Scientists' Bookshelf Monthly, Vol. 6 No. 10

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SCIENTISTS' NIGHTSTAND: EMILY MONOSSON

Environmental toxicologist Emily Monosson has been reading novels by Michael Chabon and Mark Helprin as well as an impressive list of books on chemical production and its effects on society. "I want to understand how, after more than 30 years of experience with regulation and a more mature field of toxicology and contaminants research, we continue to contaminate the environment, wildlife and ourselves," she says. Find the complete list and more in this month's Scientists' Nightstand.

 

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2008 TABLE OF CONTENTS

Schrödinger's Goose
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
Theodore M. Porter

Keeping the Net Stupid
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"
Hal Abelson

Never at Rest
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?
David Lindley

John O'Mountains
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
Michael P. Branch

Electoral Games People Play
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
Steven Hill

The Enlightenment Comes to the Amazon
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
Daniela Bleichmar

The "Mad" Farmer
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
Christine Casson

Setting the Record Straight on the Refugia Hypothesis
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
Paul Baker

Musical Maladies
A review of 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
Norman M. Weinberger

Touring Turing
A review of The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine, reviewed by Martin Davis. Petzold provides a line-by-line close reading of Turing's classic paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem," explaining background material as needed
Martin Davis

Children's books about science and nature
George Washington Carver • How We Know What We Know about Our Changing Climate • Sisters and Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World • Wangari's Trees of Peace

 

MORE CHILDREN'S SCIENCE BOOKS

We've seen a lot of good children's science books this year—so many that we couldn't cover all of our favorites in print. In an online special, we present reviews of six recent titles, including A Child's Introduction to the Environment and Robots: From Everyday to Out of This World.

 

OFF THE SHELF

Nature has reviews of Measuring the New World (reviewer D. Graham Burnett) and of The Future of the Internet (reviewer Tony Hey).

Environmental History has an interview with Donald Worster, the author of A Passion for Nature.

The entire text of The Future of the Internet can be downloaded here. An article by author Jonathan Zittrain on protecting the Internet appeared in the Boston Review last spring. Additional reviews of the book can be found on the Technology Liberation Front blog; in City Journal; at arstechnica.com, boingboing.net, the American Prospect, and oreilly.com; and in the Times of London.

Interviews with Steven Shapin about his new book, The Scientific Life, can be read here and here.

The New York Times has a review of Gaming the Vote.

Paul Elie reviews Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia in Slate.

In the New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson discusses Galápagos: The Islands That Changed the World.

The New York Times has a combined review, by Cornelia Dean, of four recent books that "illuminate the confluence of science, art and ornithology."

The Times Literary Supplement has a combined review of two books about how the West views Chinese science.

Christine Kenneally reviews several books about the English language in Slate.

 

FORTHCOMING TITLES OF INTEREST

Margaret Mead: The Making of an American Icon, by Nancy C. Lutkehaus (Princeton University Press, December 2008)

The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, by James Boyle (Yale University Press, December 9, 2008)

 

NEW IN PAPERBACK

The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution, by Deborah E. Harkness (Yale University Press, $18). Reviewed in the March-April 2008 issue.

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet, by Daniel J. Solove (Yale University Press, $16)

Echo Objects: The Cognitive Work of Images, by Barbara Maria Stafford (University of Chicago Press, $30)

Freedom and Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power, by John R. Searle (Houghton Mifflin, $16.95)

Us and Them: The Science of Identity, by David Berreby (University of Chicago Press, $16)

Sex, Sleep, Eat, Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body, by Jennifer Ackerman (Houghton Mifflin, $14.95)

The Age of Everything: How Science Explores the Past, by Matthew Hedman (University of Chicago Press, $16)

When Science and Christianity Meet, edited by David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers (University of Chicago Press, $20)

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman, by Nancy Marie Brown (Harcourt, $15)

From Heaven to Arcadia: The Sacred and the Profane in the Renaissance, by Ingrid D. Rowland (New York Review Books, $17.95)

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, by Robert L. Wolke (W. W. Norton, $15.95)

The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center, by Charles R. Morris (W. W. Norton, $15.95)

Wrestling with Behavioral Genetics: Science, Ethics, and Public Conversation, edited by Erik Parens, Audrey R. Chapman and Nancy Press (Johns Hopkins University Press, $25)

Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World, by Jessica Snyder Sachs (Hill and Wang, $14)

 

NEW EDITIONS, REISSUES, UPDATES

Totality: Eclipses of the Sun, third edition, by Mark Littman, Fred Espenak and Ken Wilcox (Oxford University Press, $34.95)

The Atlas of Food, revised and updated, by Eric Millstone and Tim Lang, with a foreword by Marion Nestle (University of California Press, $19.95)

The Atlas of Endangered Species, revised and updated, by Richard Mackay (University of California Press, $19.95)

Pecans: The Story in a Nutshell, updated paperback edition, by Jane Manaster (Texas Tech University Press, $19.95)

 

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