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What makes computer programs fast or slow? To answer this question, we have to go behind the abstractions of programing languages and look at how a computer really works. This book examines and explains a variety of scientific programming models (programming models relevant to scientists) with an emphasis on how programming constructs map to different parts of the computer’s architecture. Two themes emerge: program speed and program modularity. Most books on computer programming are written at the same level of abstraction as the programming language they utilize or explain.

How Occupied Landscapes Shape Scientific Knowledge

Maps are widely believed to be objective, and data-rich computer-made maps are iconic examples of digital knowledge. It is often claimed that digital maps, and rational boundaries, can solve political conflict. But in Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine, Jess Bier challenges the view that digital maps are universal and value-free. She examines the ways that maps are made in Palestine and Israel to show how social and political landscapes shape the practice of science and technology.

A Literary Biography

Acker’s life was a fable; and to describe the confusion and love and conflicting agendas behind these memorials would be to sketch an apocryphal allegory of an artistic life in the late twentieth century. It is girls from which stories begin, she wrote in her last notebook. And like other lives, but unlike most fables, it was created through means both within and beyond her control.
—from After Kathy Acker

Written in the early years of the twenty-first century, when the author was engaged in dream-explorations and mystical practices centered on the Greek Moon goddess Selene, Somnium is an intensely personal fictional tapestry that weaves together numerous historical and stylistic variations on the enduring myth of Selene and Endymion. Ranging through the sixteenth to twenty-first centuries, it combines medieval, Elizabethan, Gothic, and Decadent elements in a fantastic romance of rare imagination.

A Ge-Ography Primer

In an age of ecological turbulence, our understanding of the hills, rivers and fields we live among is more critical than ever. But what might the academic study of geography fail to teach us, and what relationships to the land might be revealed by reinvestigating the neglected knowledge practices of myth, history and legend?

Electricity in American Life and Letters, 1882–1952

At the turn of the twentieth century, electricity emerged as a metaphor for modernity. Writers from Mark Twain to Ralph Ellison grappled with the idea of electricity as both life force (illumination) and death spark (electrocution). The idea that electrification created exclusively modern experiences took hold of Americans’ imaginations, whether they welcomed or feared its adoption.

Scientists were unable to study the relation of brain to mind until the invention of technologies that measured the brain activity accompanying psychological processes. Yet even with these new tools, conclusions are tentative or simply wrong.

The Pleasures and Perils of Cross-Cultural Communication

We can learn to speak other languages, but do we truly understand what we are saying? How much detail should we offer when someone asks how we are? How close should we stand to our conversational partners? Is an invitation genuine or just pro forma? So much of communication depends on culture and context. In Getting Through, Roger Kreuz and Richard Roberts offer a guide to understanding and being understood in different cultures.

The foreign currency denomination of contracts in international transactions can lead to international currency exposure at the country level with important economic and policy implications. When debts are denominated in foreign currency and revenues in domestic currency, exchange rate fluctuations can result in balance sheet effects for countries with either net asset or liability positions. Moreover, currency mismatch between assets and liabilities can be a cause for crises in developing and emerging economies.

Can Information Save the Earth?

Forthcoming from the MIT Press.

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