Scientific Reference Books

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  • Labyrinth: A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science

    Labyrinth: A Search for the Hidden Meaning of Science

    Karton Kapak
    Nature has secrets, and it is the desire to uncover them that motivates the scientific quest. But what makes these "secrets" secret? Is it that they are beyond human ken? that they concern divine matters? And if they are accessible to human seeking, why do they seem so carefully hidden? Such questions are at the heart of Peter Pesic's enlightening effort to uncover the meaning of modern science.Pesic portrays the struggle between the scientist and nature as the ultimate game of hide-and-seek, in which a childlike wonder propels the exploration of mysteries. Witness the young Albert Einstein, fascinated by a compass and the sense it gave him of "something deeply hidden behind things." In musical terms, the book is a triple fugue, interweaving three themes: the epic struggle between the scientist and nature; the distilling effects of the struggle on the scientist; and the emergence from this struggle of symbolic mathematics, the purified language necessary to decode nature's secrets.Pesic's quest for the roots of science begins with three key Renaissance figures: William Gilbert, a physician who began the scientific study of magnetism; François Viète, a French codebreaker who played a crucial role in the foundation of symbolic mathematics; and Francis Bacon, a visionary who anticipated the shape of modern science. Pesic then describes the encounters of three modern masters--Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein--with the depths of nature. Throughout, Pesic reads scientific works as works of literature, attending to nuance and tone as much as to surface meaning. He seeks the living center of human concern as it emerges in the ongoing search for nature's secrets.
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  • Formulas for Now

    Formulas for Now

    Sert Kapak
    Imaginative formulas for negotiating contemporary life from an eminent group of artistic and scientific minds.For centuries the formula has been one of the building blocks of human knowledge. In mathematics and science, formulas express information symbolically—to solve a problem, to describe an observable phenomenon, or to postulate a theory. More generally, a formula can be a plan of action; a statement or declaration; a definition or rule; or a list of ingredients or recipe to achieve a desired outcome.For all the contributors to this unique volume—including eminent minds from the fields of art, science, mathematics, performance, architecture, design, literature, and sociology—the formula is a fruitful way of investigating the nature of human existence. Selected especially for the book, more than one hundred invited participants have produced or chosen their own personal formulas to express the realities of contemporary life and to offer a means of negotiating a path through it.At times quirky and idiosyncratic, witty and playful, some of the formulas here register an indisputable fact or propose a speculative idea; others provide a method of bringing order to a complex universe—or point to the impossibility of doing so; still others suggest propositions for a better future. Together they help us understand who we are and the world in which we live.Contributors include Marina Abramovic; David Adjaye; John Baldessari; Matthew Barney; Louise Bourgeois; Thomas Demand; Elizabeth Diller; Olafur Eliasson; Brian Eno; Damien Hirst; Rem Koolhaas; Jeff Koons; Harry Mathews; Yoko Ono; Gerhard Richter; Nancy Spero; Rosemarie Trockel; Wang Jian Wei; James Watson. 105 illustrations, 48 in color.
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  • The Shadow of Enlightenment: Optical and Political Transparency in France 1789-1848

    The Shadow of Enlightenment: Optical and Political Transparency in France 1789-1848

    Sert Kapak
    This book is the first to place revolutionary advances in light and optics in the cultural context of France in the first half of the nineteenth century. The narrative follows the work and careers of France's two chief rivals on the subject of light: Arago and Biot. Their disagreement began on the subject of technical optics, but expanded to include politics, religion, agricultural policy, education, dinner companions, housing arrangements, photography, railroads, vital forces, astrology, the Egyptian calendar, and colonial slavery. At the heart of their disagreement was always a question of visibility, and the extent of transparency or obscurity they assigned to the world. Optical transparency formed a crucial condition for Arago's vision of a liberal republic governed by reason. Biot's call for strong forms of authority rested on his claims that the world did not offer itself up for universal agreement so easily.
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