Rutgers University Press

Studies in Modern Science, Technology, and the Environment

Mark A. Largent

Published by: Rutgers University Press

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Studies in Modern Science, Technology, and the Environment

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Enduring Roots

Encounters with Trees, History, and the American Landscape

Gayle Brandow Samuels

Trees are the grandest and most beautiful plant creations on earth. From their shade-giving, arching branches and strikingly diverse bark to their complex root systems, trees represent shelter, stability, place, and community as few other living objects can.

       Enduring Roots tells the stories of historic American trees, including the oak, the apple, the cherry, and the oldest of the world’s trees, the bristlecone pine. These stories speak of our attachment to the land, of our universal and eternal need to leave a legacy, and demonstrate that the landscape is a gift, to be both received and, sometimes, tragically, to be destroyed.

       Each chapter of this book focuses on a specific tree or group of trees and its relationship to both natural and human history, while exploring themes of community, memory, time, and place. Readers learn that colonial farmers planted marker trees near their homes to commemorate auspicious events like the birth of a child, a marriage, or the building of a house. They discover that Benjamin Franklin’s Newtown Pippin apples were made into a pie aboard Captain Cook’s Endeavour while the ship was sailing between Tahiti and New Zealand. They are told the little-known story of how the Japanese flowering cherry became the official tree of our nation’s capital—a tale spanning many decades and involving an international cast of characters. Taken together, these and many other stories provide us with a new ways to interpret the American landscape.

       “It is my hope,” the author writes, “that this collection will be seen for what it is, a few trees selected from a great forest, and that readers will explore both—the trees and the forest—and find pieces of their own stories in each.”

 

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Gender and the Science of Difference

Cultural Politics of Contemporary Science and Medicine

Edited and with an introduction by Jill A. Fisher

Gender and the Science of Difference examines how contemporary science shapes and is shaped by gender ideals and images. This interdisciplinary volume presents empirical inquiries into today's science, including examples of gendered scientific inquiry and medical interventions and research. It analyzes how scientific and medical knowledge produces gender norms through an emphasis on sex differences, and includes both U.S. and non-U.S. cases and examples.

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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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Hormones, Heredity, and Race

Spectacular Failure in Interwar Vienna

Cheryl A. Logan

Early in the twentieth century, arguments about “nature” and “nurture” pitted a rigid genetic determinism against the idea that genes were flexible and open to environmental change. This book tells the story of three Viennese biologists—Paul Kammerer, Julius Tandler, and Eugen Steinach—who sought to show how the environment could shape heredity through the impact of hormones. It also explores the dynamic of failure through both scientific and social lenses. During World War I, the three men were well respected scientists; by 1934, one was dead by his own hand, another was in exile, and the third was subject to ridicule.

Paul Kammerer had spent years gathering  zoological evidence on whether environmental change could alter heredity, using his research as the scientific foundation for a new kind of eugenics—one that challenged the racism growing in mainstream eugenics. By 1918, he drew on the pioneering research of two colleagues who studied how secretions shaped sexual attributes to argue that hormones could alter genes. After 1920, Julius Tandler employed a similar concept to restore the health and well-being of Vienna's war-weary citizens. Both men rejected the rigidly acting genes of the new genetics and instead crafted a biology of flexible heredity to justify eugenic reforms that respected human rights. But the interplay of science and personality with the social and political rise of fascism and with antisemitism undermined their ideas, leading to their spectacular failure.

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Knowing Global Environments

New Historical Perspectives on the Field Sciences

Edited and with an introduction by Jeremy Vetter

Knowing Global Environments brings together nine leading scholars whose work spans a variety of environmental and field sciences, including archaeology, agriculture, botany, climatology, ecology, evolutionary biology, oceanography, ornithology, and tidology. Collectively their essays explore the history of the field sciences, through the lens of place, practice, and the production of scientific knowledge, with a wide-ranging perspective extending outwards from the local to regional, national, imperial, and global scales.

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Making a Green Machine

The Infrastructure of Beverage Container Recycling

Finn Arne Jørgensen

Consider an empty bottle or can, one of the hundreds of billions of beverage containers that are discarded worldwide every year. Empty containers have been at the center of intense political controversies, technological innovation processes, and the modern environmental movement. Making a Green Machine examines the development of the Scandinavian beverage container deposit-refund system, which has the highest return rates in the world, from 1970 to present. Finn Arne Jørgensen investigates the challenges the system faced when exported internationally and explores the critical role of technological infrastructures and consumer convenience in modern recycling. His comparative framework charts the complex network of business and political actors involved in the development of the reverse vending machine (RVM) and bottle deposit legislation to better understand the different historical trajectories empty beverage containers have taken across markets, including the U.S. The RVM has served as more than a hole in the wall--it began simply as a tool for grocers who had to handle empty refillable glass bottles, but has become a green machine to redeem the empty beverage container, helping both business and consumers participate in environmental actions.

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The Malthusian Moment

Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism

Thomas Robertson

Although Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) is often cited as the founding text of the U.S. environmental movement, in The Malthusian Moment Thomas Robertson locates the origins of modern American environmentalism in twentieth-century adaptations of Thomas Malthus’s concerns about population growth. For many environmentalists, managing population growth became the key to unlocking the most intractable problems facing Americans after World War II—everything from war and the spread of communism overseas to poverty, race riots, and suburban sprawl at home.

 

Weaving together the international and the domestic in creative new ways, The Malthusian Moment charts the explosion of Malthusian thinking in the United States from World War I to Earth Day 1970, then traces the just-as-surprising decline in concern beginning in the mid-1970s. In addition to offering an unconventional look at World War II and the Cold War through a balanced study of the environmental movement’s most contentious theory, the book sheds new light on some of the big stories of postwar American life: the rise of consumption, the growth of the federal government, urban and suburban problems, the civil rights and women’s movements, the role of scientists in a democracy, new attitudes about sex and sexuality, and the emergence of the “New Right.”

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The Mosquito Crusades

A History of the American Anti-Mosquito Movement from the Reed Commission to the First Earth Day

Gordon Patterson

Among the struggles of the twentieth century, the one between humans and mosquitoes may have been the most vexing. As vectors of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis, and dengue fever, mosquitoes forced open a new chapter in the history of medical entomology. Based on extensive use of primary sources, The Mosquito Crusades traces this saga and the parallel efforts of civic groups in New Jersey's Meadowlands and along San Francisco Bay's east side to manage the dangerous mosquito population.

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Overpotential

Fuel Cells, Futurism, and the Making of a Power Panacea

Matthew Eisler

It sounds so simple. Just combine oxygen and hydrogen in an electrochemical reaction that produces water and electricity, and you’ll have a clean, efficient power source. But scientists have spent decades—and billions of dollars in government and industry funding—developing the fuel cell. There have been successes and serendipitous discoveries along the way, but engineering a fuel cell that is both durable and affordable has proved extraordinarily difficult.Overpotential charts the twists and turns in the ongoing quest to create the perfect fuel cell. By exploring the gap between the theory and practice of fuel cell power, Matthew N. Eisler opens a window into broader issues in the history of science, technology, and society after the Second World War, including the sociology of laboratory life, the relationship between academe, industry, and government in developing advanced technologies, the role of technology in environmental and pollution politics, and the rise of utopian discourse in science and engineering.

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Shaky Foundations

The Politics-Patronage-Social Science Nexus in Cold War America

Mark Solovey

Numerous popular and scholarly accounts have exposed the deep impact of patrons on the production of scientific knowledge and its applications. Shaky Foundations provides the first extensive examination of a new patronage system for the social sciences that emerged in the early Cold War years and took more definite shape during the 1950s and early 1960s, a period of enormous expansion in American social science.

            By focusing on the military, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, Mark Solovey shows how this patronage system presented social scientists and other interested parties, including natural scientists and politicians, with new opportunities to work out the scientific identity, social implications, and public policy uses of academic social research. Solovey also examines significant criticisms of the new patronage system, which contributed to widespread efforts to rethink and reshape the politics-patronage-social science nexus starting in the mid-1960s.

            Based on extensive archival research, Shaky Foundations addresses fundamental questions about the intellectual foundations of the social sciences, their relationships with the natural sciences and the humanities, and the political and ideological import of academic social inquiry.

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