New Books in Science, Technology, and...

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

Science
Social Sciences
801
Michael Pettit, “The Science of Deception: Psyc...
Parapsychology. You may have heard of it. You know, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis. Spoon-bending and that sort of thing. If you have heard of it, you probably think of it as a pseudoscience. And indeed it is.
53 min
802
Eduardo Kohn, “How Forests Think: Toward an Ant...
When you open Eduardo Kohn‘s How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human (University of California Press, 2013), you are entering a forest of dreams: the dreams of dogs and men, dreams about policemen and peccaries,
69 min
803
Hallam Stevens, “Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-D...
Hallam Stevens‘s new book is a rich and fascinating ethnographic and historical account of the transformations wrought by integrating statistical and computational methods and materials into the biological sciences.
74 min
804
Robert J. Richards, “Was Hitler a Darwinian?: D...
In his new collection of wonderfully engaging and provocative set of essays on Darwin and Darwinians, Robert J. Richards explores the history of biology and so much more. The eight essays collected in Was Hitler a Darwinian?
60 min
805
Gabriel Finkelstein, “Emil du Bois-Reymond: Neu...
“A good wife and a healthy child are better for one’s temper than frogs.” For Gabriel Finkelstein, Emil du Bois-Reymond was “the most important forgotten intellectual of the nineteenth century.” Most famously in a series of experimental works on electr...
73 min
806
Angela N. H. Creager, “Life Atomic: A History o...
Angela Creager‘s deeply researched and elegantly written new book is a must-read account of the history of science in twentieth-century America. Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine (University of Chicago Press,
69 min
807
Conevery Bolton Valencius, “The Lost History of...
The story begins with Davy Crockett and his hunting dogs chasing a bear in 1826. The bear gets caught in an earthquake crack, an effect of the great Mississippi Valley earthquakes of 1811-1812 that are now collectively known as the New Madrid earthquak...
63 min
808
Sarah S. Richardson, Sex Itself: The Search for...
Men and women are different, there’s no doubt about it. And you might well want to know what the root of that difference is. What makes a man a man and a woman a woman? Before the beginning of the twentieth century,
58 min
809
Eugene Raikhel and William Garriott, eds., “Add...
Addiction has recently emerged as an object of anthropological inquiry. In a wonderful, focused volume of ethnographies of addiction in a wide range of contexts, Eugene Raikhel and William Garriott have curated a collection of essays that each follow a...
75 min
810
Todd H. Weir, “Monism: Science, Philosophy, Rel...
I always learn something when I interview authors, but in this chat with Todd H. Weir I learned something startling: I’m a monist. What is more, you may be a monist too and not even know it. Do you believe that there is really only one kind of stuff an...
51 min
811
Kim TallBear, “Native American DNA: Tribal Belo...
Is genetic testing a new national obsession? From reality TV shows to the wild proliferation of home testing kits, there’s ample evidence it might just be. And among the most popular tests of all is for so-called “Native American DNA.
57 min
812
Thomas Bey William Bailey, “Unofficial Release:...
Thomas Bey William Bailey is the author of Unofficial Release: Self-Released and Handmade Audio in Post-Industrial Society (Belsona Books, 2012). He is a psycho-acoustic sound artist and writer on saturation culture.
54 min
813
Ian Jared Miller, “The Nature of the Beasts: Em...
A new understanding of animals was central to how Japanese people redefined their place in the natural world in the nineteenth century. In The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo (University of California Press,
78 min
814
Gabrielle Hecht, “Being Nuclear: Africans and t...
We tend to understand the nuclear age as a historical break, a geopolitical and technological rupture. In Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (MIT Press, 2012), Gabrielle Hecht transforms this understanding by arguing instead that nucl...
59 min
815
William J. Clancey, “Working on Mars: Voyages o...
How does conducting fieldwork on another planet, using a robot as a mobile laboratory, change what it means to be a scientist? In Working on Mars: Voyages of Scientific Discovery with the Mars Exploration Rovers (MIT Press, 2012), William J.
66 min
816
Sienna R. Craig, “Healing Elements: Efficacy an...
Two main questions frame Sienna R. Craig‘s beautifully written and carefully argued new book about Tibetan medical practices and cultures: How is efficacy determined, and what is at stake in those determinations?
72 min
817
Ian Bogost, “Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s ...
“Particle Man”, Charles Bukowski, Heidegger’s tool-analysis, Atari, Ace of Cakes, aliens, tiny ontology, Bruno Latour, ontography, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, the Bossa-Nova, Scribblenauts, Ben Marcus, “What is it like to be a bat?”, carpentry,
68 min
818
Aaron S. Moore, “Constructing East Asia: Techno...
We tend to understand the modernization of Japan as a story of its rise as a techno-superpower. In East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan’s Wartime Era, 1931-1945 (Stanford University Press, 2013),
68 min
819
Marga Vicedo, “The Nature and Nurture of Love” ...
Between WWII and the 1970s, prominent researchers from various fields established and defended a view that emotions are integral to the self, and that a mother’s love determines an individual’s emotional development. In Marga Vicedo,
71 min
820
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
821
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
822
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
823
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
824
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
825
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
826
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
827
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
828
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
829
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
830
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
831
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
832
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
833
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
834
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
835
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
836
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
837
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
838
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
839
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
840
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
841
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
842
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
843
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
844
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
845
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
846
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
847
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
848
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
849
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
850
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
851
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
852
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
853
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
854
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
855
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
856
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
857
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
858
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
859
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
860
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
861
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
862
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
863
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
864
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
865
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
866
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
867
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
868
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
869
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
870
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
871
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
872
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
873
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
874
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
875
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
876
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
877
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
878
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
879
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
880
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
881
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
882
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
883
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
884
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
885
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
886
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
887
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
888
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