What We Are Reading Today: New Guinea

Short Url
Updated 25 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: New Guinea

Authors: Bruce M. Beehler and Tim Laman

In this beautiful book, Bruce Beehler, a renowned author and expert on New Guinea, and award-winning National Geographic photographer Tim Laman take the reader on an unforgettable journey through the natural and cultural wonders of the world’s grandest island. 

Skillfully combining a wealth of information, a descriptive and story-filled narrative, and more than 200 stunning color photographs, the book unlocks New Guinea’s remarkable secrets like never before.

Lying between the Equator and Australia’s north coast, and surrounded by the richest coral reefs on Earth, New Guinea is the world’s largest, highest, and most environmentally complex tropical island—home to rainforests with showy rhododendrons, strange and colorful orchids, tree-kangaroos, spiny anteaters, ingenious bowerbirds, and spectacular birds of paradise. New Guinea is also home to more than a thousand traditional human societies, each with its own language and lifestyle, and many of these tribes still live in isolated villages and serve as stewards of the rainforests they inhabit.

Accessible and authoritative, New Guinea provides a comprehensive introduction to the island’s environment, animals, plants, and traditional rainforest cultures. Individual chapters cover the island’s history of exploration; geology; climate and weather; biogeography; plantlife; insects, spiders, and other invertebrates; freshwater fishes; snakes, lizards, and frogs; birdlife; mammals; paleontology; paleoanthropology; cultural and linguistic diversity; surrounding islands and reefs; the pristine forest of the Foja Mountains; village life; and future sustainability.


What We Are Reading Today: Taming the Unknown

Updated 13 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Taming the Unknown

Edited by Victor J.Katz and Karen Hunger Parshall

What is algebra? For some, it is an abstract language of x’s and y’s. For mathematics majors and professional mathematicians, it is a world of axiomatically defined constructs like groups, rings, and fields.

Taming the Unknown considers how these two seemingly different types of algebra evolved and how they relate. Victor Katz and Karen Parshall explore the history of algebra, from its roots in the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, China, and India, through its development in the medieval Islamic world and medieval and early modern Europe, to its modern form in the early 20th century.

Defining algebra originally as a collection of techniques for determining unknowns, the authors trace the development of these techniques from geometric beginnings in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and classical Greece.

They show how similar problems were tackled in Alexandrian Greece, in China, and in India, then look at how medieval Islamic scholars shifted to an algorithmic stage, which was further developed by medieval and early modern European mathematicians.

With the introduction of a flexible and operative symbolism in the 16th and 17th centuries, algebra entered into a dynamic period characterized by the analytic geometry that could evaluate curves represented by equations in two variables, thereby solving problems in the physics of motion.

This new symbolism freed mathematicians to study equations of degrees higher than two and three, ultimately leading to the present abstract era.