Action at a Distance
John Durham Peters University of Minnesota Press, 2020 Library of Congress QC6.P373 | Dewey Decimal 530.01
How are human actions shaped by the materiality of media?
Contemporary media leads us more than ever to an ‘acting at a distance,’ an acting entangled with the materiality of communication and the mediality of transmission. This book explores this crucial phenomenon thereby introducing urgent questions of human interaction, the binding and breaking of time and space, and the entanglement of the material and the immaterial.
Three vivid inquiries deal with histories and theories of mediality and materiality: John Durham Peters looks at episodes of simultaneity and synchronization. Christina Vagt discusses the agency of computer models against the backdrop of aesthetic theories by Henri Bergson and Hans Blumenberg, and Florian Sprenger discusses early electrical transmissions through copper wire and the temporality of instantaneity.
On January 5, 1845, the Prussian cultural minister received a request by a group of six young men to form a new Physical Society in Berlin. In fields from thermodynamics, mechanics, and electromagnetism to animal electricity, ophthalmology, and psychophysics, members of this small but growing group—which soon included Emil Du Bois-Reymond, Ernst Brücke, Werner Siemens, and Hermann von Helmholtz—established leading positions in what only thirty years later had become a new landscape of natural science. How was this possible? How could a bunch of twenty-somethings succeed in seizing the future?
In Aesthetics, Industry, and Science M. Norton Wise answers these questions not simply from a technical perspective of theories and practices but with a broader cultural view of what was happening in Berlin at the time. He emphasizes in particular how rapid industrial development, military modernization, and the neoclassical aesthetics of contemporary art informed the ways in which these young men thought. Wise argues that aesthetic sensibility and material aspiration in this period were intimately linked, and he uses these two themes for a final reappraisal of Helmholtz’s early work. Anyone interested in modern German cultural history, or the history of nineteenth-century German science, will be drawn to this landmark book.
David Z. Albert Harvard University Press, 2015 Library of Congress QC6.A465 2015 | Dewey Decimal 530.01
Here the philosopher and physicist David Z Albert argues, among other things, that the difference between past and future can be understood as a mechanical phenomenon of nature and that quantum mechanics makes it impossible to present the entirety of what can be said about the world as a narrative of “befores” and “afters.”
Taking advantage of recent advances throughout the sciences, Matthew Hedman brings the distant past closer to us than it has ever been. Here, he shows how scientists have determined the age of everything from the colonization of the New World over 13,000 years ago to the origin of the universe nearly fourteen billion years ago.
Hedman details, for example, how interdisciplinary studies of the Great Pyramids of Egypt can determine exactly when and how these incredible structures were built. He shows how the remains of humble trees can illuminate how the surface of the sun has changed over the past ten millennia. And he also explores how the origins of the earth, solar system, and universe are being discerned with help from rocks that fall from the sky, the light from distant stars, and even the static seen on television sets.
Covering a wide range of time scales, from the Big Bang to human history, The Age of Everything is a provocative and far-ranging look at how science has determined the age of everything from modern mammals to the oldest stars, and will be indispensable for all armchair time travelers.
“We are used to being told confidently of an enormous, measurable past: that some collection of dusty bones is tens of thousands of years old, or that astronomical bodies have an age of some billions. But how exactly do scientists come to know these things? That is the subject of this quite fascinating book. . . . As told by Hedman, an astronomer, each story is a marvel of compressed exegesis that takes into account some of the most modern and intriguing hypotheses.”—Steven Poole, Guardian
“Hedman is worth reading because he is careful to present both the power and peril of trying to extract precise chronological data. These are all very active areas of study, and as you read Hedman you begin to see how researchers have to be both very careful and incredibly audacious, and how much of our understanding of ourselves—through history, through paleontology, through astronomy—depends on determining the age of everything.”—Anthony Doerr, BostonGlobe
Selected by 50 notable astronomers from the major sub-fields of the discipline, the articles assembled in this special AAS Centennial collection are accompanied by commentary that provides the scientific-historical context essential to comprehending each article's original impact. Many commentators were contemporaries of the original authors and provide first-person accounts of papers published in the journals—and the earliest reactions they evoked. Arranged in chronological order of publication, these classic papers include works by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, George E. Hale, Fred Hoyle, Edwin Hubble, A.A. Michelson, Henry Norris Russell, Arthur Achuster, Harlow Shapley, and others. Together the articles and commentaries provide a historical window into twentieth-century astronomy and how the results were achieved.
This is a new translation, with introduction, commentary, and an explanatory glossary.
"Sachs's translation and commentary rescue Aristotle's text from the rigid, pedantic, and misleading versions that have until now obscured his thought. Thanks to Sachs's superb guidance, the Physics comes alive as a profound dialectical inquiry whose insights into the enduring questions about nature, cause, change, time, and the 'infinite' are still pertinent today. Using such guided studies in class has been exhilarating both for myself and my students." ––Leon R. Kass, The Committee on Social Thought, University of Chicago
Aristotle’s Physics is the only complete and coherent book we have from the ancient world in which a thinker of the first rank seeks to say something about nature as a whole. For centuries, Aristotle’s inquiry into the causes and conditions of motion and rest dominated science and philosophy. To understand the intellectual assumptions of a powerful world view—and the roots of the Scientific Revolution—reading Aristotle is critical. Yet existing translations of Aristotle’s Physics have made it difficult to understand either Aristotle’s originality or the lasting value of his work.
In this volume in the Masterworks of Discovery series, Joe Sachs provides a new plain-spoken English translation of all of Aristotle’s classic treatise and accompanies it with a long interpretive introduction, a running explication of the text, and a helpful glossary. He succeeds brilliantly in fulfilling the aim of this innovative series: to give the general reader the tools to read and understand a masterwork of scientific discovery.
In this absorbing account of life with the great atomic scientist Enrico Fermi, Laura Fermi tells the story of their emigration to the United States in the 1930s—part of the widespread movement of scientists from Europe to the New World that was so important to the development of the first atomic bomb. Combining intellectual biography and social history, Laura Fermi traces her husband's career from his childhood, when he taught himself physics, through his rise in the Italian university system concurrent with the rise of fascism, to his receipt of the Nobel Prize, which offered a perfect opportunity to flee the country without arousing official suspicion, and his odyssey to the United States.
Aurora Watcher's Handbook
Neil Davis University of Alaska Press, 1992 Library of Congress QC971.D38 1992 | Dewey Decimal 538.768
Neil Davis's decades-long involvement with the aurora extends beyond study and research. He has also been explaining this magnificent phenomenon to diverse audiences, sharing the knowledge with his graduate students and his grandchildren, with his fellow scientists through professional publications, and with the general public through newspaper columns. His ability to communicate both the facts and the wonder of the northern lights shows clearly in this book.
Starting at a basic level, the handbook begins appropriately with matters of immediate concern to someone who hopes to see an auroral display: what causes the aurora, where and when it is most often seen, and how best to capture it on film. Later sections provide a thorough and clear review of all aspects of auroral science, including the mysterious realm of auroral sound. In a concise and readable fashion, the handbook covers what is known about auroras, encompassing overviews of the northern Natives' legends and myths and the several theories geophysicists have produced to explain why auroras behave as they do. The Aurora Watcher's Handbook includes numerous illustrations, ranging from cartoons to color plates and drawings.
"I am confident [this book] will become the aurora watcher's bible for many years to come." (Sky & Telescope)
"This is participatory science at its best!" (Midwest Book Review)
"A delightful book, highly recommended." (CHOICE )
"A complete course for the layman with an interest in the northern lights." (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
"[Davis] has written the book in a smooth, how-it-works style, and his presentation is remarkably clear. . . . [He] expended much effort on this book, forming from his lifetime of knowledge a coherent and comprehensible picture of the aurora for the non-specialist." (ARCTIC)
"For a comprehensive guide to the northern lights, read Neil Davis's The Aurora." (Small Press Magazine)