr 02, 2012


To say that David Edwards‘s The Lab: Creativity and Culture (Harvard University Press, 2010) is inspiring would be a profound understatement. In a series of concise, focused chapters that range from “Dreams” to “Translational Change,” Edwards maps out a…

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John Eric Goff, “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports” (Johns Hopkins UP, 2009)

Author: Marshall Poe
Mon, Aug 15, 2011


The instructor of my freshman physics course fit the stereotype of a physics professor: unkempt white hair, black glasses case in the breast pocket of his short-sleeved shirt, thick German accent, and a tendency to mumble to himself while mulling…

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Mark Stephen Meadows, “We Robot: Skywalker’s Hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact” (Lyons Press, 2011)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Jul 06, 2011


If technology is the site of digital culture, then robots are the future platforms of our social projections and interactions. In fact, that future is already here in small but fascinating ways. Mark Stephen Meadows is one of a handful…

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Alex Vilenkin, “Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes” (Hill and Wang, 2006)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Apr 01, 2011


[This interview is re-posted with permission from Jenny Attiyeh’s ThoughtCast] Want to know how the world is going to end? Just ask Russian cosmologist Alex Vilenkin. If it’s our own universe you’re talking about, well, it’s called…

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Ian Sample, “Massive: The Missing Particle that Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science” (Basic Books, 2010)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Jan 14, 2011


You’ve probably read about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It’s the largest (17 miles around!), most expensive (9 billion dollars!) scientific instrument in history. What’s it do? It accelerates beams of tiny particles (protons) to nearly the speed of light…

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Ann Fabian, “The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead” (University of Chicago, 2010)

Author: Marshall Poe
Fri, Dec 17, 2010


What should we study? The eighteenth-century luminary and poet Alexander Pope had this to say on the subject: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man ” (An Essay on Man,…

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James Fleming, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control” (Columbia UP, 2010)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Oct 20, 2010


In the summer of 2008 the Chinese were worried about rain. They were set to host the Summer Olympics that year, and they wanted clear skies. Surely clear skies, they must have thought, would show the world that China had…

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Abigail Foerstner, “James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles” (University of Iowa Press, 2007)

Author: Marshall Poe
Wed, Feb 27, 2008


This week we feature an interview with Abigail Foerstner about her new book, James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles (University of Iowa Press, 2007). Dr. Foerstner teaches news writing and science writing at Northwestern University’s Medill School of…

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