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The Art of Invention
In September 1878, Thomas Alva Edison brashly—and prematurely—proclaimed his breakthrough invention of a workable electric light. That announcement was followed by many months of intense experimentation that led to the successful completion of his Pearl Street station four years later. Edison was not alone—nor was he first—in developing an incandescent light bulb, but his was the most successful of all competing inventions. Drawing from the documents in the Edison archives, Robert Friedel and Paul Israel explain how this came to be. They explore the process of invention through the Menlo Park notes, discussing the full range of experiments, including the testing of a host of materials, the development of such crucial tools as the world's best vacuum pump, and the construction of the first large-scale electrical generators and power distribution systems. The result is a fascinating story of excitement, risk, and competition. Revised and updated from the original 1986 edition, this definitive study of the most famous invention of America's most famous inventor is completely keyed to the printed and electronic versions of the Edison Papers, inviting the reader to explore further the remarkable original sources.
A History of the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company
Entering an already crowded and established industry, the Niles Car & Manufacturing Company in Ohio began business with surprising success, producing well over 1,000 electric and steam railway cars—cars so durable they rarely needed to be replaced. That durability essentially put the company out of business, and it vanished from the scene as quickly as it had appeared, leaving little behind except its sturdy railway cars. The story of this highly regarded company spans just 16 years, from Niles’s incorporation in 1901 to the abandonment of railway car production and sale of the property to a firm that would briefly build engine parts during World War I. Including unpublished photographs and rosters of railway cars produced by the company and still in existence in railroad museums, Electric Pullman will appeal to railroad enthusiasts everywhere.
Space, Time, and Information in American Biological Science, 1870-1920
The emergence of genetic science has profoundly shaped how we think about biology. Indeed, it is difficult now to consider nearly any facet of human experience without first considering the gene. But this mode of understanding life is not, of course, transhistorical. Phillip Thurtle takes us back to the moment just before the emergence of genetic rationality at the turn of the twentieth century to explicate the technological, economic, cultural, and even narrative transformations necessary to make genetic thinking possible.
Neuroscience, Self, and Society in Nineteenth-Century Germany
Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus
Consider the career of an enduring if controversial icon of American entertainment: the genial circus elephant. In Entertaining Elephants Susan Nance examines elephant behavior—drawing on the scientific literature of animal cognition, learning, and communications—to offer a study of elephants as actors (rather than objects) in American circus entertainment between 1800 and 1940. By developing a deeper understanding of animal behavior, Nance asserts, we can more fully explain the common history of all species. Entertaining Elephants is the first account that uses research on animal welfare, health, and cognition to interpret the historical record, examining how both circus people and elephants struggled behind the scenes to meet the profit necessities of the entertainment business. The book does not claim that elephants understood, endorsed, or resisted the world of show business as a human cultural or business practice, but it does speak of elephants rejecting the conditions of their experience. They lived in a kind of parallel reality in the circus, one that was defined by their interactions with people, other elephants, horses, bull hooks, hay, and the weather. Nance’s study informs and complicates contemporary debates over human interactions with animals in entertainment and beyond, questioning the idea of human control over animals and people's claims to speak for them. As sentient beings, these elephants exercised agency, but they had no way of understanding the human cultures that created their captivity, and they obviously had no claim on (human) social and political power. They often lived lives of apparent desperation.
Just who was the Przewalski after whom Przewalski's horse was named? Or Husson, the eponym for the rat Hydromys hussoni? Or the Geoffroy whose name is forever linked to Geoffroy's cat? This unique reference provides a brief look at the real lives behind the scientific and vernacular mammal names one encounters in field guides, textbooks, journal articles, and other scholarly works. Arranged to mirror standard dictionaries, the more than 1,300 entries included here explain the origins of over 2,000 mammal species names. Each bio-sketch lists the scientific and common-language names of all species named after the person, outlines the individual's major contributions to mammalogy and other branches of zoology, and includes brief information about his or her mammalian namesake's distribution. The two appendixes list scientific and common names for ease of reference, and, where appropriate, individual entries include mammals commonly—but mistakenly—believed to be named after people. The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals is a highly readable and informative guide to the people whose names are immortalized in mammal nomenclature.
Who was Richard Kemp, after whom the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is named? Is Wake’s Gecko named after Berkeley’s Marvalee Wake? Or perhaps her husband, David? Why do so many snakes and lizards have Werner in their name? This reference book answers these and thousands of other questions about the origins of the vernacular and scientific names of reptiles across the globe. From Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti, the Florida copperhead subspecies named for Roger Conant, to Xantusia, the night lizard genera namesake of John Xantus, this dictionary covers everyone after whom an extant or recently extinct reptile has been named. The entries include a brief bio-sketch, a list of the reptiles that bear the individual’s name, the names of reptiles erroneously thought to be associated with the person, and a summary of major—and sometimes obscure or even incidental—contributions made by the person to herpetology and zoology. An introductory chapter explains how to use the book and describes the process of naming taxa. Easy to use and filled with addictive—and highly useful—information about the people whose names will be carried into the future on the backs of the world’s reptiles, The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles is a handy and fun book for professional and amateur herpetologists alike.
Pure Mathematics and Victorian Faith
Throughout history, application rather than abstraction has been the prominent driving force in mathematics. From the compass and sextant to partial differential equations, mathematical advances were spurred by the desire for better navigation tools, weaponry, and construction methods. But the religious upheaval in Victorian England and the fledgling United States opened the way for the rediscovery of pure mathematics, a tradition rooted in Ancient Greece. In Equations from God, Daniel J. Cohen captures the origins of the rebirth of abstract mathematics in the intellectual quest to rise above common existence and touch the mind of the deity. Using an array of published and private sources, Cohen shows how philosophers and mathematicians seized upon the beautiful simplicity inherent in mathematical laws to reconnect with the divine and traces the route by which the divinely inspired mathematics of the Victorian era begot later secular philosophies.
A History of Hormone Replacement Therapy in America
In the first complete history of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), Elizabeth Siegel Watkins illuminates the complex and changing relationship between the medical treatment of menopause and cultural conceptions of aging. Describing the development, spread, and shifting role of HRT in America from the early twentieth century to the present, Watkins explores how the interplay between science and society shaped the dissemination and reception of HRT and how the medicalization—and subsequent efforts toward the demedicalization—of menopause and aging affected the role of estrogen as a medical therapy. Telling the story from multiple perspectives—physicians, pharmaceutical manufacturers, government regulators, feminist health activists, and the media, as well as women as patients and consumers—she reveals the striking parallels between estrogen’s history as a medical therapy and broad shifts in the role of medicine in an aging society. Today, information about HRT is almost always accompanied by a laundry list of health risks. While physicians and pharmaceutical companies have striven to develop the safest possible treatment for the symptoms of menopause and aging, many specialists question whether HRT should be prescribed at all. Drawing from a wide range of scholarly research, archival records, and interviews, The Estrogen Elixir provides valuable historical context for one of the most pressing debates in contemporary medicine. Praise for Watkins' On the Pill: "An exemplary study of how the nation which first had access to oral contraceptives first came to terms with their advantages, and their drawbacks."—Times Literary Supplement "Intelligent and well-structured . . . An admirable exercise in social history."—Nature "A particularly fascinating issue, trim and focused, sophisticated and helpful, fresh and very interesting."—American Historical Review "In every carefully organized, lucidly written chapter Watkins provides surprising corrections to conventional thinking about the new birth control method."—Journal of American History "Anyone concerned with the debate over scientific advance and medical authority will find this a highly stimulating study."—Journal of American Studies