Soon enough, nobody will remember life before the Internet. What does this unavoidable fact mean? Those of us who have lived both with and without the crowded connectivity of online life have a rare opportunity. We can still recognize the difference between Before and After. We catch ourselves idly reaching for our phones at the bus stop. Or we notice how, midconversation, a fumbling friend dives into the perfect recall of Google. In this eloquent and thought-provoking book, Michael Harris argues that amid all the changes we're experiencing, the most interesting is the end of absence-the loss of lack. The daydreaming silences in our lives are filled; the burning solitudes are extinguished. There's no true "free time" when you carry a smartphone. Today's rarest commodity is the chance to be alone with your thoughts.
What is autism? A lifelong disability, or a naturally occurring form of cognitive difference akin to certain forms of genius? In truth, it is all of these things and more—and the future of our society depends on our understanding it. WIRED reporter Steve Silberman unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who became famous for discovering it, and finds surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years.
Going back to the earliest days of autism research and chronicling the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades, Silberman provides long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle, while mapping out a path for our society toward a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
Along the way, he reveals the untold story of Hans Asperger, the father of Asperger’s syndrome, whose “little professors” were targeted by the darkest social-engineering experiment in human history; exposes the covert campaign by child psychiatrist Leo Kanner to suppress knowledge of the autism spectrum for fifty years; and casts light on the growing movement of "neurodiversity" activists seeking respect, support, technological innovation, accommodations in the workplace and in education, and the right to self-determination for those with cognitive differences.
Introduction to the Modeling and Analysis of Complex Systems introduces students to mathematical/computational modeling and analysis developed in the emerging interdisciplinary field of Complex Systems Science. Complex systems are systems made of a large number of microscopic components interacting with each other in nontrivial ways. Many real-world systems can be understood as complex systems, where critically important information resides in the relationships between the parts and not necessarily within the parts themselves. This textbook offers an accessible yet technically-oriented introduction to the modeling and analysis of complex systems. The topics covered include: fundamentals of modeling, basics of dynamical systems, discrete-time models, continuous-time models, bifurcations, chaos, cellular automata, continuous field models, static networks, dynamic networks, and agent-based models. Most of these topics are discussed in two chapters, one focusing on computational modeling and the other on mathematical analysis. This unique approach provides a comprehensive view of related concepts and techniques, and allows readers and instructors to flexibly choose relevant materials based on their objectives and needs. Python sample codes are provided for each modeling example.
An unabashed original, John Horton Conway is Archimedes, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and Richard Feynman all rolled into one--a singular mathematician, with a rock star's charisma, a sly sense of humor, a polymath's promiscuous curiosity, and a burning desire to explain everything about the world to everyone in it.
Born in Liverpool in 1937, Conway found fame as a barefoot Cambridge professor. He discovered the Conway groups in mathematical symmetry, and invented the aptly named surreal numbers, as well as the cult classic Game of Life--more than a cool fad, Life demonstrates how simplicity generates complexity and the game provides an analogy for all mathematics and the entire universe. Moving to Princeton in 1987, as a mathemagician he deployed cards, ropes, dice, coat hangers, and even the odd Slinky as props to extend his winning imagination and share his mathy obsessions with signature contagion. He is a jet-setting ambassador-at-large for the beauties of all things mathematical.
Artists as well as scientists throughout human history have pondered this “beautiful question.” With Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek as your guide, embark on a voyage of related discoveries, from Plato and Pythagoras up to the present. Wilczek’s groundbreaking work in quantum physics was inspired by his intuition to look for a deeper order of beauty in nature. In fact, every major advance in his career came from this intuition: to assume that the universe embodies beautiful forms, forms whose hallmarks are symmetry—harmony, balance, proportion—and economy. There are other meanings of “beauty,” but this is the deep logic of the universe—and it is no accident that it is also at the heart of what we find aesthetically pleasing and inspiring.
Wilczek is hardly alone among great scientists in charting his course using beauty as his compass. As he reveals in A Beautiful Question, this has been the heart of scientific pursuit from Pythagoras, the ancient Greek who was the first to argue that “all things are number,” to Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and into the deep waters of twentiethcentury physics. Though the ancients weren’t right about everything, their ardent belief in the music of the spheres has proved true down to the quantum level. Indeed, Wilczek explores just how intertwined our ideas about beauty and art are with our scientific understanding of the cosmos.
Wilczek brings us right to the edge of knowledge today, where the core insights of even the craziest quantum ideas apply principles we all understand. The equations for atoms and light are almost literally the same equations that govern musical instruments and sound; the subatomic particles that are responsible for most of our mass are determined by simple geometric symmetries. The universe itself, suggests Wilczek, seems to want to embody beautiful and elegant forms. Perhaps this force is the pure elegance of numbers, perhaps the work of a higher being, or somewhere between. Either way, we don’t depart from the infinite and infinitesimal after all; we’re profoundly connected to them, and we connect them. When we find that our sense of beauty is realized in the physical world, we are discovering something about the world, but also something about ourselves.
If you are ready to dive into the MapReduce framework for processing large datasets, this practical book takes you step by step through the algorithms and tools you need to build distributed MapReduce applications with Apache Hadoop or Apache...
Why is the world orderly, and how does this order come to be? Human beings inhabit a multitude of apparently ordered systems—natural, social, political, economic, cognitive, and others—whose origins and purposes are often obscure. In the eighteenth century, older certainties about such orders, rooted in either divine providence or the mechanical operations of nature, began to fall away. In their place arose a new appreciation for the complexity of things, a new recognition of the world’s disorder and randomness, new doubts about simple relations of cause and effect—but with them also a new ability to imagine the world’s orders, whether natural or manmade, as self-organizing. If large systems are left to their own devices, eighteenth-century Europeans increasingly came to believe, order will emerge on its own without any need for external design or direction.
In Invisible Hands, Jonathan Sheehan and Dror Wahrman trace the many appearances of the language of self-organization in the eighteenth-century West. Across an array of domains, including religion, society, philosophy, science, politics, economy, and law, they show how and why this way of thinking came into the public view, then grew in prominence and arrived at the threshold of the nineteenth century in versatile, multifarious, and often surprising forms. Offering a new synthesis of intellectual and cultural developments, Invisible Hands is a landmark contribution to the history of the Enlightenment and eighteenth-century culture.
Patterns of explanation in biology have long been recognized as different from those deployed in other scientific disciplines, especially that of physics. Celebrating the diversity of interpretative models found in biology, this volume details their varying types as well as explaining their relationships to one another. It covers the key differentials with other sciences in the nature of explanation, such as the existence in biology of varieties unheard of in the physical sciences, such as teleological, evolutionary and even functional explanations.
Offering a wealth of fresh analysis of the phenomenon, chapters examine aspects ranging from the role of mathematics in explaining cell development to the complexities thrown up by evolutionary-developmental biology, where explanation is altered by multidisciplinarity itself. They cover major domains such as ecology and systems biology, as well as contemporary trends, such as the mechanistic explanations spawned by progress in molecular biology. With contributions from researchers of many different nationalities, the book provides a many-angled perspective on a revealing feature of the discipline of biology.
Cybernetics―the science of communication and control as it applies to machines and to humans―originates from efforts during World War II to build automatic anti-aircraft systems. Following the war, this science extended beyond military needs to examine all systems that rely on information and feedback, from the level of the cell to that of society. In The Cybernetics Moment, Ronald R. Kline, a senior historian of technology, examines the intellectual and cultural history of cybernetics and information theory, whose language of "information," "feedback," and "control" transformed the idiom of the sciences, hastened the development of information technologies, and laid the conceptual foundation for what we now call the Information Age.
Kline argues that, for about twenty years after 1950, the growth of cybernetics and information theory and ever-more-powerful computers produced a utopian information narrative―an enthusiasm for information science that influenced natural scientists, social scientists, engineers, humanists, policymakers, public intellectuals, and journalists, all of whom struggled to come to grips with new relationships between humans and intelligent machines.
Kline traces the relationship between the invention of computers and communication systems and the rise, decline, and transformation of cybernetics by analyzing the lives and work of such notables as Norbert Wiener, Claude Shannon, Warren McCulloch, Margaret Mead, Gregory Bateson, and Herbert Simon. Ultimately, he reveals the crucial role played by the cybernetics moment―when cybernetics and information theory were seen as universal sciences―in setting the stage for our current preoccupation with information technologies.
Military intelligence analyst and Harvard Law student Tyler Vigen illustrates the golden rule that "correlation does not equal causation" through hilarious graphs inspired by his viral website.
Is there a correlation between Nic Cage films and swimming pool accidents? What about beef consumption and people getting struck by lightning? Absolutely not. But that hasn't stopped millions of people from going to tylervigen.com and asking, "Wait, what?" Vigen has designed software that scours enormous data sets to find unlikely statistical correlations. He began pulling the funniest ones for his website and has since gained millions of views, hundreds of thousands of likes, and tons of media coverage. Subversive and clever, Spurious Correlations is geek humor at its finest, nailing our obsession with data and conspiracy theory.
This book explores the limits of our knowledge. The author shows how uncertainty and indefiniteness not only define the borders confining our understanding, but how they feed into the process of discovery and help to push back these borders. Starting with physics the author collects examples from economics, neurophysiology, history, ecology and philosophy.
The first part shows how information helps to reduce indefiniteness. Understanding rests on our ability to find the right context, in which we localize a problem as a point in a network of connections. New elements must be combined with the old parts of the existing complex knowledge system, in order to profit maximally from the information. An attempt is made to quantify the value of information by its ability to reduce indefiniteness.
The second part explains how to handle indefiniteness with methods from fuzzy logic, decision theory, hermeneutics and semiotics. It is not sufficient that the new element appears in an experiment, one also has to find a theoretical reason for its existence. Indefiniteness becomes an engine of science, which gives rise to new ideas.
We live in an age of awesome technological potential. From nanotechnology to synthetic organisms, new technologies stand to revolutionize whole domains of human experience. But with awesome potential comes awesome risk: drones can deliver a bomb as readily as they can a new smartphone; makers and hackers can 3D-print guns as well as tools; and supercomputers can short-circuit Wall Street just as easily as they can manage your portfolio.
One thing these technologies can’t do is answer the profound moral issues they raise. Who should be held accountable when they go wrong? What responsibility do we, as creators and users, have for the technologies we build? In A Dangerous Master, ethicist Wendell Wallach tackles such difficult questions with hard-earned authority, imploring both producers and consumers to face the moral ambiguities arising from our rapid technological growth. There is no doubt that scientific research and innovation are a source of promise and productivity, but, as Wallach, argues, technological development is at risk of becoming a juggernaut beyond human control. Examining the players, institutions, and values lobbying against meaningful regulation of everything from autonomous robots to designer drugs, A Dangerous Master proposes solutions for regaining control of our technological destiny.
Wallach’s nuanced study offers both stark warnings and hope, navigating both the fears and hype surrounding technological innovations. An engaging, masterful analysis of the elements we must manage in our quest to survive as a species, A Dangerous Master forces us to confront the practical—and moral—purposes of our creations.
For almost four billion years, microbes had the primordial oceans all to themselves. The stewards of Earth, these organisms transformed the chemistry of our planet to make it habitable for plants, animals, and us. Life's Engines takes readers deep into the microscopic world to explore how these marvelous creatures made life on Earth possible--and how human life today would cease to exist without them.
Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built--and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes.
A vibrantly entertaining book about the microbes that support our very existence, Life's Engines will inspire wonder about these elegantly complex nanomachines that have driven life since its origin. It also issues a timely warning about the dangers of tinkering with that machinery to make it more "efficient" at meeting the ever-growing demands of humans in the coming century.
Anil Ananthaswamy’s extensive in-depth interviews venture into the lives of individuals who offer perspectives that will change how you think about who you are. These individuals all lost some part of what we think of as our self, but they then offer remarkable, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into what remains. One man cut off his own leg. Another became one with the universe.
We are learning about the self at a level of detail that Descartes (“I think therefore I am”) could never have imagined. Recent research into Alzheimer’s illuminates how memory creates your narrative self by using the same part of your brain for your past as for your future. But wait, those afflicted with Cotard’s syndrome think they are already dead; in a way, they believe that “I think therefore I am not.” Who—or what—can say that? Neuroscience has identified specific regions of the brain that, when they misfire, can cause the self to move back and forth between the body and a doppelgänger, or to leave the body entirely. So where in the brain, or mind, or body, is the self actually located? As Ananthaswamy elegantly reports, neuroscientists themselves now see that the elusive sense of self is both everywhere and nowhere in the human brain.
A star science journalist with Parkinson's reveals the inner workings of this perplexing disease Seven million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's, and doctors, researchers, and patients continue to hunt for a cure. In Brain Storms, the award-winning journalist Jon Palfreman tells their story, a story that became his own when he was diagnosed with the debilitating illness. Palfreman chronicles how scientists have worked to crack the mystery of what was once called the shaking palsy, from the earliest clinical descriptions of tremors, gait freezing, and micrographia to the cutting edge of neuroscience, and charts the victories and setbacks of a massive international effort to best the disease. He takes us back to the late 1950s and the discovery of L-dopa. He delves into a number of other therapeutic approaches to this perplexing condition, from partial lobotomies and deep brain stimulation to neural grafting. And he shares inspiring stories of brave individuals living with Parkinson's, from a former professional ballet dancer who tricks her body to move freely again to a patient who cannot walk but astounds doctors when he is able to ride a bicycle with no trouble at all. With the baby boom generation beginning to retire and the population steadily aging, the race is on to discover a means to stop or reverse neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Brain Storms is the long-overdue, riveting, and deeply personal story of that race, and a passionate, insightful, and urgent look into the lives of those affected.
To explain the mystery of how life evolved on Earth, Nick Lane explores the deep link between energy and genes.
The Earth teems with life: in its oceans, forests, skies and cities. Yet there’s a black hole at the heart of biology. We do not know why complex life is the way it is, or, for that matter, how life first began. In The Vital Question, award-winning author and biochemist Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a solution to conundrums that have puzzled generations of scientists.
For two and a half billion years, from the very origins of life, single-celled organisms such as bacteria evolved without changing their basic form. Then, on just one occasion in four billion years, they made the jump to complexity. All complex life, from mushrooms to man, shares puzzling features, such as sex, which are unknown in bacteria. How and why did this radical transformation happen?
The answer, Lane argues, lies in energy: all life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a lightning bolt. Building on the pillars of evolutionary theory, Lane’s hypothesis draws on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and cell biology, in order to deliver a compelling account of evolution from the very origins of life to the emergence of multicellular organisms, while offering deep insights into our own lives and deaths.
Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation?
Like Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on how evolution works, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of our world's fundamental dynamics. Bringing together first-hand experience at the cutting edge of science with unparalleled gifts of explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal that missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics; the phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.
Drawing on recent ground-breaking experiments around the world, each chapter in Life on the Edge engages by illustrating one of life's puzzles: How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes copy themselves with such precision? Life on the Edge accessibly reveals how quantum mechanics can answer these probing questions of the universe.
Guiding the reader through the rapidly unfolding discoveries of the last few years, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate the excitement of the explosive new field of quantum biology and its potentially revolutionary applications, while offering insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life? As they brilliantly demonstrate in these groundbreaking pages, life exists on the quantum edge.
If you want to know where you are, you need a good clock. The surprising connection between time and place is explored in Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There, the companion book to the National Air and Space Museum exhibition of the same name.
Today we use smartphones and GPS, but navigating has not always been so easy. The oldest "clock" is Earth itself, and the oldest means of keeping time came from observing changes in the sky. Early mariners like the Vikings accomplished amazing feats of navigation without using clocks at all. Pioneering seafarers in the Age of Exploration used dead reckoning and celestial navigation; later innovations such as sextants and marine chronometers honed these techniques by measuring latitude and longitude. When explorers turned their sights to the skies, they built on what had been learned at sea. For example, Charles Lindbergh used a bubble sextant on his record-breaking flights. World War II led to the development of new flight technologies, notably radio navigation, since celestial navigation was not suited for all-weather military operations. These forms of navigation were extended and enhanced when explorers began guiding spacecraft into space and across the solar system. Astronauts combined celestial navigation technology with radio transmissions. The development of the atomic clock revolutionized space flight because it could measure billionths of a second, thereby allowing mission teams to navigate more accurately. Scientists and engineers applied these technologies to navigation on earth to develop space-based time and navigation services such as GPS that is used every day by people from all walks of life.
While the history of navigation is one of constant change and innovation, it is also one of remarkable continuity. Time and Navigation tells the story of navigation to help us understand where we have been and how we got there so that we can understand where we are going.
How did human beings acquire imaginations that can conjure up untrue possibilities? How did the Universe become self-aware? In The Runes of Evolution, Simon Conway Morris revitalizes the study of evolution from the perspective of convergence, providing us with compelling new evidence to support the mounting scientific view that the history of life is far more predictable than once thought.
A leading evolutionary biologist at the University of Cambridge, Conway Morris came into international prominence for his work on the Cambrian explosion (especially fossils of the Burgess Shale) and evolutionary convergence, which is the process whereby organisms not closely related (not monophyletic), independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar environments or ecological niches.
In The Runes of Evolution, he illustrates how the ubiquity of convergence hints at an underlying framework whereby many outcomes, not least brains and intelligence, are virtually guaranteed on any Earth-like planet. Conway Morris also emphasizes how much of the complexity of advanced biological systems is inherent in microbial forms.
The Runes of Evolution is the most definitive synthesis of evolutionary convergence to be published to date.
The first edition of Toward a Unified Ecology was ahead of its time. For the second edition, the authors present a new synthesis of their core ideas on evaluating communities, organisms, populations, biomes, models, and management. The book now places greater emphasis on post-normal critiques, cognizant of ever-present observer values in the system. The problem it addresses is how to work holistically on complex things that cannot be defined, and this book continues to build an approach to the problem of scaling in ecosystems. Provoked by complexity theory, the authors add a whole new chapter on the central role of narrative in science and how models improve them. The book takes data and modeling seriously, with a sophisticated philosophy of science.
The conduct of most of social science occurs outside the laboratory. Such studies in field science explore phenomena that cannot for practical, technical, or ethical reasons be explored under controlled conditions. These phenomena cannot be fully isolated from their environment or investigated by manipulation or intervention. Yet measurement, including rigorous or clinical measurement, does provide analysts with a sound basis for discerning what occurs under field conditions, and why.
In Science Outside the Laboratory, Marcel Boumans explores the state of measurement theory, its reliability, and the role expert judgment plays in field investigations from the perspective of the philosophy of science. Its discussion of the problems of passive observation, the calculus of observation, the two-model problem, and model-based consensus uses illustrations drawn primarily from economics.
Rich in research and discussion, the volume clarifies the extent to which measurement provides valid information about objects and events in field sciences, but also has implications for measurement in the laboratory. Scholars in the fields of philosophy of science, social science, and economics will find Science Outside the Laboratory a compelling and informative read.
The aim of this book is to explain in simple language what we know and what we do not know about information and entropy — two of the most frequently discussed topics in recent literature — and whether they are relevant to life and the entire universe. Entropy is commonly interpreted as a measure of disorder. This interpretation has caused a great amount of "disorder" in the literature. One of the aims of this book is to put some "order" in this "disorder". The book explains with minimum amount of mathematics what information theory is and how it is related to thermodynamic entropy. Then it critically examines the application of these concepts to the question of "What is life?" and whether or not they can be applied to the entire universe.
Although we spend more than ninety percent of our lives inside buildings, we understand very little about how the built environment affects our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and well-being. We are biological beings whose senses and neural systems have developed over millions of years; it stands to reason that research in the life sciences, particularly neuroscience, can offer compelling insights into the ways our buildings shape our interactions with the world. This expanded understanding can help architects design buildings that support both mind and body. In Mind in Architecture, leading thinkers from architecture and other disciplines, including neuroscience, cognitive science, psychiatry, and philosophy, explore what architecture and neuroscience can learn from each other. They offer historical context, examine the implications for current architectural practice and education, and imagine a neuroscientifically informed architecture of the future.
Architecture is late in discovering the richness of neuroscientific research. As scientists were finding evidence for the bodily basis of mind and meaning, architecture was caught up in convoluted cerebral games that denied emotional and bodily reality altogether. This volume maps the extraordinary opportunity that engagement with cutting-edge neuroscience offers present-day architects.
Noise, as we usually think of it, is background sound that interferes with our ability to hear more interesting sounds. In general terms, though, it is anything that interferes with the reception of signals of any sort. It includes extraneous energy in the environment, degradation of signals in transit, and spontaneous random activity in receivers and signalers. Whatever the cause, the consequence of noise is error by receivers, and these errors are the key to understanding how noise shapes the evolution of communication.
Noise Matters breaks new ground in the scientific understanding of how communication evolves in the presence of noise. Combining insights of signal detection theory with evidence from decades of his own original research, Haven Wiley explains the profound effects of noise on the evolution of communication. The coevolution of signalers and receivers does not result in ideal, noise-free communication, Wiley finds. Instead, signalers and receivers evolve to a joint equilibrium in which communication is effective but never error-free. Noise is inescapable in the evolution of communication.
Wiley’s comprehensive approach considers communication on many different levels of biological organization, from cells to individual organisms, including humans. Social interactions, such as honesty, mate choice, and cooperation, are reassessed in the light of noisy communication. The final sections demonstrate that noise even affects how we think about human language, science, subjectivity, and freedom. Noise Matters thus contributes to understanding the behavior of animals, including ourselves.
Computation is revolutionizing our world, even the inner world of the "pure" mathematician. Mathematical methods - especially the notion of proof - that have their roots in classical antiquity have seen a radical transformation since the 1970s, as successive advances have challenged the priority of reason over computation. Like many revolutions, this one comes from within. Computation, calculation, algorithms - all have played an important role in mathematical progress from the beginning - but behind the scenes, their contribution was obscured in the enduring mathematical literature. To understand the future of mathematics, this fascinating book returns to its past, tracing the hidden history that follows the thread of computation. Along the way it invites us to reconsider the dialog between mathematics and the natural sciences, as well as the relationship between mathematics and computer science. It also sheds new light on philosophical concepts, such as the notions of analytic and synthetic judgment. Finally, it brings us to the brink of the new age, in which machine intelligence offers new ways of solving mathematical problems previously inaccessible.
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