Author: Bruce Watson
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Light begins at Stonehenge, where crowds cheer a solstice sunrise. After sampling myths explaining First Light, the story moves on to early philosophers' queries, then through the centuries, from Buddhist temples to Biblical scripture, when light was the soul of the divine. Battling darkness and despair, Gothic architects crafted radiant cathedrals while Dante dreamed a "heaven of pure light." Later, following Leonardo's advice, Renaissance artists learned to capture light on canvas. During the Scientific Revolution, Galileo gathered light in his telescope, Descartes measured the rainbow, and Newton used prisms to solidify the science of optics. But even after Newton, light was an enigma. Particle or wave? Did it flow through an invisible "ether"? Through the age of Edison and into the age of lasers, Light reveals how light sparked new wonders--relativity, quantum electrodynamics, fiber optics, and more. Although lasers now perform everyday miracles, light retains its eternal allure. "For the rest of my life," Einstein said, "I will reflect on what light is." Light explores and celebrates such curiosity.
Catching the Light
Author: Arthur Zajonc
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks
Examination of the fundamental nature of light in mankind's history, world, and life.
Empire of Light:
Author: Sidney Perkowitz, A Joseph Henry Press book
Publisher: Joseph Henry Press
In Empire of Light, Sidney Perkowitz combines the expertise of a physicist with the vision of an art connoisseur and the skill of an accomplished writer to offer a unique view of the most fundamental feature of the universe: light. Empire of Light discusses the nature of light, how the eye sees, and how our understanding of these phenomena have emerged over the ages, including the role of light in the development of quantum physics. The author examines the making of electrical light and its integration into commerce, telecommunications, entertainment, medicine, warfare, and every other aspect of our daily lives. And he presents the role of light in the search for the beginning and the end of the universe, as astronomers with their instruments penetrate ever deeper into the sky. Visible light spans the spectrum between infrared and ultraviolet, but this book reaches across many other spectra as well--from the cave paintings at Lascaux to Mark Rothko's stark blocks of color in today's art museums, from Plato's speculation that the eye sends out rays to Ramon y Cajal's discovery that vision actually works in the opposite way, from Tycho Brahe's elegant antetelescope measurements of planet positions to the Hubble telescope's exquisite sensitivity to light from billions of light years away. What are the biological and neurological processes of perceiving visible light? How does a person typically scan a scene? Do you see red or blue the same way I do? What are our physiological reactions and emotional responses to light? Perkowitz explores these and many other fascinating questions, drawing together the experiences, achievements, and perspectives of a diverse cast of characters, including Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Van Gogh, and Edison. Empire of Light is written so that lay readers will readily grasp the scientific principles and science professionals will readily appreciate the human experience. It will impart new wonder to the daily experience of light in our world. Sidney Perkowitz is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory University. His work has appeared in national publications such as The Sciences, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, and Technology Review.
This book is a long-term history of optics, from early Greek theories of vision to the nineteenth-century victory of the wave theory of light. It shows how light gradually became the central entity of a domain of physics that no longer referred to the functioning of the eye; it retraces the subsequent competition between medium-based and corpuscular concepts of light; and it details the nineteenth-century flourishing of mechanical ether theories. The author critically exploits and sometimes completes the more specialized histories that have flourished in the past few years. The resulting synthesis brings out the actors' long-term memory, their dependence on broad cultural shifts, and the evolution of disciplinary divisions and connections. Conceptual precision, textual concision, and abundant illustration make the book accessible to a broad variety of readers interested in the origins of modern optics.
Author: Bruce Watson
A riveting account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history. In his critically acclaimed history Freedom Summer, award- winning author Bruce Watson presents powerful testimony about a crucial episode in the American civil rights movement. During the sweltering summer of 1964, more than seven hundred American college students descended upon segregated, reactionary Mississippi to register black voters and educate black children. On the night of their arrival, the worst fears of a race-torn nation were realized when three young men disappeared, thought to have been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Taking readers into the heart of these remarkable months, Freedom Summer shines new light on a critical moment of nascent change in America. "Recreates the texture of that terrible yet rewarding summer with impressive verisimilitude." -Washington Post
Eye and Brain
Author: Richard L. Gregory
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Since the publication of the first edition in 1966, Eye and Brain has established itself worldwide as an essential introduction to the basic phenomena of visual perception. Richard Gregory offers clear explanations of how we see brightness, movement, color, and objects, and he explores the phenomena of visual illusions to establish principles about how perception normally works and why it sometimes fails. Illusion continues to be a major theme in the book, which provides a comprehensive classification system. There are also sections on what babies see and how they learn to see, on motion perception, the relationship between vision and consciousness, and on the impact of new brain imaging techniques.
Hair: A Human History
Author: Kurt Stenn
Publisher: Pegasus Books
A microhistory in the vein of Salt and Cod exploring the biological, evolutionary, and cultural history of one of the world's most fascinating fibers. Most people don't give a second thought to the stuff on their head, but hair has played a crucial role in in fashion, the arts, sports, commerce, forensics, and industry. In Hair, Kurt Stenn — one of the world's foremost hair follicle experts — takes readers on global journey through history, from fur merchant associations and sheep farms to medical clinics and patient support groups, to show the remarkable impact hair has had on human life. From a completely bald beauty queen with alopecia to the famed hair-hang circus act, Stenn weaves the history of hair through a variety of captivating examples, with sources varying from renaissance merchants’ diaries to interviews with wig makers, modern barbers, and more. In addition to expelling the biological basis and the evolutionary history of hair, the fiber is put into context: hair in history (as tied to textile mills and merchant associations), hair as a construct for cultural and self-identity, hair in the arts (as the material for artist's brushes and musical instruments), hair as commodity (used for everything from the inner lining of tennis balls to an absorbent to clean up oil spills), and hair as evidence in criminology. Perfect for fans of Mark Kurlansky, Hair is a compelling read based solidly in historical and scientific research that will delight any reader who wants to know more about the world around them.
Mapping the Heavens
Author: Priyamvada Natarajan
Publisher: Yale University Press
For all curious readers, a lively introduction to radical ideas and discoveries that are transforming our knowledge of the universe This book provides a tour of the "greatest hits" of cosmological discoveries--the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. The cosmos, once understood as a stagnant place, filled with the ordinary, is now a universe that is expanding at an accelerating pace, propelled by dark energy and structured by dark matter. Priyamvada Natarajan, our guide to these ideas, is someone at the forefront of the research--an astrophysicist who literally creates maps of invisible matter in the universe. She not only explains for a wide audience the science behind these essential ideas but also provides an understanding of how radical scientific theories gain acceptance. The formation and growth of black holes, dark matter halos, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes--these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early twenty-first century. Natarajan discusses why the acceptance of new ideas about the universe and our place in it has never been linear and always contested even within the scientific community. And she affirms that, shifting and incomplete as science always must be, it offers the best path we have toward making sense of our wondrous, mysterious universe.
Sacco and Vanzetti
Author: Bruce Watson
Documents the infamous 1927 trial and execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, from the anarchist bombings in Washington, D.C., for which they may have been wrongfully convicted to the fierce public debates that have subsequently occurred as a result of the case.
Lucid, accessible introduction to the influential theory of energy and matter features careful explanations of Dirac's anti-particles, Bohr's model of the atom, and much more. Numerous drawings. 1966 edition.
A History of Pictures
Author: David Hockney, Martin Gayford
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
The making of pictures has a history going back perhaps 100,000 years to an African shell used as a paint palette. Two-thirds of it is irrevocably lost, since the earliest images known to us are from about 40,000 years ago. But what a 40,000 years, explored here by David Hockney and Martin Gayford in a brilliantly original book. They privilege no medium, or period, or style, but instead, in 16 chapters, discuss how and why pictures have been made, and insistently link 'art' to human skills and human needs. Each chapter addresses an important question: What happens when we try to express reality in two dimensions? Why is the 'Mona Lisa' beautiful and why are shadows so rarely found in Chinese, Japanese and Persian painting? Why are optical projections always going to be more beautiful than HD television can ever be? How have the makers of images depicted movement? What makes marks on a flat surface interesting? Energized by two lifetimes of looking at pictures, combined with a great artist's 70-year experience of experimentation as he makes them, this profoundly moving and enlightening volume will be the art book of the decade.
The Very First Light
Author: John Boslough, John Mather
Publisher: Basic Books
In the early 1990s, a NASA-led team of scientists changed the way we view the universe. With the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) project, they showed that the microwave radiation that fills the universe must have come from the Big Bang—effectively proving the Big Bang theory beyond any doubt. It was one of the greatest scientific findings of our generation, perhaps of all time. In The Very First Light, John Mather, one of COBE's leaders, and science writer John Boslough tell the story of how it was achieved. A gripping tale of big money, bigger egos, tense politics, and cutting-edge engineering, The Very First Light offers a rare insider's account of the world of big science.
In a work rich in maritime lore and brimming with original historical detail, Eric Jay Dolin, the best-selling author of Leviathan, presents an epic history of American lighthouses, telling the story of America through the prism of its beloved coastal sentinels. Set against the backdrop of an expanding nation, Brilliant Beacons traces the evolution of America's lighthouse system from its earliest days, highlighting the political, military, and technological battles fought to illuminate the nation's hardscrabble coastlines. Beginning with "Boston Light," America’s first lighthouse, Dolin shows how the story of America, from colony to regional backwater, to fledging nation, and eventually to global industrial power, can be illustrated through its lighthouses. Even in the colonial era, the question of how best to solve the collective problem of lighting our ports, reefs, and coasts through a patchwork of private interests and independent localities telegraphed the great American debate over federalism and the role of a centralized government. As the nation expanded, throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so too did the coastlines in need of illumination, from New England to the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Pacific Coast all the way to Alaska. In Dolin's hands we see how each of these beacons tell its own story of political squabbling, technological advancement, engineering marvel, and individual derring-do. In rollicking detail, Dolin treats readers to a memorable cast of characters, from the penny-pinching Treasury official Stephen Pleasonton, who hamstrung the country's efforts to adopt the revolutionary Fresnel lens, to the indomitable Katherine Walker, who presided so heroically over New York Harbor as keeper at Robbins Reef Lighthouse that she was hailed as a genuine New York City folk hero upon her death in 1931. He also animates American military history from the Revolution to the Civil War and presents tales both humorous and harrowing of soldiers, saboteurs, Civil War battles, ruthless egg collectors, and, most important, the lighthouse keepers themselves, men and women who often performed astonishing acts of heroism in carrying out their duties. In the modern world of GPS and satellite-monitored shipping lanes, Brilliant Beacons forms a poignant elegy for the bygone days of the lighthouse, a symbol of American ingenuity that served as both a warning and a sign of hope for generations of mariners; and it also shows how these sentinels have endured, retaining their vibrancy to the present day. Containing over 150 photographs and illustrations, Brilliant Beacons vividly reframes America's history.
A Sea of Glass
Author: Drew Harvell
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Winner of the 2016 National Outdoor Book Award, Environment Category It started with a glass octopus. Dusty, broken, and all but forgotten, it caught Drew Harvell’s eye. Fashioned in intricate detail by the father-son glassmaking team of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, the octopus belonged to a menagerie of unusual marine creatures that had been packed away for decades in a storage unit. More than 150 years earlier, the Blaschkas had been captivated by marine invertebrates and spun their likenesses into glass, documenting the life of oceans untouched by climate change and human impacts. Inspired by the Blaschkas’ uncanny replicas, Harvell set out in search of their living counterparts. In A Sea of Glass, she recounts this journey of a lifetime, taking readers along as she dives beneath the ocean's surface to a rarely seen world, revealing the surprising and unusual biology of some of the most ancient animals on the tree of life. On the way, we glimpse a century of change in our ocean ecosystems and learn which of the living matches for the Blaschkas’ creations are, indeed, as fragile as glass. Drew Harvell and the Blaschka menagerie are the subjects of the documentary Fragile Legacy, which won the Best Short Film award at the 2015 Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit. Learn more about the film and check out the trailer here.
Brilliance and Fire
Author: Rachelle Bergstein
From the author of Women from the Ankle Down comes a lively cultural biography of diamonds, which explores our society’s obsession with the world’s most brilliant gemstone and the real-world characters who make them shine. “A diamond is forever.” Who among us doesn’t recognize this phrase and, with it, the fascination that these shiny gemstones hold in our collective imagination as symbols of royalty, stars, and eternal love? But who gave us this catchphrase? Where do these gemstones and their colorful legacies originate? How did they become our culture’s symbol of engagement and marriage? Why have they retained their coveted status throughout the centuries? Rachelle Bergstein’s cultural biography of the diamond illuminates the enticing, often surprising story of our society’s enduring obsession with the hardest gemstone—and the people who have worked tirelessly to ensure its continued allure. From the South African mines where most diamonds have been sourced since the late 1890s to the companies who have fought to monopolize them; from the stars who have dazzled in them to the people behind the scenes who have carefully crafted our understanding of their value—Brilliance and Fire offers a glittering history of the world’s most coveted gemstone and its greatest champions and most colorful enthusiasts. Brilliance and Fire is illustrated with 16 pages of color photographs.