Outsider Scientists describes the transformative role played by “outsiders” in the growth of the modern life sciences. Biology, which occupies a special place between the exact and human sciences, has historically attracted many thinkers whose primary training was in other fields: mathematics, physics, chemistry, linguistics, philosophy, history, anthropology, engineering, and even literature. These outsiders brought with them ideas and tools that were foreign to biology, but which, when applied to biological problems, helped to bring about dramatic, and often surprising, breakthroughs.
This volume brings together eighteen thought-provoking biographical essays of some of the most remarkable outsiders of the modern era, each written by an authority in the respective field. From Noam Chomsky using linguistics to answer questions about brain architecture, to Erwin Schrödinger contemplating DNA as a physicist would, to Drew Endy tinkering with Biobricks to create new forms of synthetic life, the outsiders featured here make clear just how much there is to gain from disrespecting conventional boundaries. Innovation, it turns out, often relies on importing new ideas from other fields. Without its outsiders, modern biology would hardly be recognizable.
Routes of Power
Christopher F. Jones Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HD9502.U52J658 2014 | Dewey Decimal 333.790973
The fossil fuel revolution is usually a tale of advances in energy production. Christopher Jones tells a tale of advances in energy access--canals, pipelines, wires delivering cheap, abundant power to cities at a distance from production sites. Between 1820 and 1930 these new transportation networks set the U.S. on a path to fossil fuel dependence.
Over the past fifteen years, visitors from the African diaspora have flocked to Cape Coast and Elmina, two towns in Ghana whose chief tourist attractions are the castles and dungeons where slaves were imprisoned before embarking for the New World. This desire to commemorate the Middle Passage contrasts sharply with the silence that normally cloaks the subject within Ghana. Why do Ghanaians suppress the history of enslavement? And why is this history expressed so differently on the other side of the Atlantic?
Routes of Remembrance tackles these questions by analyzing the slave trade’s absence from public versions of coastal Ghanaian family and community histories, its troubled presentation in the country’s classrooms and nationalist narratives, and its elaboration by the transnational tourism industry. Bayo Holsey discovers that in the past, African involvement in the slave trade was used by Europeans to denigrate local residents, and this stigma continues to shape the way Ghanaians imagine their historical past. Today, however, due to international attention and the curiosity of young Ghanaians, the slave trade has at last entered the public sphere, transforming it from a stigmatizing history to one that holds the potential to contest global inequalities.
Holsey’s study will be crucial to anyone involved in the global debate over how the slave trade endures in history and in memory.
Routes of War
Yael A. Sternhell Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress E468.9.S86 2012 | Dewey Decimal 973.713
The Civil War thrust millions of men and women—rich and poor, soldiers and civilians, enslaved and free—onto the roads of the South. During four years of war, Southerners lived on the move. In the hands of Sternhell, movement becomes a radically new means to perceive the full trajectory of the Confederacy’s rise, struggle, and ultimate defeat.