History and Philosophy of Science
The Sokal Hoax
The Sham That Shook the Academy
Paperback ISBN: 0803279957
In May 1996 physicist Alan Sokal published an essay in the fashionable academic journal Social Text. The essay quoted hip theorists like Jacques Lacan, Donna Haraway, and Gilles Deleuze. The prose was thick with the jargon of poststructuralism. And the point the essay tried to make was counterintuitive: gravity, Sokal argued, was a fiction that society had agreed upon, and science needed to be liberated from its ideological blinders. When Sokal revealed in the pages of Lingua Franca that he had written the article as a parody, the story hit the front page of the New York Times. It set off a national debate still raging today: Are scholars in the humanities trapped in a jargon-ridden Wonderland? Are scientists deluded in thinking their work is objective? Are literature professors suffering from science envy? Was Sokal's joke funny? Was the Enlightenment such a bad thing after all? And isn't it a little bit true that the meaning of gravity is contingent upon your cultural perspective? Collected here for the first time are Sokal's original essay on "quantum gravity," his essay revealing the hoax, the newspaper articles that broke the story, and the angry op-eds, letters, and e-mail exchanges sparked by the hoax from intellectuals across the country, including Stanley Fish, George F. Will, Michael Bérubé, and Katha Pollitt. Also included are extended essays in which a wide range of scholars ponder the long-term lessons of the hoax.
George Perkins Marsh
Prophet of Conservation
Hardcover ISBN: 0295979429
G.P. Marsh wrote what William Cronon calls in his foreword, one of America's three most important environmental texts, Man and Nature (1864) (the other two were Silent Spring and Sand County Almanac ). Man and Nature argued that deforestation led to the demise of civilization: that because the ancients cut down their trees, there was erosion, drought alternating with floods, and climate change, the latter because moist forests no longer evaporated water into the atmosphere to cause rain and cooler temperatures. Environmental disaster then led to economic and social disaster. Perkins seems to have predicted the future, but this time it will no longer be confined to this or that area. In addition to Man and Nature , Marsh was a linguist who spoke some 20 languages, as well as a congressman, lawyer, and diplomat who served as U.S. envoy to Turkey and Italy for 25 years. He also helped found and guide the Smithsonian Institution. Lowenthal, emeritus professor of geography, University College, London, published an earlier biography of Marsh in 1958. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
No Ordinary Genius
The Illustrated Richard Feynman
Paperback ISBN: 039331393x
A life of the late Nobel Prize-winning physicist features more than a hundred photographs and interviews with family, friends, and Feynman himself, offering insight into the mind of a great creative scientist at work and play. Reprint.
Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment
Paperback ISBN: 0892816317
In this compelling tour through the world of anomalous research, Richard Milton makes clear what the scientific establishment takes pains to deny: plenty of hard experimental evidence already exists for such things as cold fusion, paranormal phenomena, bioenergy, and the effectiveness of alternative medicine. Because these subjects and those who dare to investigate them are continually denied legitimacy by what can only be called the "paradigm police," the public is led to believe that all claims made about such topics are completely groundless. With humor and an eye for the telling detail, the author describes many instances when the defenders of scientific orthodoxy acted with unscientific rigidity in the face of the evidence. Faraday, Roentgen, Edison, and even the Wright Brothers were thought to be charlatans by their contemporaries. Taking the broad view of the way science is done, Milton discusses the forces at work in the marginalization of unorthodox research, and makes the reader wonder if there is not something fundamentally wrong with the way that science is currently being practiced.Â
The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe
Paperback ISBN: 0385477813
A revised and updated edition of an introduction to the most cutting-edge field in physics, superstring theory, explains how scientists have been able to join the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics to approach a theory of the universe. Reprint.
Why Things Bite Back
Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences
Paperback ISBN: 0679747567
A scientific historian takes a close-up look at the unexpected ramifications of technological development, examining the paradoxical, ironic consequences of the things we do to supposedly improve our lives. Reprint. 35,000 first printing.
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000
Paperback ISBN: 0618082956
The first in a new annual anthology of the finest science writing to be published in 1999 features such works as Richard Preston's "The Demon in the Freezer," John McPhee's "Farewell to the Nineteenth Century," "Brilliant Light" by Oliver Sacks, and other essays by Wendell Berry, Anne Fadiman, David Guterson, Peter Matthiessen, and other notable authors. Simultaneous. 30,000 first printing.