Rachel Carson, the poet-warrior of the environmental movement, did a heroic kind of humanist advocacy science that's easy for artists to love. She was fearless, literate, and personally enigmatic, and her radical work came at just the right time in postwar history, standing as a challenge to the cult of industrial science in the years after the Manhattan Project.
Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age By Ann M. Blair (Yale University Press, 397 pp., $45) In 1945, in an article called “As We May Think,” Vannevar Bush evoked a specter for the modern age beyond the bomb: information overload.
Mark Penn lists a series of problems faced by president Obama and demands Action: almost all of these problems are about substance, not style, branding or even communications. They can't be addressed with press conferences and panels. The public is looking for direct and immediate action, thought out and taken by the an administration that acted boldly when it took office to prevent a possible depression. Okay, Mr. Penn. You want action! Something bold!
Last Friday, Bill Gates was at the TED Conference in Long Beach and told the audience that climate change was the world's most vexing problem, but that it would take "energy miracles" for the world to zero out its carbon emissions by mid-century. What sorts of miracles? He suggested that we'd need radical new technologies that barely exist right now, like a "traveling wave reactor" that would turn spent uranium into electricity.
Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America By John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr, and Alexander Vassiliev (Yale University Press, 637 pp., $35) If one were trying to define the lowest point in the long and venerable tradition of American anti-communism, surely it came in 2003, with the publication of Ann Coulter's Treason.
If you're scared witless by the anthrax horror spreading across the country, take heart: The government has an anthrax vaccine that will immunize you and let you chuck that recent Cipro prescription. There are, however, a few small drawbacks. There's only enough vaccine on hand for at most 4,000 people. The vaccine requires months of painful shots before taking effect.