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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology
Biology of Sex Determination
Few of us know much about the biology of sex determination, but what could be more interesting than to discover how we are shaped into males and females? In this book, Elof Carlson tells the incredible story of the difficult quest to understand how the body forms girls and boys. Carlson's history takes us from antiquity to the present day to detail how each component of human reproduction and sexuality was identified and studied, how this knowledge enlarged our understanding of sex determination, and how it was employed to interpret such little understood aspects of human biology as the origin of intersex births.
Race, Religion, and the Politics of Human Origins
Although the idea that all human beings are descended from Adam is a long-standing conviction in the West, another version of this narrative exists: human beings inhabited the Earth before, or alongside, Adam, and their descendants still occupy the planet. In this engaging and provocative work, David N. Livingstone traces the history of the idea of non-adamic humanity, and the debates surrounding it, from the Middle Ages to the present day. From a multidisciplinary perspective, Livingstone examines how this alternative idea has been used for cultural, religious, and political purposes. He reveals how what began as biblical criticism became a theological apologetic to reconcile religion with science—evolution in particular—and was later used to support arguments for white supremacy and segregation. From heresy to orthodoxy, from radicalism to conservatism, from humanitarianism to racism, Adam's Ancestors tells an intriguing tale of twists and turns in the cultural politics surrounding the age-old question, "Where did we come from?"
Explaining Nature in Ancient Greece and Rome
Classical authors used both prose and poetry to explore and explain the natural world. In Aetna and the Moon, Liba Taub examines the variety of ways in which ancient Greeks and Romans conveyed scientific information. Oregon State University Press is proud to present this inaugural volume in the Horning Visiting Scholars Series.
In ancient Greece and Rome, most of the technical literature on scientific, mathematical, technological, and medical subjects was written in prose, as it is today. However, Greek and Roman poets produced a significant number of widely read poems that dealt with scientific topics. Why would an author choose poetry to explain the natural world? This question is complicated by claims made, since antiquity, that the growth of rational explanation involved the abandonment of poetry and the rejection of myth in favor of science.
Taub uses two texts to explore how scientific ideas were disseminated in the ancient world. The anonymous author of the Latin Aetna poem explained the science behind the volcano Etna with poetry. The Greek author Plutarch juxtaposed scientific and mythic explanations in his dialogue On the Face on the Moon.
Both texts provide a lens through which Taub considers the nature of scientific communication in ancient Greece and Rome. General readers will appreciate Taub’s thoughtful discussion concerning the choices available to ancient authors to convey their ideas about science—as important today as it was in antiquity—while Taub’s careful research and lively writing will engage classicists as well as historians of science.
In 1950, Alan Turing, the British mathematician, cryptographer, and computer pioneer, looked to the future: now that the conceptual and technical parameters for electronic brains had been established, what kind of intelligence could be built? Should machine intelligence mimic the abstract thinking of a chess player or should it be more like the developing mind of a child? Should an intelligent agent only think, or should it also learn, feel, and grow? Affect and Artificial Intelligence is the first in-depth analysis of affect and intersubjectivity in the computational sciences. Elizabeth Wilson makes use of archival and unpublished material from the early years of AI (1945-70) until the present to show that early researchers were more engaged with questions of emotion than many commentators have assumed. She documents how affectivity was managed in the canonical works of Walter Pitts in the 1940s and Turing in the 1950s, in projects from the 1960s that injected artificial agents into psychotherapeutic encounters, in chess-playing machines from the 1940s to the present, and in the Kismet (sociable robotics) project at MIT in the 1990s. Elizabeth A. Wilson is a professor in the Department of Women's Studies at Emory University. She is the author of Neural Geographies: Feminism and the Microstructure of Cognition and Psychosomatic: Feminism and the Neurological Body. "Original and beautifully written." -Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University "An elegantly written, thoroughly engaging, and absolutely compelling history of the role of emotions and affect in thought about, and design of, 'artificial intelligence.'" -Robert Mitchell, Duke University "In this fresh and provocative contribution to the exploding field of affect studies, Elizabeth Wilson argues convincingly and in a spirit of welcome generosity that from its very beginnings the theory and practice of artificial intelligence has been decisively marked by feelings-surprise, curiosity, delight, shame, and contempt-as well as computational logic. She suggests, with wonderful wit and a fine intelligence, that interiority is conjugated by positive and passionate affects of attachment as well as cognitive circuits among humans and machines. Her own attachment to the archive of AI is palpable and her focus on the biography of key figures in its early history is immensely refreshing." -Kathleen Woodward, author of Statistical Panic: Cultural Politics and Poetics of the Emotions
A Museum Menagerie
In the quiet halls of the natural history museum, there are some creatures still alive with stories, whose personalities refuse to be relegated to the dusty corners of an exhibit. The fame of these beasts during their lifetimes has given them an iconic status in death. More than just museum specimens, these animals have attained a second life as historical and cultural records. This collection of essays--from a broad array of contributors, including anthropologists, curators, fine artists, geographers, historians, and journalists--comprises short "biographies" of a number of famous taxidermized animals. Each essay traces the life, death, and museum "afterlife" of a specific creature, illuminating the overlooked role of the dead beast in the modern human-animal encounter through practices as disparate as hunting and zookeeping. The contributors offer fresh examinations of the many levels at which humans engage with other animals, especially those that function as both natural and cultural phenomena, including Queen Charlotte’s pet zebra, Maharajah the elephant, and Balto the sled dog, among others. Readers curious about the enduring fascination with animals who have attained these strange afterlives will be drawn to the individual narratives within each essay, while learning more about the scientific, cultural, and museological contexts of each subject. Ranging from autobiographical to analytical, the contributors’ varying styles make this delightful book a true menagerie.
Contributors: Samuel J. M. M. Alberti, Royal College of Surgeons * Sophie Everest, University of Manchester * Kate Foster * Michelle Henning, University of the West of England, Bristol * Hayden Lorimer, University of Glasgow * Garry Marvin, Roehampton University, London * Henry Nicholls * Hannah Paddon * Merle Patchett * Christopher Plumb, University of Manchester * Rachel Poliquin * Jeanne Robinson, Glasgow Museums * Mike Rutherford, University of the West Indies * Richard C. Sabin, Natural History Museum * Richard Sutcliffe, Glasgow Museums * Geoffrey N. Swinney, University of Edinburgh
Science and Literature between the Darwins
Erasmus Darwin and his grandson, Charles, were the two most important evolutionary theorists of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. Although their ideas and methods differed, both Darwins were prolific and inventive writers: Erasmus composed several epic poems and scientific treatises, while Charles is renowned both for his collected journals (now titled The Voyage of the Beagle) and for his masterpiece, The Origin of Species.
In The Age of Analogy, Devin Griffiths argues that the Darwins’ writing style was profoundly influenced by the poets, novelists, and historians of their era. The Darwins, like other scientists of the time, labored to refashion contemporary literary models into a new mode of narrative analysis that could address the contingent world disclosed by contemporary natural science. By employing vivid language and experimenting with a variety of different genres, these writers gave rise to a new relational study of antiquity, or "comparative historicism," that emerged outside of traditional histories. It flourished instead in literary forms like the realist novel and the elegy, as well as in natural histories that explored the continuity between past and present forms of life. Nurtured by imaginative cross-disciplinary descriptions of the past—from the historical fiction of Sir Walter Scott and George Eliot to the poetry of Alfred Tennyson—this novel understanding of history fashioned new theories of natural transformation, encouraged a fresh investment in social history, and explained our intuition that environment shapes daily life.
Drawing on a wide range of archival evidence and contemporary models of scientific and literary networks, The Age of Analogy explores the critical role analogies play within historical and scientific thinking. Griffiths also presents readers with a new theory of analogy that emphasizes language's power to foster insight into nature and human society. The first comparative treatment of the Darwins’ theories of history and their profound contribution to the study of both natural and human systems, this book will fascinate students and scholars of nineteenth-century British literature and the history of science.
Understanding the Development of Modern Social Science
Before the Second World War, social scientists struggled to define and defend their disciplines. After the war, “high modern” social scientists harnessed new resources in a quest to create a unified understanding of human behavior—and to remake the world in the image of their new model man. In Age of System, Hunter Heyck explains why social scientists—shaped by encounters with the ongoing “organizational revolution” and its revolutionary technologies of communication and control—embraced a new and extremely influential perspective on science and nature, one that conceived of all things in terms of system, structure, function, organization, and process. He also explores how this emerging unified theory of human behavior implied a troubling similarity between humans and machines, with freighted implications for individual liberty and self-direction. These social scientists trained a generation of decision-makers in schools of business and public administration, wrote the basic textbooks from which millions learned how the economy, society, polity, culture, and even the mind worked, and drafted the position papers, books, and articles that helped set the terms of public discourse in a new era of mass media, think tanks, and issue networks. Drawing on close readings of key texts and a broad survey of more than 1,800 journal articles, Heyck follows the dollars—and the dreams—of a generation of scholars that believed in “the system.” He maps the broad landscape of changes in the social sciences, focusing especially intently on the ideas and practices associated with modernization theory, rational choice theory, and modeling. A highly accomplished historian, Heyck relays this complicated story with unusual clarity.
A Short History of Osteoporosis
In the middle of the twentieth century, few physicians could have predicted that the modern diagnostic category of osteoporosis would emerge to include millions of Americans, predominantly older women. Before World War II, popular attitudes held that the declining physical and mental health of older persons was neither preventable nor reversible and that older people had little to contribute. Moreover, the physiological processes that influenced the health of bones remained mysterious. In Aging Bones, Gerald N. Grob makes a historical inquiry into how this one aspect of aging came to be considered a disease. During the 1950s and 1960s, as more and more people lived to the age of 65, older people emerged as a self-conscious group with distinct interests, and they rejected the pejorative concept of senescence. But they had pressing health needs, and preventing age-related decline became a focus for researchers and clinicians alike. In analyzing how the normal aging of bones was transformed into a medical diagnosis requiring treatment, historian of medicine Grob explores developments in medical science as well as the social, intellectual, economic, demographic, and political changes that transformed American society in the post–World War II decades. Though seemingly straightforward, osteoporosis and its treatment are shaped by illusions about the conquest of disease and aging. These illusions, in turn, are instrumental in shaping our health care system. While bone density tests and osteoporosis treatments are now routinely prescribed, aggressive pharmaceutical intervention has produced results that are inconclusive at best. The fascinating history in Aging Bones will appeal to students and scholars in the history of medicine, health policy, gerontology, endocrinology, and orthopedics, as well as anyone who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
The Post Office and the Birth of the Commercial Aviation Industry
Conventional wisdom credits only entrepreneurs with the vision to create America's commercial airline industry and contends that it was not until Roosevelt's Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 that federal airline regulation began. In Airlines and Air Mail, F. Robert van der Linden persuasively argues that Progressive republican policies of Herbert Hoover actually fostered the growth of American commercial aviation. Air mail contracts provided a critical indirect subsidy and a solid financial foundation for this nascent industry. Postmaster General Walter F. Brown used these contracts as a carrot and a stick to ensure that the industry developed in the public interest while guaranteeing the survival of the pioneering companies. Bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, and politicians of all stripes are thoughtfully portrayed in this thorough chronicle of one of America's most resounding successes, the commercial aviation industry.
Vol. 1 (2001) through current issue
Aleph is devoted to the exploration of the interface between Judaism and science in history. We welcome contributions on any chapter in the history of science in which Judaism played a significant role, or on any chapter in the history of Judaism in which science played a significant role. Science is conceived very broadly, including the social sciences and the humanities. History of science is also broadly construed within its social and cultural dimensions.
Aleph is a semi-annual, published jointly by the Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, USA.
Please address all editorial correspondence to the editor, Dr. Gad Freudenthal: firstname.lastname@example.org.