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You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto

July 13, 2010

You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier

Author:
Jaron Lanier
Publisher:
Knopf (2010)

Amazon | Computer scientist and Internet guru Lanier’s fascinating and provocative full-length exploration of the Internet’s problems and potential is destined to become a must-read for both critics and advocates of online-based technology and culture. Lanier is best known for creating and pioneering the use of the revolutionary computer technology that he named virtual reality. Yet in his first book, Lanier takes a step back and critiques the… read more

The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis

July 8, 2010

The Empathic Civilization cover

Author:
Jeremy Rifkin
Publisher:
Tarcher (2009)

Amazon | Never has the world seemed so completely united-in the form of communication, commerce, and culture-and so savagely torn apart-in the form of war, financial meltdown, global warming, and even the migration of diseases.

No matter how much we put our minds to the task of meeting the challenges of a rapidly globalizing world, the human race seems to continually come up short, unable to muster the… read more

Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality

July 8, 2010

Apocalyptic AI cover

Author:
Robert Geraci
Publisher:
Oxford University Press (2010)

Amazon | Apocalyptic AI, the hope that we might one day upload our minds into machines or cyberspace and live forever, is a surprisingly wide-spread and influential idea, affecting everything from the world view of online gamers to government research funding and philosophical thought. In Apocalyptic AI, Robert Geraci offers the first serious account of this “cyber-theology” and the people who promote it.

Drawing on interviews with roboticists… read more

The Edge of Physics: A Journey to Earth’s Extremes to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe

July 8, 2010

The Edge of Physics cover

Author:
Anil Ananthaswamy
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade (2010)

Amazon | Despite 20th-century physics’ revelations, from relativity and quantum mechanics to the physics of the atom’s nucleus and the life cycles of stars, ninety-odd percent of the universe is a complete mystery, says a scientist quoted by Ananthaswamy, a consulting editor for New Scientist. Dark matter, dark energy, quantum gravity: these are the topics that keep physicists awake at night, requiring bigger, more massive, more extreme experiments to test… read more

The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong

July 8, 2010

The Genius in All of Us cover

Author:
David Shenk
Publisher:
Doubleday (2010)

Amazon | In The Genius in All of Us, Shenk beautifully explains why the nature-nurture debate is dead. It is not just the genes we are born with, but how we are raised and what opportunities are open to us that determine how smart we will become. Nurture and experience reshape our genes, and thus our brain. Shenk argues that the idea we are either born with genius or talent,… read more

The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America

July 7, 2010

The Harvard Psychedelic Club cover

Author:
Don Lattin
Publisher:
HarperOne (2010)

Amazon | It’s hard for folks who didn’t live through the 1960s to imagine what it was like to live in a drug and sex-soaked culture, one where traditional values were drowned in a rush of hedonism and hippiedom. Names like Timothy Leary and Ram Dass bring back all the memories and all the conflicts. In this beautifully constructed study, Lattin (Jesus Freaks) brings together four of the most… read more

A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe

July 7, 2010

A Tear at the Edge of Creation cover

Author:
Marcelo Gleiser
Publisher:
Free Press (2010)

Amazon | For most of his career, physicist Gleiser (The Dancing Universe) was a “true believer in unification,” seeing in string theory a “more profound description of Nature” with “a higher level of mathematical symmetry.” He now rejects the search for a perfect theory as an improvable article of belief akin to monotheism. Explaining his turnaround, Gleiser points to the game-changing 1998 discovery that the universe is expanding at an… read more

The Roadmap to 100: The Breakthrough Science of Living a Long and Healthy Life

July 7, 2010

The Roadmap to 100 Cover

Author:
Walter M. Bortz
Publisher:
Palgrave Macmillan (2010)

Amazon | With a baby boomer turning sixty every ten seconds, we are rapidly becoming an aging society. But cutting edge research on the connection between age and disease shows us that many of the preconceptions we had about how to grow old need a second look. This groundbreaking book is full of take-away prescriptive advice which the nearly seventy-five million boomers in this nation will value. Top gerontologist and… read more

Bursts: The Hidden Pattern Behind Everything We Do

July 7, 2010

Bursts cover

Author:
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Publisher:
Dutton Adult (2010)

Amazon | Can we scientifically predict our future? Scientists and pseudoscientists have been pursuing this mystery for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. But now, amazing new research is revealing that patterns in human behavior, previously thought to be purely random, follow predictable laws.

Albert-László Barabási, already the world’s preeminent researcher on the science of networks, describes his work on this profound mystery in Bursts, a stunningly original investigation… read more

Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever

May 1, 2010

fantastic voyage book

Author:
Ray Kurzweil
Publisher:
Rodale Books (2004)

Amazon | The idea behind Kurzweil and Grossman’s Fantastic Voyage is that if you can make it through the next 50 years, you might become immortal. How will that be possible? Through some rather science fictional steps, it turns out, including taking advantage of the latest in biotechnological breakthroughs and not-yet-invented nanotechnology.

Is all this longing for immortality driven by an obsession with youth or a fear of death?… read more

The Greatest Science Stories Never Told: 100 tales of invention and discovery to astonish, bewilder, and stupefy

April 3, 2010

the greatest science stories

Author:
Rick Beyer
Publisher:
Harper (2009)

Amazon | Rick Beyer is a lifelong history enthusiast and an award-winning documentary producer whose work for The History Channel® includes Godspeed to Jamestown, The Wright Challenge, and the Timelab 2000 series of history minutes.

100 tales of invention and discovery:

  • Meet the angry undertaker who gave us the push-button phone.
  • Discover how modesty led to the invention of the stethoscope.
  • Find out why

read more

Almost Human: Making Robots Think

March 22, 2010

almost_human

Author:
Lee Gutkind
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company (2009)

American Library Assoc. | Creative nonfiction guru and seasoned immersion journalist Gutkind observes that just as computers changed the world in the 1990s, robots will “transform technology” in the future. To find out who is behind the growing robotic surge, Gutkind spent six years observing life at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute, a “hypertechnological pressure cooker,” where work is frenzied, frustrating, “inspiring, compelling,” and addictive.

Gutkind presents vivid… read more

Breakpoint

February 12, 2010

breakpoint

Author:
Richard A. Clarke
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam's Sons (2007)

Penguin Group | In his fiction debut, The Scorpion’s Gate, Richard A. Clarke, former counterterrorism czar for Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, projected a world in 2010 in which the United States and China were competing politically and economically for a dwindling supply of increasingly expensive oil and gas.  That competition naturally took them to the Persian Gulf where the largest oil deposits remained, where the United States… read more

Simulation and its Discontents

January 18, 2010
Author:
Sherry Turkle
Publisher:
The MIT Press (2009)

Over the past twenty years, the technologies of simulation and visualization have changed our ways of looking at the world. In Simulation and Its Discontents, Sherry Turkle examines the now dominant medium of our working lives and finds that simulation has become its own sensibility. We hear it in Turkle’s description of architecture students who no longer design with a pencil, of science and engineering students who admit that… read more

Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness

January 18, 2010
Author:
Daniel Dennett
Publisher:
Basic Books (1997)

Publishers Weekly | Dennett (Darwin’s Dangerous Idea), director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, avers that language is the “slingshot” that has “launched [humans] far beyond all other earthly species in the power to look ahead and reflect.” In this brief study, some of which is drawn from notes for the author’s various lectures, and which returns him to some of the themes of his controversial… read more

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