What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge

What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge
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Updated 19 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge

What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge

Author: David P. Billington

What do structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the concrete roofs of Pier Luigi Nervi have in common? According to The Tower and the Bridge, all are striking examples of structural art, an exciting area distinct from either architecture or machine design.

Aided by stunning photographs, David Billington discusses the technical concerns and artistic principles underpinning the well-known projects of leading structural engineer-artists, including Othmar Ammann, Félix Candela, Gustave Eiffel, Fazlur Khan, Robert Maillart, John Roebling, and many others.

A classic work, The Tower and the Bridge introduces readers to the fundamental aesthetics of engineering.
 


What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture

What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture
Updated 27 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture

What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture

Author: Whitney Davis 

What is cultural about vision —  or visual about culture? In this ambitious book, Whitney Davis provides new answers to these difficult and important questions by presenting an original framework for understanding visual culture.

Grounded in the theoretical traditions of art history, A General Theory of Visual Culture argues that, in a fully consolidated visual culture, artifacts and pictures have been made to be seen in a certain way; what Davis calls “visuality” is the visual perspective from which certain culturally constituted aspects of artifacts and pictures are visible to informed viewers.


What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics

What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics
Updated 27 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics

What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics

Authors: Luca Peliti and Simone Pigolotti

Stochastic thermodynamics is a well-defined subfield of statistical physics that aims to interpret thermodynamic concepts for systems ranging in size from a few to hundreds of nanometers, the behavior of which is inherently random due to thermal fluctuations.

This growing field therefore describes the non equilibrium dynamics of small systems, such as artificial nano devices and biological molecular machines, which are of increasing scientific and technological relevance.

This textbook provides an up-to-date pedagogical introduction to stochastic thermodynamics, guiding readers from basic concepts in statistical physics, probability theory, and thermodynamics to the most recent developments in the field.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales

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Updated 26 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales

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Author: June Zhang

The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales brings together 42 magical Chinese tales, most appearing for the first time in English.
These stories have been carefully selected from
more than a thousand originally published in the early 20th century under the pseudonyms Lin Lan and Lady Lin Lan—previously unknown in the West, and now acclaimed as the Brothers Grimm of China.
The birth of the tales began in 1924, when one author, Li Xiaofeng, published a set of literary stories under the Lin Lan pen name, an alias that would eventually be shared by an editorial team. Together, this group gathered fairy tales from rural regions across China.


What We Are Reading Today: Cults

What We Are Reading Today: Cults
Updated 25 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Cults

What We Are Reading Today: Cults

Author: Max Cutler

Max Cutler’s Cults looks closely at the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power and fall from grace, sanity, and decency.
It is a study of humanity, an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into the lowest form of malevolence.
Cults prey on the very attributes that make us human: Our desire to belong; to find a deeper meaning in life; to live everyday with divine purpose.
Perhaps it’s this mindset that keeps us so utterly obsessed to learn more of the mechanics that make these infamous groups tick.

 


What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime

What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime
Updated 24 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime

What We Are Reading Today: Dreams of a Lifetime

Authors: Karen A. Cerulo and Janet M. Ruane

Most of us understand that a person’s place in society can close doors to opportunity, but anything is possible when we dream about what might be, or so we think.

Dreams of a Lifetime reveals that what and how we dream — and whether we believe our dreams can actually come true — are tied to our social class, gender, race, age, and life events.

Karen Cerulo and Janet Ruane argue that our social location shapes the seemingly private and unique life of our minds.

We are all free to dream about possibilities, but not all dreamers are equal. Cerulo and Ruane show how our social position ingrains itself on our mind’s eye, quietly influencing the nature of our dreams, whether we embrace dreaming or dream at all, and whether we believe that our dreams, from the attainable to the improbable, can become realities.