Science Links & Resources

We must remember that everything  is ordinary and extraordinary. It is our minds that either open or close. Details are not good or bad. They are details.

-- Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones


  So much of what one encounters in the pursuit of science is so discipline and application specific that sometime it is easy to forget that there are more generail resources. Here are a few that fall into the latter category.

Barlow, Horace, Colin Blakemore, and Miranda Weston-Smith, eds., 1990: Images and Understanding: Thoughts about images: Ideas about understanding, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-36944-4, $32.95

How do you paint a picture of God, or dance about death, or draw a diagram explaining infinity? Images and Understanding explores the human problem of transferring facts and ideas from one mind to another -- the problem of how we see things. We create images, not just in the form of pictures and diagram, but with words, demonstrations, and even music and dance.

The editors present their findings in six sections: the essence of images, movement, narration, making images, images and thought, and images and meaning. Each section begins with an explanatory introduction and is followed by from internationally distinguished figures in fields and diverse as choreography, psychology, computer science, philosophy and art. Images and Understanding arrives at a new perspective on imagery through the eyes of both science and art, and provides new insights about images and new ideas about understanding.


Burke, James and Robert Ornstein, 1995: The Axemaker's Gift: a double-edged history of human culture, Putnam, ISBN 0399140883.

Using the whole of human history and Western culture as its canvas, this book shows how, at each major stage of innovation, from the first stone axe to the supercomputers of today's world, those few with the capacity for sequential analysis (the axemakers) generated technologies that gave them the power with which to control and shape the rest of their community. The other, older kinds of knowledge, born of intuition and the brain's multiple nonverbal talents, were undervalued and largely ignored. Now, the authors say, the cumulative effects of axemaker technology have brought us to the point where it is possible -- and imperative for our survival -- to bring back into use those ancient forms of knowledge, still resident in the non-axemaker cultures of the modern world.


Gershenfeld, Neil, 1999: The Nature of Mathematical Modeling, Cambridge University Press, hardcover.

This is a book about the nature of mathematical modeling, and about the kinds of techniques that are useful for modeling systems (both natural and otherwise). It is oriented towards simple, efficient implementations on computers.

The text has three parts. The first covers exact and approximate analytical techniques (ordinary differential and difference equations, partial differential equations, variational principles, stochastic processes); the second, numerical methods (finite differences for ODEs and PDEs, finite elements, cellular automata); and the third, model inference based on observations (function fitting, data transforms, network architectures, search techniques, density estimation, filtering and state estimation, linear and nonlinear time series).

Each of these essential topics would be the worth subject of a dedicated text, but such a narrow treatment obscures the connections among old and new approaches to modeling. By covering so much material so compactly, this book helps bring it to a much broader audience.


Greene, Brian, 1999: The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory, W W Norton & Co; ISBN: 0393046885

There is an ill-concealed skeleton in the closet of physics: "As they are currently formulated, general relativity and quantum mechanics cannot both be right." Each is exceedingly accurate in its field: general relativity explains the behavior of the universe at large scales, while quantum mechanics describes the behavior of subatomic particles. Yet the theories collide horribly under extreme conditions such as black holes or times close to the big bang. Brian Greene, a specialist in quantum field theory, believes that the two pillars of physics can be reconciled in superstring theory, a theory of everything.


Hamming, Richard W., 1997: The Art of Doing Science and Engineering -- Learning to Learn, Gordon and Breach Science Publ., ISBN 90-5699-501-4, Paperback, $28

This book is intended to instill in the reader a style of thinking that will enhance his/her ability to function as a problem solver of complex technical issues. A collection of stories about the author's participation in significant discoveries, it relates how those discoveries came about and,most importantly, provides analysis about the thought processes and reasoning that took place as the author and his associates progressed through engineering problems.

Dr. Hamming believes that highly effective thinking is an art that engineers and scientists can be taught to develop. By presenting actual experiences and analyzing them as they are described, he conveys the developmental thought processes employed and shows that a style of thinking that leads to successful results is something that can be learned. Along with spectacular success, the author also shows how failures contributed to shaping the thought processes.


Harte, John, 1988: Consider a Spherical Cow : A Course in Environmental Problem Solving, Reprint edition, Univ Science Books; ISBN: 093570258X

This innovative compendium offers a variety of techniques for approaching contemporary environmental problems. Challenging, real-world situations and worked-out solutions provide the means both for gaining insights into the process of problem solving and for thinking quantitatively and creatively about such environmental concerns as energy and water resources, food production, indoor air pollution, acid rain, and human influences on climate.


Hawking, Stephen, 1998: A Brief History of Time, 10th anniv edition, Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub (Trd); ISBN: 0553109537

A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic world--observations that have confirmed many of Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book. Now a decade later, this edition updates the chapters throughout to document those advances, and also includes an entirely new chapter on Wormholes and Time Travel and a new introduction. It make vividly clear why A Brief History of Time has transformed our view of the universe.


Stevens, Charles F., 1995: The Six Core Theories of Modern Physics, M.I.T. Press, ISB:N 0-262-69188-4.

A concise review of core mathematics and physics aimed both towardphysics students and toward those practicing phyics and desiring a fundamental background review that's focused on concepts rather than courses.



Hamming, Richard, 1986: You and Your Research, Transcription of the Bell Communications Research Colloquium Seminar 7 March 1986

This talk centers on Hamming's observations and research on the question "Why do so few scientists make significant contributions and so many are forgotten in the long run?" From his more than forty years of experience, thirty of which were at Bell Laboratories, he has made a number of direct observations, asked very pointed questions of scientists about what, how, and why they did things, studied the lives of great scientists and great contributions, and has done introspection and studied theories of creativity. The talk is about what he has learned in terms of the properties of the individual scientists, their abilities, traits, working habits, attitudes, and philosophy.

Redish, E.F., 1994: Implications of Cognitive Studies for Teaching Physics, American Journal of Physics, 62, 796-803.
Reif, Frederick, and J.H. Larkin, 1991: Cognition in Scientific and Everyday Domains: Comparison and Learning Implications, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28, 733-760.
Reif, Frederick, 1995: Millikan Lecture 1994: Understanding and Teaching Important Scientific Thought Processes. American Journal of Physics, 63, 17-32.

Stiller, Richard, 1997: Influence as Power, Perspectives 97-3 In an Essay Series Published by SunLabs.

Influence As Power was written for the Internet as an historic approach to modern business challenges. From the tales and deeds of Lawrence of Arabia, Stiller capitalized on his innate love of history to examine influence at the ultimate level. This paper provides an introduction to the fundamental concepts of strategic influence.


Sutherland, Ivan, 1996, Technology and Courage, Perspectives 96-1 In an Essay Series Published by SunLabs.

This paper is essentially the text of a lecture given at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. Sutherland commented: "Today, however, I want to do something very much harder for me. I want to depart from my familiar technical fields to address a different subject: courage. I direct my remarks to young people who may soon discover for the first time that to do technology requires courage, and to my older colleagues who, like me, have lan-guishing technical projects and reports that seem less important than today's urgent tasks. I am going to talk about the courage required to do creative technical work, and because I have mainly my own experience to draw on, this will be an intensely personal talk, revealing of my own failures of courage. I ask you to apply to your-selves any lessons you may learn."


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<bgsound SRC="../sounds/astime2.mid" loop=2>
Since much of my work has been connected with the solution of initial value problems, it seemed appropriate to play this piano arrangement and sequencing of "As Time Goes By"  by A.J. Spang


Keith Eric Grant — The RamblemuseSM, 26 July 2004. All rights reserved.