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Chains of Opportunity Cover

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Chains of Opportunity

The University of Akron and the Emergence of The Polymer Age 1909–2007

By Mark Bowles

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.

Charles Darwin Cover

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Charles Darwin

The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man

Tim M. Berra

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.

Chasing Sound Cover

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Chasing Sound

Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP

Susan Schmidt Horning

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.

The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra Cover

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The Chinese Roots of Linear Algebra

Roger Hart

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.

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A Chosen Calling

Jews in Science in the Twentieth Century

Noah J. Efron

Scholars have struggled for decades to explain why Jews have succeeded extravagantly in modern science. A variety of controversial theories—from such intellects as C. P. Snow, Norbert Wiener, and Nathaniel Weyl—have been promoted. Snow hypothesized an evolved genetic predisposition to scientific success. Wiener suggested that the breeding habits of Jews sustained hereditary qualities conducive for learning. Economist and eugenicist Weyl attributed Jewish intellectual eminence to "seventeen centuries of breeding for scholars." Rejecting the idea that Jews have done well in science because of uniquely Jewish traits, Jewish brains, and Jewish habits of mind, historian of science Noah J. Efron approaches the Jewish affinity for science through the geographic and cultural circumstances of Jews who were compelled to settle in new worlds in the early twentieth century. Seeking relief from religious persecution, millions of Jews resettled in the United States, Palestine, and the Soviet Union, with large concentrations of settlers in New York, Tel Aviv, and Moscow. Science played a large role in the lives and livelihoods of these immigrants: it was a universal force that transcended the arbitrary Old World orders that had long ensured the exclusion of all but a few Jews from the seats of power, wealth, and public esteem. Although the three destinations were far apart geographically, the links among the communities were enduring and spirited. This shared experience—of facing the future in new worlds, both physical and conceptual—provided a generation of Jews with opportunities unlike any their parents and grandparents had known. The tumultuous recent century of Jewish history, which saw both a methodical campaign to blot out Europe's Jews and the inexorable absorption of Western Jews into the societies in which they now live, is illuminated by the place of honor science held in Jewish imaginations. Science was central to their dreams of creating new worlds—welcoming worlds—for a persecuted people. This provocative work will appeal to historians of science as well as scholars of religion, Jewish studies, and Zionism.

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Chronic Disease in the Twentieth Century

A History

George Weisz

Long and recurring illnesses have burdened sick people and their doctors since ancient times, but until recently the concept of “chronic disease” had limited significance. Even lingering diseases like tuberculosis, a leading cause of mortality, did not inspire dedicated public health activities until the later decades of the nineteenth century, when it became understood as a treatable infectious disease. Historian of medicine George Weisz analyzes why the idea of chronic disease assumed critical importance in the twentieth century and how it acquired new meaning as one of most serious problems facing national healthcare systems. Chronic Disease in the Twentieth Century challenges the conventional wisdom that the concept of chronic disease emerged because medicine’s ability to cure infectious disease led to changing patterns of disease. Instead, it suggests, the concept was constructed and has evolved to serve a variety of political and social purposes. How and why the concept developed differently in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France are central concerns of this work. In the United States, anxiety about chronic disease spread early in the twentieth century and was transformed in the 1950s and 1960s into a national crisis that helped shape healthcare reform. In the United Kingdom, the concept emerged only after World War II, was associated almost exclusively with proper medical care for the elderly population, and became closely linked to the development of geriatrics as a specialty. In France, the problems of elderly and infirm people were handled as technical and administrative matters until the 1950s and 1960s, when medical treatment of elderly people emerged as a subset of their wider social marginality. While an international consensus now exists regarding a chronic disease crisis that demands better forms of disease management, the different paths taken by these countries during the twentieth century continue to exert profound influence. This book seeks to explain why, among the innumerable problems faced by societies, some problems in some places become viewed as critical public issues that shape health policy.

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Civil War Ironclads

The U.S. Navy and Industrial Mobilization

William H. Roberts

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.

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Clandestine Marriage

Botany and Romantic Culture

Theresa M. Kelley

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.

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The Classification of Sex

Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

by Donna J. Drucker

Alfred C. Kinsey’s revolutionary studies of human sexual behavior are world-renowned. His meticulous methods of data collection, from comprehensive entomological assemblies to personal sex history interviews, raised the bar for empirical evidence to an entirely new level. In The Classification of Sex, Donna J. Drucker presents an original analysis of Kinsey’s scientific career in order to uncover the roots of his research methods. She describes how his enduring interest as an entomologist and biologist in the compilation and organization of mass data sets structured each of his classification projects. As Drucker shows, Kinsey’s lifelong mission was to find scientific truth in numbers and through observation—and to record without prejudice in the spirit of a true taxonomist. Kinsey’s doctoral work included extensive research of the gall wasp, where he gathered and recorded variations in over six million specimens. His classification and reclassification of Cynips led to the speciation of the genus that remains today. During his graduate training, Kinsey developed a strong interest in evolution and the links between entomological and human behavior studies. In 1920, he joined Indiana University as a professor in zoology, and soon published an introductory text on biology, followed by a coauthored field guide to edible wild plants. In 1938, Kinsey began teaching a noncredit course on marriage, where he openly discussed sexual behavior and espoused equal opportunity for orgasmic satisfaction in marital relationships. Soon after, he began gathering case histories of sexual behavior. As a pioneer in the nascent field of sexology, Kinsey saw that the key to its cogency was grounded in observation combined with the collection and classification of mass data. To support the institutionalization of his work, he cofounded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University in 1947. He and his staff eventually conducted over eighteen thousand personal interviews about sexual behavior, and in 1948 he published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, to be followed in 1953 by Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. As Drucker’s study shows, Kinsey’s scientific rigor and his early use of data recording methods and observational studies were unparalleled in his field. Those practices shaped his entire career and produced a wellspring of new information, whether he was studying gall wasp wings, writing biology textbooks, tracing patterns of evolution, or developing a universal theory of human sexuality.

Closed Captioning Cover

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Closed Captioning

Subtitling, Stenography, and the Digital Convergence of Text with Television

Gregory J. Downey

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.

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