We hear about a woman with an artificial arm controlled by her mind, read stories about the creative potential of “right-brain” and “left-brain” people, and watch science fiction films featuring characters with implanted mind chips. Yet few of us understand the science behind these and other visionary advances being made today in brain research. Leading neuroscientists and scholars have charted the stream of new findings in Scientific American and Scientific American Mind, and their articles from the past eight years, compiled here in a comprehensive volume, offer diverse and provocative perspectives on various cutting-edge brain science projects.
Scientific American, the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States, has long been the standard bearer of science journalism, and the brain science articles published in its pages offer unparalleled insights into the world of neuroscience. The expert articles assembled here, divided into three sections, reveal the latest developments of brain research in a compelling and wholly readable fashion and explore the range of fields and topics now included under the umbrella of neuroscience.
Consciousness and creativity are the focus of the “Mind” section, which features such compelling essays as science writer Carl Zimmer’s examination of how the brain creates a sense of self. Steven E. Hyman, Harvard Provost and former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, proposes new ways of diagnosing psychiatric disorders in “Matter,” a section that also features articles on psychological disorders, addictions, and other topics related to the interaction between body and brain. And “Tomorrow’s Brain” reveals the intriguing future potential of man-machine interactions, as well as pioneering new methods of brain treatment. Eminent neuroscientist Floyd E. Bloom also contributes an engaging introduction that situates these pieces on the front lines of brain research.
In today’s technologically driven world, our lives are changing faster than ever, and neuroscience is becoming an integral part of that transformation. Best of the Brain from Scientific American gathers the very best writings on this sea change, providing an invaluable guide to the exhilarating possibilities of neuroscience.
In this insightful work, Martin H. Krieger shows what physicists are really doing when they employ mathematical models as research tools. He argues that the technical details of these complex calculations serve not only as a means to an end, but also reveal key aspects of the physical properties they model.
Krieger's lucid discussions will help readers to appreciate the larger physical issues behind the mathematical detail of modern physics and gain deeper insights into how theoretical physicists work. Constitutions of Matter is a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of modern physics.
"[Krieger] provides students of physics and applied mathematics with a view of the physical forest behind the mathematical trees, historians and philosophers of science with insights into how theoretical physicists go about their work, and technically advanced general readers with a glimpse into the discipline."—Scitech Book News
The 2005 winner of the The Arkansas Arabic Traslation Award, sponsored by the King Fahd Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas Press, though written in the nineteenth century, is a richly contextualized precursor of modern Muslim wrestlings with notions of democracy and constitutionalism. Translated by the distinguished Middle East historian L. Carl Brown, this important historical work is now available to English language readers for the first time. Toward the end of his long career as an official in the Tunisian government, Ahmad ibn Abi Diyaf (Bin Diyaf) took on the task of writing a history of his country. The result was a multivolume history, concentrating on the period that Bin Diyaf experienced first-hand from within the small circle of Tunisia’s government, where he had served from the 1820s to the 1860s. It was as if a Harry Hopkins, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., or Henry Kissinger had served not just a Roosevelt, Kennedy, or Nixon, but all three presidents for an unbroken forty-year period. Not only the most penetrating and most perceptive study of nineteenth-century Tunisian political life, Bin Diyaf’s history was illustrative of the activities and ideas in play throughout the larger Ottoman world. His work was a history with a thesis. Bin Diyaf sought to show the need for his country, and for that matter the larger Ottoman world, to adopt representative and responsive forms of government as existed in Europe. His purpose was most clearly set out in the Muqaddima or Introduction to his monumental work, which Brown has translated. The ideas produced in this text roughly a century and a half ago were not institutionalized, but they did catch hold as ideas and goals influencing later developments.
In this critically acclaimed book, first published in 1988 and now reprinted in paperback, scientist and author Paul Davies explains how recent scientific advances are transforming our understanding of the emergence of complexity and organization in the universe.
Melding a variety of ideas and disciplines from biology, fundamental physics, computer science, mathematics, genetics, and neurology, Davies presents his provocative theory on the source of the universe's creative potency. He explores the new paradigm (replacing the centuries-old Newtonian view of the universe) that recognizes the collective and holistic properties of physical systems and the power of self-organization. He casts the laws in physics in the role of a "blueprint," embodying a grand cosmic scheme that progressively unfolds as the universe develops.
Challenging the viewpoint that the physical universe is a meaningless collection particles, he finds overwhelming evidence for an underlying purpose: "Science may explain all the processes whereby the universe evolves its own destiny, but that still leaves room for there to be a meaning behind existence."
In this first book-length treatment of Descartes' important and influential natural philosophy, Daniel Garber is principally concerned with Descartes' accounts of matter and motion—the joint between Descartes' philosophical and scientific interests. These accounts constitute the point at which the metaphysical doctrines on God, the soul, and body, developed in writings like the Meditations, give rise to physical conclusions regarding atoms, vacua, and the laws that matter in motion must obey.
Garber achieves a philosophically rigorous reading of Descartes that is sensitive to the historical and intellectual context in which he wrote. What emerges is a novel view of this familiar figure, at once unexpected and truer to the historical Descartes.
The book begins with a discussion of Descartes' intellectual development and the larger project that frames his natural philosophy, the complete reform of all the sciences. After this introduction Garber thoroughly examines various aspects of Descartes' physics: the notion of body and its identification with extension; Descartes' rejection of the substantial forms of the scholastics; his relation to the atomistic tradition of atoms and the void; the concept of motion and the laws of motion, including Descartes' conservation principle, his laws of the persistence of motion, and his collision law; and the grounding of his laws in God.
In The Fernando Coronil Reader Venezuelan anthropologist Fernando Coronil challenges us to rethink our approaches to key contemporary epistemological, political, and ethical questions. Consisting of work written between 1991 and 2011, this posthumously published collection includes Coronil's landmark essays “Beyond Occidentalism” and “The Future in Question” as well as two chapters from his unfinished book manuscript, "Crude Matters." Taken together, the essays highlight his deep concern with the Global South, Latin American state formation, theories of nature, empire, and postcolonialism, and anthrohistory as an intellectual and ethical approach. Presenting a cross section of Coronil's oeuvre, this volume cements his legacy as one of the most innovative critical social thinkers of his generation.
During the past decade, skepticism about climate change has frustrated those seeking to engage broad publics and motivate them to take action on the issue. In this innovative ethnography, Candis Callison examines the initiatives of social and professional groups as they encourage diverse American publics to care about climate change. She explores the efforts of science journalists, scientists who have become expert voices for and about climate change, American evangelicals, Indigenous leaders, and advocates for corporate social responsibility.
The disparate efforts of these groups illuminate the challenge of maintaining fidelity to scientific facts while transforming them into ethical and moral calls to action. Callison investigates the different vernaculars through which we understand and articulate our worlds, as well as the nuanced and pluralistic understandings of climate change evident in different forms of advocacy. As she demonstrates, climate change offers an opportunity to look deeply at how issues and problems that begin in a scientific context come to matter to wide publics, and to rethink emerging interactions among different kinds of knowledge and experience, evolving media landscapes, and claims to authority and expertise.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Europeans raised a number of questions about the nature of reality and found their answers to be different from those that had satisfied their forebears. They discounted tales of witches, trolls, magic, and miraculous transformations and instead began looking elsewhere to explain the world around them. In The Limits of Matter, Hjalmar Fors investigates how conceptions of matter changed during the Enlightenment and pins this important change in European culture to the formation of the modern discipline of chemistry.
Fors reveals how, early in the eighteenth century, chemists began to view metals no longer as the ingredients for “chrysopoeia”—or gold making—but as elemental substances, or the basic building blocks of matter. At the center of this emerging idea, argues Fors, was the Bureau of Mines of the Swedish State, which saw the practical and profitable potential of these materials in the economies of mining and smelting.
By studying the chemists at the Swedish Bureau of Mines and their networks, and integrating their practices into the wider European context, Fors illustrates how they and their successors played a significant role in the development of our modern notion of matter and made a significant contribution to the modern European view of reality.
Bin Ramke University of Iowa Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3568.A446M38 2004 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
Bin Ramke’s poetry has always been concerned with separating the real from the wished-for or the feared. In Matter, Ramke investigates not only the physical realities of our world but the qualities that make things important to us, that give them weight. These poems, often in the voice of a child, are full of yearning and anguish but also an appreciation for the enhanced perceptions and small pleasures to be found among the sadness. “All lost things have the same voice,” he says, and this universal voice reminds us of home and family and the simple connections of ordinary life—the things that matter.
“When I was a saint,” begins the first poem, “I did not have visions but I could see and did note the color of the world.” Matter is an examination of and a report on the world’s variable colors and possibilities for, if not sanctity, then a certain sanity, a kindness, and some form of salvation.
Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed is generally read as an attempt either to harmonize reason and revelation or to show that they are irreconcilable. Moving beyond these familiar debates, Josef Stern argues that the perplexity addressed in this famously enigmatic work is the tension between human matter and form: the body and intellect.
Take a deep breath. Air—without it, life on Earth would cease to exist. Though not usually seen, its presence is relied upon. At once both ethereal and physical, air has been associated with flight and spirit, and yet it has progressively become a territory that can be claimed through communications, warfare, travel, and scientific exploration. At the same time, air is no longer a completely reliable part of our daily life: like water, it has become an environmental element that must be watched closely for quality and purity.
A Matter of Air investigates the meanings of air over the last three centuries, including our modern concern over emissions and climate change. Steven Connor looks at the human relationship with air, both positive and negative. His explorations include the dangers posed by radio atmospherics, poison gas, and haze as well as our continued fascination with effervescence and explosives. Drawing ideas from religion, science, art, literature, and philosophy, A Matter of Air creates a comprehensive history of the human perception of air. Thoroughly researched and written with wit and quirky enthusiasm, the book will appeal to a wide range of general readers interested in the environment, human history, and our most essential aspects of life.
The Matter of Capital
Christopher S. Nealon Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS323.5.N43 2011 | Dewey Decimal 811.54093553
Christopher Nealon’s reexamination of North America’s poetry in English, from Ezra Pound and W. H. Auden to younger poets of the present day, argues persuasively that the central literary project of the past century was to explore the relationship between poetry and capitalism—its impact on individuals, communities, and cultures.
When Fay Ajzenberg-Selove became a nuclear physicist, the number of women in the field could be counted on one hand. In this engaging memoir, Fay Ajzenberg-Selove writes candidly about her difficult journey to international recognition in physics. She is frank about the ways being a woman has made a difference in her opportunities and choices as a scientist--and how, by being a woman, she has made a difference in the world of physics.
Ajzenberg-Selove came to America at the age of 15 after narrowly escaping the Nazi takeover of France. She had planned to become an engineer like her father, but switched to physics after she was told the only engineering jobs open to women were in drafting: Marie Curie's example proved to her that women could do physics. Her first attempt at graduate work at Columbia University was a disaster, but she was sturck with the intellectual beauty of the field. After taking a Ph.D. in physics at University of Wisconsin, she did post-doctoral work with Thomas Lauritsen at the California Institute of Technology, where she began writing the first of a series of major review papers on the nuclear spectroscopy of the light nuclei, a subject of fundamental importance to nuclear physics, astrophysics, and applied physics. She continued this work and experimental research for thirty-eight years while teaching at Boston University, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
During her early career, Ajzenberg-Selove was shielded by her male mentors from experiencing much of the discrimination directed against women in science. Her simultaneous battles to become a tenured professor and to overcome breast cancer opened her eyes and confirmed her as a feminist.
The lay reader and the scientist alike will be fascinated by Ajzenberg-Selove's clear portrayal of her interlinked lives as physicist, teacher, wife of particle physicist, Walter Selove, and a woman who relishes both competition and friendship in a male-dominated field. An invaluable book for anyone contemplating a career in science.
The Matter of Disability returns disability to its proper place as an ongoing historical process of corporeal, cognitive, and sensory mutation operating in a world of dynamic, even cataclysmic, change. The book’s contributors offer new theorizations of human and nonhuman embodiments and their complex evolutions in our global present, in essays that explore how disability might be imagined as participant in the “complex elaboration of difference,” rather than something gone awry in an otherwise stable process. This alternative approach to materiality sheds new light on the capacities that exist within the depictions of disability that the book examines, including Spider-Man, Of Mice and Men, and Bloodchild.
The Matter of Empire examines the philosophical principles invoked by apologists of the Spanish empire that laid the foundations for the material exploitation of the Andean region between 1520 and 1640. Centered on Potosi, Bolivia, Orlando Bentancor’s original study ties the colonizers’ attempts to justify the abuses wrought upon the environment and the indigenous population to their larger ideology concerning mining, science, and the empire's rightful place in the global sphere. Bentancor points to the underlying principles of scholasticism, particularly in the work of Thomas Aquinas, as the basis of the instrumentalist conception of matter and enslavement, despite the inherent contradictions to moral principles. Bentancor grounds this metaphysical framework in a close reading of sixteenth-century debates on Spanish sovereignty in the Americas and treatises on natural history and mining by theologians, humanists, missionaries, mine owners, jurists, and colonial officials. To Bentancor, their presuppositions were a major turning point for colonial expansion and paved the way to global mercantilism.
It is not only the past that lies in ruins in Patna, it is also the present. But that is not the only truth about the city that Amitava Kumar explores in this vivid, entertaining account of his hometown. We accompany him through many Patnas, the myriad cities locked within the city—the shabby reality of the present-day capital of Bihar; Pataliputra, the storied city of emperors; the dreamlike embodiment of the city in the minds and hearts of those who have escaped contemporary Patna's confines. Full of fascinating observations and impressions, A Matter of Rats reveals a challenging and enduring city that exerts a lasting pull on all those who drift into its orbit.
Kumar's ruminations on one of the world's oldest cities, the capital of India's poorest province, are also a meditation on how to write about place. His memory is partial. All he has going for him is his attentiveness. He carefully observes everything that surrounds him in Patna: rats and poets, artists and politicians, a girl's picture in a historian's study, and a sheet of paper on his mother's desk. The result is this unique book, as cutting as it is honest.
Ancient and medieval literary texts often call attention to their existence as physical objects. Shane Butler helps us to understand why. Arguing that writing has always been as much a material struggle as an intellectual one, The Matter of the Page offers timely lessons for the digital age about how creativity works and why literature moves us.
Butler begins with some considerations about the materiality of the literary text, both as a process (the draft) and a product (the book), and he traces the curious history of “the page” from scroll to manuscript codex to printed book and beyond. He then offers a series of unforgettable portraits of authors at work: Thucydides struggling to describe his own diseased body; Vergil ready to burn an epic poem he could not finish; Lucretius wrestling with words even as he fights the madness that will drive him to suicide; Cicero mesmerized by the thought of erasing his entire career; Seneca plumbing the depths of the soul in the wax of his tablets; and Dhuoda, who sees the book she writes as a door, a tunnel, a womb. Butler reveals how the work of writing transformed each of these authors into his or her own first reader, and he explains what this metamorphosis teaches us about how we too should read.
All Greek and Latin quotations are translated into English and technical matters are carefully explained for general readers, with scholarly details in the notes.
A Matter of Time
Alex Capus Haus Publishing, 2009 Library of Congress PT2663.A64M3813 2009 | Dewey Decimal 833.92
A little known backwater of the history of the Great War is vividly rendered by a great story-teller - the central characters and events of this book are based on fact, but their surroundings and experiences are richly drawn from the author's imagination and detailed research.
Meeting the Universe Halfway is an ambitious book with far-reaching implications for numerous fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In this volume, Karen Barad, theoretical physicist and feminist theorist, elaborates her theory of agential realism. Offering an account of the world as a whole rather than as composed of separate natural and social realms, agential realism is at once a new epistemology, ontology, and ethics. The starting point for Barad’s analysis is the philosophical framework of quantum physicist Niels Bohr. Barad extends and partially revises Bohr’s philosophical views in light of current scholarship in physics, science studies, and the philosophy of science as well as feminist, poststructuralist, and other critical social theories. In the process, she significantly reworks understandings of space, time, matter, causality, agency, subjectivity, and objectivity.
In an agential realist account, the world is made of entanglements of “social” and “natural” agencies, where the distinction between the two emerges out of specific intra-actions. Intra-activity is an inexhaustible dynamism that configures and reconfigures relations of space-time-matter. In explaining intra-activity, Barad reveals questions about how nature and culture interact and change over time to be fundamentally misguided. And she reframes understanding of the nature of scientific and political practices and their “interrelationship.” Thus she pays particular attention to the responsible practice of science, and she emphasizes changes in the understanding of political practices, critically reworking Judith Butler’s influential theory of performativity. Finally, Barad uses agential realism to produce a new interpretation of quantum physics, demonstrating that agential realism is more than a means of reflecting on science; it can be used to actually do science.
Mind, Matter, and Method was first published in 1966. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This volume of twenty-six essays by as many contributors is published in honor of Herbert Feigl, professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota and director of the Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science. Though the majority of the contributors are philosophers, there are also -- as benefits Mr. Feigl's varied intellectual interests -- representatives of psychology, psychoanalysis, and physics.
The first group of ten essays deals with the philosophy of mind, particularly with the mind-body problem, to which Mr. Feigl has devoted much attention. The eleven essays in the second part are concerned with problems of philosophical method, especially with induction and confirmation. The third part is comprised of five essays on the philosophy of the physical sciences. A biographical sketch of Mr. Feigl and a bibliography of his writings are also provided.
Mind, Matter, and Nature
James D. Madden Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BD418.3.M3525 2013 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
Written for students, Mind, Matter, and Nature presumes no prior philosophical training on the part of the reader. The book nevertheless holds the arguments discussed to rigorous standards and is conversant with recent literature, thus making it useful as well to more advanced students and professionals interested in a resource on Thomistic hylomorphism in the philosophy of mind.
Ensuring the population’s physical safety is one of the core tasks of any government. In general, a government is typically held accountable for safe handling of hazardous substances, food safety, flood protection, controlling and preventing infectious diseases, as well as managing risks engendered by new technologies. In 2011, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior asked the Scientific Council for Government Policy to investigate the development of a generic risk policy in relation to physical safety. This work contains the Council’s survey and recommendations for good governance in the area of general public safety.
From Blaise Pascal in the 1600s to Charles Babbage in the first half of the nineteenth century, inventors struggled to create the first calculating machines. All failed—but that does not mean we cannot learn from the trail of ideas, correspondence, machines, and arguments they left behind.
In Reckoning with Matter, Matthew L. Jones draws on the remarkably extensive and well-preserved records of the quest to explore the concrete processes involved in imagining, elaborating, testing, and building calculating machines. He explores the writings of philosophers, engineers, and craftspeople, showing how they thought about technical novelty, their distinctive areas of expertise, and ways they could coordinate their efforts. In doing so, Jones argues that the conceptions of creativity and making they exhibited are often more incisive—and more honest—than those that dominate our current legal, political, and aesthetic culture.
Shreds of Matter: Cormac McCarthy and the Concept of Nature offers a nuanced and innovative take on McCarthy’s ostensible localism and, along with it, the ecocentric perspective on the world that is assumed by most critics. In opposing the standard interpretations of McCarthy’s novels as critical either of persisting American ideologies—such as manifest destiny and imperialism—or of the ways in which humanity has laid waste to planet Earth, Greve instead emphasizes the author’s interest both in the history of science and in the mythographical developments of religious discourse. Greve aims to counter traditional interpretations of McCarthy’s work and at the same time acknowledge their partial truth, taking into account the work of Friedrich W. J. Schelling and Lorenz Oken, contemporary speculative realism, and Bertrand Westphal’s geocriticism. Further, newly discovered archival material sheds light on McCarthy’s immersion in the metaphysical question par excellence: What is nature?
Synthesizing Hope opens up the material and social world of pharmaceuticals by focusing on an unexpected place: iThemba Pharmaceuticals. Founded in 2009 with a name taken from the Zulu word for hope, the small South African startup with an elite international scientific board was tasked with drug discovery for tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria. Anne Pollock uses this company as an entry point for exploring how the location of scientific knowledge production matters, not only for the raw materials, manufacture, licensing, and distribution of pharmaceuticals but also for the making of basic scientific knowledge.
Consideration of this case exposes the limitations of global health frameworks that implicitly posit rich countries as the only sites of knowledge production. Analysis of iThemba identifies the problems inherent in global north/south divides at the same time as it highlights what is at stake in who makes knowledge and where. It also provides a concrete example for consideration of the contexts and practices of postcolonial science, its constraints, and its promise.
Synthesizing Hope explores the many legacies that create conditions of possibility for South African drug discovery, especially the specific form of settler colonialism characterized by apartheid and resource extraction. Paying attention to the infrastructures and laboratory processes of drug discovery underscores the materiality of pharmaceuticals from the perspective of their makers, and tracing the intellectual and material infrastructures of South African drug discovery contributes new insights about larger social, political, and economic orders.
It’s been 111 years since the publication of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking book on the cattle industry. Though improvements in animal welfare have been made since then, the industry has evolved to include issues Sinclair could never have foreseen. In What’s the Matter with Meat, Katy Keiffer leads readers though a crash course on how this powerful multinational business has been able to generate such a bountiful supply of absurdly cheap animal proteins.
What’s the Matter with Meat? explores everything from labor issues to genetic manipulation to animal welfare to environmental degradation, illustrating just how the industrial model for meat production conjures up huge quantities of cheap meat even as it shifts many of the real costs onto the taxpayer. She describes practices few of us know about, such as land grabs in which predator companies acquire property in foreign countries for meat production, often driving out local farmers. She shows how industry consolidation entrenches cost-effective but harmful practices, creating monopolies that force competitors out of business, drive down labor costs, erode workers’ rights, and exert extraordinary power over nearby communities.
Keiffer demonstrates with irrefutable force that the current model for meat production—adopted worldwide—is simply not sustainable and will soon exhaust the planet’s resources. A hard-hitting critique of the meat industry and its harmful effects, this book shows us just how important it is to care about where our food comes from, to support alternative production systems, and to stop those practices that are ruining our planet in the service of the burger and the nugget.
A provocative investigation into the social and cultural implications of the Internet by a leading cultural critic.
As the Internet has become more and more a part of our daily lives, responses to its impact on culture and society have tended toward the extremes, hopeful or pessimistic. Fears that the Internet undermines community, inhibits social interaction, exacerbates economic and racial divisions, and facilitates greater state or corporate intrusion into our lives are balanced by excitement about the transformative qualities of the new medium and its potential to stimulate individual creativity, inspire new social forms, and further democratization.
In What's the Matter with the Internet?, leading cultural theorist Mark Poster offers a sophisticated and astute assessment of the potential the new medium has to redefine culture and politics. Avoiding the mindless hype and meaningless jargon that has characterized much of the debate about the future of the Web, he details what truly distinguishes the Internet from other media and the implications these novel properties have for such vital issues as authorship, national identity and global citizenship, the fate of ethnicity and race, and democracy.
Arguing that the Internet demands a social and cultural theory appropriate to the specific qualities of cyberspace, Poster reformulates the ideas of thinkers associated with our understanding of postmodern culture and the media (including Foucault, Deleuze, Heidegger, Baudrillard, and Derrida) to account for and illuminate the virtual world, paying particular attention to its political dimensions and the nature of identity. In this innovative analysis, Poster acknowledges that although the colonization of the Internet by corporations and governments does threaten to retard its capacity to bring about genuine change, the new medium is still capable of transforming both contemporary social practices and the way we see the world and ourselves.
Mark Poster is professor of history and director of the film studies program at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of Cultural History and Postmodernity (1997), The Second Media Age (1995), and The Mode of Information (1990).