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  • The Formative Years of Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures
    Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn

    Book , ,

    An insightful tome recounts the heady early days of general relativity

    On the centenary of general relativity, physicist Hanoch Gutfreund and historian Jürgen Renn published The Road to Relativity, a facsimile of Albert Einstein’s 1915–1916 German manuscript with an English translation and page-by-page commentary placing this seminal work in its historical and scientific context. Their new book, The Formative Years of Relativity, discusses in detail—yet delibe… Read More
  • The Less You Know the Sounder You Sleep
    Juliet Butler

    Book ,

    A fictionalized story of two real sisters sheds light on the darker side of human research

    In 1959, Tatiana Alexeyeva, a Soviet physiologist, declared conjoined twins to be “objects of great scientific interest. A most remarkable human experiment created by nature.” The twins she would go on to describe were Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova, born in Moscow in January 1950. Alexeyeva’s colleagues had assumed care of the girls shortly after their… Read More
  • Inside the Lost Museum: Curating, Past and Present
    Steven Lubar

    Book ,

    A behind-the-scenes museum tour offers insight into the once and future roles of these iconic institutions

    Inside the Lost Museum, by Steven Lubar, gives readers a privileged peek into the storerooms, boardrooms, and curatorial offices of many storied institutions. In doing so, the book offers a scholarly snapshot of the role that museums have played throughout history, as well as the challenges they face today. Although students and interested laymen will… Read More
  • Life Through Time and Space
    Wallace Arthur

    Book ,

    A developmental biologist ponders life on Earth and beyond

    On 21 August, North America will experience its first total solar eclipse in decades. Precise maps and times for the event are readily available, detailed down to the second and meter. The nationwide anticipation of this phenomenon is testament to our precise understanding of the necessary celestial mechanics to so perfectly predict this event. More… Read More
  • Book ,

    A pair of books explores American earthquakes, past and future

    On 27 March 1964, a magnitude (M) 9.2 earthquake—the second strongest in recorded history—occurred near Prince William Sound in southern Alaska. The event produced a tsunami, induced numerous landslides, and liquefied soils. The loss of life was relatively small—143 fatalities—but, as Henry Fountain reveals in The Great Quake, the disaster’s impact still looms large. The… Read More
  • Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
    Max Tegmark

    Book ,

    A physicist explores the future of artificial intelligence

    Whether it’s reports of a new and wondrous technological accomplishment or of the danger we face in a future filled with unbridled machines, artificial intelligence (AI) has recently been receiving a great deal of attention. If you want to understand what the fuss is all about, Max Tegmark’s original, accessible, and provocative Life 3.0: Being… Read More
  • Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States
    James C. Scott

    Book

    Hunters and foragers thrived while early agrarian societies struggled, argues an anthropologist

    When the first domesticated plants and sedentary communities appeared roughly 12,000 years ago, humans had already logged some 190,000 years as hunters and foragers. Yet the standard narrative of human progress begins with relatively recent agrarian societies. Often what we find most worthy of noting in our histories of early societies are irrigation projects, drained… Read More
  • Smell Detectives: An Olfactory History of Nineteenth-Century Urban America
    Melanie A. Kiechle

    Podcast

    PODCAST: Q&A with Melanie Kiechle, author of Smell Detectives

    Before the germ theory of disease, urban dwellers placed great stock in odors—foul and fresh—as indicators of environmental health. This week on the Science podcast, historian Melanie Kiechle describes the rise and fall of the sense of smell in the 19th-century fight for fresh air. To hear the rest of the show, visit the Science podcast… Read More
  • Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution
    Jonathan B. Losos

    Book

    Inevitable or improbable? A biologist sheds light on the evolutionary likelihood of human existence

    In their seminal book Evolution and Healing, Randolph Nesse and George C. Williams describe the design of human bodies as “simultaneously extraordinarily precise and unbelievably slipshod.” Indeed, they conclude that our inconsistencies are so incongruous that one could be forgiven for thinking that we had been “shaped by a prankster.” By what agency did this… Read More
  • An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
    Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, directors

    Film ,

    Al Gore’s climate activism takes center stage once again

    An Inconvenient Sequel, directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, offers a snapshot of the superstorms, global summits, and political shake-ups that have occurred in the decade since the premiere of the groundbreaking climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Widely credited with having helped to bring global warming to the fore in public policy discussions… Read More
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