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Scrap Recycling in America
In Cash for Your Trash, Carl A. Zimring provides a fascinating history of scrap recycling, from colonial times to the present. Integrating findings from archival, industrial, and demographic records, and moving beyond the environmental developments that have shaped modern recycling enterprises, Zimring offers a unique cultural and economic portrait of the private businesses that made large-scale recycling possible.
The University of Akron and the Emergence of The Polymer Age 1909–2007
While “plastics” was a one-word joke in the 1967 movie The Graduate, plastics and other polymers have never been a laughing matter at the University of Akron, with its world-renowned College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Chains of Opportunity: The University of Akron and the Emergence of the Polymer Age, 1909-2007 tells the story of the university's rise to prominence in the field, beginning with the world's first academic course in rubber chemistry almost a century ago. Chains of Opportunity explores the university's pioneering contributions to rubber chemistry, polymer science, and polymer engineering. It traces the school's interaction with Akron rubber giants such as Goodyear and Firestone, recounts its administration of the federal government's synthetic rubber program during World War II, and describes its role in the development and professionalization of the academic discipline in polymers. The University of Akron has been an essential force in establishing the polymer age that has become a pervasive part of our material lives, in everything from toys to biotechnology.
The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man
Two hundred years after Charles Darwin's birth (February 12, 1809), this thoroughly illustrated, yet concise biography reveals the great scientist as husband, father, and friend. Tim M. Berra, whose "Darwin: The Man" lectures are in high demand worldwide, tells the fascinating story of the person and the idea that changed everything. Berra discusses Darwin’s revolutionary scientific work, its impact on modern-day biological science, and the influence of Darwin’s evolutionary theory on Western thought. But Berra digs deeper to reveal Darwin the man by combining anecdotes with carefully selected illustrations and photographs. This small gem of a book includes 20 color plates and 60 black-and-white illustrations, along with an annotated list of Darwin’s publications and a chronology of his life.
Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP
In Chasing Sound, Susan Schmidt Horning traces the cultural and technological evolution of recording studios in the United States from the first practical devices to the modern multi-track studios of the analog era. Charting the technical development of studio equipment, the professionalization of recording engineers, and the growing collaboration between artists and technicians, she shows how the earliest efforts to capture the sound of live performances eventually resulted in a trend toward studio creations that extended beyond live shows, ultimately reversing the historic relationship between live and recorded sound. A former performer herself, Schmidt Horning draws from a wealth of original oral interviews with major labels and independent recording engineers, producers, arrangers, and musicians, as well as memoirs, technical journals, popular accounts, and sound recordings. Recording engineers and producers, she finds, influenced technological and musical change as they sought to improve the sound of records. By investigating the complex relationship between sound engineering and popular music, she reveals the increasing reliance on technological intervention in the creation as well as in the reception of music. The recording studio, she argues, is at the center of musical culture in the twentieth century.
A monumental accomplishment in the history of non-Western mathematics, The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra explains the fundamentally visual way Chinese mathematicians understood and solved mathematical problems. It argues convincingly that what the West "discovered" in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had already been known to the Chinese for 1,000 years. Accomplished historian and Chinese-language scholar Roger Hart examines Nine Chapters of Mathematical Arts—the classic ancient Chinese mathematics text—and the arcane art of fangcheng, one of the most significant branches of mathematics in Imperial China. Practiced between the first and seventeenth centuries by anonymous and most likely illiterate adepts, fangcheng involves manipulating counting rods on a counting board. It is essentially equivalent to the solution of systems of N equations in N unknowns in modern algebra, and its practice, Hart reveals, was visual and algorithmic. Fangcheng practitioners viewed problems in two dimensions as an array of numbers across counting boards. By "cross multiplying" these, they derived solutions of systems of linear equations that are not found in ancient Greek or early European mathematics. Doing so within a column equates to Gaussian elimination, while the same operation among individual entries produces determinantal-style solutions. Mathematicians and historians of mathematics and science will find in The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra new ways to conceptualize the intellectual development of linear algebra.
The U.S. Navy and Industrial Mobilization
Civil War Ironclads supplies the first comprehensive study of one of the most ambitious programs in the history of naval shipbuilding. In constructing its new fleet of ironclads, William H. Roberts explains, the U.S. Navy faced the enormous engineering challenges of a largely experimental technology. In addition, it had to manage a ship acquisition program of unprecedented size and complexity. To meet these challenges, the Navy established a "project office" that was virtually independent of the existing administrative system. The office spearheaded efforts to broaden the naval industrial base and develop a marine fleet of ironclads by granting shipbuilding contracts to inland firms. Under the intense pressure of a wartime economy, it learned to support its high-technology vessels while incorporating the lessons of combat. But neither the broadened industrial base nor the advanced management system survived the return of peace. Cost overruns, delays, and technical blunders discredited the embryonic project office, while capital starvation and never-ending design changes crippled or ruined almost every major builder of ironclads. When Navy contracts evaporated, so did the shipyards. Contrary to widespread belief, Roberts concludes, the ironclad program set Navy shipbuilding back a generation.
Botany and Romantic Culture
Romanticism was a cultural and intellectual movement characterized by discovery, revolution, and the poetic as well as by the philosophical relationship between people and nature. Botany sits at the intersection where romantic scientific and literary discourses meet. Clandestine Marriage explores the meaning and methods of how plants were represented and reproduced in scientific, literary, artistic, and material cultures of the period. Theresa M. Kelley synthesizes romantic debates about taxonomy and morphology, the contemporary interest in books and magazines devoted to plant study and images, and writings by such authors as Mary Wollstonecraft and Anna Letitia Barbauld. Color illustrations of flower paintings from the time bring her argument and the romantics' passion for plants to life. In addition to exploring botanic thought and practice in the context of British romanticism, Kelley also looks to the German philosophical traditions of Kant, Hegel, and Goethe and to Charles Darwin’s reflections on orchids and plant pollination. Her interdisciplinary approach allows a deeper understanding of a time when exploration of the natural world was a culture-wide enchantment.
Subtitling, Stenography, and the Digital Convergence of Text with Television
This engaging study traces the development of closed captioning—a field that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s from decades-long developments in cinematic subtitling, courtroom stenography, and education for the deaf. Gregory J. Downey discusses how digital computers, coupled with human mental and physical skills, made live television captioning possible. Downey's survey includess the hidden information workers who mediate between live audiovisual action and the production of visual track and written records. His work examines communication technology, human geography, and the place of labor in a technologically complex and spatially fragmented world. Illustrating the ways in which technological development grows out of government regulation, education innovation, professional profit-seeking, and social activism, this interdisciplinary study combines insights from several fields, among them the history of technology, human geography, mass communication, and information studies.
Addiction Research in the Classic Era of Narcotic Control
Heroin was only one drug among many that worried Progressive Era anti-vice reformers, but by the mid-twentieth century, heroin addiction came to symbolize irredeemable deviance. Creating the American Junkie examines how psychiatristsand psychologists produced a construction of opiate addicts as deviants with inherently flawed personalities caught in the grip of a dependency from which few would ever escape. Their portrayal of the tough urban addict helped bolster the federal government's policy of drug prohibition and created a social context that made the life of the American heroin addict, or junkie, more, not less, precarious in the wake of Progressive Era reforms. Weaving together the accounts of addicts and researchers, Acker examines how the construction of addiction in the early twentieth century was strongly influenced by the professional concerns of psychiatrists seeking to increase their medical authority; by the disciplinary ambitions of pharmacologists to build a drug development infrastructure; and by the American Medical Association's campaign to reduce prescriptions of opiates and to absolve physicians in private practice from the necessity of treating difficult addicts as patients. In contrast, early sociological studies of heroin addicts formed a basis for criticizing the criminalization of addiction. By 1940, Acker concludes, a particular configuration of ideas about opiate addiction was firmly in place and remained essentially stable until the enormous demographic changes in drug use of the 1960s and 1970s prompted changes in the understanding of addiction—and in public policy.
Avner Ben-Zaken reconsiders the fundamental question of how early modern scientific thought traveled between Western and Eastern cultures in the age of the so-called Scientific Revolution. Through five meticulously researched case studies—in which he explores how a single obscure object or text moved in the Eastern world—Ben-Zaken reveals the intricate ways that scientific knowledge moved across cultures. His diligent exploration traces the eastward flow of post-Copernican cosmologies and scientific discoveries, showing how these ideas were disseminated, modified, and applied to local cultures. Never before has a student of scientific traffic in the Mediterranean taken such pains to see precisely which instruments, books, and ideas first appeared where, in whose hands, by what means, and with what implications. In doing so, Ben-Zaken challenges accepted views of Western primacy in this fruitful exchange. He shows not only how Islamic cultures benefited from European scientific knowledge but also how Eastern understanding of classical Greek texts informed developments in the West. Ben-Zaken’s mastery of different cultures and languages uniquely positions him to tell this intriguing story. His findings reshape our understanding of scientific discourse in this critical period and contribute to the growing field of cross-cultural Christian-Muslim studies.