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Science, Technology, and Society

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Discourses on Modernity, 1900-1939

Starting around 1900, technology became a lively subject for debate among intellectuals, writers, and other opinion leaders. The expansion of the machine into ever more areas of social and economic life had led to a need to interpret its meanings in a more comprehensive way than in the past. World War I and its aftermath shifted the terms of this ongoing debate by underlining both the potential dangers of technology and its centrality to modern life.

This book examines the broad range of social and intellectual responses to technology in the first four decades of this century, and suggests that these responses set the terms that continue to govern contemporary debates. Focusing on the broader contexts within which intellectual positions are formed, the book highlights the ways in which attitudes toward technology were shaped in a wide variety of national and organizational settings. A common theme is that, in debating technology, people drew on their distinctive national symbols and cultural traditions. By emphasizing the interplay between debates on technology and the making of modernity, the book challenges standard historical accounts of the early twentieth century.

Contributors:
Ketil G. Andersen, Aant Elzinga, Tor Halvorsen, Mikael Hård, Kjetil Jakobsen, Andrew Jamison, Catharina Landström, Conny Mithander, Sissel Myklebust, Dick van Lente, Peter Wagner.

The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace

Stories define how we think, play, and understand our lives. In this comprehensive and readable bookalready a classic statement of the aesthetics of digital media, acclaimed by practitioners and theorists alikeJanet Murray shows how the computer is reshaping the stories we live by. Murray discusses the unique properties and pleasures of digital environments and connects them with the traditional satisfactions of narrative. She analyzes the dramatic satisfaction of participatory stories and considers what would be necessary to move interactive fiction from the formats of childish games and confusing labyrinths into a mature and compelling art form. Through a blend of imagination and techno-wizardry, Murray provides both readers and writers with a guide to the storytelling of the future.

Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, and Adaptation

"Simulation," writes Gary Flake in his preface, "becomes a form of experimentation in a universe of theories. The primary purpose of this book is to celebrate this fact."In this book, Gary William Flake develops in depth the simple idea that recurrent rules can produce rich and complicated behaviors. Distinguishing "agents" (e.g., molecules, cells, animals, and species) from their interactions (e.g., chemical reactions, immune system responses, sexual reproduction, and evolution), Flake argues that it is the computational properties of interactions that account for much of what we think of as "beautiful" and "interesting." From this basic thesis, Flake explores what he considers to be today's four most interesting computational topics: fractals, chaos, complex systems, and adaptation.

Each of the book's parts can be read independently, enabling even the casual reader to understand and work with the basic equations and programs. Yet the parts are bound together by the theme of the computer as a laboratory and a metaphor for understanding the universe. The inspired reader will experiment further with the ideas presented to create fractal landscapes, chaotic systems, artificial life forms, genetic algorithms, and artificial neural networks.

A Social History of American Energies

How did the United States become the world's largest consumer of energy? David Nye shows that this is less a question about the development of technology than it is a question about the development of culture. In Consuming Power Nye uses energy as a touchstone to examine the lives of ordinary people engaged in normal activities. He looks at how these activities changed as new energy systems were constructed, from colonial times to recent years. He also shows how, as Americans incorporated new machines and processes into their lives, they became ensnared in power systems that were not easily changed: they made choices about the conduct of their lives, and those choices accumulated to produce a consuming culture. Nye examines a sequence of large systems that acquired and then lost technological momentum over the course of American history, including water power, steam power, electricity, the internal-combustion engine, atomic power, and computerization. He shows how each system became part of a larger set of social constructions through its links to the home, the factory, and the city. The result is a social history of America as seen through the lens of energy consumption.

Media and Politics in Virtual America

"In the pages that follow, we trace the emergence of a place that looks like a real democracy, and a real country, but is in fact a construct, like reality but not real. It is Virtual America."

The new technologies of the 1990s, Ed Diamond and Robert Silverman argue, have helped create a blowhard culture, a talk-show politics driven by instant news analysis, over-reliance on public-opinion polls and focus groups, the power of Know-Nothing call-in shows, and the unchecked gossip of online computer networks.

White House to Your House is a fast-paced account of contemporary media coverage of national politics during a time when the top two books on the best-seller list were by Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Included are lively analyses of what's behind the image makers' takeover of the old Washington policy-making machinery, how Bill Clinton prevailed in 1992 only to lose both his good press and his job approval ratings less than two years later, what the rise of right-wing populism from Ross Perot to Newt Gingrich signifies, how the press struggled to identify Hilary Rodham Clinton, why health care reform was defeated on the front pages of America's newspapers without coming to a vote in the Congress, who makes up the audiences for talk radio and why they're angry, and the effects of proliferating television channels on political coverage.

A new epilogue carries the narrative through the 1996 presidential campaign, and the development of on-line Web sites by the candidates, special-interest groups, and news media. The epilogue also assesses the future of both Internet politics and digital journalism.


Charles Stevens, a prominent neurobiologist who originally trained as a biophysicist (with George Uhlenbeck and Mark Kac), wrote this book almost by accident. Each summer he found himself reviewing key areas of physics that he had once known and understood well, for use in his present biological research. Since there was no book, he created his own set of notes, which formed the basis for this brief, clear, and self-contained summary of the basic theoretical structures of classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics, statistical physics, special relativity, and quantum field theory.

The Six Core Theories of Modern Physics can be used by advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students as a supplement to the standard texts or for an uncluttered, succinct review of the key areas. Professionals in such quantitative sciences as chemistry, engineering, computer science, applied mathematics, and biophysics who need to brush up on the essentials of a particular area will find most of the required background material, including the mathematics.


Cellular Biophysics is a quantitatively oriented basic physiology text for senior undergraduate and graduate students in bioengineering, biophysics, physiology, and neuroscience programs. It will also serve as a major reference work for biophysicists.

Developed from the author's notes for a course that he has taught at MIT for many years, these books provide a clear and logical explanation of the foundations of cell biophysics, teaching transport and the electrical properties of cells from a combined biological, physical, and engineering viewpoint.

Each volume contains introductory chapters that motivate the material and present it in a broad historical context. Important experimental results and methods are described. Theories are derived almost always from first principles so that students develop an understanding of not only the predictions of the theory but also its limitations. Theoretical results are compared carefully with experimental findings and new results appear throughout. There are many time-tested exercises and problems as well as extensive lists of references.

The volume on transport is unique in that no other text on this important topic develops it clearly and systematically at the student level. It explains all the principal mechanisms by which matter is transported across cellular membranes and describes the homeostatic mechanisms that allow cells to maintain their concentrations of solutes, their volume, and the potential across the membrane. Chapters are organized by individual transport mechanisms—diffusion, osmosis, coupled solute and solvent transport, carrier-mediated transport, and ion transport (both passive and active). A final chapter discusses the interplay of all these mechanisms in cellular homeostasis.

The volume on the electrical properties of cells covers both electrically inexcitable cells as well as electrically excitable cells such as neurons and muscle cells. Included are chapters on lumped-parameter and distributed-parameter models of cells, linear electric properties of cells, the Hodgkin-Huxley model of the giant axon of the squid, saltatory conduction in myelinated nerve fibers, and voltage-gated ion channels.

Downloadable instructor resources available for this title: solution manual

Transport

Cellular Biophysics is a quantitatively oriented basic physiology text for senior undergraduate and graduate students in bioengineering, biophysics, physiology, and neuroscience programs. It will also serve as a major reference work for biophysicists.

Developed from the author's notes for a course that he has taught at MIT for many years, these books provide a clear and logical explanation of the foundations of cell biophysics, teaching transport and the electrical properties of cells from a combined biological, physical, and engineering viewpoint.

Each volume contains introductory chapters that motivate the material and present it in a broad historical context. Important experimental results and methods are described. Theories are derived almost always from first principles so that students develop an understanding of not only the predictions of the theory but also its limitations. Theoretical results are compared carefully with experimental findings and new results appear throughout. There are many time-tested exercises and problems as well as extensive lists of references.

The volume on transport is unique in that no other text on this important topic develops it clearly and systematically at the student level. It explains all the principal mechanisms by which matter is transported across cellular membranes and describes the homeostatic mechanisms that allow cells to maintain their concentrations of solutes, their volume, and the potential across the membrane. Chapters are organized by individual transport mechanisms—diffusion, osmosis, coupled solute and solvent transport, carrier-mediated transport, and ion transport (both passive and active). A final chapter discusses the interplay of all these mechanisms in cellular homeostasis.

Downloadable instructor resources available for this title: solution manual


Technology has long played a central role in the formation of Americans' sense of selfhood. From the first canal systems through the moon landing, Americans have, for better or worse, derived unity from the common feeling of awe inspired by large-scale applications of technological prowess. American Technological Sublime continues the exploration of the social construction of technology that David Nye began in his award-winning book Electrifying America. Here Nye examines the continuing appeal of the "technological sublime" (a term coined by Perry Miller) as a key to the nation's history, using as examples the natural sites, architectural forms, and technological achievements that ordinary people have valued intensely.

American Technological Sublime is a study of the politics of perception in industrial society. Arranged chronologically, it suggests that the sublime itself has a history - that sublime experiences are emotional configurations that emerge from new social and technological conditions, and that each new configuration to some extent undermines and displaces the older versions. After giving a short history of the sublime as an aesthetic category, Nye describes the reemergence and democratization of the concept in the early nineteenth century as an expression of the American sense of specialness.

What has filled the American public with wonder, awe, even terror? David Nye selects the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Erie Canal, the first transcontinental railroad, Eads Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the major international expositions, the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, the Empire State Building, and Boulder Dam. He then looks at the atom bomb tests and the Apollo mission as examples of the increasing ambivalence of the technological sublime in the postwar world. The festivities surrounding the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 become a touchstone reflecting the transformation of the American experience of the sublime over two centuries. Nye concludes with a vision of the modern-day "consumer sublime" as manifested in the fantasy world of Las Vegas.


The Extensions of Man

with a new introduction by Lewis H. Lapham This reissue of Understanding Media marks the thirtieth anniversary (1964-1994) of Marshall McLuhan's classic expose on the state of the then emerging phenomenon of mass media. Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan's work in the last few years, fueled by the recent and continuing conjunctions between the cable companies and the regional phone companies, the appearance of magazines such as WiRed, and the development of new media models and information ecologies, many of which were spawned from MIT's Media Lab. In effect, media now begs to be redefined. In a new introduction to this edition of Understanding Media, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham reevaluates McLuhan's work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.

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