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Probably Approximately Correct: Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World (by Leslie Valiant)

Probably Approximately Correct: Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World

~ Leslie Valiant (author) More about this product
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How does life prosper in a complex and erratic world? While we know that nature follows patterns—such as the law of gravity—our everyday lives are beyond what known science can predict. We nevertheless muddle through even in the absence of theories of how to act. But how do we do it?

In Probably Approximately Correct, computer scientist Leslie Valiant presents a masterful synthesis of learning and evolution to show how both individually and collectively we not only survive, but prosper in a world as complex as our own. The key is “probably approximately correct” algorithms, a concept Valiant developed to explain how effective behavior can be learned. The model shows that pragmatically coping with a problem can provide a satisfactory solution in the absence of any theory of the problem. After all, finding a mate does not require a theory of mating. Valiant’s theory reveals the shared computational nature of evolution and learning, and sheds light on perennial questions such as nature versus nurture and the limits of artificial intelligence.

Offering a powerful and elegant model that encompasses life’s complexity, Probably Approximately Correct has profound implications for how we think about behavior, cognition, biological evolution, and the possibilities and limits of human and machine intelligence.

 

 

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Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension (by Samuel Arbesman)

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

~ Samuel Arbesman (author) More about this product
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Why did the New York Stock Exchange suspend trading without warning on July 8, 2015? Why did certain Toyota vehicles accelerate uncontrollably against the will of their drivers? Why does the programming inside our airplanes occasionally surprise its creators? 
   After a thorough analysis by the top experts, the answers still elude us. 
   You don’t understand the software running your car or your iPhone. But here’s a secret: neither do the geniuses at Apple or the Ph.D.’s at Toyota—not perfectly, anyway. No one, not lawyers, doctors, accountants, or policy makers, fully grasps the rules governing your tax return, your retirement account, or your hospital’s medical machinery. The same technological advances that have simplified our lives have made the systems governing our lives incomprehensible, unpredictable, and overcomplicated. 
   In Overcomplicated, complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman offers a fresh, insightful field guide to living with complex technologies that defy human comprehension. As technology grows more complex, Arbesman argues, its behavior mimics the vagaries of the natural world more than it conforms to a mathematical model. If we are to survive and thrive in this new age, we must abandon our need for governing principles and rules and accept the chaos. By embracing and observing the freak accidents and flukes that disrupt our lives, we can gain valuable clues about how our algorithms really work. What’s more, we will become better thinkers, scientists, and innovators as a result. 

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Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets (by Luke Dittrich)

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets

~ Luke Dittrich (author) More about this product
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A journey into the life of the most studied human research subject of all time, the amnesic known as Patient H.M., a man who forever altered our understanding of how memory works—and whose treatment raises deeply unsettling questions about the human cost of scientific progress.

In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison—who suffered from severe epilepsy—received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today.

Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison—and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation—experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.

Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world.

Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide.

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On Trails: An Exploration (by Robert Moor)

On Trails: An Exploration

~ Robert Moor (author) More about this product
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A groundbreaking exploration of how trails help us understand the world—from tiny ant trails to hiking paths that span continents, from interstate highways to the Internet.

In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet: How do they form? Why do some improve over time while others fade? What makes us follow or strike off on our own? Over the course of the next seven years, Moor traveled the globe, exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive. He learned the tricks of master trail-builders, hunted down long-lost Cherokee trails, and traced the origins of our road networks and the Internet. In each chapter, Moor interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing—combining the nomadic joys of Peter Matthiessen with the eclectic wisdom of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.

Throughout, Moor reveals how this single topic—the oft-overlooked trail—sheds new light on a wealth of age-old questions: How does order emerge out of chaos? How did animals first crawl forth from the seas and spread across continents? How has humanity’s relationship with nature and technology shaped world around us? And, ultimately, how does each of us pick a path through life?

Moor has the essayist’s gift for making new connections, the adventurer’s love for paths untaken, and the philosopher’s knack for asking big questions. With a breathtaking arc that spans from the dawn of animal life to the digital era, On Trails is a book that makes us see our world, our history, our species, and our ways of life anew.

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Microbiology: Mob rule

Microbiology: Mob rule | CxBooks | Scoop.it

It seems that, instead of being self-contained, the contents of the human gene kit are generously supplemented by a plethora of extraneous components. These riches come from the topsy-turvy world of microorganisms, symbionts whose products bolt onto the more modest collection furnished by their hosts. The implications of this extra informational dimension, and how it interweaves with our genes, are explored in four new books.

 

• I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life.
 Ed Yong
• The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome Is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Healthy Life.
 Rodney Dietert
• This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society. 
Kathleen McAuliffe
• The Mind–Gut Connection: How the Hidden Conversation Within Our Bodies Impacts Our Mood, Our Choices, and Our Overall Health
. Emeran Mayer

 

Microbiology: Mob rule
Adrian Woolfson
Nature 536, 146–147 (11 August 2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/536146a

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Exploring Discrete Dynamics, 2nd Edition

Exploring Discrete Dynamics, 2nd Edition | CxBooks | Scoop.it

EXPLORING DISCRETE DYNAMICS (second edition) is a comprehensive guide to studying cellular automata and discrete dynamical networks with the classic software Discrete Dynamics Laboratory (DDLab), widely used in research and education. These collective networks are at the core of complexity and emergent self-organisation. With interactive graphics, DDLab is able to explore a huge diversity of behaviour, mostly terra incognita -- space-time patterns, and basins of attraction -- mathematical objects representing the convergent flow in state-space. Applications range within physics, mathematics, biology, cognition, society, economics and computation, and more specifically in neural and genetic networks, artificial life, and theories of memory. This second edition covers many new features.

 

Advance Praise by Stuart Kauffman
The great John von Neumann invented cellular automata. These discrete state finite automata have become a mainstay in the study of complex systems, exhibiting order, criticality, and chaos. Andy Wuensche's "Exploring Discrete Dynamics" 2016, is by far the most advanced tool for simulating such systems and has become widely important in the field of complexity.

 

http://www.ddlab.org

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The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome Is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Healthy Life (by Rodney Dietert)

The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even some kinds of depression is now clear. Award-winning researcher on the microbiome, professor Rodney Dietert presents a new paradigm in human biology that has emerged in the midst of the ongoing global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.

     The Human Superorganism makes a sweeping, paradigm-shifting argument. It demolishes two fundamental beliefs that have blinkered all medical thinking until very recently: 1) Humans are better off as pure organisms free of foreign microbes; and 2) the human genome is the key to future medical advances. The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate have been there for centuries supporting our ancestors. They comprise as much as 90 percent of the cells in and on our bodies—a staggering percentage! More than a thousand species of them live inside us, on our skin, and on our very eyelashes. Yet we have now significantly reduced their power and in doing so have sparked an epidemic of noncommunicable diseases—which now account for 63 percent of all human deaths. 

     Ultimately, this book is not just about microbes; it is about a different way to view humans. The story that Dietert tells of where the new biology comes from, how it works, and the ways in which it affects your life is fascinating, authoritative, and revolutionary. Dietert identifies foods that best serve you, the superorganism; not new fad foods but ancient foods that have made sense for millennia. He explains protective measures against unsafe chemicals and drugs. He offers an empowering self-care guide and the blueprint for a revolution in public health. We are not what we have been taught. Each of us is a superorganism. The best path to a healthy life is through recognizing that profound truth.

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The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything (by Adrian Bejan)

The Physics of Life: The Evolution of Everything

~ Adrian Bejan (author) More about this product
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The Physics of Life explores the roots of the big question by examining the deepest urges and properties of living things, both animate and inanimate: how to live longer, with food, warmth, power, movement and free access to other people and surroundings. Bejan explores controversial and relevant issues such as sustainability, water and food supply, fuel, and economy, to critique the state in which the world understands positions of power and freedom. Breaking down concepts such as desire and power, sports health and culture, the state of economy, water and energy, politics and distribution, Bejan uses the language of physics to explain how each system works in order to clarify the meaning of evolution in its broadest scientific sense, moving the reader towards a better understanding of the world's systems and the natural evolution of cultural and political development.

The Physics of Life argues that the evolution phenomenon is much broader and older than the evolutionary designs that constitute the biosphere, empowering readers with a new view of the globe and the future, revealing that the urge to have better ideas has the same physical effect as the urge to have better laws and better government. This is evolution explained loudly but also elegantly, forging a path that flows sustainability.

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The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life

The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life (The Future Series)

~ Matthew Claudel (author) More about this product
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Since cities emerged ten thousand years ago, they have become one of the most impressive artifacts of humanity. But their evolution has been anything but linear—cities have gone through moments of radical change, turning points that redefine their very essence. In this book, a renowned architect and urban planner who studies the intersection of cities and technology argues that we are in such a moment.
 
The authors explain some of the forces behind urban change and offer new visions of the many possibilities for tomorrow’s city. Pervasive digital systems that layer our cities are transforming urban life. The authors provide a front-row seat to this change. Their work at the MIT Senseable City Laboratory allows experimentation and implementation of a variety of urban initiatives and concepts, from assistive condition-monitoring bicycles to trash with embedded tracking sensors, from mobility to energy, from participation to production. They call for a new approach to envisioning cities: futurecraft, a symbiotic development of urban ideas by designers and the public. With such participation, we can collectively imagine, examine, choose, and shape the most desirable future of our cities.

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Sustaining the Commons | Free eBook

Sustaining the Commons | Free eBook | CxBooks | Scoop.it

This textbook discusses the main framework, concepts and applications of the work of Elinor Ostrom for an undergraduate audience.

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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (by Frans de Waal)

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

~ Frans de Waal (author) More about this product
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What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future―all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal―and human―intelligence.

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Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds (by Greg Milner)

Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds

~ Greg Milner (author) More about this product
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Pinpoint tells the story of GPS, a scientific marvel that enables almost all modern technology―but is changing us in profound ways.

 

Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary shared utility: the Global Positioning System. Even as it guides us across town, GPS helps land planes, route mobile calls, anticipate earthquakes, predict weather, locate oil deposits, measure neutrinos, grow our food, and regulate global finance. It is as ubiquitous and essential as another Cold War technology, the Internet. In Pinpoint, Greg Milner takes us on a fascinating tour of a hidden system that touches almost every aspect of our modern life.

While GPS has brought us breathtakingly accurate information about our planetary environment and physical space, it has also created new forms of human behavior. We have let it saturate the world’s systems so completely and so quickly that we are just beginning to confront the possible consequences. A single GPS timing flaw, whether accidental or malicious, could bring down the electrical grid, hijack drones, or halt the world financial system. The use, and potential misuse, of GPS data by government and corporations raise disturbing questions about ethics and privacy. GPS may be altering the nature of human cognition―possibly even rearranging the gray matter in our heads.

Pinpoint tells the sweeping story of GPS from its conceptual origins as a bomb guidance system to its presence in almost everything we do. Milner examines the different ways humans have understood physical space, delves into the neuroscience of cognitive maps, and questions GPS’s double-edged effect on our culture. A fascinating and original story of the scientific urge toward precision, Pinpoint offers startling insight into how humans understand their place in the world.

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THE
PURSUIT
OF
LEGIBLE
POLICY:
Encouraging Agency and Participation
in the Complex Systems
of the Contemporary Megalopolis

THE<br/>PURSUIT<br/>OF<br/>LEGIBLE<br/>POLICY:<br/>Encouraging Agency and Participation<br/>in the Complex Systems<br/>of the Contemporary Megalopolis | CxBooks | Scoop.it

Given the complexity of urban landscapes, legible policy has emerged as an important aim for urban laboratories, suggesting ways to increase citizen participation, heighten impact of policy decisions, allow for greater inclusion in political processes and stimulate citizens' agency.

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Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science

Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science

~ John Brockman (author) More about this product
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The newest addition to John Brockman’s Edge.org series explores life itself, bringing together the world’s leading biologists, geneticists, and evolutionary theorists—including Richard Dawkins, Edward O. Wilson, J. Craig Venter, and Freeman Dyson.

Scientists’ understanding of life is progressing more rapidly than at any point in human history, from the extraordinary decoding of DNA to the controversial emergence of biotechnology. Featuring pioneering biologists, geneticists, physicists, and science writers, Life explains just how far we’ve come—and takes a brilliantly educated guess at where we’re heading.
Richard Dawkins and J. Craig Venter compare genes to digital information, and sketch the frontiers of genomic research.

Edward O. Wilson reveals what ants can teach us about building a superorganism—and, in turn, about how cells build an organism. Elsewhere, David Haig reports new findings on how mothers and fathers individually influence the human genome, while Kary Mullis covers cutting edge treatments for dangerous viruses. And there’s much more in this fascinating volume.

We may never have all the answers. But the thinkers collected in Life are asking questions that will keep us dreaming for generations.

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Energy, Complexity and Wealth Maximization (by Robert Ayres)

This book describes the evolution and mechanisms of natural wealth creation. The author explains how natural wealth consists of complex physical structures of condensed (“frozen”) energy and what the key requirements for wealth creation are, namely a change agent, a selection mechanism and a life-extending mechanism. He uses elements from multiple disciplines, from physics to biology to economics to illustrate this.

Human wealth is ultimately based on natural wealth, as materials transform into useful artifacts, and as useful information is transmitted by those artifacts when activated by energy. The question is if the new immaterial wealth of ideas of the knowledge economy can replace depleted natural wealth. This book reveals the vital challenge for economic and political leaders to explore how knowledge and natural capital, energy in particular, can interact to power the human wealth engine in the future.

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Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry (by Christie Wilcox)

Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry

~ Christie Wilcox (author) More about this product
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A thrilling tale of encounters with nature’s masters of biochemistry

 

From the coasts of Indonesia to the rainforests of Peru, venomous animals are everywhere―and often lurking out of sight. Humans have feared them for centuries, long considering them the assassins and pariahs of the natural world.

Now, in Venomous, the biologist Christie Wilcox investigates and illuminates the animals of our nightmares, arguing that they hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, adaptation, and immunity. She reveals just how venoms function and what they do to the human body. With Wilcox as our guide, we encounter a jellyfish with tentacles covered in stinging cells that can kill humans in minutes; a two-inch caterpillar with toxic bristles that trigger hemorrhaging; and a stunning blue-ringed octopus capable of inducing total paralysis. How do these animals go about their deadly work? How did they develop such intricate, potent toxins? Wilcox takes us around the world and down to the cellular level to find out.

Throughout her journey, Wilcox meets the intrepid scientists who risk their lives studying these lethal beasts, as well as “self-immunizers” who deliberately expose themselves to snakebites. Along the way, she puts her own life on the line, narrowly avoiding being envenomated herself. Drawing on her own research, Wilcox explains how venom scientists are untangling the mechanisms of some of our most devastating diseases, and reports on pharmacologists who are already exploiting venoms to produce lifesaving drugs. We discover that venomous creatures are in fact keystone species that play crucial roles in their ecosystems and ours―and for this alone, they ought to be protected and appreciated.

Thrilling and surprising at every turn, Venomous will change everything you thought you knew about the planet’s most dangerous animals.

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Tempo and mode of genome evolution in a 50,000-generation experiment

Tempo and mode of genome evolution in a 50,000-generation experiment | CxBooks | Scoop.it

Whole-genome sequencing of 264 clones sampled from 12 Escherichia coli populations evolved over 50,000 generations under identical culture conditions is used to characterize the patterns and dynamics of genome evolution over time.

 

Tempo and mode of genome evolution in a 50,000-generation experiment
◦ Olivier Tenaillon, Jeffrey E. Barrick, Noah Ribeck, Daniel E. Deatherage, Jeffrey L. Blanchard, Aurko Dasgupta, Gabriel C. Wu, Sébastien Wielgoss, Stéphane Cruveiller, Claudine Médigue, Dominique Schneider & Richard E. Lenski

Nature 536, 165–170 (11 August 2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature18959

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Network Science: Albert-László Barabási

Network Science

~ Albert-László Barabási (author) More about this product
Price: $59.99

Networks are everywhere, from the Internet, to social networks, and the genetic networks that determine our biological existence. Illustrated throughout in full colour, this pioneering textbook, spanning a wide range of topics from physics to computer science, engineering, economics and the social sciences, introduces network science to an interdisciplinary audience. From the origins of the six degrees of separation to explaining why networks are robust to random failures, the author explores how viruses like Ebola and H1N1 spread, and why it is that our friends have more friends than we do. Using numerous real-world examples, this innovatively designed text includes clear delineation between undergraduate and graduate level material. The mathematical formulas and derivations are included within Advanced Topics sections, enabling use at a range of levels. Extensive online resources, including films and software for network analysis, make this a multifaceted companion for anyone with an interest in network science.

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This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior and Shape Society (by Kathleen McAuliffe)

An astonishing investigation into the world of microbes, and the myriad ways they control how other creatures — including humans — act, feel, and think

As we are now discovering, parasites — microbes that cannot thrive and reproduce without another organism as a host — are shockingly sophisticated and extraordinarily powerful. In fact, a plethora of parasites affect our behavior in ways we have barely begun to understand. 
 
In this mind-bending book, McAuliffe reveals the eons-old war between parasites and other creatures that is playing out in our very own bodies. And more surprising still, she uncovers the decisive role that parasites may have played in the rise and demise of entire civilizations. Our obsession with cleanliness and our experience of disgust are both evolutionary tools for avoiding infection, but they evolved differently for different populations. Political, social, and religious differences among societies may be caused, in part, by the different parasites that prey on us. In the tradition of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
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Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War (by Mary Roach)

Best-selling author Mary Roach explores the science of keeping human beings intact, awake, sane, uninfected, and uninfested in the bizarre and extreme circumstances of war.

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries―panic, exhaustion, heat, noise―and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat. She visits the fashion design studio of U.S. Army Natick Labs and learns why a zipper is a problem for a sniper. She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Roach samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee. She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks? How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you’ll never see our nation’s defenders in the same way again.

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Paper: Paging Through History (by Mark Kurlansky)

A definitive history of paper and the astonishing ways it has shaped today’s world.

Paper is one of the simplest and most essential pieces of human technology. For the past two millennia, the ability to produce it in ever more efficient ways has supported the proliferation of literacy, media, religion, education, commerce, and art; it has formed the foundation of civilizations, promoting revolutions and restoring stability. One has only to look at history’s greatest press run, which produced 6.5 billion copies of Máo zhuxí yulu, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Zedong)―which doesn’t include editions in 37 foreign languages and in braille―to appreciate the range and influence of a single publication, in paper. Or take the fact that one of history’s most revered artists, Leonardo da Vinci, left behind only 15 paintings but 4,000 works on paper. And though the colonies were at the time calling for a boycott of all British goods, the one exception they made speaks to the essentiality of the material; they penned the Declaration of Independence on British paper.

Now, amid discussion of “going paperless”―and as speculation about the effects of a digitally dependent society grows rampant―we’ve come to a world-historic juncture. Thousands of years ago, Socrates and Plato warned that written language would be the end of “true knowledge,” replacing the need to exercise memory and think through complex questions. Similar arguments were made about the switch from handwritten to printed books, and today about the role of computer technology. By tracing paper’s evolution from antiquity to the present, with an emphasis on the contributions made in Asia and the Middle East, Mark Kurlansky challenges common assumptions about technology’s influence, affirming that paper is here to stay. Paper will be the commodity history that guides us forward in the twenty-first century and illuminates our times.

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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

~ Ed Yong (author) More about this product
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Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.
Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.
The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.
Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.

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The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (by Sean Carroll)

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself

~ Sean Carroll (author) More about this product
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Where are we? Who are we? Are our emotions, our beliefs, and our hopes and dreams ultimately meaningless out there in the void? Does human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific worldview?

In short chapters filled with intriguing historical anecdotes, personal asides, and rigorous exposition, readers learn the difference between how the world works at the quantum level, the cosmic level, and the human level--and then how each connects to the other.  Carroll's presentation of the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness, and the universe is dazzlingly unique.  

Carroll shows how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us. Our lives are dwarfed like never before by the immensity of space and time, but they are redeemed by our capacity to comprehend it and give it meaning.

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The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe (Stephon Alexander)

The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe

~ Stephon Alexander (author) More about this product
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More than fifty years ago, John Coltrane drew the twelve musical notes in a circle and connected them by straight lines, forming a five-pointed star. Inspired by Einstein, Coltrane had put physics and geometry at the core of his music. Physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander returns the favor, using jazz to answer physics’ most vexing questions about the past and future of the universe.

Following the great minds that first drew the links between music and physics—a list including Pythagoras, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, and Rakim—The Jazz of Physics revisits the ancient realm where music, physics, and the cosmos were one. This cosmological journey accompanies Alexander’s own tale of struggling to reconcile his passion for music and physics, from taking music lessons as a boy in the Bronx to studying theoretical physics at Imperial College, London’s inner sanctum of string theory. Playing the saxophone and improvising with equations, Alexander uncovered the connection between the fundamental waves that make up sound and the fundamental waves that make up everything else. As he reveals, the ancient poetic idea of the “music of the spheres,” taken seriously, clarifies confounding issues in physics.

Whether you are more familiar with Brian Greene or Brian Eno, John Coltrane or John Wheeler, the Five Percent Nation or why the universe is less than five percent visible, there is a new discovery on every page. Covering the entire history of the universe from its birth to its fate, its structure on the smallest and largest scales, The Jazz of Physics will fascinate and inspire anyone interested in the mysteries of our universe, music, and life itself.

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Sherri L. McLendon's curator insight, May 22, 11:42 AM
Language: vibration + breath = creation. Words can be musical, too.
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Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension

~ Samuel Arbesman (author) More about this product
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From the power grid to the stock market to the latest iOS, complex systems are plagued by unintended glitches, unpredictable behavior, and unexplainable system failures. Why can’t we make things simpler? Is technological complexity inevitable? And how are we supposed to deal with technology that nobody can understand anymore?

In Overcomplicated, complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman explores the forces that lead us to continue to make systems more complicated and more incomprehensible, despite our desperate desire for them to be more coherent. He offers a new framework for dealing with complex systems. We must abandon the idea that we can understand the rules, and instead become field biologists for technology, relying on description and observation to uncover facts about how a system might work. 

Whether you work in business, finance, science, or IT—or you simply own a smart phone—Overcomplicated offers valuable insight on how to adapt to the complex age we are living in.

 

 

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension
by Samuel Arbesman

http://amzn.to/1T9vZZM

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The Gene: An Intimate History (by Siddhartha Mukherjee)

The Gene: An Intimate History

Product by Scribner ~ Siddhartha Mukherjee (author) More about this product
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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?

The extraordinary Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.

Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.

As The New Yorker said of The Emperor of All Maladies, “It’s hard to think of many books for a general audience that have rendered any area of modern science and technology with such intelligence, accessibility, and compassion…An extraordinary achievement.” Riveting, revelatory, and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, and an essential preparation for the moral complexity introduced by our ability to create or “write” the human genome, The Gene is a must-read for everyone concerned about the definition and future of humanity. This is the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master.

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