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Science

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Experimental, Quantitative, and Theoretical Biology at Vienna's Biologische Versuchsanstalt
Edited by Gerd B. Müller

The Biologische Versuchsanstalt was founded in Vienna in 1902 with the explicit goal to foster the quantification, mathematization, and theory formation of the biological sciences. Three biologists from affluent Viennese Jewish families—Hans Przibram, Wilhelm Figdor, and Leopold von Portheim–founded, financed, and nurtured the institute, overseeing its development into one of the most advanced biological research institutes of the time. And yet today its accomplishments are nearly forgotten.

The dream of a universal translation device goes back many decades, long before Douglas Adams’s fictional Babel fish provided this service in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Since the advent of computers, research has focused on the design of digital machine translation tools—computer programs capable of automatically translating a text from a source language to a target language. This has become one of the most fundamental tasks of artificial intelligence.

The Future of the Car and Urban Mobility

The twentieth century was the century of the automobile; the twenty-first will see mobility dramatically re-envisioned. Automobiles altered cityscapes, boosted economies, and made personal mobility efficient and convenient for many. We had a century-long love affair with the car. But today, people are more attached to their smartphones than their cars. Cars are not always the quickest mode of travel in cities; and emissions from the rapidly growing number of cars threaten the planet.

Mathematical Patterns and Principles from the Natural World

From a zebra’s stripes to a spider’s web, from sand dunes to snowflakes, nature is full of patterns underlaid by mathematical principles. In The Beauty of Numbers in Nature, Ian Stewart shows how life forms from the principles of mathematics. Each chapter in The Beauty of Numbers in Nature explores a different kind of patterning system and its mathematical underpinnings. In doing do, the book also uncovers some universal patterns—both in nature and made by humans—from the basic geometry of ancient Greece to the complexities of fractals.

Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead

“Smart, wide-ranging, [and] nontechnical.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Anyone who wants to understand what's coming must read this fascinating book.”
—Martin Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Robots

Brian Hayes wants to convince us that mathematics is too important and too much fun to be left to the mathematicians. Foolproof, and Other Mathematical Meditations is his entertaining and accessible exploration of mathematical terrain both far-flung and nearby, bringing readers tidings of mathematical topics from Markov chains to Sudoku. Hayes, a non-mathematician, argues that mathematics is not only an essential tool for understanding the world but also a world unto itself, filled with objects and patterns that transcend earthly reality.

A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Over the past decade, an explosion of empirical research in a variety of fields has allowed us to understand human moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms shaped through evolution, development, and culture. Evolutionary biologists have shown that moral cognition evolved to aid cooperation; developmental psychologists have demonstrated that the elements that underpin morality are in place much earlier than we thought; and social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in moral decision making.

How the Brain Created Experience

How is consciousness created? When did it first appear on Earth, and how did it evolve? What constitutes consciousness, and which animals can be said to be sentient? In this book, Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt draw on recent scientific findings to answer these questions—and to tackle the most fundamental question about the nature of consciousness: how does the material brain create subjective experience?

Technology’s Attack on Referees and Umpires and How to Fix It

Good call or bad call, referees and umpires have always had the final say in sports. Bad calls are more visible: plays are televised backward and forward and in slow motion. New technologies—the Hawk-Eye system used in tennis and cricket, for example, and the goal-line technology used in English football—introduced to correct bad calls sometimes get it right and sometimes get it wrong, but always undermine the authority of referees and umpires. Bad Call looks at the technologies used to make refereeing decisions in sports, analyzes them in action, and explains the consequences.

The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology

In this book, Edward Ashford Lee makes a bold claim: that the creators of digital technology have an unsurpassed medium for creativity. Technology has advanced to the point where progress seems limited not by physical constraints but the human imagination. Writing for both literate technologists and numerate humanists, Lee makes a case for engineering—creating technology—as a deeply intellectual and fundamentally creative process.

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