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Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

July 20, 2010

Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind

Author:
V. S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee, Oliver Sacks
Publisher:
Harper Perennial (1999)

In these unsettling tales from a neuroscientist every bit as quirky as the more famous Oliver Sacks, Ramachandran sets out his beliefs that no matter how bizarre the case, empirical, strikingly simple testing can illuminate the ways brain circuitry establishes “self.” In a chatty, nearly avuncular style, he (along with his coauthor, a New York Times science writer) snatches territory from philosophers on how we think we know what… read more

A Cosmist Manifesto: Practical Philosophy for the Posthuman Age

July 22, 2010

A Cosmist Manifesto: Practical Philosophy for the Posthuman Age

Author:
Ben Goertzel
Publisher:
Humanity + (2010)

Amazon | The term Cosmism was introduced by Tsiolokovsky and other Russian Cosmists around 1900. Goertzel’s “Cosmist Manifesto” gives it new life and a new twist for the 21st century. Cosmism, as Goertzel presents it, is a practical philosophy for the posthuman era. Rooted in Western and Eastern philosophy as well as modern technology and science, it is a way of understanding ourselves and our universe that makes sense… read more

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

July 27, 2010

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Author:
Matt Ridley
Publisher:
Harper (2010)

Amazon | Ideas have sex, in Ridley’s schema; they follow a process of natural selection of their own, and as long as they continue to do so, there is reason to retire apocalyptic pessimism about the future of our species. Erstwhile zoologist, conservationist, and journalist, Ridley (The Red Queen) posits that as long as civilization engages in exchange and specialization, we will be able to reinvent ourselves and responsibly… read more

The Lifecycle of Software Objects

August 3, 2010

Lifecycle of Software Objects

Author:
Ted Chiang
Publisher:
Subterranean (2010)

Amazon | Is science fiction a literature of ideas, or of characters? Works that focus on the former often neglect the latter, and vice versa. It’s very difficult to examine complex abstractions and simultaneously articulate the mechanisms of fiction: most writers who attempt this balancing act end up throttling back on the ideas, or fail sideways into technical writing. So Chiang’s novella–the second piece he’s ever published that’s long… read more

Rhythms of the Brain

August 3, 2010

Rhythms of the Brain

Author:
Gyorgy Buzsaki
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA (2006)

Amazon | Studies of mechanisms in the brain that allow complicated things to happen in a coordinated fashion have produced some of the most spectacular discoveries in neuroscience. This book provides eloquent support for the idea that spontaneous neuron activity, far from being mere noise, is actually the source of our cognitive abilities. It takes a fresh look at the co-evolution of structure and function in the mammalian brain,… read more

Permutation City

August 6, 2010

Permutation City

Author:
Greg Egan
Publisher:
Eos (1995)

Amazon | The good news is that you have just awakened into Eternal Life. You are going to live forever. Immortality is a reality. A medical miracle? Not exactly.

The bad news is that you are a scrap of electronic code. The world you see around you, the you that is seeing it, has been digitized, scanned, and downloaded into a virtual reality program. You are a Copy… read more

Zero History

September 3, 2010

Zero History

Author:
William Gibson
Publisher:
Putnam Adult (2010)

Amazon | After a gig investigating “locative art” for the “overly wealthy and dangerously curious” Hubertus Bigend, founder of the trend-forecasting firm Blue Ant (Spook Country, 2007), Hollis Henry finds herself once again under Bigend’s employ. This time she is hired to discover the identity of the designer of a secret brand of clothing called Gabriel Hounds, whom Bigend hopes to enlist in his bid to get into the… read more

The Grand Design

September 3, 2010

The Grand Design

Author:
Stephen William Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow
Publisher:
Bantam (2010)

Amazon | The three central questions of philosophy and science: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other? No one can make a discussion of such matters as compulsively readable as the celebrated University of Cambridge cosmologist Hawking (A Brief History of Time).

Along with Caltech physicist Mlodinow (The Drunkard’s Walk), Hawking deftly mixes cutting-edge… read more

Daemon

September 3, 2010

daemon

Author:
Daniel Suarez
Publisher:
Signet (2009)

Amazon | Originally self-published, Suarez’s riveting debut would be a perfect gift for a favorite computer geek or anyone who appreciates thrills, chills and cyber suspense. Gaming genius Matthew Sobol, the 34-year-old head of CyberStorm Entertainment, has just died of brain cancer, but death doesn’t stop him from initiating an all-out Internet war against humanity. When the authorities investigate Sobol’s mansion in Thousand Oaks, Calif., they find… read more

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

September 7, 2010

theshallows

Author:
Nicholas G. Carr
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company (2010)

Amazon | The best-selling author of The Big Switch returns with an explosive look at technology’s effect on the mind. “Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the… read more

A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer

September 9, 2010

shortcut through time

Author:
George Johnson
Publisher:
Vintage Books (2004)

Amazon | In this remarkably illustrative and thoroughly accessible look at one of the most intriguing frontiers in science and computers, award-winning New York Times writer George Johnson reveals the fascinating world of quantum computing—the holy grail of super computers where the computing power of single atoms is harnassed to create machines capable of almost unimaginable calculations in the blink of an eye.

As computer chips continue to… read more

The Fabric of Reality: The Science of Parallel Universes and Its Implications

September 10, 2010

fabricofreality

Author:
David Deutsch
Publisher:
Penguin (1998)

Amazon | “Our best theories are not only truer than common sense, they make more sense than common sense,” writes physicist David Deutsch. In The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch traces what he considers the four main strands of scientific explanation: quantum theory, evolution, computation, and the theory of knowledge. “The four of them taken together form a coherent explanatory structure that is so far-reaching, and has come to… read more

The Quantum Brain: The Search for Freedom and the Next Generation of Man

September 10, 2010

quantumbrain

Author:
Jeffrey Satinover
Publisher:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (2001)

Amazon | Do we have free will or just imagine that we do? Do we create our own destinies or are we merely machines? Can we create a brain bigger than our own? To answer these and many other provocative questions, psychiatrist, researcher, and critically acclaimed author Jeffrey Satinover turns to the cutting edge of science and sees a future for and truth about ourselves that are… read more

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

September 10, 2010

morallandscape

Author:
Sam Harris
Publisher:
Free Press (2010)

Amazon | Sam Harris’s first book, The End of Faith, ignited a worldwide debate about the validity of religion. In the aftermath, Harris discovered that most people—from religious fundamentalists to nonbelieving scientists—agree on one point: science has nothing to say on the subject of human values.

Indeed, our failure to address questions of meaning and morality through science has now become the most common justification for religious… read more

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

September 13, 2010

convergenceculture

Author:
Henry Jenkins
Publisher:
New York University Press (2006)

Reed Business Information | Henry Jenkins, founder and director of MIT’s comparative media studies program, debunks outdated ideas of the digital revolution in this remarkable book, proving that new media will not simply replace old media, but rather will learn to interact with it in a complex relationship he calls “convergence culture.”  The book’s goal is to explain how convergence is currently impacting the relationship among media… read more

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