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The Gaia Hypothesis: Science on a Pagan Planet (Science.Culture)by Michael Ruse
Synopses & Reviews
In 1965 English scientist James Lovelock had a flash of insight: the Earth is not just teeming with life; the Earth, in some sense, is life. He mulled this revolutionary idea over for several years, first with his close friend the novelist William Golding, and then in an extensive collaboration with the American scientist Lynn Margulis. In the early 1970s, he finally went public with the Gaia hypothesis, the idea that everything happens for an end: the good of planet Earth. Lovelock and Margulis were scorned by professional scientists, but the general public enthusiastically embraced Lovelock and his hypothesis. People joined Gaia groups; churches had Gaia services, sometimes with new music written especially for the occasion. There was a Gaia atlas, Gaia gardening, Gaia herbs, Gaia retreats, Gaia networking, and much more. And the range of enthusiasts wasandmdash;and still isandmdash;broad.
In The Gaia Hypothesis, philosopher Michael Ruse, with his characteristic clarity and wit, uses Gaia and its history, its supporters and detractors, to illuminate the nature of science itself. Gaia emerged in the 1960s, a decade when authority was questioned and status and dignity stood for nothing, but its story is much older. Ruse traces Gaiaandrsquo;s connection to Plato and a long history of goal-directed and holisticandmdash;or organicistandmdash;thinking and explains why Lovelock and Margulisandrsquo;s peers rejected it as pseudoscience. But Ruse also shows why the project was a success. He argues that Lovelock and Margulis should be commended for giving philosophy firm scientific basis and for provoking important scientific discussion about the world as a whole, its homeostasis orandmdash;in this age of global environmental uncertaintyandmdash;its lack thereof.
Melding the world of science and technology with the world of feeling, mysticism, and religion, The Gaia Hypothesis will appeal to a broad range of readers, from students and scholars of the history and philosophy of science to anyone interested in New Age culture.
In many ways, Marie Curie represents modern science. Her considerable lifetime achievementsand#151;the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize, the only woman to be awarded the Prize in two fields, and the only person to be awarded Nobel Prizes in multiple sciencesand#151;are studied by schoolchildren across the world. When, in 2009, the New Scientist carried out a poll for the and#147;Most Inspirational Female Scientist of All Time,and#8221; the result was a foregone conclusion: Marie Curie trounced her closest runner-up, Rosalind Franklin, winning double the number of Franklinand#8217;s votes. She is a role model to women embarking on a career in science, the pride of two nationsand#151;Poland and Franceand#151;and, not least of all, a European Union brand for excellence in science.
Making Marie Curie explores what went into the creation of this icon of science. It is not a traditional biography, or one that attempts to uncover the and#147;realand#8221; Marie Curie. Rather, Eva Hemmungs Wirtand#233;n, by tracing a career that spans two centuries and a world war, provides an innovative and historically grounded account of how modern science emerges in tandem with celebrity culture under the influence of intellectual property in a dawning age of information. She explores the emergence of the Curie persona, the information culture of the period that shaped its development, and the strategies Curie used to manage and exploit her intellectual property. How did one create and maintain for oneself the persona of scientist at the beginning of the twentieth century? What special conditions bore upon scientific women, and on married women in particular? How was French identity claimed, established, and subverted? How, and with what consequences, was a scientific reputation secured?
In its exploration of these questions and many more, Making Marie Curie provides a composite picture not only of the making of Marie Curie, but the making of modern science itself.
About the Author
Michael Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University. He is the author or editor of nearly thirty books.
Table of Contents
A Note on Interviews and Other Sources
1 THE GAIA HYPOTHESIS
2 THE PARADOX
3 THE PAGAN PLANET
7 GAIA REVISITED
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