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History of Science

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Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics

The Nature of Difference documents how distinctions between people have been generated in and by the life sciences. Through a wide-ranging selection of primary documents and insightful commentaries by the editors, it charts the shifting boundaries of science and race through more than two centuries of American history. The documents, primarily writings by authoritative, eminent scientists intended for their professional peers, show how various sciences of race have changed their object of study over time: from racial groups to types to populations to genomes and beyond. The book's thematic and synthetic approach reveals the profoundly diverse array of practices—countless acts of observation, quantification, and experimentation—that enabled the consequential categorizations we inherit.

The documents—most reproduced in their entirety—range from definitions of race in dictionaries published between 1886 and 2005 to an exchange of letters between Benjamin Baneker and Thomas Jefferson; from Samuel Cartwright's 1851 "Report on the Diseases and Physical Peculiarities of the Negro Race" to a 1950 UNESCO declaration that race is a social myth; from a 1928 paper detailing the importance of the glands in shaping human nature to a 2005 report of the discovery of a genetic basis for skin color. Such documents, given context by the editors' introductions to each thematic chapter, provide scholars, journalists, and general readers with the rich historical background necessary for understanding contemporary developments in racial science.

Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives

The last decade saw the arrival of a new player in the creation/evolution debate—the intelligent design creationism (IDC) movement, whose strategy is to act as "the wedge" to overturn Darwinism and scientific naturalism. This anthology of writings by prominent creationists and their critics focuses on what is novel about the new movement. It serves as a companion to Robert Pennock's Tower of Babel, in which he criticizes the wedge movement, as well as other new varieties of creationism.

The book contains articles previously published in specialized, hard-to-find journals, as well as new contributions. Each section contains introductory background information, articles by influential creationists and their critics, and in some cases responses by the creationists. The discussions cover IDC as a political movement, IDC's philosophical attack on evolution, the theological debate over the apparent conflict between evolution and the Bible, IDC's scientific claims, and philosopher Alvin Plantinga's critique of naturalism and evolution. The book concludes with Pennock's "Why Creationism Should Not Be Taught in the Public Schools."

For more than thirty years, interdisciplinary history has included the study of all aspects of the family, including births, marriages, and household composition. This collection looks at the many dimensions of the study of populations and population movements. It ranges across continents and time, showing how the reconstruction of the past is incomplete without attention to questions of fertility and seasonality, as well as to the impact of demographic variables on social, political, and economic history.

Contributors:
Francis Brooks, Edward Byers, Michael Craton, David Cressy, Robert Eng, Michael Haines, Barbara Hanawalt, Daniel Kaiser, W. R. Lee, Daniel Quinlan, Anita Rutman, Darrett Rutman, Jean Shackelford, Thomas Smith, Maris Vinovskis, Charles Wetherell, Rudolph Zambardino.

Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration and conflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users. The story starts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanks and realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looks at how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how the usual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interesting and unique results; and how later users invented their own very successful applications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes that such applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development that has characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet's success has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical design and in organizational culture.

The Evidence against the New Creationism

In Tower of Babel, philosopher Robert Pennock compares the views of the new creationists with those of the old and reveals the insubstantiality of their arguments. One of Pennock's major innovations is to turn from biological evolution to the less-charged subject of linguistic evolution, which has strong theoretical parallels with biological evolution both in content and in the sort of evidence scientists use to draw conclusions about origins.

Several chapters deal with the work of Phillip Johnson, a highly influential leader of the new creationists. Pennock explains how science uses naturalism and discusses the relationship between factual and moral issues in the creationism-evolution controversy. The book also includes a discussion of Darwin's own shift from creationist to evolutionist and an extended argument for keeping private religious beliefs separate from public scientific knowledge.

Classic Readings with a Contemporary Commentary
Edited by Nick Huggett

Learning through original texts can be a powerful heuristic tool. This book collects a dozen classic readings that are generally accepted as the most significant contributions to the philosophy of space. The readings have been selected both on the basis of their relevance to recent debates on the nature of space and on the extent to which they carry premonitions of contemporary physics. In his detailed commentaries, Nick Huggett weaves together the readings and links them to our modern understanding of the subject. Together the readings indicate the general historical development of the concept of space, and in his commentaries Huggett explains their logical relations. He also uses our contemporary understanding of space to help clarify the key ideas of the texts. One goal is to prepare the reader (both scientist and nonscientist) to learn and understand relativity theory, the basis of our current understanding of space. The readings are by Zeno, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Clarke, Berkeley, Kant, Mach, Poincaré, and Einstein.

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.

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.


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.


In this richly detailed analysis, Barbara Von Eckardt lays the foundations for understanding what it means to be a cognitive scientist. She characterizes the basic assumptions that define the cognitive science approach and systematically sorts out a host of recent and the controversies surrounding them.

Von Eckardt takes issue with those who argue that there is no agreed-upon research paradigm and agreed-upon set of assumptions or methods in cognitive science, and with those who believe that the field should not be so committed. She argues that there is indeed a framework of shared commitments that includes basic questions guiding research, substantive assumptions constraining how those questions are to be answered, and methodological assumptions about how to find those answers.

A Bradford Book

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