Meeting the Universe Halfway is an ambitious book with far-reaching implications for numerous fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. In this volume, Karen Barad, theoretical physicist and feminist theorist, elaborates her theory of agential realism. Offering an account of the world as a whole rather than as composed of separate natural and social realms, agential realism is at once a new epistemology, ontology, and ethics. The starting point for Barad's analysis is the philosophical framework of quantum physicist Niels Bohr. Barad extends and partially revises Bohr's philosophical views in light of current scholarship in physics, science studies, and the philosophy of science as well as feminist, poststructuralist, and other critical social theories. In the process, she significantly reworks understandings of space, time, matter, causality, agency, subjectivity, and objectivity. In an agential realist account, the world is made of entanglements of "social" and "natural" agencies, where the distinction between the two emerges out of specific intra-actions. Intra-activity is an inexhaustible dynamism that configures and reconfigures relations of space-time-matter. In explaining intra-activity, Barad reveals questions about how nature and culture interact and change over time to be fundamentally misguided. And she reframes understanding of the nature of scientific and political practices and their "interrelationship." Thus she pays particular attention to the responsible practice of science, and she emphasizes changes in the understanding of political practices, critically reworking Judith Butler's influential theory of performativity. Finally, Barad uses agential realism to produce a new interpretation of quantum physics, demonstrating that agential realism is more than a means of reflecting on science; it can be used to actually do science.
Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, thrived on outrageous adventures. Here he recounts in his inimitable voice his experience trading ideas on atomic physics with Einstein and Bohr and ideas on gambling with Nick the Greek; cracking the uncrackable safes guarding the most deeply held nuclear secrets; accompanying a ballet on his bongo drums; painting a naked female toreador. In short, here is Feynman's life in all its eccentric--a combustible mixture of high intelligence, unlimited curiosity, and raging chutzpah.
While many scientists are familiar with fractals, fewer are familiar with scale-invariance and universality which underlie the ubiquity of their shapes. These properties may emerge from the collective behaviour of simple fundamental constituents, and are studied using statistical field theories. Initial chapters connect the particulate perspective developed in the companion volume, to the coarse grained statistical fields studied here. Based on lectures taught by Professor Kardar at MIT, this textbook demonstrates how such theories are formulated and studied. Perturbation theory, exact solutions, renormalization groups, and other tools are employed to demonstrate the emergence of scale invariance and universality, and the non-equilibrium dynamics of interfaces and directed paths in random media are discussed. Ideal for advanced graduate courses in statistical physics, it contains an integrated set of problems, with solutions to selected problems at the end of the book and a complete set available to lecturers at www.cambridge.org/9780521873413.
"Clock time", with all its benefits and anxieties, is often viewed as a "modern" phenomenon, but ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures also had tools for marking and measuring time within the day and wrestled with challenges of daily time management. This book brings together for the first time perspectives on the interplay between short-term timekeeping technologies and their social contexts in ancient Egypt, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. Its contributions denaturalize modern-day concepts of clocks, hours, and temporal frameworks; describe some of the timekeeping solutions used in antiquity; and illuminate the diverse factors that affected how individuals and communities structured their time.
Between 1608 and 1610 the canopy of the night sky changed forever, ripped open by an object created almost by accident: a cylinder with lenses at both ends. Galileo's Telescope tells the story of how an ingenious optical device evolved from a toy-like curiosity into a precision scientific instrument, all in a few years. In transcending the limits of human vision, the telescope transformed humanity's view of itself and knowledge of the cosmos. Galileo plays a leading--but by no means solo--part in this riveting tale. He shares the stage with mathematicians, astronomers, and theologians from Paolo Sarpi to Johannes Kepler and Cardinal Bellarmine, sovereigns such as Rudolph II and James I, as well as craftsmen, courtiers, poets, and painters. Starting in the Netherlands, where a spectacle-maker created a spyglass with the modest magnifying power of three, the telescope spread like technological wildfire to Venice, Rome, Prague, Paris, London, and ultimately India and China. Galileo's celestial discoveries--hundreds of stars previously invisible to the naked eye, lunar mountains, and moons orbiting Jupiter--were announced to the world in his revolutionary treatise Sidereus Nuncius. Combining science, politics, religion, and the arts, Galileo's Telescope rewrites the early history of a world-shattering innovation whose visual power ultimately came to embody meanings far beyond the science of the stars.
Covering 13.8 billion years in some 100 pages, a calculatedly concise, wryly intelligent history of everything, from the Big Bang to the advent of human civilization With wonder, wit, and flair--and in record time and space--geophysicist David Bercovici explains how everything came to be everywhere, from the creation of stars and galaxies to the formation of Earth's atmosphere and oceans, to the origin of life and human civilization. Bercovici marries humor and legitimate scientific intrigue, rocketing readers across nearly fourteen billion years and making connections between the essential theories that give us our current understanding of topics as varied as particle physics, plate tectonics, and photosynthesis. Bercovici's unique literary endeavor is a treasure trove of real, compelling science and fascinating history, providing both science lovers and complete neophytes with an unforgettable introduction to the fields of cosmology, geology, genetics, climate science, human evolution, and more.
The methods used in the detection and characterisation of exoplanets are presented through the study of transiting systems in this unique textbook for advanced undergraduates. From determining the atmospheric properties of transiting exoplanets to measuring the planetary orbit's alignment with the stellar spin, students will discover what these measurements imply for reinvigorated theories of planet formation and evolution. Worked examples and exercises with full solutions help students to assess their understanding of concepts and results. Key points and equations are highlighted to make them easily identifiable, and there are full colour illustrations throughout. Bridging the gap between introductory, non-mathematical texts and more advanced textbooks, this book is ideal for students with some background in mathematics, physics and astronomy. Accompanying resources to this textbook are available at: http://www.cambridge.org/features/astrophysics.