History and Philosophy of Science
Explaining a Paradoxical World Through the Science of Surprise
Paperback ISBN: 0060925876
A renowned mathematician shows how the "science of surprise" can help explain some of the most inexplicable phenomena in science, nature, the arts, the economy, and more.
The Nothing That Is
A Natural History of Zero
Hardcover ISBN: 0195128427
The value of nothing is explored in rich detail as the author reaches back as far as the ancient Sumerians to find evidence that humans have long struggled with the concept of zero, from the Greeks who may or may not have known of it, to the East where it was first used, to the modern-day desktop PC, which uses it as an essential letter in its computational alphabet.
On Great White Wings
The Wright Brothers and the Race for Flight
1st Edition Hardcover ISBN: 0786866861
Released on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of Kitty Hawk, this lively account of the historic Wright Brothers flight chronicles the race to the first to achieve powered flight. 75,000 first printing.
It Ain't Necessarily So
The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions
Paperback ISBN: 0940322951
Is our nature—as individuals, as a species—determined by our evolution and encoded in our genes? If we unravel the protein sequences of our DNA, will we gain the power to cure all of our physiological and psychological afflictions and even to solve the problems of our society? Today biologists—especially geneticists—are proposing answers to questions that have long been asked by philosophy or faith or the social sciences. Their work carries the weight of scientific authority and attracts widespread public attention, but it is often based on what the renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin identifies as a highly reductive misconception: "the pervasive error that confuses the genetic state of an organism with its total physical and psychic nature as a human being." In these nine essays covering the history of modern biology from Darwin to Dolly the sheep, all of which were originally published in The New York Review of Books, Lewontin combines sharp criticisms of overreaching scientific claims with lucid expositions of the exact state of current scientific knowledge—not only what we do know, but what we don't and maybe won't anytime soon. Among the subjects he discusses are heredity and natural selection, evolutionary psychology and altruism, nineteenth-century naturalist novels, sex surveys, cloning, and the Human Genome Project. In each case he casts an ever-vigilant and deflationary eye on the temptation to look to biology for explanations of everything we want to know about our physical, mental, and social lives. These essays—several of them updated with epilogues that take account of scientific developments since they were first written—are an indispensable guide to the most controversial issues in the life sciences today. The second edition of this collection includes new essays on genetically modified food and the completion of the Human Genome Project. It is an indispensable guide to the most controversial issues in the life sciences today.
Unweaving the Rainbow
Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Paperback ISBN: 0618056734
Arguing that science does not steal the majesty from the universe but rather reinvigorates it with new wonder, the author of The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene explores the "poetry" he continues to experience in nature. Reprint.
Why God Won't Go Away
Brain Science and the Biology of Belief
Paperback ISBN: 034544034x
A landmark introduction to the new field of neurotheology explores the complex relationship that exists between spirituality belief and the human brain, examining the link between transcendant religious experience and actual neurological events that occur within the brain. Reprint.
Fire in the Mind
Science, Faith, and the Search for Order
Paperback ISBN: 067974021x
A study of the human drive to create order and reason is set in New Mexico and notes the parallel beliefs of the ancient Anasazi, the Tewa Native Americans, the Penitentes, and the scientists of the Santa Fe Institute. Reprint.
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.