New Books in Science, Technology, and...

Interviews with Scholars of Science, Technology, and Society about their New Books

Science
Social Sciences
1401
Sanja Perovic, "The Calendar in Revolutionary F...
An interview with Sanja Perovic
60 min
1402
Adam R. Shapiro, “Trying Biology: The Scopes Tr...
During the 1924-25 school year, John Scopes was filling in for the regular biology teacher at Rhea County Central High School in Dayton, Tennessee. The final exam was coming up, and he assigned reading from George W.
71 min
1403
John P. DiMoia, “Reconstructing Bodies: Biomedi...
For a patient choosing among available forms of healing in the medical marketplace of mid-20th century South Korea, the process was akin to shopping. In Reconstructing Bodies: Biomedicine, Health, and Nation-Building in South Korea Since 1945 (Stanford...
83 min
1404
Ian Samson, “Paper: An Elegy” (Harper Collins, ...
In our digital world, it does seem like paper is dying by inches. Bookstores are going out of business, and more and more people get their news from the internet than from newspapers. But how irrelevant has paper really become?
32 min
1405
Tim Maudlin, “Philosophy of Physics: Space and ...
Tim Maudlin‘s Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton University Press, 2012) is a clear, approachable, and engaging introduction to the philosophy of physics that focuses on fundamental notions of space and time.
55 min
1406
Michael Ruse, “The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on ...
In The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet (University of Chicago Press, 2013), Michael Ruse offers a fascinating history of the Gaia Hypothesis in the context of the transformations of professional and public engagements with science and techno...
69 min
1407
Rachel Prentice, “Bodies in Formation: An Ethno...
Rachel Prentice‘s new book blends methodological approaches from science studies and anthropology to produce a riveting account of anatomical and surgical education in twenty-first century North America. Bodies in Formation: An Ethnography of Anatomy a...
66 min
1408
Hannah S. Decker, “The Making of DSM-III: A Dia...
Like it or not, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) has an enormous influence in deciding what qualifies as a mental health disorder in the United States and beyond.
67 min
1409
David Munns, “A Single Sky: How an Internationa...
How do you measure a star? In the middle of the 20thcentury, an interdisciplinary and international community of scientists began using radio waves to measure heavenly bodies and transformed astronomy as a result. David P. D.
67 min
1410
T. J. Hinrichs and Linda L. Barnes, eds., “Chin...
T. J. Hinrichs and Linda L. Barnes have produced a volume that will change the way we learn about and teach the history of health and healing in China and beyond. Chinese Medicine and Healing: An Illustrated History (Harvard University Press,
67 min
1411
Alisha Rankin, “Panaceia’s Daughters: Noblewome...
Dorothea was a widow who treated Martin Luther, the Duke of Saxony, and throngs of poor peasants with her medicinal waters. Anna was the powerful wife of the Elector of Saxony who favored testing medical remedies on others before using them on her frie...
63 min
1412
Nathaniel Comfort, “The Science of Human Perfec...
“This is a history of promises.”So begins Nathaniel Comfort‘s gripping and beautifully written new book on the relationships between and entanglements of medical genetic and eugenics in the history of the twentieth century.
68 min
1413
Nicco Mele, “The End of Big: How the Internet M...
Nicco Mele is the author of The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath (St. Martin’s Press, 2013). He is Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy,
35 min
1414
Maki Fukuoka, “The Premise of Fidelity: Science...
Zograscope. Say it with me: zograscope. ZooooOOOOOoooograscope. There are many optical wonders in Maki Fukuoka’s new book The Premise of Fidelity: Science, Visuality, and Representing the Real in 19th-Century Japan  (Stanford University Press, 2012),
68 min
1415
Clive Hamilton, “Earthmasters: The Dawn of the ...
It’s getting warmer, there ain’t no doubt about it. What are we going to do? Most folks say we should cut back on bad things like carbon emissions. That would probably be a good idea. The trouble is we would have to cut back on all the good things that...
32 min
1416
Dominic Pettman, “Human Error” (UMinnesota, 201...
“The humans are dead.” Whether or not you recognize the epigram from Flight of the Conchords (and if not, there are worse ways to spend a few minutes than by looking here, and I recommend sticking around for the “binary solo”),
73 min
1417
Joseph November, “Biomedical Computing: Digitiz...
There are pigeons, cats, and Martians here. There are CT scanners, dentures, computers large enough to fill rooms, war games, and neural networks. In Biomedical Computing: Digitizing Life in the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012),
60 min
1418
Paul Barrett, “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun...
History is in many respects the story of humanity’s quest for transcendence: to control life and death, time and space, loss and memory. When inventors or companies effectively tap into these needs products emerge that help define their times.
51 min
1419
Alexandra Hui, “The Psychophysical Ear: Musical...
In The Psychophysical Ear: Musical Experiments, Experimental Sounds, 1840-1910 (MIT Press, 2013), Alexandra Hui explores a fascinating chapter of that history in a period when musical aesthetics and natural science came together in the psychophysical s...
72 min
1420
Nicholas Popper, Walter Ralegh’s History of the...
Nicholas Popper‘s new book is a thoughtfully crafted and rich contribution to early modern studies, to the history of history, and to the history of science. Walter Ralegh’s History of the World and the Historical Culture of the Late Renaissance (Unive...
69 min
1421
Sean Cocco, “Watching Vesuvius: A History of Sc...
The story starts on a high-speed train and ends with six men in a crater, with hundreds of years and a number of explosions in between. Sean Cocco‘s rich new book uses Vesuvius as a focal point for exploring the histories of natural history, travel,
67 min
1422
Lawrence M. Principe, “The Secrets of Alchemy” ...
What is alchemy? Who were the alchemists, what did they believe and do and dream, and what did they accomplish? Lawrence M. Principe‘s new book explores these questions and some possible answers to them in a wonderfully written and argued introduction ...
63 min
1423
Matthew Wisnioski, “Engineers for Change: Compe...
In his compelling and fascinating account of how engineers navigated new landscapes of technology and its discontents in 1960s America, Matthew Wisnioski takes us into the personal and professional transformations of a group of thinkers and practitione...
67 min
1424
E. C. Spary, “Eating the Enlightenment: Food an...
By focusing on food and eating from the dinner table to the laboratory, E. C. Spary‘s new book shows how an increasingly public culture of knowledge shaped the daily lives of literate Parisians in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
63 min
1425
Deborah R. Coen, “The Earthquake Observers: Dis...
Deborah R. Coen‘s new book chronicles how the earthquake emerged and receded as a scientific object through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Half of the chapters in The Earthquake Observers: Disaster Science from Lisbon to Richter (University of...
47 min
1426
Audra J. Wolfe, “Competing with the Soviets: Sc...
Audra Wolfe‘s new book, Competing with the Soviets: Science, Technology, and the State in Cold War America (John Hopkins University Press, 2013) offers a synthetic account of American science during the Cold War.
49 min
1427
Joel Isaac, “Working Knowledge: Making the Huma...
Imagine the academic world as a beach. The grains of sand making up the beach are the departments, institutes, and other bodies and related gatherings that make up the officially sanctioned parts of academic institutions and academic life.
71 min
1428
Christopher I. Beckwith, “Warriors of the Clois...
In Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World (Princeton University Press, 2012), Christopher I. Beckwith gives us a rare window into the global movements of medieval science.
80 min
1429
Alec Foege, "The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYer...
An interview with Alec Foege
49 min
1430
Michael D. Gordin, “The Pseudo-Science Wars: Im...
“No one in the history of the world has ever self-identified as a pseudoscientist.” From the very first sentence, Michael D. Gordin’s new book introduces readers to the characters, plotlines, and crises that have shaped the narratives of fringe science...
69 min
1431
Katy Price, “Loving Faster Than Light: Romance ...
You were amused to find you too could fear “The eternal silence of the infinite spaces.” The astronomy love poems of William Empson, from which the preceding quote was taken, were just some of the many media through which people explored the ramificati...
60 min
1432
Janice Neri, “The Insect and the Image: Visuali...
Before the sixteenth century, bugs and other creepy-crawlies could be found in the margins of manuscripts.  Over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, insects crawled their way to the center of books, paintings,
66 min
1433
Signe Rousseau, “Food and Social Media: You Are...
The other day I found myself in a cooking situation that’s fairly common: I had a few odd ingredients–some oxidized strips of bacon, a withered red pepper, a bunch of half-wilted parsley–and needed to use them before they went bad, but how?
52 min
1434
Sally Smith Hughes, “Genentech: The Beginnings ...
Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech (University of Chicago Press, 2011) tells many stories of many things. It is the story of a handful of people who figured out how to make recombinant DNA technology into a thriving business.
63 min
1435
Daniela Bleichmar, “Visible Empire: Botanical E...
Daniela Bleichmar‘s new book is a story about 12,000 images. In Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (University of Chicago Press, 2012), Bleichmar uses this vast (and gorgeous) archive of botanical ima...
65 min
1436
David Sepkoski, “Rereading the Fossil Record: T...
In Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline (University of Chicago Press, 1012), David Sepkoski tells a story that explains the many ways that paleontologists have interpreted the meaning and importance of f...
64 min
1437
Pamela O. Long, “Artisan/Practitioners and the ...
Pamela O. Long‘s clear, accessible, and elegantly written recent book explores the ways that artisan/practitioners influenced the development of the new sciences in the years between 1400 and 1600. Artisan/Practitioners and the Rise of the New Sciences...
64 min
1438
Catherine Jami, “The Emperor’s New Mathematics:...
Challenging conventional modes of understanding China and the circulation of knowledge within the history of science, Catherine Jami‘s new book looks closely at the imperial science of the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662-1722).
68 min
1439
Minsoo Kang, “Sublime Dreams of Living Machines...
From artificial talking heads to the famed defecating duck and beyond, Sublime Dreams of Living Machines: The Automaton in the European Imagination (Harvard University Press, 2011) offers readers an intellectual and cultural history of Europe on the me...
76 min
1440
Laura Stark, “Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the...
Laura Stark‘s lucid and engaging new book explores the making and enacting of the rules that govern human subjects research in the US. Using a thoughtfully conceived combination of ethnographic and archival work,
56 min
1441
Denise Phillips, “Acolytes of Nature: Defining ...
Denise Phillip’s meticulously researched and carefully argued new book deeply excavates a period in which many of the basic components that we take for granted as characterizing modern science were coming into being: the scientific method,
53 min
1442
Janet Kourany, “Philosophy of Science After Fem...
Do social values belong in the sciences? Exploring the relationship between science, society, and politics, Philosophy of Science After Feminism (Oxford UP, 2010) provides a map for a more socially and politically engaged philosophy of science.
66 min
1443
Helene Mialet, “Hawking Incorporated: Stephen H...
“By error or by chance, I think I have discovered an angel.” First things first: Hawking Incorporated: Stephen Hawking and the Anthropology of the Knowing Subject (University of Chicago Press, 2012) is a masterful, inspiring book.
64 min
1444
Robert Westman, “The Copernican Question: Progn...
This is an extraordinary book written by one of the finest historians of science. Ringing in at nearly seven hundred oversized, double columned pages Robert Westman‘s The Copernican Question: Prognostication, Skepticism,
68 min
1445
Volker Scheid and Hugh MacPherson, “Integrating...
Volker Scheid and Hugh MacPherson‘s Integrating East Asian Medicine into Contemporary Healthcare (Churchill Livingstone, 2011) is the result of a wonderfully transdisciplinary project that aims to bring scholars and practitioners of East Asian medicine...
63 min
1446
Avner Ben Zaken, “Cross-Cultural Scientific Exc...
In Cross-Cultural Scientific Exchanges in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1560-1660 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010) and Reading Hayy Ibn-Yaqzan: A Cross-Cultural History of Autodidacticism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010),
67 min
1447
Anjan Chakravartty, “A Metaphysics for Scientif...
Near the opening of his book A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable (Cambridge University Press, 2007; paperback 2010), Anjan Chakravartty warns readers: snack before reading! Though the occasional exemplary slice of pumpkin pie...
66 min
1448
P. Kyle Stanford, “Exceeding Our Grasp: Science...
Should we really believe what our best scientific theories tell us about the world, especially about parts of the world that we can’t see? This question informs a long history of debates over scientific realism and the extent to which we trust what con...
80 min
1449
Hanna Rose Shell, “Hide and Seek: Camouflage, P...
Imagine a world wherein the people who wrote history books were artists, the books occasionally read like poetry, and the stories in them ranged from Monty Python skits to the natural history of chameleons to the making of classic sniper films.
64 min
1450
David A. Kirby, “Lab Coats in Hollywood: Scienc...
First things first: this was probably the most fun I’ve had working through an STS monograph. (Really: Who doesn’t like reading about Jurassic Park and King Kong?) In addition to being full of wonderful anecdotes about the film and television industrie...
63 min
1451
Sherine Hamdy, “Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ...
One of the best things about co-hosting New Books in STS is the opportunity to discover books like this one. Sherine Hamdy has given us something special in Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam,
58 min
1452
Jessica Teisch, “Engineering Nature: Water Deve...
Jessica Teisch‘s new book Engineering Nature: Water Development and the Global Spread of American Environmental Expertise (University of North Carolina Press, 2011) examines the ways that Californian engineers attempted to reshape their world in the la...
32 min
1453
Philip Kitcher, “Science in a Democratic Societ...
Philip Kitcher‘s Science in a Democratic Society (Prometheus Books, 2011) is an ambitious work that does many things at the same time. It offers a compelling theory of democracy, public knowledge, and a “well-ordered science” that engages the two.
60 min
1454
John Cheng, “Astounding Wounder: Imagining Scie...
John Cheng‘s new book Astounding Wonder: Imagining Science and Science Fiction in Interwar America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) uncovers the material and social circumstances that created the social phenomenon of American science fiction.
75 min
1455
Jim Endersby, “Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker a...
I love reading, I love reading history, and I especially love reading history books written by authors who understand how to tell a good story. In addition to being beautifully written, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Scie...
67 min
1456
D. Graham Burnett, “The Sounding of the Whale: ...
Graham Burnett’s The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century (University of Chicago Press, 2012) s an astounding book. It is an inspiring work, both in the depth of research brought to bear in Burnett’s account of the emer...
66 min
1457
Helen Tilley, “Africa as a Living Laboratory: E...
Helen Tilley‘s new book Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950 (University of Chicago Press, 2011) uncovers the surprising relationships that developed between science and empire as Britai...
64 min
1458
Christopher Mole, “Attention is Cognitive Uniso...
Chris Mole‘s book, Attention is Cognitive Unison: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2011) provides a wonderfully elegant answer to a deceptively simple question: What does it mean to pay attention? What is “attention,
69 min
1459
Lawrence Busch, “Standards: Recipes for Reality...
As Lawrence Busch reminds us, standards are all around us governing seating arrangements, medicine, experimental objects and subjects and even romance novels. In Standards: Recipes for Reality (MIT Press, 2011) Busch provides a wide ranging and accessi...
60 min
1460
David Edwards, “The Lab: Creativity and Culture...
To say that David Edwards‘s The Lab: Creativity and Culture (Harvard University Press, 2010) is inspiring would be a profound understatement. In a series of concise, focused chapters that range from “Dreams” to “Translational Change,
51 min
1461
Marshall Poe, “A History of Communications: Med...
It is not every historian who would offer readers an attempt to explain human nature. In A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Marshall Poe does just that.
80 min
1462
Ann M. Blair, “Too Much To Know: Managing Schol...
Chewing on raw turnips and sand, keeping both feet in a tub of cold water, reading with just one eye open (to give the other a chance to rest) and sleeping only every other night: no, I am not describing the typical life of a pre-tenure professor tryin...
73 min
1463
Suman Seth, “Crafting the Quantum: Arnold Somme...
Though Einstein, Planck, and Pauli have become household names in the history of science, the work of Arnold Sommerfeld has yet to reach the same level of wide recognition outside the field of theoretical physics and its history.
79 min
1464
Erik Mueggler, “The Paper Road: Archive and Exp...
First things first: this is an outstanding book. In the course of The Paper Road: Archive and Experience in the Botanical Exploration of West China and Tibet (University of California Press, 2011), Erik Mueggler weaves together the stories of two botan...
94 min
1465
Marta Hanson, “Speaking of Epidemics in Chinese...
Marta Hanson‘s book is a rich study of conceptions of space in medical thought and practice. Ranging from a deep history of the geographic imagination in China to an account of the SARS outbreak of the 21st century,
83 min
1466
Tong Lam, “A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys ...
We tend to take for granted that we have bodies, that these bodies are knowable and measurable, and that we understand how to relate our own bodies to those of the people around us. To put it more simply: if I were to ask you how tall you were, how...
80 min
1467
Andrew F. Jones, “Developmental Fairytales: Evo...
Simply put: you should read Andrew F. Jones‘s new book, Developmental Fairytales: Evolutionary Thinking and Modern Chinese Culture (Harvard UP, 2011). It is both an immense pleasure to read, and a truly brilliant study of the ways that a discourse of d...
65 min
1468
Daqing Yang, “Technology of Empire: Telecommuni...
Daqing Yang‘s Technology of Empire: Telecommunications and Japanese Expansion in Asia, 1883-1945 (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011) is a gift to both historians of East Asia and scholars of science and technology studies (STS).
72 min
1469
Yi-Li Wu’s book, “Reproducing Women: Medicine, ...
In what must be one of the most well-organized and clearly-written books in the history of academic writing, Yi-Li Wu‘s book, Reproducing Women: Medicine, Metaphor, and Childbirth in Late Imperial China (University of California Press, 2010),
70 min
1470
Ann Fabian, “The Skull Collectors: Race, Scienc...
What should we study? The eighteenth-century luminary and poet Alexander Pope had this to say on the subject: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man ” (An Essay on Man, 1733). He was not alone in this opinion.
59 min
1471
James Fleming, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered H...
In the summer of 2008 the Chinese were worried about rain. They were set to host the Summer Olympics that year, and they wanted clear skies. Surely clear skies, they must have thought, would show the world that China had arrived.
60 min