Fabrics that are not only stain resistant but actually clean themselves. Airplane wings that change shape in midair to take advantage of shifts in wind currents. Hypodermic needles that use tiny serrations to render injections virtually pain free.
Though they may sound like the stuff of science fiction, in fact such inventions represent only the most recent iterations of natural mechanisms that are billions of years old—the focus of the rapidly growing field of biomimetics. Based on the realization that natural selection has for countless eons been conducting trial-and-error experiments with the laws of physics, chemistry, material science, and engineering, biomimetics takes nature as its laboratory, looking to the most successful developments and strategies of an array of plants and animals as a source of technological innovation and ideas. Thus the lotus flower, with its waxy, water-resistant surface, gives us stainproofing; the feathers of raptors become transformable airplane wings; and the nerve-deadening serrations on a mosquito’s proboscis are adapted to hypodermics.
With Bulletproof Feathers, Robert Allen brings together some of the greatest minds in the field of biomimetics to provide a fascinating—at times even jaw-dropping—overview of cutting-edge research in the field. In chapters packed with illustrations, Steven Vogel explains how architects and building engineers are drawing lessons from prairie dogs, termites, and even sand dollars in order to heat and cool buildings more efficiently; Julian Vincent goes to the very building blocks of nature, revealing how different structures and arrangements of molecules have inspired the development of some fascinating new materials, such as waterproof clothing based on shark skin; Tomonari Akamatsu shows how sonar technology has been greatly improved through detailed research into dolphin communication; Yoseph Bar-Cohen delves into the ways that robotics engineers have learned to solve design problems through reference to human musculature; Jeannette Yen explores how marine creatures have inspired a new generation of underwater robots; and Robert Allen shows us how cooperative behavior between birds, fish, and insects has inspired technological innovations in fields ranging from Web hosting to underwater exploration.
A readable, yet authoritative introduction to a field that is at the forefront of design and technology—and poised to become even more important in the coming decades as population pressures and climate change make the need for efficient technological solutions more acute—Bulletproof Feathers offers adventurous readers a tantalizing peek into the future, by way of our evolutionary past.
Barack Obama's campaign and electoral victory demonstrated the dynamic nature of American democracy. Beginning as a special issue of The Black Scholar, this probing collection illustrates the impact of "the Obama phenomenon" on the future of U.S. race relations through readings on Barack Obama's campaign as well as the idealism and pragmatism of the Obama administration. Some of the foremost scholars of African American politics and culture from an array of disciplines--including political science, theology, economics, history, journalism, sociology, cultural studies, and law--offer critical analyses of topics as diverse as Obama and the media, Obama’s connection with the hip hop community, the public's perception of first lady Michelle Obama, voter behavior, and the history of racial issues in presidential campaigns since the 1960s.
Contributors are Josephine A. V. Allen, Robert L. Allen, Herb Boyd, Donald R. Deskins Jr., Cheryl I. Harris, Charles P. Henry, Dwight N. Hopkins, John L. Jackson, Maulana Karenga, Robin D. G. Kelley, Martin Kilson, Clarence Lusane, Julianne Malveaux, Shaun Ossei-Owusu, Dianne M. Pinderhughes, Sherman C. Puckett, Scharn Robinson, Ula Y. Taylor, Alice Walker, Hanes Walton Jr., and Ronald Williams II.
Following the 9/11 attacks, approximately four million Americans have turned eighteen each year and more than fifty million children have been born. These members of the millennial and post-millennial generation have come of age in a moment marked by increased anxiety about terrorism, two protracted wars, and policies that have raised questions about the United States's role abroad and at home. Young people have not been shielded from the attacks or from the wars and policy debates that followed. Instead, they have been active participants—as potential military recruits and organizers for social justice amid anti-immigration policies, as students in schools learning about the attacks or readers of young adult literature about wars.
The War of My Generation is the first essay collection to focus specifically on how the terrorist attacks and their aftermath have shaped these new generations of Americans. Drawing from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and literary studies, the essays cover a wide range of topics, from graphic war images in the classroom to computer games designed to promote military recruitment to emails from parents in the combat zone. The collection considers what cultural factors and products have shaped young people's experience of the 9/11 attacks, the wars that have followed, and their experiences as emerging citizen-subjects in that moment. Revealing how young people understand the War on Terror—and how adults understand the way young people think—The War of My Generation offers groundbreaking research on catastrophic events still fresh in our minds.
"Sustainable development is the Holy Grail of governments and leaders but has remained elusive and undefined. Wellbeing of Nations provides the diagnostics to turn sustainability into reality. This is the ultimate travel guide to a sustainable future." --Jose Maria Figueres, former President of Costa Rica, World Economic Forum "At long last, a real metric for measuring sustainability and wellbeing. It provides a way to chart a better future. The cornerstone of any working library on environment, development, and quality of life. A volume without peer." --Thomas E. Lovejoy, Chief Biodiversity Advisor, The World Ban.The use of indicators to gauge human progress is common and well understood; Gross Domestic Product and the Index of Leading Economic Indicators are two well-known examples. Yet most of the widely cited indicators focus exclusively on economic activity, and even the most progressive of indicators fail to account for key issues of sustainability. The Wellbeing of Nations addresses that shortcoming by combining indicators of human well-being with those of environmental stability to generate a more comprehensive picture of the state of our world.The author combines 39 indicators of health, population, wealth, education, communication, freedom, peace, crime, and equity into a Human Wellbeing Index, and 39 indicators of land health, protected areas, water quality, water supply, global atmosphere, air quality, species diversity, energy use, and resource pressures into an Ecosystem Wellbeing Index. The two indexes are then combined into a Wellbeing/Stress Index that measures how much human wellbeing each country obtains for the amount of stress it places on the environment. Seventy color-coded geopolitical maps vividly portray the performance of each of the 180 nations for all indexes, and the main indicators that go into them. In addition, all data are given in 160 pages of tables, and the highly accessible methodology is described in appendices so that readers can undertake their own assessments.Produced in collaboration with the leading international organizations involved with sustainable development, The Wellbeing of Nations is a one-of-a-kind reference for development and environmental policy professionals, as well as for students and scholars in environmental studies, international studies, and international development.