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Posts tagged with "Book"

  • Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing
    Chris Bail


    A social scientist probes social media–induced polarization

    The media writ large, and social media in particular, have a lot to answer for with regard to the polarization currently plaguing society. But the influence of so-called “echo chambers” on ideology is much more complicated than it first appears. In Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing, computational social… Read More
  • The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell's Quest to End Deafness
    Katie Booth


    A new biography confronts the inventor’s complicated relationship with the Deaf community

    Alexander Graham Bell is well known as the inventor of the telephone. He is lesser known for his role in promoting audism, or prejudice against deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) people. Yet both endeavors have had lasting impacts on humanity. In The Invention of Miracles, Katie Booth revisits Bell’s legacy, exploring his creative genius… Read More
  • Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrity
    Charles Seife


    A new biography considers Stephen Hawking’s reputation while placing his work in context

    For decades, cosmologist Stephen Hawking was caught in a contradiction. In popular culture, he was portrayed as a pure mind roaming the cosmos to uncover fundamental truths of the Universe, the modern heir to Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. In the physics community, he was respected as a productive theorist who made seminal contributions to… Read More
  • We Are As Gods
    David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg, directors


    The counterculture icon Stewart Brand continues to embrace an outside-the-box approach to the future

    Born in 1938, Stewart Brand studied systems biology at Stanford University before serving a stint in the army as a parachutist and photographer. In the 1960s, he was drawn into the nascent counterculture where beatniks rubbed shoulders and shared hot tubs with a younger cohort of hippies. After a psychedelic drug experience in 1966, Brand… Read More
  • Second Nature: Scenes From a World Remade
    Nathaniel Rich


    As Anthropocene impacts accumulate, a sometimes-unrecognizable Earth emerges

    The essays in Second Nature can be sorted into roughly two categories: powerful investigative pieces, and stories that intersect with author Nathaniel Rich’s philosophical musings and consider the boundaries between human-made and nature-made. The latter of these is a categorical quagmire, because humans are inherently inseparable from nature, but, as Rich notes, there are arenas… Read More
  • Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction
    Michelle Nijhuis


    Passionate advocates have helped humanity rethink its relationship with Earth’s other species

    By 1963, the number of bald eagles—long a symbol of American exceptionalism—had dwindled to a staggering low of 417 known nesting pairs in the contiguous United States, having been decimated by a combination of habitat destruction, DDT poisoning, and illegal hunting. With the passage and enforcement of sturdy conservation laws, however, the species has steadily… Read More
  • Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
    Elizabeth Kolbert


    Can we engineer our way out of the planetary problems we’ve engineered our way into?

    Elizabeth Kolbert’s beautifully written new book Under a White Sky reports from the planetary front lines where modern civilization is colliding with nature and where thoughtful people are working hard to soften the impact. “At this point it might be prudent to scale back our commitments and reduce our impacts,” she writes. “But there are so many… Read More
  • The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
    Walter Isaacson


    A new biography traces CRISPR’s origins and embraces scientist-led oversight of its future

    In The Code Breaker, distinguished historian and biographer Walter Isaacson tells the life story of biochemist Jennifer Doudna, who played a major role in discovering the inner workings of the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9. Doudna’s story is compelling and intersects with others, including French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier, with whom Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel Prize… Read More
  • The Zoologist's Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens-- and Ourselves
    Arik Kershenbaum


    Bound by finite natural laws, alien life may be more familiar than we imagine

    The late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould speculated that the history of life on Earth was deeply influenced by chance events (1). In a classic thought experiment, he imagined rewinding the “tape of life” back to its inception and allowing life’s history to play out again. The reemergence of humans, for example, was, in his… Read More