The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge Author Abraham Flexner
ISBN-10 9781400884629
Release 2017-02-06
Pages 104
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A forty-year tightening of funding for scientific research has meant that resources are increasingly directed toward applied or practical outcomes, with the intent of creating products of immediate value. In such a scenario, it makes sense to focus on the most identifiable and urgent problems, right? Actually, it doesn't. In his classic essay "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge," Abraham Flexner, the founding director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the man who helped bring Albert Einstein to the United States, describes a great paradox of scientific research. The search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs. In short, no quantum mechanics, no computer chips. This brief book includes Flexner's timeless 1939 essay alongside a new companion essay by Robbert Dijkgraaf, the Institute's current director, in which he shows that Flexner's defense of the value of "the unobstructed pursuit of useless knowledge" may be even more relevant today than it was in the early twentieth century. Dijkgraaf describes how basic research has led to major transformations in the past century and explains why it is an essential precondition of innovation and the first step in social and cultural change. He makes the case that society can achieve deeper understanding and practical progress today and tomorrow only by truly valuing and substantially funding the curiosity-driven "pursuit of useless knowledge" in both the sciences and the humanities.



The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge Author Abraham Flexner
ISBN-10 0691174768
Release 2017-02-28
Pages 112
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A forty-year tightening of funding for scientific research has meant that resources are increasingly directed toward applied or practical outcomes, with the intent of creating products of immediate value. In such a scenario, it makes sense to focus on the most identifiable and urgent problems, right? Actually, it doesn't. In his classic essay "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge," Abraham Flexner, the founding director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the man who helped bring Albert Einstein to the United States, describes a great paradox of scientific research. The search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs. In short, no quantum mechanics, no computer chips. This brief book includes Flexner's timeless 1939 essay alongside a new companion essay by Robbert Dijkgraaf, the Institute's current director, in which he shows that Flexner's defense of the value of "the unobstructed pursuit of useless knowledge" may be even more relevant today than it was in the early twentieth century. Dijkgraaf describes how basic research has led to major transformations in the past century and explains why it is an essential precondition of innovation and the first step in social and cultural change. He makes the case that society can achieve deeper understanding and practical progress today and tomorrow only by truly valuing and substantially funding the curiosity-driven "pursuit of useless knowledge" in both the sciences and the humanities.



The Usefulness of the Useless

The Usefulness of the Useless Author Nuccio Ordine
ISBN-10 9781589881167
Release 2017-02-21
Pages 176
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“A little masterpiece of originality and clarity.”—George Steiner “A necessary book.”—Roberto Saviano “A wonderful little book that will delight you.”—François Busnel International Best Seller / Now in English for the First Time In this thought-provoking and extremely timely work, Nuccio Ordine convincingly argues for the utility of useless knowledge and against the contemporary fixation on utilitarianism—for the fundamental importance of the liberal arts and against the damage caused by their neglect. Inspired by the reflections of great philosophers and writers (e.g., Plato, Dante, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Borges, and Calvino), Ordine reveals how the obsession for material goods and the cult of utility ultimately wither the spirit, jeopardizing not only schools and universities, art, and creativity, but also our most fundamental values—human dignity, love, and truth. Also included is Abraham Flexner’s 1939 essay “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge,” which originally prompted Ordine to write this book. Flexner—a founder and the first director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton—offers an impassioned defense of curiosity-driven research and learning.



The Knowledge for Sale

The Knowledge for Sale Author Lawrence Busch
ISBN-10 9780262036078
Release 2017-02-10
Pages 176
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How free-market fundamentalists have shifted the focus of higher education to competition, metrics, consumer demand, and return on investment, and why we should change this.



Not a Scientist How Politicians Mistake Misrepresent and Utterly Mangle Science

Not a Scientist  How Politicians Mistake  Misrepresent  and Utterly Mangle Science Author Dave Levitan
ISBN-10 9780393353334
Release 2017-01-17
Pages 208
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An eye-opening tour of the political tricks that subvert scientific progress. The Butter-Up and Undercut. The Certain Uncertainty. The Straight-Up Fabrication. Dave Levitan dismantles all of these deceptive arguments, and many more, in this probing and hilarious examination of the ways our elected officials attack scientific findings that conflict with their political agendas. The next time you hear a politician say, "Well, I’m not a scientist, but…," you’ll be ready.



Convergence

Convergence Author Peter Watson
ISBN-10 9781476754345
Release 2017-02-21
Pages 576
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Originally published in Great Britain in 2016 with different subtitle: Convergence: the deepest idea in the universe.



System

System Author Clifford Siskin
ISBN-10 9780262035316
Release 2016-10-21
Pages 336
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A system can describe what we see (the solar system), operate a computer (Windows 10), or be made on a page (the fourteen engineered lines of a sonnet). In this book, Clifford Siskin shows that system is best understood as a genre -- a form that works physically in the world to mediate our efforts to understand it. Indeed, many Enlightenment authors published works they called "system" to compete with the essay and the treatise. Drawing on the history of system from Galileo's "message from the stars" and Newton's "system of the world" to today's "computational universe," Siskin illuminates the role that the genre of system has played in the shaping and reshaping of modern knowledge. Previous engagements with systems have involved making them, using them, or imagining better ones. Siskin offers an innovative perspective by investigating system itself. He considers the past and present, moving from the "system of the world" to "a world full of systems." He traces the turn to system in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and describes this primary form of Enlightenment as a mediator of political, cultural, and social modernity -- pointing to the moment when people began to "blame the system" for working both too well ("you can't beat the system") and not well enough (it always seems to "break down"). Throughout, his touchstones are: what system is and how it has changed; how it has mediated knowledge; and how it has worked in the world.



Iconoclast

Iconoclast Author Thomas Neville Bonner
ISBN-10 0801871247
Release 2002-11-01
Pages 376
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"Thanks to Thomas Bonner's Iconoclast, we finally have the biography Flexner deserves and readers seek." -- Journal of Higher Education



The Genome Factor

The Genome Factor Author Dalton Conley
ISBN-10 9781400883240
Release 2017-01-09
Pages 296
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For a century, social scientists have avoided genetics like the plague. But the nature-nurture wars are over. In the past decade, a small but intrepid group of economists, political scientists, and sociologists have harnessed the genomics revolution to paint a more complete picture of human social life than ever before. The Genome Factor describes the latest astonishing discoveries being made at the scientific frontier where genomics and the social sciences intersect. The Genome Factor reveals that there are real genetic differences by racial ancestry—but ones that don't conform to what we call black, white, or Latino. Genes explain a significant share of who gets ahead in society and who does not, but instead of giving rise to a genotocracy, genes often act as engines of mobility that counter social disadvantage. An increasing number of us are marrying partners with similar education levels as ourselves, but genetically speaking, humans are mixing it up more than ever before with respect to mating and reproduction. These are just a few of the many findings presented in this illuminating and entertaining book, which also tackles controversial topics such as genetically personalized education and the future of reproduction in a world where more and more of us are taking advantage of cheap genotyping services like 23andMe to find out what our genes may hold in store for ourselves and our children. The Genome Factor shows how genomics is transforming the social sciences—and how social scientists are integrating both nature and nurture into a unified, comprehensive understanding of human behavior at both the individual and society-wide levels.



Transfer of Learning

Transfer of Learning Author Robert E. Haskell
ISBN-10 9780123305954
Release 2001
Pages 241
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Educators and educational psychologists recognize transfer of learning as a significant issue in various fields of instruction. Transfer of learning cuts across various educational domains, curricula, and methods. This book shows that transfer of learning is not just a technique of learning or instruction, but a way of thinking and knowing.



Exceptional Creativity in Science and Technology

Exceptional Creativity in Science and Technology Author Andrew Robinson
ISBN-10 9781599474304
Release 2013-02-22
Pages 272
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In the evolution of science and technology, laws governing exceptional creativity and innovation have yet to be discovered. The historian Thomas Kuhn, in his influential study The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, noted that the final stage in a scientific breakthrough such as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity—that is, the most crucial stage—was “inscrutable.” The same is still true half a century later. Yet, there has been considerable progress in understanding many of the stages and facets of exceptional creativity and innovation. In Exceptional Creativity in Science and Technology editor Andrew Robinson gathers together a diverse group of contributors to explore this progress. This new collection arises from a symposium with the same title held at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), in Princeton. Organized by the John Templeton Foundation, the symposium had as its chair the late distinguished doctor and geneticist Baruch S. Blumberg, while its IAS host was the well-known physicist Freeman J. Dyson—both of whom have contributed chapters to the book. In addition to scientists, engineers, and an inventor, the book’s fifteen contributors include an economist, entrepreneurs, historians, and sociologists, all working at leading institutions, including Bell Laboratories, Microsoft Research, Oxford University, Princeton University, and Stanford University. Each contributor brings a unique perspective to the relationships between exceptional scientific creativity and innovation by individuals and institutions. The diverse list of disciplines covered, the high-profile contributors (including two Nobel laureates), and their fascinating insights into this overarching question—how exactly do we make breakthroughs?—will make this collection of interest to anyone involved with the creative process in any context, but it will be especially appealing to readers in scientific and technological fields.



Climate Change and the Health of Nations

Climate Change and the Health of Nations Author Anthony McMichael
ISBN-10 9780190262952
Release 2017-02-06
Pages 400
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When we think of "climate change," we think of man-made global warming, caused by greenhouse gas emissions. But natural climate change has occurred throughout human history, and populations have had to adapt to the climate's vicissitudes. Anthony J. McMichael, a renowned epidemiologist and a pioneer in the field of how human health relates to climate change, is the ideal person to tell this story. Climate Change and the Health of Nations shows how the natural environment has vast direct and indirect repercussions for human health and welfare. McMichael takes us on a tour of human history through the lens of major transformations in climate. From the very beginning of our species some five million years ago, human biology has evolved in response to cooling temperatures, new food sources, and changing geography. As societies began to form, they too adapted in relation to their environments, most notably with the development of agriculture eleven thousand years ago. Agricultural civilization was a Faustian bargain, however: the prosperity and comfort that an agrarian society provides relies on the assumption that the environment will largely remain stable. Indeed, for agriculture to succeed, environmental conditions must be just right, which McMichael refers to as the "Goldilocks phenomenon." Global warming is disrupting this balance, just as other climate-related upheavals have tested human societies throughout history. As McMichael shows, the break-up of the Roman Empire, the bubonic Plague of Justinian, and the mysterious collapse of Mayan civilization all have roots in climate change. Why devote so much analysis to the past, when the daunting future of climate change is already here? Because the story of mankind�s previous survival in the face of an unpredictable and unstable climate, and of the terrible toll that climate change can take, could not be more important as we face the realities of a warming planet. This sweeping magnum opus is not only a rigorous, innovative, and fascinating exploration of how the climate affects the human condition, but also an urgent call to recognize our species' utter reliance on the earth as it is.



The Beautiful Brain

The Beautiful Brain Author Larry W. Swanson
ISBN-10 9781613129944
Release 2017-01-17
Pages 208
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At the crossroads of art and science, Beautiful Brain presents Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience through his groundbreaking artistic brain imagery. Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) was the father of modern neuroscience and an exceptional artist. He devoted his life to the anatomy of the brain, the body’s most complex and mysterious organ. His superhuman feats of visualization, based on fanatically precise techniques and countless hours at the microscope, resulted in some of the most remarkable illustrations in the history of science. Beautiful Brain presents a selection of his exquisite drawings of brain cells, brain regions, and neural circuits with accessible descriptive commentary. These drawings are explored from multiple perspectives: Larry W. Swanson describes Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience; Lyndel King and Eric Himmel explore his artistic roots and achievement; Eric A. Newman provides commentary on the drawings; and Janet M. Dubinsky describes contemporary neuroscience imaging techniques. This book is the companion to a traveling exhibition opening at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis in February 2017, marking the first time that many of these works, which are housed at the Instituto Cajal in Madrid, have been seen outside of Spain. Beautiful Brain showcases Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience, explores his artistic roots and achievement, and looks at his work in relation to contemporary neuroscience imaging, appealing to general readers and professionals alike.



Stand Firm

Stand Firm Author Svend Brinkmann
ISBN-10 9781509514298
Release 2017-02-27
Pages 152
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The pace of modern life is accelerating. To keep up, we must keep on moving and adapting – constantly striving for greater happiness and success. Or so we are told. But the demands of life in the fast lane come at a price: stress, fatigue and depression are at an all-time high, while our social interactions have become increasingly self-serving and opportunistic. How can we resist today's obsession with introspection and self-improvement? In this witty and bestselling book, Danish philosopher and psychologist Svend Brinkmann argues that we must not be afraid to reject the self-help mantra and 'stand firm'. The secret to a happier life lies not in finding your inner self but in coming to terms with yourself in order to coexist peacefully with others. By encouraging us to stand firm and get a foothold in life, this vibrant anti-self-help guide offers a compelling alternative to life coaching, positive thinking and the need always to say 'yes!'



Understanding the Digital World

Understanding the Digital World Author Brian W. Kernighan
ISBN-10 9781400884803
Release 2017-01-09
Pages 256
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The basics of how computer hardware, software, and systems work, and the risks they create for our privacy and security Computers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cell phones, and smart watches. But most are invisible, like those in appliances, cars, medical equipment, transportation systems, power grids, and weapons. We never see the myriad computers that quietly collect, share, and sometimes leak vast amounts of personal data about us. Through computers, governments and companies increasingly monitor what we do. Social networks and advertisers know far more about us than we should be comfortable with, using information we freely give them. Criminals have all-too-easy access to our data. Do we truly understand the power of computers in our world? Understanding the Digital World explains how computer hardware, software, networks, and systems work. Topics include how computers are built and how they compute; what programming is and why it is difficult; how the Internet and the web operate; and how all of these affect our security, privacy, property, and other important social, political, and economic issues. This book also touches on fundamental ideas from computer science and some of the inherent limitations of computers. It includes numerous color illustrations, notes on sources for further exploration, and a glossary to explain technical terms and buzzwords. Understanding the Digital World is a must-read for all who want to know more about computers and communications. It explains, precisely and carefully, not only how they operate but also how they influence our daily lives, in terms anyone can understand, no matter what their experience and knowledge of technology.



Speaking of Universities

Speaking of Universities Author Stefan Collini
ISBN-10 1786631393
Release 2017
Pages 304
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-A devastating analysis of what is happening to our universities In recent decades there has been an immense global surge in the numbers both of universities and of students. In the UK alone there are now over 140 institutions teaching more subjects to nearly 2.5 million students. New technology offers new ways of learning and teaching. Globalization forces institutions to consider a new economic horizon. At the same time governments have systematically imposed new procedures regulating funding, governance, and assessment. Universities are being forced to behave more like business enterprises in a commercial marketplace than centres of learning. In Speaking of Universities, historian and critic Stefan Collini analyses these changes and challenges the assumptions of policy-makers and commentators. He asks: does 'marketization' threaten to destroy what we most value about education; does this new era of 'accountability' distort what it purports to measure; and who does the modern university belong to? Responding to recent policies and their underlying ideology, the book is a call to 'focus on what is actually happening and the cliches behind which it hides; an incitement to think again, think more clearly, and then to press for something better'---



Chasing Space Young Readers Edition

Chasing Space Young Readers  Edition Author Leland Melvin
ISBN-10 9780062665942
Release 2017-05-23
Pages 240
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Meet Leland Melvin—football star, NASA astronaut, and professional dream chaser. In this inspiring memoir, adapted from the simultaneous version for adults, young readers will get to learn about Leland Melvin’s remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station to writing songs with will.i.am, working with Serena Williams, and starring in top-rated television shows like The Dog Whisperer, Top Chef, and Child Genius. When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world. He joined NASA, braved an injury that nearly left him permanently deaf, and still managed to muster the courage and resolve to travel to space on the shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland’s problem-solving methods and can-do attitude turned his impossible-seeming dream into reality. Leland’s story introduces readers to the fascinating creative and scientific challenges he had to deal with in space and will encourage the next generation of can-do scientists to dare to follow their dreams. With do-it-yourself experiments in the back of the book and sixteen pages of striking full-color photographs, this is the perfect book for young readers looking to be inspired.