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History of Science

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Embryology and the Epistemology of Rhythm, 1760–1830

In The Form of Becoming Janina Wellmann offers an innovative understanding of the emergence around 1800 of the science of embryology and a new notion of development, one based on the epistemology of rhythm. She argues that between 1760 and 1830, the concept of rhythm became crucial to many fields of knowledge, including the study of life and living processes.

The History of an Idea

Models abound in science, technology, and society (STS) studies and in science, technology, and innovation (STI) studies. They are continually being invented, with one author developing many versions of the same model over time. At the same time, models are regularly criticized. Such is the case with the most influential model in STS-STI: the linear model of innovation.

Patents, HIV/AIDS, and Race

In The Genealogy of a Gene, Myles Jackson uses the story of the CCR5 gene to investigate the interrelationships among science, technology, and society. Mapping the varied “genealogy” of CCR5—intellectual property, natural selection, Big and Small Pharma, human diversity studies, personalized medicine, ancestry studies, and race and genomics—Jackson links a myriad of diverse topics.

This collection of readings shows how cognitive science can influence most of the primary branches of philosophy, as well as how philosophy critically examines the foundations of cognitive science. Its broad coverage extends beyond current texts that focus mainly on the impact of cognitive science on philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology, to include materials that are relevant to five other branches of philosophy: epistemology, philosophy of science (and mathematics), metaphysics, language, and ethics.

Microelectronics and American Science

Since the mid 1960s, American science has undergone significant changes in the way it is organized, funded, and practiced. These changes include the decline of basic research by corporations; a new orientation toward the short-term and the commercial, with pressure on universities and government labs to participate in the market; and the promotion of interdisciplinarity. In this book, Cyrus Mody argues that the changes in American science that began in the 1960s co-evolved with and were shaped by the needs of the “civilianized” US semiconductor industry.

Transforming Science and Sound

At the end of the nineteenth century, acoustics was a science of musical sounds; the musically trained ear was the ultimate reference. Just a few decades into the twentieth century, acoustics had undergone a transformation from a scientific field based on the understanding of classical music to one guided by electrical engineering, with industrial and military applications. In this book, Roland Wittje traces this transition, from the late nineteenth-century work of Hermann Helmholtz to the militarized research of World War I and media technology in the 1930s.

Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science

Warren S. McCulloch (1898–1969) adopted many identities in his scientific life—among them philosopher, poet, neurologist, neurophysiologist, neuropsychiatrist, collaborator, theorist, cybernetician, mentor, engineer. He was, writes Tara Abraham in this account of McCulloch’s life and work, “an intellectual showman,” and performed this part throughout his career. While McCulloch claimed a common thread in his work was the problem of mind and its relationship to the brain, there was much more to him than that.

The Shaping of Modern Knowledge

A system can describe what we see (the solar system), operate a computer (Windows 10), or be made on a page (the fourteen engineered lines of a sonnet). In this book, Clifford Siskin shows that system is best understood as a genre—a form that works physically in the world to mediate our efforts to understand it. Indeed, many Enlightenment authors published works they called “system” to compete with the essay and the treatise.

Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism

In the fascist regimes of Mussolini’s Italy, Salazar’s Portugal, and Hitler’s Germany, the first mass mobilizations involved wheat engineered to take advantage of chemical fertilizers, potatoes resistant to late blight, and pigs that thrived on national produce. Food independence was an early goal of fascism; indeed, as Tiago Saraiva writes in Fascist Pigs, fascists were obsessed with projects to feed the national body from the national soil.

People have had trouble adapting to new technology ever since (perhaps) the inventor of the wheel had to explain that a wheelbarrow could carry more than a person. This little book by a celebrated MIT professor—the fiftieth anniversary edition of a classic—describes how we learn to live and work with innovation. Elting Morison considers, among other things, the three stages of users’ resistance to change: ignoring it; rational rebuttal; and name-calling.

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