Books & Essays

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Category archives for Books & Essays

Perry’s Arcana

From 1810-11, architect and amateur naturalist George Perry published The Arcana, a lavishly illustrated, serial natural history magazine. Although Perry intended for the serial issues to be assembled by his subscribers into a book, only thirteen complete copies are known to survive today. More than a third of the known copies are in Australia –…

This little video from Abebooks is the closest I’ve ever gotten to flipping through a copy of the Codex Seraphinianus. What a truly weird book. I particularly love it when the staid narrator reveals his “favorite” illustration – a roller skater murdered by a monstrous pen. What?! The Codex reminds me of If You’re Afraid…

Quote of the Day

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. Albert Einstein Ideas and Opinions, New York:…

Animated Anatomies, a new show at the Perkins Library at Duke University, explores the tradition of fold-out or pop-up paper anatomical diagrams: Animated Anatomies explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books. These publications invite the viewer to participate in virtual autopsies, through the process…

They’re doing exactly what we always complain our brightest students don’t do: eschewing the easy bucks of Wall Street, consulting or corporate law to pursue their ideals and be of service to society. Academia may once have been a cushy gig, but now we’re talking about highly talented young people who are willing to spend…

Physicists are ontological detectives. We think of scientists as wholly rational, open to all possible arguments. But to begin with a conviction and then to use one’s intellectual prowess to establish support for that conviction is a methodology that really has worked for scientists, including Deutsch. One could argue that he dreamed up quantum computing…

Ok, what are the people at Quirk Books on? I have to say, I love the cover of the book, and the typographical trailer is cute – but isn’t this just blatant meme abuse? Quirk explains The Meowmorphosis thus. . .

Surrender, don’t cull

From Linda Holmes, a poignant post about how the deluge of information makes it impossible to scratch the surface in a single lifetime: there are really only two responses if you want to feel like you’re well-read, or well-versed in music, or whatever the case may be: culling and surrender. Culling is the choosing you…

Wait – did Peter Nowogrodski just shoehorn everything I love into one meandering, indulgent multimedia essay??* Tolkien’s Shire appears as a coherent ecosystem, cradled by productive fields and populated by abundant orchards, caches of edible mushroom, and even the fishable Bywater Pool, ornamented with an authentic churning mill. The land at Hobbiton is changing still:…

The Zombie Autopsies

Shambling, slowly disintegrating zombies aren’t good for much – but maybe they’re helpful for teaching neurobiology? The Zombie Autopsies with Steven Schlozman, MD from GCP authors on Vimeo. It is all about braaaaiiiiiinnns, after all. . . . Read all about Zombie Autopsies here, or head to Amazon.