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Volume 96 | Number 6 | November-December 2008


Schrödinger's Goose

Theodore M. Porter

A review of The Scientific Life: A Moral History of a Late Modern Vocation, by Steven Shapin. Have the advantages of entrepreneurial science been oversold? Are contemporary funding regimes subtly eroding the integrity of science? Quite possibly so, Porter concludes

Keeping the Net Stupid

Hal Abelson

A review of The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It, by Jonathan Zittrain. The creative work inspired by the enormous flexibility of the Internet is threatened, says Zittrain, by a trend away from open platforms and toward what he calls "tethered appliances"

Never at Rest

David Lindley

A review of Kelvin: Life, Labours and Legacy, edited by Raymond Flood, Mark McCartney and Andrew Whitaker. Why, asks Lindley, has Lord Kelvin's remarkable catalog of achievements left so little impression?

John O'Mountains

Michael P. Branch

A review of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, by Donald Worster. Worster has expertly sifted and sorted the details of Muir's complex life story to produce an engaging biography that should be considered definitive, says Branch

Electoral Games People Play

Steven Hill

A review of Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It), by William Poundstone. Poundstone explores the unintended consequences of plurality voting and the pros and cons of the various electoral systems that have been proposed as alternatives

The Enlightenment Comes to the Amazon

Daniela Bleichmar

A review of Measuring the New World: Enlightenment Science and South America, by Neil Safier. Safier's account of the Geodesical Expedition to the Equator in 1735 thoughtfully examines how Enlightenment science fared in South America and how that continent was depicted in Europe as a consequence of this exploration

The "Mad" Farmer

Christine Casson

A review of Conversations with Wendell Berry, edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. These 17 interviews conducted over three decades show the prescience and consistency of Berry’s vision, says Casson, and they invite reflection on how little has been accomplished during that span of time

Setting the Record Straight on the Refugia Hypothesis

Paul Baker

A review of Amazon Expeditions: My Quest for the Ice-Age Equator, by Paul Colinvaux. Colinvaux recounts his travels in search of lakes containing mud dating from the last glacial maximum, telling the tale with humor, ego and enthusiasm, says Baker

Musical Maladies

Norman M. Weinberger

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, by Oliver Sacks. Sacks sprinkles brief accounts of recent neuroscientific findings throughout the detailed descriptions of cases that are at the heart of this book, but he doesn't discuss the scientific issues in enough depth, complains Weinberger

 

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