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F. David Peat

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Book Reviews

Information on books by F. David Peat are available on his web site at www.fdavidpeat.com. They will shortly be made available on this site as well.

Books written by Pari Center Faculty and Advisors will be listed shortly.

New Books

The Center has received the following new books which may be of interest:

Homage to Gaia: The Life of an Independent Scientist
James Lovelock, Oxford University Press, 2001 ISBN 019-860429-7 $15.95

The autobiography of James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis that suggests Earth is an entire living organism. Lovelock describes his childhood and his invention of the Electron Capture Detector that indicated the presence of harmful pollutants in the earth's atmosphere. His reflections on atmosphere led him to propose a test for the existence of life on Mars.

Einstein's Universe: Gravity at Work and Play
A. Zee, Oxford University Press, 2001,ISBN 0-19-514285-3 $15.95

Anthony Zee is a physicist and author of several books on popular science including Fearful Symmetry. His present book explains Einstein's theory of general relativity and explores the nature of the force of gravity.

A Passion for DNA: Genes, Genomes and Society
James D, Watson, Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-860428-9 $15.95

In a series of essays James Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA reflects on the present state and social implications of research in molecular genetics. In addition to his observations on the Human Genome Project and recombinant DNA he discusses general issues of scientific ethics as well as including some autobiographical reflections.

The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist
Frans de Waal, Basic Books, 2001, ISBN 0-465-04175-2, $26.00

De Waal challenges our assumptions about the cultural and cognitive nature of the primates. To what extent do we differ and to what extent are we similar to the apes. De Waal sees the apes as an aspect of an extended cultural family that includes ourselves. In particular he argues for cultural transmission of learning through imitation. Just as the Sushi apprentice learns by painstaking observation, rather than through experimentation, so apes learn new tasks and in turn pass them on to their primate society.

This Man's Pill: Reflections on the 50th Birthday of the Pill
Carl Djerassi, Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN o019-8508727-7

In Mexico City on 15 October, 1951 Carl Djerassi synthesized a steroid chemical that was soon to become known as "The Pill" - the world's first oral contraceptive. Ease of contraception set the stage for the Sexual Revolution and the Swinging Sixties. In addition to his scientific work Djerassi is author to several novels and plays. In this book he reflects on the social impacts of his revolution and asks, amongst other questions, why no "Pill" exists for men.

Visualizations: The nature Book of Art and Science
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000

One area explored by the Pari Center and the Accademia dei Pari is the link between art and science. Of particular interest is a new book by Martin Kemp:



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The book arose out of a series of articles written for the scientific journal Nature by the Oxford art historian Martin Kemp. It deals with the ways a variety of different visualizations, and styles of visualization, have been used in science and, in turn, with various ways of seeing (and therefore of depicting). For Kemp, visualization has always played an important role in scientific understanding, yet modes of representation are never neutral but emerge out of the infrastructures and paradigms of science and of art. I found the book exciting and stimulating since it went beyond the usual platitudes about the links between art and science to look at specific examples and commonalties in ways of seeing and understanding the world.

 
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