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Atmospheric Science at NASA Cover

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Atmospheric Science at NASA

A History

Erik M. Conway

This book offers an informed and revealing account of NASA’s involvement in the scientific understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the nineteenth century, scientists have attempted to understand the complex processes of the Earth’s atmosphere and the weather created within it. This effort has evolved with the development of new technologies—from the first instrument-equipped weather balloons to multibillion-dollar meteorological satellite and planetary science programs. Erik M. Conway chronicles the history of atmospheric science at NASA, tracing the story from its beginnings in 1958, the International Geophysical Year, through to the present, focusing on NASA’s programs and research in meteorology, stratospheric ozone depletion, and planetary climates and global warming. But the story is not only a scientific one. NASA’s researchers operated within an often politically contentious environment. Although environmental issues garnered strong public and political support in the 1970s, the following decades saw increased opposition to environmentalism as a threat to free market capitalism. Atmospheric Science at NASA critically examines this politically controversial science, dissecting the often convoluted roles, motives, and relationships of the various institutional actors involved—among them NASA, congressional appropriation committees, government weather and climate bureaus, and the military.

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Atomic Testing in Mississippi

Project Dribble and the Quest for Nuclear Weapons Treaty Verification in the Cold War Era

In Atomic Testing in Mississippi, David Allen Burke illuminates the nearly forgotten history of America’s only nuclear detonations east of the Mississippi River. The atomic tests, conducted in the mid-1960s nearly 3,000 feet below ground in Mississippi’s Tatum Salt Dome, posed a potential risk for those living within 150 miles of the site, which included residents of Hattiesburg, Jackson, Gulfport, Biloxi, Mobile, and New Orleans. While the detonations provided the United States with verification methods that helped limit the world’s nuclear arsenals, they sparked widespread public concern. In 1964 and 1966 the Atomic Energy Commission conducted experiments at the salt dome—code-named Dribble—surrounded by a greater population density than any other test site in the United States. Although the detonations were not weapons tests, they fostered a conflict between regional politicians interested in government-funded science projects and a population leery of nuclear testing near their homes. Even today, residents near the salt dome are still fearful of long-term negative health consequences. Despite its controversy, Project Dribble provided the technology needed to detect and assess the performance of distant underground atomic explosions and thus verify international weapons treaty compliance. This technology led to advanced seismological systems that now provide tsunami warnings and detect atomic activity in other nuclear nations, such as Pakistan and North Korea.

Auto Mechanics Cover

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Auto Mechanics

Technology and Expertise in Twentieth-Century America

Kevin L. Borg

The history of automobiles is not just the story of invention, manufacturing, and marketing; it is also a story of repair. Auto Mechanics opens the repair shop to historical study—for the first time—by tracing the emergence of a dirty, difficult, and important profession. Kevin L. Borg's study spans a century of automotive technology—from the horseless carriage of the late nineteenth century to the "check engine" light of the late twentieth. Drawing from a diverse body of source material, Borg explores how the mechanic’s occupation formed and evolved within the context of broad American fault lines of class, race, and gender and how vocational education entwined these tensions around the mechanic’s unique expertise. He further shows how aspects of the consumer rights and environmental movements, as well as the design of automotive electronics, reflected and challenged the social identity and expertise of the mechanic. In the history of the American auto mechanic, Borg finds the origins of a persistent anxiety that even today accompanies the prospect of taking one's car in for repair.

Aviation Infrastructure Performance Cover

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Aviation Infrastructure Performance

A Study in Comparative Political Economy

edited by Clifford Winston and Gines de Rus

Aviation performance is an important cog in modern globalized economies, which demand flexibility, mobility, efficiency, and dependability. Airport delays have gone from being a nuisance to being a salient public concern, drawing the ire of even the White House. In this important book, international transportation experts compare and contrast how different nations have managed their airports and air traffic control systems and how well they are meeting the needs of their people. The book's cross-national approach encompasses several different institutional arrangements, making it a timely and valuable study in comparative political economy. Among the countries studied, the United States is sometimes seen as a bastion of free markets, at the forefront of airline deregulation, but its airports and air traffic control system are publicly owned and operated. The same is true in continental Europe, for the most part. In contrast, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada are experimenting with privatization, while even mainland China is allowing the private sector to participate in airport ownership. Which methods work best, and under what circumstances? This book provides the answers.

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Back to the Land

The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America

Dona Brown

For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love, The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.

            Back-to-the-landers have often been viewed as nostalgic escapists or romantic nature-lovers. But their own words reveal a more complex story. In such projects as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City,” and Helen and Scott Nearing’s quest for “the good life,” Brown finds that the return to the farm has meant less a going-backwards than a going-forwards, a way to meet the challenges of the modern era. Progressive reformers pushed for homesteading to help impoverished workers get out of unhealthy urban slums. Depression-era back-to-the-landers, wary of the centralizing power of the New Deal, embraced a new “third way” politics of decentralism and regionalism. Later still, the movement merged with environmentalism. To understand Americans’ response to these back-to-the-land ideas, Brown turns to the fan letters of ordinary readers—retired teachers and overworked clerks, recent immigrants and single women. In seeking their rural roots, Brown argues, Americans have striven above all for the independence and self-sufficiency they associate with the agrarian ideal.

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Bamboo Fly Rod Suite

Reflections on Fishing and the Geography of Grace

Frank Soos

After he was handed an old broken-down bamboo fly rod, Frank Soos waited several years before he cautiously undertook its restoration. That painstaking enterprise becomes the central metaphor and the unifying theme for the captivating personal essays presented here.

With sly wit and disarming candor, Soos recounts fly-fishing adventures that become points of departure for wide-ranging ruminations on the larger questions that haunt him. Coming to terms with his new rod in “On Wanting Everything,” Soos casts a skeptical eye on the engines of consumerism and muses on the paradox of how a fishing rod that becomes too valuable ceases to be useful. “The Age of Imperfection” begins as a rueful account of his botched repair work but soon changes into an insightful reflection on the seductiveness of perfection and finishes as an homage to the creative power that comes from mistakes. In “Useful Tools” Soos takes a decidedly pessimistic look at the age-old quest to combine the good with the beautiful and concludes with an eloquent appreciation of a good tool put to an unintended use. “On His Slowness” offers fresh new perceptions about the human costs of the ever-accelerating pace of contemporary life and the increasingly hard work of resisting it. More than a meditation on suicide, “Obituary with Bamboo Fly Rod” engages the issue of individual human responsibility and the ultimate question of “How to be” with equal parts humility and wonder.

This elegant volume is handsomely illustrated with the full-color paintings of Alaskan artist Kesler Woodward. Rich in wisdom and physical appeal, Bamboo Fly Rod Suite is a distinctive and rewarding book with wide-ranging appeal.

The Banana Cover

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The Banana

Empires, Trade Wars, and Globalization

James Wiley

The banana is the world’s most important fresh fruit commodity. Little more than a century old, the global banana industry began in the late 1880s as a result of technological advances such as refrigerated shipping, which facilitated the transportation of this highly perishable good to distant markets. Since its inception the banana industry has been fraught with controversy, exhibiting many of the issues underlying the basic global economic relations that first emerged in the era of European colonialism. Perhaps more than any other agricultural product, the banana reflects the evolution of the world economy. At each stage changes in the global economy manifested themselves in the economic geography of banana production and trade. This remains true today as neoliberal imperatives drive the globalization process and mandate freer trade, influencing the patterns of the transatlantic banana trade.
 
The Banana demystifies the banana trade and its path toward globalization. It reviews interregional relationships in the industry and the changing institutional framework governing global trade and assesses the roles of such major players as the European Union and the World Trade Organization. It also analyzes the forces driving today’s economy, such as the competitiveness imperative, diversification processes, and niche market strategies. Its final chapter suggests how the outcome of the recent banana war will affect bananas and trade in other commodities sectors as well.
 
The Banana belies the common perception of globalization as a monolithic and irresistible force and reveals instead various efforts to resist or modify the process at local and national levels. Nevertheless, the banana does represent another step toward a globalized and industrialized agricultural economy.

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Basic and Applied Aspects of Vestibular Function

J.C. Hwang, V.J. Wilson

This volume is the compilation of the series of original articles presentes at the International Symposium on Basic and Applied Aspects of Vestibular Function held in Hong Kong, September 13-16, 1987, in conjunction with the centenary celebration of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong.

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A Bat Man in the Tropics

Chasing El Duende

Theodore Fleming

The euphoria of discovery is the only motivation many scientists need for studying nature and its secrets. Yet euphoria is rarely expressed in scientific publications. This book, a personal account of more than thirty years of fieldwork by one of the world’s leading bat biologists, wonderfully conveys the thrill of scientific discovery. Theodore Fleming’s work to document the lives and ecological importance of plant-visiting bats has taken him to the tropical forests of Panama, Costa Rica, and Australia, and to the lush Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico and Arizona. This book tells the story of his fascinating career and recounts his many adventures in the field.

Fleming weaves autobiographical reflections together with information on the natural history and ecology of bats and describes many other animals and plants he has encountered. His book details the stresses and rewards of life in scientific field camps, gives portraits of prominent biologists such as Dan Janzen and Peter Raven, and traces the development of modern tropical biology. A witness to the destruction and development of many of the forests he has visited throughout his career, Fleming makes a passionate plea for the conservation of these wild places.

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Bats in Forests

Conservation and Management

edited by Michael J. Lacki, John P. Hayes, and Allen Kurta foreword by Merlin D. Tuttle

Although bats are often thought of as cave dwellers, many species depend on forests for all or part of the year. Of the 45 species of bats in North America, more than half depend on forests, using the bark of trees, tree cavities, or canopy foliage as roosting sites. Over the past two decades it has become increasingly clear that bat conservation and management are strongly linked to the health of forests within their range. Initially driven by concern for endangered species—the Indiana bat, for example—forest ecologists, timber managers, government agencies, and conservation organizations have been altering management plans and silvicultural practices to better accommodate bat species. Bats in Forests presents the work of a variety of experts who address many aspects of the ecology and conservation of bats. The chapter authors describe bat behavior, including the selection of roosts, foraging patterns, and seasonal migration as they relate to forests. They also discuss forest management and its influence on bat habitat. Both public lands and privately owned forests are considered, as well as techniques for monitoring bat populations and activity. The important role bats play in the ecology of forests—from control of insects to nutrient recycling—is revealed by a number of authors. Bat ecologists, bat conservationists, forest ecologists, and forest managers will find in this book an indispensable synthesis of the topics that concern them.

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