With a fleet of telescopes in space and giant observatories on the ground, professional astronomers produce hundreds of spectacular images of space every year. These colorful pictures have become infused into popular culture and can found everywhere, from advertising to television shows to memes. But they also invite questions: Is this what outer space really looks like? Are the colors real? And how do these images get from the stars to our screens?
Coloring the Universe uses accessible language to describe how these giant telescopes work, what scientists learn with them, and how they are used to make color images. It talks about how otherwise un-seeable rays, such as radio waves, infrared light, X-rays, and gamma rays, are turned into recognizable colors. And it is filled with fantastic images taken in far-away pockets of the universe. Informative and beautiful, Coloring the Universe will give space fans of all levels an insider’s look at how scientists bring deep space into brilliant focus.
The Young Adult novel is ordinarily characterized as a coming-of-age story, in which the narrative revolves around the individual growth and maturation of a character, but Roberta Trites expands this notion by chronicling the dynamics of power and repression that weave their way through YA books. Characters in these novels must learn to negotiate the levels of power that exist in the myriad social institutions within which they function, including family, church, government, and school.
Trites argues that the development of the genre over the past thirty years is an outgrowth of postmodernism, since YA novels are, by definition, texts that interrogate the social construction of individuals. Drawing on such nineteenth-century precursors as Little Women and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,Disturbing the Universe demonstrates how important it is to employ poststructuralist methodologies in analyzing adolescent literature, both in critical studies and in the classroom. Among the twentieth-century authors discussed are Blume, Hamilton, Hinton, Le Guin, L'Engle, and Zindel.
Trites' work has applications for a broad range of readers, including scholars of children's literature and theorists of post-modernity as well as librarians and secondary-school teachers.
Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature by Roberta Seelinger Trites is the winner of the 2002 Children's Literature Association's Book Award. The award is given annually in order to promote and recognize outstanding contributions to children's literature, history, scholarship, and criticisim; it is one of the highest academic honors that can accrue to an author of children's literary criticism.
Are we alone in the universe? Are the planets our playground to treat as we will, or do we have a responsibility to other creatures who may inhabit or use them? Do we have a right to dump trash in space or leave vehicles on Mars or the moon? How should we interact with other life forms?
Encountering Life in the Universe examines the intersection of scientific research and society to further explore the ethics of how to behave in a universe where much is unknown. Taking contributions from notable experts in several fields, the editors skillfully introduce and develop a broad look at the moral questions facing humans on Earth and beyond.
Major advances in biology, biotechnology, and medicine create an urgency to ethical considerations in those fields. Astrobiology goes on to debate how we might behave as we explore new worlds, or create new life in the laboratory, or interact with extraterrestrial life forms. Stimulated by new technologies for scientific exploration on and off the Earth, astrobiology is establishing itself as a distinct scientific endeavor.
In what way can established philosophies provide guidance for the new frontiers opened by astrobiology research? Can the foundations of ethics and moral philosophy help answer questions about modifying other planets? Or about how to conduct experiments to create life in the lab or about? How to interact with organisms we might discover on another world?
While we wait for the first echo that might indicate life beyond Earth, astobiologists, along with philosophers, theologians, artists, and the general public, are exploring how we might behave—even before we know for sure they are there. Encountering Life in the Universe is a remarkable resource for such philosophical challenges.
Poised between hope and despair for a humanity facing an urgent communication crisis, this work by Vilém Flusser forecasts either the first truly human, infinitely creative society in history or a society of unbearable, oppressive sameness, locked in a pattern it cannot change. First published in German in 1985 and now available in English for the first time, Into the Universe of Technical Images outlines the history of communication technology as a process of increasing abstraction.
Flusser charts how communication evolved from direct interaction with the world to mediation through various technologies. The invention of writing marked one significant shift; the invention of photography marked another, heralding the current age of the technical image. The automation of the processing of technical images carries both promise and threat: the promise of freeing humans to play and invent and the threat for networks of automation to proceed independently of humans.
The great paradox of science in the twentieth century is that the more we learn, the less we seem to know. In this volume, John Templeton and scientist Robert Herrmann address this paradox.
Reviewing the latest findings in fields from particle physics to archaeology, from molecular biology to cosmology, the book leads the reader to see how mysterious the universe is, even to the very science that seeks to reduce it to a few simple principles.
Far from concluding that religion and science are in opposition, the book shows how these two fields of inquiry are intimately linked, and how much they can offer to one another.
Recent years have seen an enormous surge of interest in fiber arts, with works made of thread on display in art museums around the world. But this art form only began to transcend its origins as a humble craft in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that artists used the fiber arts to build critical practices that challenged the definitions of painting, drawing, and sculpture. One of those artists was Lenore Tawney (1907–2007).
Raised and trained in Chicago before she moved to New York, Tawney had a storied career. She was known for employing an ancient Peruvian gauze weave technique to create a painterly effect that appeared to float in space rather than cling to the wall, as well as for being one of the first artists to blend sculptural techniques with weaving practices and, in the process, pioneered a new direction in fiber art. Despite her prominence on the New York art scene, however, she has only recently begun to receive her due from the greater art world. Accompanying a retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, this catalog features a comprehensive biography of Tawney, additional essays on her work, and two hundred full-color illustrations, making it of interest to contemporary artists, art historians, and the growing audience for fiber art.
Copublished with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
A fascinating and sophisticated exploration of cosmology, Magical Arrows connects the Western philosophical tradition with the cosmological traditions of non-Western societies, particularly those of Polynesia. Using the mythology and philosophy of the Maori of New Zealand as a counterpoint to Western thought, Schrempp finds a philosophical common denominator in the thought of the pre-Socratic philosopher, Zeno of Elea. Schrempp suggests that the paradoxes of Zeno, together with the philosophical speculations that they have historically inspired, contain sophisticated insights which are nevertheless general enough to form the foundations of a comparative cosmology.
Schrempp suggests that perhaps the most noteworthy Zenoian insight is that paradox is intrinsic to cosmological speculation. But he points out that there are many other characteristics of Zeno’s approach, including the strategy of juxtaposing concrete images to mathematical forms of representation, that reappear persistently in Western intellectual history. Schrempp proceeds through a series of juxtapositions—between Zeno, Kant, Lovejoy, and Lévi-Strauss, and between Western cosmologists and those from other cultures—to highlight subtle similarities and differences among intellectual traditions and to examine the conceptual apparatus of Western social science.
Schrempp concludes that a meaningful comparative cosmology is possible and that the tradition of Zeno provides a propitious starting point for such a perspective.
As a young boy Frank Kovac Jr. fell deeply in love with stargazing, painting glow-in-the-dark constellations on his bedroom wall and inviting friends to an observatory he built in his Chicago backyard. As he reached adulthood, Kovac did not let go of his childhood dreams of reaching the stars. He began scheming to bring the universe home. While working at a paper mill as a young man, Kovac tirelessly built a 22-foot rotating globe planetarium in the woods. Despite failures and collapses, the amateur astronomer singlehandedly built a North Woods treasure, painting more than 5,000 glowing stars—dot by dot in glowing paints. Today, Kovac and his unique planetarium take visitors to the stars every day.
The Man Who Painted the Universe: The Story of a Planetarium in the Heart of the North Woods introduces readers to the mild-mannered astronomy enthusiast whose creativity, ingenuity, fervor, and endurance realized a dream of galactic proportions. The story of this stargazer from Wisconsin’s North Woods so inspired two newspapermen, authors Ron Legro and Avi Lank, that they sought to document the story of the Kovac Planetarium for a new generation of stargazers and dreamers.
Stephen Bell and Andrew Hindmoor compare banking systems in the U.S. and UK to those of Canada and Australia and explain why the system imploded in the former but not the latter. Canadian and Australian banks were able to make profits through traditional lending practices, unlike their competition-driven, risk-taking U.S. and UK counterparts.
Humans have always viewed the heavens with wonder and awe. The skies have inspired reflection on the vastness of space, the wonder of creation, and humankind’s role in the universe. In just over one hundred years, science has moved from almost total ignorance about the actual distances to the stars and earth’s place in the galaxy to our present knowledge about the enormous size, mass, and age of the universe. We are reaching the limits of observation, and therefore the limits of human understanding. Beyond lies only our imagination, seeded by the theories of physics. In Measuring the Cosmos, science writers David and Matthew Clark tell the stories of both the well-known and the unsung heroes who played key roles in these discoveries. These true accounts reveal ambitions, conflicts, failures, as well as successes, as the astonishing scale and age of the universe were finally established. Few areas of scientific research have witnessed such drama in the form of ego clashes, priority claims, or failed (or even falsified) theories as that resulting from attempts to measure the universe. Besides giving credit where long overdue, Measuring the Cosmos explains the science behind these achievements in accessible language sure to appeal to astronomers, science buffs, and historians.
Measuring the Universe is the first history of the evolution of cosmic dimensions, from the work of Eratosthenes and Aristarchus in the third century B.C. to the efforts of Edmond Halley (1656—1742).
"Van Helden's authoritative treatment is concise and informative; he refers to numerous sources of information, draws on the discoveries of modern scholarship, and presents the first book-length treatment of this exceedingly important branch of science."—Edward Harrison, American Journal of Physics
"Van Helden writes well, with a flair for clear explanation. I warmly recommend this book."—Colin A. Ronan, Journal of the British Astronomical Association
An engaging critique of the science and metaphysics behind our understanding of the universe
The James Webb Space Telescope, when launched in 2021, will be the premier orbital observatory, capable of studying every phase of the history of the universe, from the afterglow of the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system. Examining the theoretical basis for key experiments that have made this latest venture in astrophysics possible, Bjørn Ekeberg reveals that scientific cosmology actually operates in a twilight zone between the physical and metaphysical.
Metaphysical Experiments explains how our current framework for understanding the universe, the Big Bang theory, is more determined by a deep faith in mathematical universality than empirical observation. Ekeberg draws on philosophical insights by Spinoza, Bergson, Heidegger, and Arendt; on the critical perspectives of Latour, Stengers, and Serres; and on cutting-edge physics research at the Large Hadron Collider, to show how the universe of modern physics was invented to reconcile a Christian metaphysical premise with a claim to the theoretical unification of nature.
By focusing on the nonmathematical assumptions underlying some of the most significant events in modern science, Metaphysical Experiments offers a critical history of contemporary physics that demystifies such concepts as the universe, particles, singularity, gravity, blackbody radiation, the speed of light, wave/particle duality, natural constants, black holes, dark matter, and dark energy. Ekeberg’s incisive reading of the metaphysical underpinnings of scientific cosmology offers an innovative account of how we understand our place in the universe.
During the past fifteen years, one of the most vexing issues facing fledgling transitional democracies around the world—from South Africa to Eastern Europe, from Cambodia to Bosnia—has been what to do about the still-toxic security apparatuses left over from the previous regime. In this now-classic and profoundly influential study, the New Yorker's Lawrence Weschler probes these dilemmas across two gripping narratives (set in Brazil and Uruguay, among the first places to face such concerns), true-life thrillers in which torture victims, faced with the paralysis of the new regime, themselves band together to settle accounts with their former tormentors.
"Disturbing and often enthralling."—New York Times Book Review
"Implausible, intricate and dazzling."—Times Literary Supplement
"As Weschler's interviewees told their tales, I paced agitatedly, choked back tears. . . . Weschler narrates these two episodes with skill and tact. . . . An inspiring book."—George Scialabba, Los Angeles Weekly
A BBC Sky at Night Best Astronomy and Space Book of the Year
“[A] luminous guide to the cosmos…Jo Dunkley swoops from Earth to the observable limits, then explores stellar life cycles, dark matter, cosmic evolution and the soup-to-nuts history of the Universe.” —Nature
“A grand tour of space and time, from our nearest planetary neighbors to the edge of the observable Universe…If you feel like refreshing your background knowledge…this little gem certainly won’t disappoint.” —Govert Schilling, BBC Sky at Night
Most of us have heard of black holes and supernovas, galaxies and the Big Bang. But few understand more than the bare facts about the universe we call home. What is really out there? How did it all begin? Where are we going?
Jo Dunkley begins in Earth’s neighborhood, explaining the nature of the Solar System, the stars in our night sky, and the Milky Way. She traces the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago, past the birth of the Sun and our planets, to today and beyond. She then explains cutting-edge debates about such perplexing phenomena as the accelerating expansion of the universe and the possibility that our universe is only one of many. Our Universe conveys with authority and grace the thrill of scientific discovery and a contagious enthusiasm for the endless wonders of space-time.
Though the kinematics of the evolving universe became known decades ago, research into the physics of processes occurring in the expanding universe received a reliable observational and theoretical basis only in more recent years. These achievements have led in turn to the emergence of new problems, on which an unusually active assault has begun.
This second volume of Relativistic Astrophysics provides a remarkably complete picture of the present state of cosmology. It is a synthesis of the theoretical foundations of contemporary cosmology, which are derived from work in relativity, plasma theory, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, and particle physics. It presents the theoretical work that explains, describes, and predicts the nature of the universe, the physical process that occur in it, the formation of galaxies, the synthesis of the light elements, and the cosmological singularity and the theory of gravitation.
This book, long and eagerly awaited, is essential for everyone whose work is related to cosmology and astrophysics.
Reporting the Universe
E. L. Doctorow Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3554.O3Z475 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
"The writer," according to Emerson, "believes all that can be thought can be written...In his eyes a man is the faculty of reporting, and the universe is the possibility of being reported." And what writer worth his name, E. L. Doctorow asks, will not seriously, however furtively, take on the universe? Human consciousness, personal history, American literature, religion, and politics--these are the far-flung coordinates of the universe that Doctorow reports here, a universe that uniquely and brilliantly reflects our contemporary scene.
Rich with philosophical asides, historical speculations, personal observations, and literary judgments, Reporting the Universe ranges from the circumstances of Doctorow's own boyhood and early work to the state of modern society. An account of the "Childhood of a Writer," along with pieces on Kenyon College and the author's first novel, comprise a pocket-sized memoir. In reflections on Emerson, on "texts that are sacred, texts that are not," and on literature and religion Doctorow concerns himself with the status and fate of literature. And in "Why We Are Infidels" and "The Politics of God" he engages some of the most pressing anxieties and ideologies of our day.
This series of reflections comes together as an artfully sustained meditation on American consciousness and experience, discrete episodes converging, as in the author's fiction, to form a luminous whole--a "report" by turns touching and funny, ironic and exalted, and, in its unique way, universally to the point.
Table of Contents:
Emerson Childhood of a Writer Kenyon Texts That Are Sacred, Texts That Are Not First Novel Deism The Little Bang Why We Are Infidels The Politics of God The Civil Religion Canto XXV Apprehending Reality Paradise Lost Literature as Religion
Reviews of this book: Whether he's contemplating the irony of our "God-soaked country" being officially secular, or his father's love of Edgar Allan Poe, "our greatest bad writer" (for whom he was named Edgar), or deriding the "mendacity" of politicians, Doctorow is here, as in his fiction, a wordsmith of the first order. It's a pleasure to read these essays--some autobiographical, some literary, some dealing with issues of the day--full of memorable phrases and evocative images, as well as incisive ideas. --Publishers Weekly
As Reporting the Universe (the phrase is Emerson's) unfolds with its piquant and enlightening blend of the personal, the aesthetic, and the political, Doctorow uses the axis between the secular and the religious to take measure of the transcendent powers of literature and key ethical issues in post-September 11 America. As he forthrightly contrasts the rigidity of fundamentalism with the fluidity of intellectual and artistic explorations, Doctorow, who always works on deep, even mythic levels, creating brilliant arguments out of breathtaking metaphors, perceives great danger in the current blurring of the line between church and state, and in the enormous influence of corporate interests on governmental policy. Ultimately, this potent collection of elegantly distilled essays offers a fresh perspective on our species' capacity for both the sublime and the horrific. --Donna Seaman, Booklist
Doctorow's essays...start as a personal memoir, and unfurl into a sharp look at the state of America, its soul and its literature, all perceptively portrayed via one another. On the way through this fascinating melange, Doctorow illuminates the business of writing and reading, the two central occupations of his own life, through which his America appears framed. --A. C. Grayling, Financial Times (UK)
Elegantly written and bracingly thoughtful. --Peter Terzian, Newsday
There hasn't been such a generous batch of essays in the decade since his own Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution. --John Leonard, New York Review of Books
Ask a random American what springs to mind about Sedona, Arizona, and they will almost certainly mention New Age spirituality. Nestled among stunning sandstone formations, Sedona has built an identity completely intertwined with that of the permanent residents and throngs of visitors who insist it is home to powerful vortexes—sites of spiraling energy where meditation, clairvoyance, and channeling are enhanced. It is in this uniquely American town that Susannah Crockford took up residence for two years to make sense of spirituality, religion, race, and class.
Many people move to Sedona because, they claim, they are called there by its special energy. But they are also often escaping job loss, family breakdown, or foreclosure. Spirituality, Crockford shows, offers a way for people to distance themselves from and critique current political and economic norms in America. Yet they still find themselves monetizing their spiritual practice as a way to both “raise their vibration” and meet their basic needs. Through an analysis of spirituality in Sedona, Crockford gives shape to the failures and frustrations of middle- and working-class people living in contemporary America, describing how spirituality infuses their everyday lives. Exploring millenarianism, conversion, nature, food, and conspiracy theories, Ripples of the Universe combines captivating vignettes with astute analysis to produce a unique take on the myriad ways class and spirituality are linked in contemporary America.
Discoveries in astronomy challenge our fundamental ideas about the universe. Where the astronomers of antiquity once spoke of fixed stars, we now speak of whirling galaxies and giant supernovae. Where we once thought Earth was the center of the universe, we now see it as a small planet among millions of other planetary systems, any number of which could also hold life. These dramatic shifts in our perspective hinge on thousands of individual discoveries: moments when it became clear to someone that some part of the universe—whether a planet or a supermassive black hole—was not as it once seemed.
Secrets of the Universe invites us to participate in these moments of revelation and wonder as scientists first experienced them. Renowned astronomer Paul Murdin here provides an ambitious and exciting overview of astronomy, conveying for newcomers and aficionados alike the most important discoveries of this science and introducing the many people who made them. Lavishly illustrated with more than 400 color images, the book outlines in seventy episodes what humankind has learned about the cosmos—and what scientists around the world are poised to learn in the coming decades. Arranged by types of discovery, it also provides an overarching narrative throughout that explains how the earliest ideas of the cosmos evolved into the cutting-edge astronomy we know today. Along the way, Murdin never forgets that science is a human endeavor, and that every discovery was the result of inspiration, hard work, or luck—usually all three.
The first section of Secrets explores discoveries made before the advent of the telescope, from stars and constellations to the position of our own sun. The second considers discoveries made within our own solar system, from the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter to the comets and asteroids at its distant frontier. The next section delves into discoveries of the dynamic universe, like gravitation, relativity, pulsars, and black holes. A fourth examines discoveries made within our own galaxy, from interstellar nebulae and supernovae to Cepheid variable stars and extrasolar planets. Next Murdin turns to discoveries made within the deepest recesses of the universe, like quasars, supermassive black holes, and gamma ray bursters. In the end, Murdin unveils where astronomy still teeters on the edge of discovery, considering dark matter and alien life.
The Size of the Universe
Joseph Cardinale University of Alabama Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS3603.A7353S59 2010 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
The landscape of this novel in stories—Joseph Cardinale’s first book-length work of fiction—is as familiar as childhood yet beguilingly surreal. The question of whether or not the child in the first fiction and the man in the last story are the same person—and whether any person is the same from one moment to the next—is perhaps the book’s main question.
In prose as spare as it is meticulous, The Size of the Universe conjures an elegant labyrinth of time, space, and memory, in which a wavering self, a self on the verge of becoming nothing, seeks a safe haven from the throes of near-religious ecstasy. It is a debut work that is inviting, perplexing, and bold.
If scientists can’t touch the Sun, how do they know what it’s made of? And if we can’t see black holes, how can we be confident they exist? Gravitational physicist David Garfinkle and his brother, science fiction writer Richard Garfinkle, tackle these questions and more in Three Steps to the Universe, a tour through some of the most complex phenomena in the cosmos and an accessible exploration of how scientists acquire knowledge about the universe through observation, indirect detection, and theory.
The authors begin by inviting readers to step away from the Earth and reconsider our Sun. What we can directly observe of this star is limited to its surface, but with the advent of telescopes and spectroscopy, scientists know more than ever about its physical characteristics, origins, and projected lifetime. From the Sun, the authors journey further out into space to explore black holes. The Garfinkle brothers explain that our understanding of these astronomical oddities began in theory, and growing mathematical and physical evidence has unexpectedly supported it. From black holes, the authors lead us further into the unknown, to the dark matter and energy that pervade our universe, where science teeters on the edge of theory and discovery. Returning from the depths of space, the final section of the book brings the reader back down to Earth for a final look at the practice of science, ending with a practical guide to discerning real science from pseudoscience among the cacophony of print and online scientific sources.
Three Steps to the Universe will reward anyone interested in learning more about the universe around us and shows how scientists uncover its mysteries.
The Universe and I: Where Science & Spirituality Meet offers scholar and theologian George F. Dole’s thought-provoking insights on the dynamic nature of the ongoing science and religion debate. Why are we here? Where are we headed? Dole argues that to understand these questions, we need not only the grounding of science but also the insights of spirit.
As experts continue to work out the relationship between cosmology and human evolution, Dole, who has spent a lifetime making sense of the spiritual world, joins the conversation with a clarity that only he can provide. Shaped primarily as a response to the scientific community, he engages with a wide spectrum of thinkers, including Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and eighteenth-century polymath Emanuel Swedenborg, just to name a few.
Accessing a wealth of knowledge from across a wide variety of disciplines—philosophy, religion, biology, physics, and more—Dole presents his own model for our physical and spiritual existence. Starting with what we don’t know and what we can observe about the fundamentals of existence, Dole explores “the creative tension between differentiation and integration”—the drive to be individual and yet be united to a greater whole, a tension whose persistent progress since the Big Bang has brought about such gifts as the emergence of life and consciousness.
Dole not only presents us with the empirical evidence of science but also provides us with a first-person understanding of the spiritual dimension and how it might inform the way we consider those grand speculations on the meaning of the universe and of life. Reflecting on how life began leads to questions of how we will continue to advance humanity and goodwill for all—both as a species and as individuals striving for personal growth.
Asking the question “How can I, infinitesimal I, have the gall to regard myself as significant in the context of the universe?”, Dole embarks on a journey that spans the life of the universe itself, making every effort along the way to answer this question—for all of us.
We know the universe has a history, but does it also have a story of self-creation to tell? Yes, in Roy R. Gould’s account. Heoffers a compelling narrative of how the universe—with no instruction other than its own laws—evolved into billions of galaxies and gave rise to life, including humans who have been trying for millennia to comprehend it. Far from being a random accident, the universe is hard at work, extracting order from chaos.
Making use of the best current science, Gould turns what many assume to be true about the universe on its head. The cosmos expands inward, not outward. Gravity can drive things apart, not merely together. And the universe seems to defy entropy as it becomes more ordered, rather than the other way around. Strangest of all, the universe is exquisitely hospitable to life, despite its being constructed from undistinguished atoms and a few unexceptional rules of behavior. Universe in Creation explores whether the emergence of life, rather than being a mere cosmic afterthought, may be written into the most basic laws of nature.
Offering a fresh take on what brought the world—and us—into being, Gould helps us see the universe as the master of its own creation, not tethered to a singular event but burgeoning as new space and energy continuously stream into existence. It is a very old story, as yet unfinished, with plotlines that twist and churn through infinite space and time.
Our current understanding of our world is nearly 350 years old. It stems from the ideas of Descartes and Newton and has brought us many great things, including modern science and increases in wealth, health and everyday living standards. Furthermore, it is so ingrained in our daily lives that we have forgotten it is a paradigm, not a fact. There are, however, some problems with it. First, there is no satisfactory explanation for why we have consciousness and experience meaning in our lives. Second, modern-day physics tells us that observations depend on characteristics of the observer at the large, cosmic, and small, subatomic scales. Third, ongoing humanitarian and environmental crises show us that our world is vastly interconnected. Our understanding of reality is expanding to incorporate these issues. In The Universe, Life and Everything . . . Dialogues on our Changing Understanding of Reality, some of the scholars at the forefront of this change, from the fields of physics, psychology, and social sciences, discuss the direction it is taking and its urgency.
From the rediscovery of Alfred North Whitehead’s work to the rise of new materialist thought, including object-oriented ontology, there has been a rapid turn toward speculation in philosophy as a way of moving beyond solely human perceptions of nature and existence. Now Steven Shaviro maps this quickly emerging speculative realism, which is already dramatically influencing how we interpret reality and our place in a universe in which humans are not the measure of all things.
The Universe of Things explores the common insistence of speculative realism on a noncorrelationist thought: that things or objects exist apart from how our own human minds relate to and comprehend them. Shaviro focuses on how Whitehead both anticipates and offers challenges to prevailing speculative realist thought, moving between Whitehead’s own panpsychism, Harman’s object-oriented ontology, and the reductionist eliminativism of Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier.
The stakes of this recent speculative realist thought—of the effort to develop new ways of grasping the world—are enormous as it becomes clear that our inherited assumptions are no longer adequate to describe, much less understand, the reality we experience around us. As Shaviro acknowledges, speculative realist thought has its dangers, but it also, like the best speculative fiction, holds the potential to liberate us from confining views of what is outside ourselves and, he believes, to reclaim aesthetics and beauty as a principle of life itself.
Bringing together a wide array of contemporary thought, and evenhandedly assessing its current debates, The Universe of Things is an invaluable guide to the evolution of speculative realism and the provocation of Alfred North Whitehead’s pathbreaking work.
Fritz Zwicky was one of the most inventive and iconoclastic scientists of the twentieth century. Among other accomplishments, he was the first to infer the existence of dark matter. He also clashed with better-known peers and became a pariah in the scientific community. John Johnson, Jr.,’s biography brings this tempestuous maverick alive.