Carving Our Destiny: Scientific Research Faces a New Millennium

Joseph Henry Press
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This is a book for people who love and understand science and want to know more about contemporary research frontiers. The questions addressed are as fascinating as they are diverse: Is the human mind truly unique among the primates? Does "dark matter" really exist in the universe? What can the human genome tell us about our evolutionary history?

These wide-ranging topics are brought together by virtue of their impact on our understanding of ourselves--and by the caliber of the authors: ten young scientists and scholars, reaching the height of their powers, who are especially talented in communicating their research findings to broad audiences. They were chosen to receive the prestigious Centennial Fellowships awarded in 1998 by the McDonnell Foundation, established and funded by the late aerospace pioneer James S. McDonnell.
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Publisher
Joseph Henry Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2001
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Pages
343
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ISBN
9780309183093
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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While researching this book, Glenn Schweitzer met four Moscow physicists who were trying to license Russian technology to western firms for product manufacture. During the worst times, they were reduced to driving taxis to keep things afloat. He asked them, will technological innovation have a discernible impact on the Russian economy in the coming decade? No, was the immediate reply. Are they right?

In Swords into Market Shares, Schweitzer examines the roots of such pessimism and the prospects for Russia to prosper from its technology in the post-Soviet world. He explores the different visions of prosperity held by entrepreneurs, technologists, and government officials and goes on to examine the barriers to progress as Russia struggles to build a viable technology industry on its own terms. In accessible language, this book talks about technology's place within Russia's economy and its research and development infrastructure. Schweitzer looks at the impact of the Soviet legacy--central planning, lack of priorities, scant incentives for personal initiative--and the aftermath of the Russian financial meltdown of 1998.

He also reviews the experiences of American companies that have invested in Russian technology and examines the results of pressure to reform according to the economic model of the West. Schweitzer goes on to document the problems of economic crime and government corruption, which plague activities designed to generate income in Russia. He discusses the lack of protection for intellectual property and taxation issues that stand in the way of technological innovation. The book looks at the impact of the "brain drain" as Russian experts seek greener pastures--not only the ominous recruitment of Russian biological weapons experts and the acquisition of military technology by "rogue" nations--but also Russia's own program to sell military technology for badly needed funds.

Schweitzer's use of case studies and examples puts a human face on these issues. He also discusses Russia's 60 "science cities"--sites of state research centers--with close-ups of three "nuclear cities."

Can the technical strengths of the Soviet military complex find a place in civilian Russia? How can this vast country sustain even a minimal standard of living? Swords into Market Shares addresses these and other key questions and explores fundamental policy issues confronting both Russia and the United States as Russia struggles for an economic foothold.
The human brain has some capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. It is to these distinctive capabilities that our species owes its dominant position. Other animals have stronger muscles or sharper claws, but we have cleverer brains. If machine brains one day come to surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new superintelligence could become very powerful. As the fate of the gorillas now depends more on us humans than on the gorillas themselves, so the fate of our species then would come to depend on the actions of the machine superintelligence. But we have one advantage: we get to make the first move. Will it be possible to construct a seed AI or otherwise to engineer initial conditions so as to make an intelligence explosion survivable? How could one achieve a controlled detonation? To get closer to an answer to this question, we must make our way through a fascinating landscape of topics and considerations. Read the book and learn about oracles, genies, singletons; about boxing methods, tripwires, and mind crime; about humanity's cosmic endowment and differential technological development; indirect normativity, instrumental convergence, whole brain emulation and technology couplings; Malthusian economics and dystopian evolution; artificial intelligence, and biological cognitive enhancement, and collective intelligence. This profoundly ambitious and original book picks its way carefully through a vast tract of forbiddingly difficult intellectual terrain. Yet the writing is so lucid that it somehow makes it all seem easy. After an utterly engrossing journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life, we find in Nick Bostrom's work nothing less than a reconceptualization of the essential task of our time.
"Biotechnology" may raise more hope and fear...revelation and confusion...excitement and alarm than any other term in today's headlines. In Biotechnology Unzipped, scientist and skilled science popularizer Eric Grace helps readers understand what biotechnology is and what implications it holds for all of us.
Grace offers a reader-friendly explanation of how we came to where we are--from the coining of the word "cell" in 1665 through Darwin's breakthrough insight on evolution and the unraveling of the DNA helix to the 1997 announcement of the cloning of Dolly the sheep.
This book uses everyday metaphors to help readers understand the genetic code and how it works to produce every form of life. Grace deals frankly with the reality that biotechnology is first and foremost a commercial activity. Focusing on the ethical implications, he looks at the scope of public opinion, the role of the media, the vulnerability of the poor to exploitation, and the problem of patenting life itself.
Grace explores the promises and realities of biotechnology in major arenas:
The human body. The medical industry is today's biggest customer for biotechnology, and Grace presents its application as a continuum from the earliest experiments with skin grafting in the 1800s. He reports on the progress of gene therapy and other medical marvels--yet Grace argues that high-tech medicine does not guarantee longer, healthier lives any more than high-tech weapons guarantee world peace. The farm. Is biotechnology the answer to world hunger or is it self-serving rhetoric from agribusiness? Grace explores the reality between these two points of view through examples, including the controversy over bovine growth hormone, increased use of herbicides and pesticides, and genetic modification of plants. The environment. Biotechnology Unzipped looks at the promise of microbes cleaning up pollutants such as the Exxon Valdez spill. Alternate Selection, Newbridge Science Book Club


"Whatever you dream, begin it, for boldness has genius, power and magic in it." -Goethe What qualities brought America to its dominance of world industry? How will American technology fare in the new global marketplace? What upbringing, education, and personal traits are required to produce leaders who can succeed in this new world? Scan the bookstore shelves and you'll see dozens of attempts by authors to capture the essence of leadership and entrepreneurial success. In The Power of Boldness, the answers come from original sources: ten of the country's most successful business leaders, who share their experiences and insights in individual essays that are remarkable for their directness and personal detail. Six of the writers are inventors who created the enterprises to commercialize their ideas--four assumed management of their fathers' companies and moved into new industrial and geographic markets. Born between 1897 and 1962, these outstanding figures collectively chronicle America's industrial rise since World War II--and share their perspectives on what lies ahead in the age of technology. In engaging and often humorous terms, these men describe how they managed to make the most of the economic and social ups and downs of the past decades--how boldness, clear thinking, and a willingness to learn saw them through the bad times and paved the way to their success. No other book gathers so distinguished a group of business figures-- Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., of Bechtel Group describes the rise, decline, and rise again of the world's largest heavy construction company. William M. Haney, III, of Molten Metal Technology--a strong believer in Goethe's maxim--overviews the opportunities in ecotechnology. Edward C. Johnson 3d, of Fidelity writes on the adventures of a "contrarian" in the financial arena. Gordon E. Moore of Intel explains how his firm became one of the world's largest producers of microprocessor chips and forecasts the future of the electronics industry. John F. Taplin, master inventor and founder of a number of companies, writes on the education of an inventor/entrepreneur.

Thomas D. Cabot of Cabot Corporation, Robert Galvin of Motorola, George N. Hatsopoulos of Thermo Electron Corporation, and Ralph Landau of Halcon International, round out this group of master builders of America's industrial power. In an introduction and summing-up, Alfred Chandler, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning business historian, explores some of the themes that emerge from the personal essays. Capturing the spirit of innovation as well as the practicalities of business decision making, The Power of Boldness will be required reading for business executives, students of business, and anyone interested in the individual success stories behind America's technological leadership.

"The book before you . . . carries the urgent warning that we are rapidly altering and destroying the environments that have fostered the diversity of life forms for more than a billion years."

With those words, Edward O. Wilson opened the landmark volume Biodiversity (National Academy Press, 1988). Despite this and other such alarms, species continue to vanish at a rapid rate, taking with them their genetic legacy and potential benefits. Many disappear before they can even be identified.

Biodiversity II is a renewed call for urgency. This volume updates readers on how much we already know and how much remains to be identified scientifically. It explores new strategies for quantifying, understanding, and protecting biodiversity, including
New approaches to the integration of electronic data, including a proposal for a U.S. National Biodiversity Information Center.
Application of techniques developed in the human genome project to species identification and classification.
The Gap Analysis Program of the National Biological Survey, which uses layered satellite, climatic, and biological data to assess distribution and better manage biodiversity.
The significant contribution of museum collections to identifying and categorizing species, which is essential for understanding ecological function and for targeting organisms and regions at risk.


The book describes our growing understanding of how megacenters of diversity (e.g., rainforest insects, coral reefs) are formed, maintained, and lost; what can be learned from mounting bird extinctions; and how conservation efforts for neotropical primates have fared. It also explores ecosystem restoration, sustainable development, and agricultural impact.

Biodiversity II reinforces the idea that the conservation of our biological resources is within reach as long as we pool resources; better coordinate the efforts of existing institutions--museums, universities, and government agencies--already dedicated to this goal; and enhance support for research, collections, and training. This volume will be important to environmentalists, biologists, ecologists, educators, students, and concerned individuals.

While researching this book, Glenn Schweitzer met four Moscow physicists who were trying to license Russian technology to western firms for product manufacture. During the worst times, they were reduced to driving taxis to keep things afloat. He asked them, will technological innovation have a discernible impact on the Russian economy in the coming decade? No, was the immediate reply. Are they right?

In Swords into Market Shares, Schweitzer examines the roots of such pessimism and the prospects for Russia to prosper from its technology in the post-Soviet world. He explores the different visions of prosperity held by entrepreneurs, technologists, and government officials and goes on to examine the barriers to progress as Russia struggles to build a viable technology industry on its own terms. In accessible language, this book talks about technology's place within Russia's economy and its research and development infrastructure. Schweitzer looks at the impact of the Soviet legacy--central planning, lack of priorities, scant incentives for personal initiative--and the aftermath of the Russian financial meltdown of 1998.

He also reviews the experiences of American companies that have invested in Russian technology and examines the results of pressure to reform according to the economic model of the West. Schweitzer goes on to document the problems of economic crime and government corruption, which plague activities designed to generate income in Russia. He discusses the lack of protection for intellectual property and taxation issues that stand in the way of technological innovation. The book looks at the impact of the "brain drain" as Russian experts seek greener pastures--not only the ominous recruitment of Russian biological weapons experts and the acquisition of military technology by "rogue" nations--but also Russia's own program to sell military technology for badly needed funds.

Schweitzer's use of case studies and examples puts a human face on these issues. He also discusses Russia's 60 "science cities"--sites of state research centers--with close-ups of three "nuclear cities."

Can the technical strengths of the Soviet military complex find a place in civilian Russia? How can this vast country sustain even a minimal standard of living? Swords into Market Shares addresses these and other key questions and explores fundamental policy issues confronting both Russia and the United States as Russia struggles for an economic foothold.
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