IMAGINED WORLDS

A leading scientist speculates on far-future scientific developments and their possible impact on the human condition. Dyson (From Eros to Gaia, 1992, etc.) points out that our culture has apparently lost its long-range vision. Drawing on a fascinating cross-section of scientific and technological history, the professor emeritus at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study lays the groundwork for a longer view, with a special interest in making the case for what has been called ``small science.'' He argues that massive projects with politically imposed deadlines (e.g., nuclear power plants) are incapable of developing naturally, because any failure is likely to be so massive that it brings all progress to a stop. When a smaller project fails, others can learn from it and build something better. Dyson contrasts two scientific styles: the Napoleonic, with huge teams and enormous budgets, under dictatorial supervision, and the Tolstoyan, in which creative anarchy is the rule. The Tolstoyan can thrive in times when tight budgets force such Napoleonic projects as the Superconducting Supercollidor onto the scrap heap. Looking ahead, Dyson suspects that the greatest surprises will come from the biological sciences. Genetic engineering is barely in its infancy; the visions of Jurassic Park or Brave New World could well become realities within a few centuries. Dyson bravely peers into even more distant vistas, to eras normally the province of science fiction; a million years in the future, the human race is likely to be altered almost beyond recognition—especially if a significant fraction of the population moves off Earth into environments that we can barely imagine. Finally, Dyson examines the interaction between scientific progress and social justice, and asks to what extent science should inquire into the application of its discoveries. At every turn, he illustrates his subject with reference to a wide range of writers and philosophers, making the book a delight to read. Essential reading for anyone who looks beyond the coming millennium.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-674-53908-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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