285 episodes

Interviews with Scientists about their New Books

New Books in Science New Books Network

    • Natural Sciences
    • 4.4 • 9 Ratings

Interviews with Scientists about their New Books

    Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Soraya de Chadarevian, "Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    “What are chromosomes? And what does it mean to treat them as visual objects?” asks Soraya de Chadarevian in her new book, Heredity Under the Microscope: Chromosomes and the Study of the Human Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Considering this question as she follows the history of microscope-based practices in chromosomal research across a variety of contexts—from the medical clinic to the study of human variation—de Chadarevian offers readers a new history of postwar human genetics. This approach enables her to argue that cytogenetics was far from just “old fashioned biology that was eventually superseded by molecular approaches” and to show the continuities and interdependencies between different methods for studying our DNA.
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    • 52 min
    K. C. Smith and C. Mariscal, "Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    K. C. Smith and C. Mariscal, "Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology" (Oxford UP, 2020)

    Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (Oxford University Press, 2020) focuses on the emerging scientific discipline of astrobiology, exploring many of the humanistic issues this multidisciplinary field is generating. Despite there being myriad scientific questions that astrobiologists have only begun to address, this is not a purely scientific enterprise. More research on the broader social and conceptual aspects of astrobiology is needed and this volume does an outstanding job of setting the course for important themes to be explored in the future. The authors of the chapters in the book ask questions such as: What are our ethical obligations towards different sorts of alien life? Should we attempt to communicate with life beyond our planet? What is "life" in the most general sense? Kelly C. Smith and Carlos Mariscal's important book addresses these questions by looking at different perspectives from philosophers, historians, theologians, social scientists, and legal scholars. It sets a benchmark for future work in astrobiology, giving readers the groundwork from which to base the continuous scholarship coming from this ever-growing scientific field.
    John W. Traphagan is a professor in Department of Religious Studies and Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas at Austin.
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    • 1 hr 11 min
    Gina Rippon, "Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (Vintage, 2020)

    Gina Rippon, "Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (Vintage, 2020)

    There is a long history of brain research that seems to legitimize widely held beliefs about the men versus women. According to my guest, much of that research is founded on biases and misguided experiments, which raises the questions: Are there any meaningful neurological differences between men and women? And if so, what are they? To find out, you’ll want to listen to my interview with Dr. Gina Rippon, author of the book, Gender and our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of the Male and Female Minds (2020, Vintage Books). We talk about the difference between good and bad science in this area and how the field of psychology has contributed to misinformed but long-lasting ideas about gender differences. This episode will interest those longing for clarity about male versus female brains and shed light on the role of science in shaping social perceptions about the sexes.
    Gina Rippon, Ph.D. is an honorary professor of cognitive neuroimaging at Aston Brain Centre at Aston University in Birmingham, England. Her research involves the use of state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques to investigate developmental disorders such as autism. In 2015, she was made a honorary fellow of the British Science Association for her contributions to the public communication of science. Dr. Rippon is part of the European Union Gender Equality Network, belongs to WISE and ScienceGrrl, and is a member of Robert Peston’s Speakers for Schools program and the Inspiring the Future intitative. She lives in the United Kingdom.
    Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Miami. He treats individuals and couples, with specialties in gender and sexuality, eating and body image problems, and relationship issues. He is a graduate and faculty of William Alanson White Institute in Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology in New York City and former chair of their LGBTQ Study Group; and faculty at Florida Psychoanalytic Institute in Miami. He is also a contributing author to the book Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (2018, Routledge).
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    • 39 min
    Jimena Canales, "Bedeviled: A Shadow History of Demons in Science" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Jimena Canales, "Bedeviled: A Shadow History of Demons in Science" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Science may be known for banishing the demons of superstition from the modern world. Yet just as the demon-haunted world was being exorcized by the enlightening power of reason, a new kind of demon mischievously materialized in the scientific imagination itself. Scientists began to employ hypothetical beings to perform certain roles in thought experiments—experiments that can only be done in the imagination—and these impish assistants helped scientists achieve major breakthroughs that pushed forward the frontiers of science and technology.
    Spanning four centuries of discovery—from René Descartes, whose demon could hijack sensorial reality, to James Clerk Maxwell, whose molecular-sized demon deftly broke the second law of thermodynamics, to Darwin, Einstein, Feynman, and beyond—Jimena Canales tells a shadow history of science and the demons that bedevil it. 
    In Bedeviled: A Shadow History of Demons in Science (Princeton UP, 2020), she reveals how the greatest scientific thinkers used demons to explore problems, test the limits of what is possible, and better understand nature. Their imaginary familiars helped unlock the secrets of entropy, heredity, relativity, quantum mechanics, and other scientific wonders—and continue to inspire breakthroughs in the realms of computer science, artificial intelligence, and economics today.

    The world may no longer be haunted as it once was, but the demons of the scientific imagination are alive and well, continuing to play a vital role in scientists’ efforts to explore the unknown and make the impossible real.
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    • 44 min
    Alfred S. Posamentier, "The Joy of Geometry" (Prometheus, 2020)

    Alfred S. Posamentier, "The Joy of Geometry" (Prometheus, 2020)

    Alfred S. Posamentier's The Joy of Geometry (Prometheus, 2020) is a book for someone who has taken geometry but wants to go further. This book, as one might expect, is heavy on diagrams and it is sometimes hard to discuss some of the ideas without reference to a diagram. Also, to be fair, this is not a book intended to be read casually. To fully appreciate this book, it is necessary to sit down, preferably in a comfortable chair with a beverage of one’s choosing, and prepare to give the diagrams a close look. The effort will be well rewarded.
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    • 57 min
    Hugh Raffles, "The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time" (Pantheon Books, 2020)

    Hugh Raffles, "The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time" (Pantheon Books, 2020)

    At once an examination of geology, a biography of monuments, and a meditation on the connection between personal loss and massive loss, Hugh Raffles’ The Book of Unconformities: Speculations on Lost Time (Pantheon Books, 2020) is a truly beguiling book. Moving through Manhattan marble, Norwegian “blubberstone”, extra-terrestrial meteorites, and several other geological forms, Raffles uses the geological concept of “unconformity” to examine those historical moments where time seems to have disappeared. By sitting patiently with the impossibility of resolving the tensions between deep time and human time, The Book of Unconformities skips across epochs without losing sight of the lives people build around minerals.
    In this episode, I stumble my way through this dense, dumbfounding work, asking Professor Raffles about the different valences of deep time, how to talk about recurring loss, and what stones do to the anthropological imagination.
    Hugh Raffles is Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research and the Director of the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography and Social Thought. His previous books include In Amazonia (Princeton University Press, 2002) and Insectopedia (Vintage, 2011).
    Lachlan Summers is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at UC Santa Cruz and has no previous books. He lives in Mexico City, and researches the city’s repeating earthquakes. He is a contributing editor at Cultural Anthropology, a member of the Emergent Futures CoLab, and can be found on Twitter.
     
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    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

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Very interesting

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