The Control Of Nature

Author: John McPhee
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374708495
Size: 14.48 MB
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While John McPhee was working on his previous book, Rising from the Plains, he happened to walk by the engineering building at the University of Wyoming, where words etched in limestone said: "Strive on--the control of Nature is won, not given." In the morning sunlight, that central phrase--"the control of nature"--seemed to sparkle with unintended ambiguity. Bilateral, symmetrical, it could with equal speed travel in opposite directions. For some years, he had been planning a book about places in the world where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature, about (in the words of the book itself) "any struggle against natural forces--heroic or venal, rash or well advised--when human beings conscript themselves to fight against the earth, to take what is not given, to rout the destroying enemy, to surround the base of Mt. Olympus demanding and expecting the surrender of the gods." His interest had first been sparked when he went into the Atchafalaya--the largest river swamp in North America--and had learned that virtually all of its waters were metered and rationed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project called Old River Control. In the natural cycles of the Mississippi's deltaic plain, the time had come for the Mississippi to change course, to shift its mouth more than a hundred miles and go down the Atchafalaya, one of its distributary branches. The United States could not afford that--for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all the industries that lie between would be cut off from river commerce with the rest of the nation. At a place called Old River, the Corps therefore had built a great fortress--part dam, part valve--to restrain the flow of the Atchafalaya and compel the Mississippi to stay where it is. In Iceland, in 1973, an island split open without warning and huge volumes of lava began moving in the direction of a harbor scarcely half a mile away. It was not only Iceland's premier fishing port (accounting for a large percentage of Iceland's export economy) but it was also the only harbor along the nation's southern coast. As the lava threatened to fill the harbor and wipe it out, a physicist named Thorbjorn Sigurgeirsson suggested a way to fight against the flowing red rock--initiating an all-out endeavor unique in human history. On the big island of Hawaii, one of the world's two must eruptive hot spots, people are not unmindful of the Icelandic example. McPhee went to Hawaii to talk with them and to walk beside the edges of a molten lake and incandescent rivers. Some of the more expensive real estate in Los Angeles is up against mountains that are rising and disintegrating as rapidly as any in the world. After a complex coincidence of natural events, boulders will flow out of these mountains like fish eggs, mixed with mud, sand, and smaller rocks in a cascading mass known as debris flow. Plucking up trees and cars, bursting through doors and windows, filling up houses to their eaves, debris flows threaten the lives of people living in and near Los Angeles' famous canyons. At extraordinary expense the city has built a hundred and fifty stadium-like basins in a daring effort to catch the debris. Taking us deep into these contested territories, McPhee details the strategies and tactics through which people attempt to control nature. Most striking in his vivid depiction of the main contestants: nature in complex and awesome guises, and those who would attempt to wrest control from her--stubborn, often ingenious, and always arresting characters.

The Control Of Nature

Author: John McPhee
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 0374128901
Size: 36.96 MB
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Profiles various effects by humankind to thwart the course of nature, detailing the changing physical landscapes, as well as the political, economic, and legal battles that have arisen from these struggles.

The Control Of Nature

Author: John McPhee
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780712650304
Size: 36.69 MB
Format: PDF, Mobi
View: 1492
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While John McPhee was working on his previous book, Rising from the Plains, he happened to walk by the engineering building at the University of Wyoming, where words etched in limestone said: Strive on--the control of Nature is won, not given. In the morning sunlight, that central phrase--the control of nature--seemed to sparkle with unintended ambiguity. Bilateral, symmetrical, it could with equal speed travel in opposite directions. For some years, he had been planning a book about places in the world where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature, about (in the words of the book itself) any struggle against natural forces--heroic or venal, rash or well advised--when human beings conscript themselves to fight against the earth, to take what is not given, to rout the destroying enemy, to surround the base of Mt. Olympus demanding and expecting the surrender of the gods. His interest had first been sparked when he went into the Atchafalaya--the largest river swamp in North America--and had learned that virtually all of its waters were metered and rationed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project called Old River Control. In the natural cycles of the Mississippi's deltaic plain, the time had come for the Mississippi to change course, to shift its mouth more than a hundred miles and go down the Atchafalaya, one of its distributary branches. The United States could not afford that--for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all the industries that lie between would be cut off from river commerce with the rest of the nation. At a place called Old River, the Corps therefore had built a great fortress--part dam, part valve--to restrain the flow of the Atchafalaya andcompel the Mississippi to stay where it is. In Iceland, in 1973, an island split open without warning and huge volumes of lava began moving in the direction of a harbor scarcely half a mile away. It was not only Iceland's premier fishing port (accounting for a large percentage of Iceland's export economy) but it was also the only harbor along the nation's southern coast. As the lava threatened to fill the harbor and wipe it out, a physicist named Thorbjorn Sigurgeirsson suggested a way to fight against the flowing red rock--initiating an all-out endeavor unique in human history. On the big island of Hawaii, one of the world's two must eruptive hot spots, people are not unmindful of the Icelandic example. McPhee went to Hawaii to talk with them and to walk beside the edges of a molten lake and incandescent rivers. Some of the more expensive real estate in Los Angeles is up against mountains that are rising and disintegrating as rapidly as any in the world. After a complex coincidence of natural events, boulders will flow out of these mountains like fish eggs, mixed with mud, sand, and smaller rocks in a cascading mass known as debris flow. Plucking up trees and cars, bursting through doors and windows, filling up houses to their eaves, debris flows threaten the lives of people living in and near Los Angeles' famous canyons. At extraordinary expense the city has built a hundred and fifty stadium-like basins in a daring effort to catch the debris. Taking us deep into these contested territories, McPhee details the strategies and tactics through which people attempt to control nature. Most striking in his vivid depiction of the main contestants: nature in complex and awesomeguises, and those who would attempt to wrest control from her--stubborn, often ingenious, and always arresting characters.

Annals Of The Former World

Author: John McPhee
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374708460
Size: 13.53 MB
Format: PDF, ePub
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning view of the continent, across the fortieth parallel and down through 4.6 billion years Twenty years ago, when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States, he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and, in the process, come to an understanding not only of the science but of the style of the geologists he traveled with. The structure of the book never changed, but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages, under the overall title Annals of the Former World. Like the terrain it covers, Annals of the Former World tells a multilayered tale, and the reader may choose one of many paths through it. As clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed, this is our finest popular survey of geology and a masterpiece of modern nonfiction. Annals of the Former World is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Einstein And Our World

Author: David C. Cassidy
Publisher: Prometheus Books
ISBN:
Size: 33.21 MB
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Born in Germany during the imperial era in 1879, Albert Einstein died seventy-six years later in Princeton, New Jersey, one decade after the defeat of Nazi Germany and the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Japan. While most available works on Einstein trace the origins and evolution of Einstein’s views and theories, Einstein and Our World, by award-winning science historian, educator, and Einstein scholar David C. Cassidy, provides a fascinating account of the impact of Einstein’s work and outlook upon contemporary culture and upon the scientific enterprise itself. Following a brief, nontechnical explanation of the significance of Einstein’s achievements, Prof. Cassidy takes the reader on an intriguing journey through the uses and abuses of Einstein’s relativity theory in such widely diverse settings as political ideology, philosophy of science, literature, art, religion, and the individual in an age of dictatorship, genocide, and weapons of mass destruction. Cassidy explores how Einstein’s work spread throughout the physical sciences, leading to a new conception of the theoretical physicist as both physicist and cultural figure. While public fascination with Einstein’s achievements grew, his authority as an influential spokesman for human dignity, intellectual freedom, and world peace continued to the end of his life. This new edition, besides updating and revising the content of the first edition, includes a number of important new topics that could not be included in the original edition: more on Einstein’s personal life in the light of recent revelations; a new section on Einstein and peace; and an assessment of Einstein’s continuing influence in the post-September 11 era.

Levels Of The Game

Author: John McPhee
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0374708657
Size: 68.60 MB
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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This account of a tennis match played by Arthur Ashe against Clark Graebner at Forest Hills in 1968 begins with the ball rising into the air for the initial serve and ends with the final point. McPhee provides a brilliant, stroke-by-stroke description while examining the backgrounds and attitudes which have molded the players' games.

The Better Angels Of Our Nature

Author: Steven Pinker
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
ISBN: 0143122010
Size: 30.45 MB
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Presents a controversial history of violence which argues that today's world is the most peaceful time in human existence, drawing on psychological insights into intrinsic values that are causing people to condemn violence as an acceptable measure.

Controlling Human Heredity

Author: Diane B. Paul
Publisher: Prometheus Books
ISBN: 9781573923439
Size: 20.19 MB
Format: PDF
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In the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century, it was widely assumed that society ought to foster the breeding of those who possessed favourable traits and discourage the breeding of those who did not. Controlled human breeding, 'eugenics' as it

Conjuring The Universe

Author: Peter Atkins
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0192542796
Size: 65.96 MB
Format: PDF, Docs
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The marvellous complexity of the Universe emerges from several deep laws and a handful of fundamental constants that fix its shape, scale, and destiny. There is a deep structure to the world which at the same time is simple, elegant, and beautiful. Where did these laws and these constants come from? And why are the laws so fruitful when written in the language of mathematics? Peter Atkins considers the minimum effort needed to equip the Universe with its laws and its constants. He explores the origin of the conservation of energy, of electromagnetism, of classical and quantum mechanics, and of thermodynamics, showing how all these laws spring from deep symmetries. The revolutionary result is a short but immensely rich weaving together of the fundamental ideas of physics. With his characteristic wit, erudition, and economy, Atkins sketches out how the laws of Nature can spring from very little. Or arguably from nothing at all.