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Beyond the Big Ditch Cover

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Beyond the Big Ditch

Politics, Ecology, and Infrastructure at the Panama Canal

Ashley Carse

In this innovative book, Ashley Carse traces the water that flows into and out from the Panama Canal to explain how global shipping is entangled with Panama's cultural and physical landscapes. By following container ships as they travel downstream along maritime routes and tracing rivers upstream across the populated watershed that feeds the canal, he explores the politics of environmental management around a waterway that links faraway ports and markets to nearby farms, forests, cities, and rural communities. Carse draws on a wide range of ethnographic and archival material to show the social and ecological implications of transportation across Panama. The Canal moves ships over an aquatic staircase of locks that demand an enormous amount of fresh water from the surrounding region. Each passing ship drains 52 million gallons out to sea -- a volume comparable to the daily water use of half a million Panamanians. Infrastructures like the Panama Canal, Carse argues, do not simply conquer nature; they rework ecologies in ways that serve specific political and economic priorities. Interweaving histories that range from the depopulation of the U.S. Canal Zone a century ago to road construction conflicts and water hyacinth invasions in canal waters, the book illuminates the human and nonhuman actors that have come together at the margins of the famous trade route. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. Beyond the Big Ditch calls us to consider how infrastructures are materially embedded in place, producing environments with winners and losers.

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Beyond the Windswept Dunes

The Story of Maritime Michigan

Elizabeth B. Sherman

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.

Beyond Versus Cover

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Beyond Versus

The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture

James Tabery

If everyone now agrees that human traits arise not from nature or nurture but from the interaction of nature and nurture, why does the "nature versus nurture" debate persist? In <I>Beyond Versus</I>, James Tabery argues that the persistence stems from a century-long struggle to understand the interaction of nature and nurture -- a struggle to define what the interaction of nature and nurture is, how it should be investigated, and what counts as evidence for it. Tabery examines past episodes in the nature versus nurture debates, offers a contemporary philosophical perspective on them, and considers the future of research on the interaction of nature and nurture. From the eugenics controversy of the 1930s and the race and IQ controversy of the 1970s to the twenty-first-century debate over the causes of depression, Tabery argues, the polarization in these discussions can be attributed to what he calls an "explanatory divide" -- a disagreement over how explanation works in science, which in turn has created two very different concepts of interaction. Drawing on recent developments in the philosophy of science, Tabery offers a way to bridge this explanatory divide and these different concepts integratively. Looking to the future, Tabery evaluates the ethical issues that surround genetic testing for genes implicated in interactions of nature and nurture, pointing to what the future does (and does not) hold for a science that continues to make headlines and raise controversy.

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Billy Durant

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.

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Biomedical Computing

Digitizing Life in the United States

Joseph November

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.

Bits of Life Cover

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Bits of Life

Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology

edited by Anneke Smelik and Nina Lykke

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.

Blind Landings Cover

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Blind Landings

Low-Visibility Operations in American Aviation, 1918–1958

Erik M. Conway

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.

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The Bold and the Brave

A History of Women in Science and Engineering

Monique Frize

The Bold and the Brave investigates how women have striven throughout history to gain access to education and careers in science and engineering. Author Monique Frize, herself an engineer for over 40 years, introduces the reader to key concepts and debates that contextualize the obstacles women have faced and continue to face in the fields of science and engineering. She focuses on the history of women’s education in mathematics and science through the ages, from antiquity to the Enlightenment. While opportunities for women were often purposely limited, she reveals how many women found ways to explore science outside of formal education. The book examines the lives and work of three women –Sophie Germain, Mileva Einstein, and Rosalind Franklin – that provide excellent examples of how women’s contributions to science have been dismissed, ignored or stolen outright. She concludes with an in-depth look at women’s participation in science and engineering throughout the twentieth century and the current status of women in science and engineering, which has experienced a decline in recent years. To encourage more young women to pursue careers in science and engineering she advocates re-gendering the fields by integrating feminine and masculine approaches that would ultimately improve scientific and engineering endeavours.

Books of Secrets Cover

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Books of Secrets

Natural Philosophy in England, 1550-1600

Allison Kavey

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 Boomer Cover

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The Boomer

A Story of the Rails

Harry Bedwell

Eddie Sand is railroading with a capital R. A “boomer,” Eddie travels the country making a living as a telegraph operator wherever he finds himself. Never content to sit behind a desk or undertake “the upkeep of a blonde,” Eddie’s courage, restlessness, and cunning lead him to high adventure. Harry Bedwell’s The Boomer portrays an elite fraternity of railroad men—men who were driven by one of the defining elements of the American character: a desire to wander. They were the glamour and glory of railroading, and no one was better equipped to tell their story than Bedwell. He reveals the behind-the-scenes battles that were fought to keep the trains running. This edition also includes a glossary of railroad slang and a bibliography of Bedwell’s work.

Originally published in 1942, Harry Bedwell’s The Boomer is widely considered the best railroad novel ever written. “An exciting yarn in sinewy prose . . . it has almost everything except sound effects.” — New York Herald Tribune

Harry Bedwell (1888–1955) is the author of more than sixty short stories. The Boomer is his only novel.

James D. Porterfield is the author of several books, including From the Dining Car: The Recipes and Stories behind Today’s Greatest Rail Dining Experiences.

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