Ian Sample, “Massive: The Missing Particle that Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science” (Basic Books, 2010)
You’ve probably read about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It’s the largest (17 miles around!), most expensive (9 billion dollars!) scientific instrument in history. What’s it do? It accelerates beams of tiny particles (protons) to nearly the speed of light and then smashes them into one another. That’s cool, you... Read More
Ann Fabian, “The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead” (University of Chicago, 2010)
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. The philosophers of the... Read More
James Fleming, “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control” (Columbia UP, 2010)
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. So they outfitted a small army (50,000 men) with... Read More
Jeffrey Reznick, “John Galsworthy and the Disabled Soldiers of the Great War” (Manchester UP, 2009)
You may not know who John Galsworthy is, but you probably know his work. Who hasn’t seen some production of The Forsyte Saga? Galsworthy was one of the most popular and famous British writers of the early 20th century (the Edwardian Era). He left an enormous body of work, for... Read More
Joel Wolfe, “Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity” (Oxford UP, 2010)
Here’s something I learned by reading Joel Wolfe’s terrific Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity (Oxford, 2010): the United States and Brazil have a lot in common. Both hived off European empires; both struggled with slavery and its legacy; both are profoundly multiethnic and multiracial; both have spent... Read More
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