- Taschenbuch: 276 Seiten
- Verlag: Henry Holt & Company; Auflage: Reprint (1. Oktober 2001)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0716747022
- ISBN-13: 978-0716747024
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,8 x 1,9 x 20,2 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 4.537.924 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Barmaid's Brain: And Other Strange Tales from Science (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Oktober 2001
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A collection of the author's essays explore bacteria-eating viruses, optical illusions, aqautic apes, the nature of laughter, and provides a possible scientific explanation for the behavior provoking the Salem witch trails. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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However, Ingram doesn't attempt to thread his miscellany of essays with an overarching theme, as do Gould and Sacks. He is more in the tradition of magpie science---he writes about whatever catches his eye.
Here are a couple of his essays that caught my eye:
"Consumed by Learning"---I was saddened to learn that the "The Worm Runner's Digest" (a feature of my college years) is no more. Nowadays hardly anyone believes that he can learn to play the piano by taking a pill, and Planaria are no longer forced to dine on their learned brethren. Even more disturbing, James McConnell, the iconoclastic `Worm Runner General' himself was targeted late in his life by the Unabomber and suffered a permanent hearing impairment from the bomb blast---the unanticipated price of his brief moment of scientific fame.
"The Monks Who Saw the Moon Split Open"--- The mysterious birth of the Lunar Crater Giordano Bruno. As reported by Ingram via the twelfth century "Chronicles of Gervase," a group of five Englishmen saw "fire, hot coals, and sparks" bursting forth from the Moon on the evening of June 18, 1178. Did they witness the cataclysmic birth of Crater Giordano Bruno via asteroid impact? Ingram argues that the location and age of the 22-kilometer (14-mile) lunar crater Giordano Bruno indicates that this was indeed the case.
However, a new study suggests the event was a meteoritic trick of the eye.
Paul Withers of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory argues that an impact large enough to create Giordano Bruno "would have triggered a blizzard-like, week-long meteor storm on Earth -- yet there are no accounts of such a storm in any known historical record." Withers reports his analysis and other tests of the `crater' hypothesis in the journal of the Meteoritical Society "Meteoritics and Planetary Science."
Read both Ingram's essay and Paul Withers's account (there is a summary at the Science@NASA home page) and decide for yourself whether five medieval Englishmen indeed witnessed the birth of a crater on our Moon.
"The Barmaid's Brain" is a lively collection of essays, well worth savoring one at time. Ingram entertains as he educates.
I think this book is just so wonderful; not just because I am a scientist either.
For example, the barmaid of the title is able to remember 95% to 100% of a 15-drink order given to her out of sequence in the noisy environment of a busy bar. The essay "The Barmaid’s Brain" explores not only that we evidence these feats of memory, but why and how: "Even if one day scientists completely understand the wiring and chemistry of the human brain, it will still be difficult not to be amazed by an organ that can memorize the lyrics to all the Spice Girls’ songs after one hearing or conjure up the equations describing the origin of the universe. Even more amazing is that the same brain can do both…"
"The Invention of Thievery" looks at the way a learned behavior—in this case, birds removing foil caps from milk bottles to get at the cream—can spread through a population. "The Vinland Map" examines how we decide that a contended datum has been proved, especially when there is a strong belief structure in place to dispute it. "An Uneasy Bargain" probes the relationship between gene mapping (knowledge gathering) and genetic engineering, and asks the potent question, “Once we know that a mutant gene is the cause of a disease or condition, do we have a responsibility to eliminate it?"
The essays are written in an easy, approachable style, with a minimum of jargon, statistics or abstruse footnotes. If they lack some of the weight they might otherwise bring to some very weighty subjects, at least they may lead you to do the research on the questions you find intriguing. This is a great bathroom or coffee-table book—pick it up, read a few pages, put it down.
If you enjoy reading "The Barmaid’s Brain", you’ll want the second book in Ingram’s series, "The Velocity of Honey." Sadly, neither is available for Kindle.