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Seven Days with Second-Order Cybernetics
Heinz von Foerster was the inventor of second-order cybernetics, which recognizes the investigator as part of the system he is investigating. The Beginning of Heaven and Earth Has No Name provides an accessible, nonmathematical, and comprehensive overview of von Foerster’s cybernetic ideas and of the philosophy latent within them. It distills concepts scattered across the lifework of this scientific polymath and influential interdisciplinarian. At the same time, as a book-length interview, it does justice to von Foerster’s élan as a speaker and improviser, his skill as a raconteur.Developed from a week-long conversation between the editors and von Foerster near the end of his life, this work playfully engages von Foerster in developing the difference his notion of second-order cybernetics makes for topics ranging from emergence, life, order, and thermodynamics to observation, recursion, cognition, perception, memory, and communication.The book gives an English-speaking audience a new ease of access to the rich thought and generous spirit of this remarkable and protean thinker.
A History of the Pankow Companies
While architects have been the subject of many scholarly studies, we know very little about the companies that built the structures they designed. This book is a study in business history as well as civil engineering and construction management. It details the contributions that Charles J. Pankow, a 1947 graduate of Purdue University, and his firm have made as builders of large, often concrete, commercial structures since the company’s foundation in 1963. In particular, it uses selected projects as case studies to analyze and explain how the company innovated at the project level. The company has been recognized as a pioneer in “design-build,” a methodology that involves the construction company in the development of structures and substitutes negotiated contracts for the bidding of architects’ plans. The Pankow companies also developed automated construction technologies that helped keep projects on time and within budget. The book includes dozens of photographs of buildings under construction from the company’s archive and other sources. At the same time, the author analyzes and evaluates the strategic decision making of the firm through 2004, the year in which the founder died. While Charles Pankow figures prominently in the narrative, the book also describes how others within the firm adapted the business so that the company could survive a commercial market that changed significantly as a result of the recession of the 1990s. Extending beyond the scope of most business biographies, this book is a study in industry innovation and the power of corporate culture, as well as the story of one particular company and the individuals who created it. Key Features: • There are many books about architects, but very few about twentieth-century “makers.” • Tells the story behind many iconic buildings, especially in the western half of the US. • Charles Pankow was a pioneer in concrete construction and the “design-build” system.
The Story of Maritime Michigan
Beyond the Windswept Dunes takes the reader into a world of maritime adventure as it was experienced by the sailors, passengers, rescue workers, shipping magnates, industrialists, and many other people whose livelihoods revolved around Michigan’s port city of Muskegon. At one time the leading edge of westward expansion, Muskegon was a place where lumbering and lakers merged and where rails met decks, a place situated midway along the coast of a great and sometimes stormy inland sea. Here Elizabeth Sherman offers both a shipping history and a portrait of the city. The events covered range from the visit by the British sloop H.M.S. Felicity in 1779 through Muskegon’s boom years as "Lumber Queen of the World," from the city’s revitalization with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway to its recent establishment of a floating museum complex for historic naval vessels. The book’s focus is on the ships themselves—such as the Lyman M. Davis, Salvor, Highway 16, and Milwaukee Clipper—vessels that were noteworthy for being the first of their kind or for their popularity, unusual and distinctive careers, or tragic losses. A number of ships were lost in Lake Michigan near Muskegon Harbor, and the stories of some of the most notable wrecks and rescue missions appear in this book, including the psychic intervention that led the William Nelson to the exciting rescue of the crew aboard the sinking Our Son. The book offers many first-hand statements of shipwreck survivors and other witnesses, lending an authentic voice to the accounts.
Creator of General Motors
Praise for the first edition: "A fascinating book [and] a sympathetic look at the man who glued General Motors together and in the process made Flint one of the great industrial centers of America." ---Detroit Free Press "It is refreshing to report that Billy Durant is one of the best researched books dealing with an automotive giant." ---Antique Automobile "Billy Durant fills in a masterly way the only important void remaining concerning the work of the motorcar pioneers." ---Richard Crabb, author of Birth of a Giant: The Men and Incidents That Gave America the Motorcar What explains Billy Durant's powerful influence on the auto industry during its early days? And why, given Durant's impact, has he been nearly forgotten for decades? In search of answers to these questions, Lawrence Gustin interviewed Durant's widow, who provided a wealth of previously unpublished autobiographical notes, letters, and personal papers. Gustin also interviewed two of Durant's personal secretaries and others who had known and worked with the man who created General Motors. The result is the amazing account of the mastermind behind what would become, as the twentieth century progressed, the world's largest company.
Digitizing Life in the United States
Imagine biology and medicine today without computers. What would laboratory work be like without electronic databases and statistical software? Would disciplines like genomics even be feasible without the means to manage and manipulate huge volumes of digital data? How would patients fare in a world without CT scans, programmable pacemakers, and computerized medical records? Today, computers are a critical component of almost all research in biology and medicine. Yet, just fifty years ago, the study of life was by far the least digitized field of science, its living subject matter thought too complex and dynamic to be meaningfully analyzed by logic-driven computers. In this long-overdue study, historian Joseph A. November explores the early attempts, in the 1950s and 1960s, to computerize biomedical research in the United States. Computers and biomedical research are now so intimately connected that it is difficult to imagine when such critical work was offline. Biomedical Computing transports readers back to such a time and investigates how computers first appeared in the research lab and doctor's office. November examines the conditions that made possible the computerization of biology—including strong technological, institutional, and political support from the National Institutes of Health—and shows not only how digital technology transformed the life sciences but also how the intersection of the two led to important developments in computer architecture and software design. The history of this phenomenon is only vaguely understood. November's thoroughly researched and lively study makes clear for readers the motives behind computerizing the study of life and how that technology profoundly affects biomedical research even today.
Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology
Since World War II, the biological and technological have been fusing and merging in new ways, resulting in the loss of a clear distinction between the two. This entanglement of biology with technology isn't new, but the pervasiveness of that integration is staggering, as is the speed at which the two have been merging in recent decades. As this process permeates more of everyday life, the urgent necessity arises to rethink both biology and technology. Indeed, the human body can no longer be regarded either as a bounded entity or as a naturally given and distinct part of an unquestioned whole.
Low-Visibility Operations in American Aviation, 1918–1958
When darkness falls, storms rage, fog settles, or lights fail, pilots are forced to make "instrument landings," relying on technology and training to guide them through typically the most dangerous part of any flight. In this original study, Erik M. Conway recounts one of the most important stories in aviation history: the evolution of aircraft landing aids that make landing safe and routine in almost all weather conditions. Discussing technologies such as the Loth leader-cable system, the American National Bureau of Standards system, and, its descendants, the Instrument Landing System, the MIT-Army-Sperry Gyroscope microwave blind landing system, and the MIT Radiation Lab's radar-based Ground Controlled Approach system, Conway interweaves technological change, training innovation, and pilots' experiences to examine the evolution of blind landing technologies. He shows how systems originally intended to produce routine, all-weather blind landings gradually developed into routine instrument-guided approaches. Even so, after two decades of development and experience, pilots still did not want to place the most critical phase of flight, the landing, entirely in technology's invisible hand. By the end of World War II, the very concept of landing blind therefore had disappeared from the trade literature, a victim of human limitations.
A History of Women in Science and Engineering
Natural Philosophy in England, 1550-1600
Ranging from alchemy to necromancy, books of secrets? offered medieval readers an affordable and accessible collection of knowledge about the natural world. Allison Kaveys study traces the cultural relevance of these books and also charts their influence on the people who read them. Citing the importance of printers in choosing the books contents, she points out how these books legitimized manipulating nature, thereby expanding cultural categories, such as masculinity, femininity, gentleman, lady, and midwife, to include the willful command of the natural world.
The History of Coerced Sterilization in the United States
Most closely associated today with the Nazis and World War II atrocities, eugenics is sometimes described as a government-orchestrated breeding program, other times as a pseudo-science, and often as the first step leading to genocide. Less frequently is it depicted as a movement having links to the United States. But eugenics does have a history in this country, and Mark Largent tells that story by exploring one of the most disturbing aspects, the compulsory asterilization of more than 64,000 Americans.