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General Interest

Fashioning Apollo

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface in July of 1969, they wore spacesuits made by Playtex: twenty-one layers of fabric, each with a distinct yet interrelated function, custom-sewn for them by seamstresses whose usual work was fashioning bras and girdles. This book is the story of those spacesuits. It is a story of the triumph over the military-industrial complex by the International Latex Corporation, best known by its consumer brand of "Playtex"—a victory of elegant softness over engineered hardness, of adaptation over cybernetics.

Reinventing the Human in the Molecular Age

The molecular life sciences are making visible what was once invisible. Yet the more we learn about our own biology, the less we are able to fit this knowledge into an integrated whole. Life is divided into new sub-units and reassembled into new forms: from genes to clones, from embryonic stages to the building-blocks of synthetic biology.

Science, Scientists, and Cinema

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, is perhaps the most scientifically accurate film ever produced. The film presented such a plausible, realistic vision of space flight that many moon hoax proponents believe that Kubrick staged the 1969 moon landing using the same studios and techniques. Kubrick’s scientific verisimilitude in 2001 came courtesy of his science consultants—including two former NASA scientists–and the more than sixty-five companies, research organizations, and government agencies that offered technical advice.

Creating New Kinds of Collaboration

Cross-disciplinary collaboration increasingly characterizes today's science and engineering research. The problems and opportunities facing society do not come neatly sorted by discipline. Difficulties arise when researchers from disciplines as different as engineering and the humanities work together and find that they speak largely different languages. This book explores a new framework for fostering collaborations among existing disciplines and expertise communities.

Biometric Technology and Society

The use of biometric technology for identification has gone from Orwellian fantasy to everyday reality. This technology, which verifies or recognizes a person's identity based on physiological, anatomical, or behavioral patterns (including fingerprints, retina, handwriting, and keystrokes) has been deployed for such purposes as combating welfare fraud, screening airplane passengers, and identifying terrorists. The accompanying controversy has pitted those who praise the technology's accuracy and efficiency against advocates for privacy and civil liberties.

News stories report almost daily that scientists have linked a certain gene to a disease like Alzheimer’s or macular degeneration, or to a condition like depression or autism, or to a trait like aggressiveness or anxiety. Accompanying this remarkable progress in unraveling the genetic basis of disease and behavior are new technologies that are rapidly reducing the cost of reading someone’s personal DNA (all six billion letters of it). Within the next ten years, hospitals may present parents with their newborn’s complete DNA code along with her footprints and APGAR score.

Visualizing What We Know

Cartographic maps have guided our explorations for centuries, allowing us to navigate the world. Science maps have the potential to guide our search for knowledge in the same way, helping us navigate, understand, and communicate the dynamic and changing structure of science and technology. Allowing us to visualize scientific results, science maps help us make sense of the avalanche of data generated by scientific research today.

Zhores Alferov's Life in Communist Science

In 2000, Russian scientist Zhores Alferov shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery of the heterojunction, a semiconductor device the practical applications of which include LEDs, rapid transistors, and the microchip. The Prize was the culmination of a career in Soviet science that spanned the eras of Stalin, Khrushchev, and Gorbachev—and continues today in the postcommunist Russia of Putin and Medvedev.

A Patient-Centered Approach to Diabetes

The healthcare industry has been slow to join the information technology revolution; handwritten records are still the primary means of organizing patient care. Concerns about patient privacy, the difficulty of developing appropriate computing tools and information technology, high costs, and the resistance of some physicians and nurses have hampered the use of technology in health care. In 2009, the U.S. government committed billions of dollars to health care technology. Many questions remain, however, about how to deploy these resources.

Color for the Sciences is the first book on colorimetry to offer an account that emphasizes conceptual and formal issues rather than applications. Jan Koenderink's introductory text treats colorimetry—literally, "color measurement"—as a science, freeing the topic from the usual fixation on conventional praxis and how to get the "right" result. Readers of Color for the Sciences will learn to rethink concepts from the roots in order to reach a broader, conceptual understanding.