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The Altruism Equation

Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness

Lee Alan Dugatkin

In a world supposedly governed by ruthless survival of the fittest, why do we see acts of goodness in both animals and humans? This problem plagued Charles Darwin in the 1850s as he developed his theory of evolution through natural selection. Indeed, Darwin worried that the goodness he observed in nature could be the Achilles heel of his theory. Ever since then, scientists and other thinkers have engaged in a fierce debate about the origins of goodness that has dragged politics, philosophy, and religion into what remains a major question for evolutionary biology.

The Altruism Equation traces the history of this debate from Darwin to the present through an extraordinary cast of characters-from the Russian prince Petr Kropotkin, who wanted to base society on altruism, to the brilliant biologist George Price, who fell into poverty and succumbed to suicide as he obsessed over the problem. In a final surprising turn, William Hamilton, the scientist who came up with the equation that reduced altruism to the cold language of natural selection, desperately hoped that his theory did not apply to humans.

Hamilton's Rule, which states that relatives are worth helping in direct proportion to their blood relatedness, is as fundamental to evolutionary biology as Newton's laws of motion are to physics. But even today, decades after its formulation, Hamilton's Rule is still hotly debated among those who cannot accept that goodness can be explained by a simple mathematical formula. For the first time, Lee Alan Dugatkin brings to life the people, the issues, and the passions that have surrounded the altruism debate. Readers will be swept along by this fast-paced tale of history, biography, and scientific discovery.

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Am I a Monkey?

Six Big Questions about Evolution

Francisco J. Ayala

Despite the ongoing cultural controversy in America, evolution remains a cornerstone of science. In this book, Francisco J. Ayala—an evolutionary biologist, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and winner of the National Medal of Science and the Templeton Prize—cuts to the chase in a daring attempt to address, in nontechnical language, six perennial questions about evolution: • Am I a Monkey? • Why Is Evolution a Theory? • What Is DNA? • Do All Scientists Accept Evolution? • How Did Life Begin? • Can One Believe in Evolution and God? This to-the-point book answers each of these questions with force. Ayala's occasionally biting essays refuse to lend credence to disingenuous ideas and arguments. He lays out the basic science that underlies evolutionary theory, explains how the process works, and soundly makes the case for why evolution is not a threat to religion. Brief, incisive, topical, authoritative, Am I a Monkey? will take you a day to read and a lifetime to ponder.

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Aménagement écosystémique en forêt boréale

Edited by Sylvie Gauthier

Aménagement forestier écosystémique : Approche d'aménagement qui vise à maintenir des écosystèmes sains et résilients en misant sur une diminution des écarts entre les paysages naturels et ceux qui sont aménagés afin d'assurer, à long terme, le maintien des multiples fonctions de l'écosystème et, par conséquent, de conserver les bénéfices sociaux et économique que l'on en retire. Voilà la définition de l’aménagement forestier écosystémique proposée dans cet ouvrage qui offre une synthèse des principaux concepts écologiques qui appuient cette approche. Il présente une revue des grands régimes de perturbations qui façonnent la dynamique naturelle de la forêt boréale et des exemples provenant de différentes régions du centre et de l’est du Canada. Plusieurs projets de mise en œuvre de stratégies d’aménagement écosystémique illustrent des enjeux de la foresterie actuelle et les solutions que cette nouvelle approche peut apporter. En somme, la dynamique forestière dans son ensemble peut servir de guide à l’aménagement forestier. Une planification des interventions inspirée de la forêt facilitera la conciliation entre la récolte ligneuse et les intérêts des autres utilisateurs de la forêt.

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The Amazing World of Flyingfish

Steve N. G. Howell

If you travel the open ocean anywhere in the tropics, you are very likely to see flyingfish. These beautifully colored “ocean butterflies” shoot out of the water and sail on majestic, winglike pectoral fins to escape from predators such as dolphins, swordfish, and tuna. Some can travel for more than six hundred feet per flight. Yet despite their prevalence in warm ocean waters and their vital role in the tropical food chain, surprisingly little is known about flyingfish—more than 60 species are said to exist, but nobody is sure of the number. This beautifully illustrated book presents flyingfish as you’ve never seen them before. It features more than 90 stunning color photos by renowned naturalist Steve Howell, as well as a concise and accessible text that explores the natural history of flyingfish, where they can be found, how and why they fly, what colors they are, what they eat and what eats them, and more.

The ideal gift for fish lovers, seasoned travelers, and armchair naturalists alike, this first-of-its-kind book provides a rare and incomparable look at these spectacular marine creatures.

  • Presents flyingfish like you’ve never seen them before
  • Features more than 90 stunning color images
  • Explores the natural history of flyingfish, where to see them, how they fly, and more
  • The ideal gift book for fish lovers, ecotravelers, birders, and armchair naturalists

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The Ambiguous Frog

The Galvani-Volta Controversy on Animal Electricity

Jonathan Mandelbaum

How do ideas become accepted by the scientific community? How and why do scientists choose among empirically equivalent theories? In this pathbreaking book translated from the Italian, Marcello Pera addresses these questions by exploring the politics, rhetoric, scientific practices, and metaphysical assumptions that entered into the famous Galvani-Volta controversy of the late eighteenth century. This lively debate erupted when two scientists, each examining the muscle contractions of a dissected frog in contact with metal, came up with opposing but experimentally valid explanations of the phenomenon. Luigi Galvani, a doctor and physiologist, believed that he had discovered animal electricity (electrical body fluid existing naturally in a state of disequilibrium), while the physicist Alessandro Volta attributed the contractions to ordinary physical electricity. Beginning with the electrical concepts understood by scientists in the 1790s, Pera traces the careers of Galvani and Volta and explains their laboratory procedures. He shows that their controversy derived from two basic, irreducible interpretations of the proper nature of a common domain: Galvani saw the frog phenomenon as the work of biological organs, Volta as that of a physical apparatus. The initial preference for Volta's theory, maintains Pera, depended not on clear-cut methodological rules, but on a dialectical dispute for which the renowned physicist was better equipped, partly because he shared the dominant metaphysical views of his time.

Originally published in 1991.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Amchitka and the Bomb

Nuclear Testing in Alaska

by Dean W. Kohlhoff

“Amchitka and the Bomb reconstructs thoroughly the decision by the Atomic Energy Commission to use Amchitka Island in the Aleutians as a test site for nuclear missile weaponry . . . utterly disregarding the fact that the island was a wildlife refuge. It will be an important contribution to environmental and Alaska studies and to national defense studies.” - Stephen Haycox, University of Alaska, Anchorage

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America's Darwin

Darwinian Theory and U.S. Culture

Tina Gianquitto

While much has been written about the impact of Darwin’s theories on U.S. culture, and countless scholarly collections have been devoted to the science of evolution, few have addressed the specific details of Darwin’s theories as a cultural force affecting U.S. writers. America’s Darwin fills this gap and features a range of critical approaches that examine U.S. textual responses to Darwin’s works.

The scholars in this collection represent a range of disciplines—literature, history of science, women’s studies, geology, biology, entomology, and anthropology. All pay close attention to the specific forms that Darwinian evolution took in the United States, engaging not only with Darwin’s most famous works, such as On the Origin of Species, but also with less familiar works, such as The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

Each contributor considers distinctive social, cultural, and intellectual conditions that affected the reception and dissemination of evolutionary thought, from before the publication of On the Origin of Species to the early years of the twenty-first century. These essays engage with the specific details and language of a wide selection of Darwin’s texts, treating his writings as primary sources essential to comprehending the impact of Darwinian language on American writers and thinkers. This careful engagement with the texts of evolution enables us to see the broad points of its acceptance and adoption in the American scene; this approach also highlights the ways in which writers, reformers, and others reconfigured Darwinian language to suit their individual purposes.

America’s Darwin demonstrates the many ways in which writers and others fit themselves to a narrative of evolution whose dominant motifs are contingency and uncertainty. Collectively, the authors make the compelling case that the interpretation of evolutionary theory in the U.S. has always shifted in relation to prevailing cultural anxieties.

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America's Founding Fruit

The Cranberry in a New Environment

Susan Playfair

The cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is one of only three cultivated fruits native to North America. The story of this perennial vine began as the glaciers retreated about fifteen thousand years ago. Centuries later, it kept Native Americans and Pilgrims alive through the winter months, played a role in a diplomatic gesture to King Charles in 1677, protected sailors on board whaling ships from scurvy, fed General Grant’s men in 1864, and provided over a million pounds of sustenance per year to our World War II doughboys. Today, it is a powerful tool in the fight against various forms of cancer. This is America’s superfruit.

This book poses the question of how the cranberry, and by inference other fruits, will fare in a warming climate. In her attempt to evaluate the effects of climate change, Susan Playfair interviewed growers from Massachusetts west to Oregon and from New Jersey north to Wisconsin, the cranberry’s temperature tolerance range. She also spoke with scientists studying the health benefits of cranberries, plant geneticists mapping the cranberry genome, a plant biologist who provided her with the first regression analysis of cranberry flowering times, and a migrant beekeeper trying to figure out why the bees are dying.

Taking a broader view than the other books on cranberries, America’s Founding Fruit presents a brief history of cranberry cultivation and its role in our national history, leads the reader through the entire cultivation process from planting through distribution, and assesses the possible effects of climate change on the cranberry and other plants and animals. Could the American cranberry cease growing in the United States? If so, what would be lost?

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America's Great Storm

Leading through Hurricane Katrina

Haley Barbour

When Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi on August 29, 2005, it unleashed the costliest natural disaster in American history, and the third deadliest. Haley Barbour had been Mississippi's governor for only twenty months when he assumed responsibility for guiding his pummeled, stricken state's recovery and rebuilding efforts. America's Great Storm is not only a personal memoir of his role in that recovery, but also a sifting of the many lessons he learned about leadership in a time of massive crisis.

For the book, the authors interviewed more than forty-five key people involved in helping Mississippi recover, including local, state, and federal officials as well as private citizens who played pivotal roles in the weeks and months following Katrina's landfall. In addition to covering in detail the events of September and October 2005, chapters focus on the special legislative session that allowed casinos to build on shore; the role of the recovery commission chaired by Jim Barksdale; a behind-the-scenes description of working with Congress to pass an unprecedented, multi-billion-dollar emergency disaster assistance appropriation; and the enormous roles played by volunteers in rebuilding the entire housing, transportation, and education infrastructure of South Mississippi and the Gulf Coast.

A final chapter analyzes the leadership skills and strategies Barbour employed on behalf of the people of his state, observations that will be valuable to anyone tasked with managing in a crisis.

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America's Wetland

An Environmental and Cultural History of Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina

The geologically ancient Tidewater region of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina rests precariously atop millions of years of erosion from the nearby Appalachian Mountains. An immense wetland at near sea level, it is host to every conceivable body of fresh water, ranging from brooding swamps and large hidden lakes to sluggish blackwater rivers and brackish sounds (one of which was so large an early explorer thought he had found the Pacific Ocean). In this engaging book, biologist and Tidewater native Roy T. Sawyer delivers an ecohistory of this unique waterland whose wind-driven tides cover a rich human and natural past.

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