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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology

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Genetic Witness Cover

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Genetic Witness

Science, Law, and Controversy in the Making of DNA Profiling

Jay D. Aronson

When DNA profiling was first introduced into the American legal system in 1987, it was heralded as a technology that would revolutionize law enforcement.Yet, this promise took ten turbulent years to be fulfilled. In Genetic Witness, Jay D. Aronson uncovers the dramatic early history of DNA profiling that has been obscured by the technique's recent success.

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God—or Gorilla

Images of Evolution in the Jazz Age

Constance Areson Clark

As scholars debate the most appropriate way to teach evolutionary theory, Constance Clark provides an intriguing reflection on similar debates in the not-too-distant past. Set against the backdrop of the Jazz Age, God—or Gorilla explores the efforts of biologists to explain evolution to a confused and conflicted public during the 1920s. Focusing on the use of images and popularization, Clark shows how scientists and anti-evolutionists deployed schematics, cartoons, photographs, sculptures, and paintings to win the battle for public acceptance. She uses representative illustrations and popular media accounts of the struggle to reveal how concepts of evolutionary theory changed as they were presented to, and absorbed into, popular culture. Engagingly written and deftly argued, God—or Gorilla offers original insights into the role of images in communicating—and miscommunicating—scientific ideas to the lay public.

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GPS Declassified

Easton, Richard D.

GPS Declassified examines the development of GPS from its secret, Cold War military roots to its emergence as a worldwide consumer industry. Drawing on previously unexplored documents, the authors examine how military rivalries influenced the creation of GPS and shaped public perceptions about its origin. Since the United States’ first program to launch a satellite in the late 1950s, the nation has pursued dual paths into space—one military and secret, the other scientific and public. Among the many commercial spinoffs this approach has produced, GPS arguably boasts the greatest impact on our daily lives.

Told by the son of a navy insider—whose work helped lay the foundations for the system—and a science and technology journalist, the story chronicles the research and technological advances required for the development of GPS. The authors peek behind the scenes at pivotal events in GPS history. They note how the technology moved from the laboratory to the battlefield to the dashboard and the smartphone, and they raise the specter of how this technology and its surrounding industry affect public policy. Insights into how the system works and how it fits into a long history of advances in navigation tie into discussions of the myriad applications for GPS.

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Grand Central's Engineer

William J. Wilgus and the Planning of Modern Manhattan

Kurt C. Schlichting

Few people have had as profound an impact on the history of New York City as William J. Wilgus. As chief engineer of the New York Central Railroad, Wilgus conceived the Grand Central Terminal, the city’s magnificent monument to America’s Railway Age. Kurt C. Schlichting here examines the remarkable career of this innovator, revealing how his tireless work moving people and goods over and under Manhattan Island’s surrounding waterways forever changed New York’s bustling transportation system. After his herculean efforts on behalf of Grand Central, the most complicated construction project in New York’s history, Wilgus turned to solving the city’s transportation quandary: Manhattan—the financial, commercial, and cultural hub of the United States in the twentieth century—was separated from the mainland by two major rivers to the west and east, a deep-water estuary to the south, and the Harlem River to the north. Wilgus believed that railroads and mass transportation provided the answer to New York City’s complicated geography. His ingenious ideas included a freight subway linking rail facilities in New Jersey with manufacturers and shippers in Manhattan, a freight and passenger tunnel connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, and a belt railway interconnecting sixteen private railroads serving the metropolitan area. Schlichting’s deep passion for Wilgus and his engineering achievements are evident in the pages of this fascinating work. Wilgus was a true pioneer, and Schlichting ensures that his brilliant contributions to New York City’s transportation system will not be forgotten.

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Graveyard of the Lakes

Mark L. Thompson

For the first time, a historian and seasoned mariner looks beyond the specific circumstances of individual shipwrecks in an effort to reach a clearer understanding of the economic, political, and psychological factors that have influenced the 25,000 wrecks on the Great Lakes over the past 300 years. Looking at the entire tragic history of shipwrecks on North America's expansive inland seas, from the 1679 loss of the Griffon to the mysterious sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975, Mark L. Thompson concludes that a wreck is not an isolated event. In Graveyard of the Lakes, Thompson suggests that most of the accidents and deaths on the lakes have been the result of human error, ranging from simple mistakes to gross incompetence. In addition to his compelling analysis of the causes of shipwrecks, Thompson includes factual accounts of more than one hundred wrecks. Graveyard of the Lakes will forever change the reader's perspective on shipwrecks.

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The Great Fossil Enigma

The Search for the Conodont Animal

Simon J. Knell

Stephen Jay Gould borrowed from Winston Churchill when he described the conodont animal as a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." This animal confounded science for more than a century. Some thought it a slug, others a fish, a worm, a plant, even a primitive ancestor of ourselves. The list of possibilities grew and yet an answer to the riddle never seemed any nearer. Would the animal that left behind these miniscule fossils known as conodonts ever be identified? Three times the animal was "found," but each was quite a different animal. Were any of them really the one? Simon J. Knell takes the reader on a journey through 150 years of scientific thinking, imagining, and arguing. Slowly the animal begins to reveal traces of itself: its lifestyle, its remarkable evolution, its witnessing of great catastrophes, its movements over the surface of the planet, and finally its anatomy. Today the conodont animal remains perhaps the most disputed creature in the zoological world.

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Growing American Rubber

Strategic Plants and the Politics of National Security

Mark R. Finlay

Growing American Rubber explores America's quest during tense decades of the twentieth century to identify a viable source of domestic rubber. Straddling international revolutions and world wars, this unique and well-researched history chronicles efforts of leaders in business, science, and government to sever American dependence on foreign suppliers. Although synthetic rubber emerged from World War II as one solution, the issue of ever-diminishing natural resources and the question of how to meet modern-day demands linger today.

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Harriman vs. Hill

Wall Street’s Great Railroad War

Larry Haeg

In 1901, the Northern Pacific was an unlikely prize: a twice-bankrupt construction of the federal government, it was a two-bit railroad (literally—five years back, its stock traded for twenty-five cents a share). But it was also a key to connecting eastern markets through Chicago to the rising West. Two titans of American railroads set their sights on it: James J. Hill, head of the Great Northern and largest individual shareholder of the Northern Pacific, and Edward Harriman, head of the Union Pacific and the Southern Pacific. The subsequent contest was unprecedented in the history of American enterprise, pitting not only Hill against Harriman but also Big Oil against Big Steel and J. P. Morgan against the Rockefellers, with a supporting cast of enough wealthy investors to fill the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria.

The story, told here in full for the first time, transports us to the New York Stock Exchange during the unfolding of the earliest modern-day stock market panic. Harriman vs. Hill re-creates the drama of four tumultuous days in May 1901, when the common stock of the Northern Pacific rocketed from one hundred ten dollars a share to one thousand in a mere seventeen hours of trading—the result of an inadvertent “corner” caused by the opposing forces. Panic followed and then, in short order, a calamity for the “shorts,” a compromise, the near-collapse of Wall Street brokerages and banks, the most precipitous decline ever in American stock values, and the fastest recovery. Larry Haeg brings to life the ensuing stalemate and truce, which led to the forming of a holding company, briefly the biggest railroad combine in American history, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against the deal, launching the reputation of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as the “great dissenter” and President Theodore Roosevelt as the “trust buster.” The forces of competition and combination, unfettered growth, government regulation, and corporate ambition—all the elements of American business at its best and worst—come into play in the account of this epic battle, whose effects echo through our economy to this day.

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Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory

Fifty Years of Monitoring the Atmosphere

Forrest M. Mims, III

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) is one of the world’s leading scientific stations for monitoring the atmosphere. For more than fifty years, beginning with atmospheric chemist Charles Keeling’s readings of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, MLO has provided climate scientists a continuous record of the atmosphere’s increasing concentration of carbon dioxide—and sparked the international debate over global warming. Hawai‘i’s Mauna Loa Observatory tells the story of the men and women who made these and many other measurements near the summit of the world’s largest mountain.

Botanist Archibald Menzies, who trekked up Mauna Loa’s rough, lava-encrusted slopes in 1794, was the first to make scientific measurements from the summit. In the winter of 1840, the US Exploring Expedition spent a grueling three weeks at the edge of the summit crater. Their scientific achievements remained unsurpassed for more than a century and anticipated the research that was begun in 1951, when a primitive weather station was built atop the mountain. Serious research began in 1956 when the first building of the present observatory was erected a few thousand feet below the summit. Recollections of past and present MLO staff detail the historic beginning of carbon-dioxide measurements and many exciting discoveries and near disasters at the remote observatory in this colorful account of the evolution of MLO into a world-class facility.

Today more than a hundred experiments are carried out at MLO, including precise measurements of the ozone layer, the sun’s ultraviolet, the dust and air pollution drifting across the Pacific from Asia, and a wide assortment of gases in the atmosphere. These and other measurements have provided ground truthing for satellite-borne sensors and led to major scientific findings, some of which have influenced public policy decisions.

Hawai‘i’s Mauna Loa Observatory should be read by atmospheric science students to gain an appreciation for the enormous effort required to generate high quality data. Much more than a strict scientific biography of Mauna Loa, this work will also be appreciated by anyone interested in a highly accessible history of the human side of atmospheric observations at a remote, high-altitude observatory.

165 illus., 110 in color

Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945 Cover

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Health, Hygiene and Eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945

Edited by Christian Promitzer, Sevasti Trubeta, and Marius Turda

This volume is a collection of chapters that deal with issues of health, hygiene and eugenics in Southeastern Europe to 1945, specifically, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Romania. Its major concern is to examine the transfer of medical ideas to society via local, national and international agencies and to show in how far developments in public health, preventive medicine, social hygiene, welfare, gender relations and eugenics followed a regional pattern. This volume provides insights into a region that has to date been marginal to scholarship of the social history of medicine.

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