The Age of Wars of Religion

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–This encyclopedia describes and illuminates a momentous 650-year period of world history that includes what historians have called The Dark Ages and the Renaissance. While the resource focuses on the political, military, and social aspects of the religious wars (Crusades, The Thirty Years' War, Inquisition, The Armada, Turkey and the Ottoman Empire) that created enormous changes in the political and social landscape of Europe and Asia, it also addresses social customs (chivalry, tournaments); historical movements (feudalism, Reformation, age of exploration); religious organizations and beliefs (Catholic Church, Calvinism, Islam, Orthodox Churches, Confucianism); and the lives of important figures (Oliver Cromwell, Niccolò di Bernardo Machiavelli, Cardinal Richelieu). Nolan's well-written and authoritative preface serves as an excellent and clear introduction to this large slice of world history, and the alphabetically arranged entries are equally informative, impartially written, and accessible to students. The longer entries end with cross-references and a short list of suggested reading. Except for a section of 25 black-and-white maps, which are sometimes hard to read, there are no illustrations. A 22-page chronology, an extensive selected bibliography that includes some Web sites, and a helpful index end the set. Though specialized, this encyclopedia is recommended for libraries supporting a robust world history curriculum or fielding a number of questions on the topic.–Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego

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A History of God - Karen Armstrong Review

Armstrong, a British journalist and former nun, guides us along one of the most elusive and fascinating quests of all time--the search for God. Like all beloved historians, Armstrong entertains us with deft storytelling, astounding research, and makes us feel a greater appreciation for the present because we better understand our past. Be warned: A History of God is not a tidy linear history. Rather, we learn that the definition of God is constantly being repeated, altered, discarded, and resurrected through the ages, responding to its followers' practical concerns rather than to mystical mandates. Armstrong also shows us how Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have overlapped and influenced one another, gently challenging the secularist history of each of these religions.

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The Battle for God - Karen Armstrong Review

About 40 years ago popular opinion assumed that religion would become a weaker force and people would certainly become less zealous as the world became more modern and morals more relaxed. But the opposite has proven true, according to theologian and author Karen Armstrong (A History of God), who documents how fundamentalism has taken root and grown in many of the world's major religions, such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Even Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism have developed fundamentalist factions. Reacting to a technologically driven world with liberal Western values, fundamentalists have not only increased in numbers, they have become more desperate, claims Armstrong, who points to the Oklahoma City bombing, violent anti-abortion crusades, and the assassination of President Yitzak Rabin as evidence of dangerous extremes.

Yet she also acknowledges the irony of how fundamentalism and Western materialism seem to urge each other on to greater excesses. To "prevent an escalation of the conflict, we must try and understand the pain and perception of the other side," she pleads. With her gift for clear, engaging writing and her integrity as a thorough researcher, Armstrong delivers a powerful discussion of a globally heated issue. Part history lesson, part wake-up call, and mostly a plea for healing, Armstrong's writing continues to offer a religious mirror and a cultural vision.

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Scientific American, September 2008

Privacy in an Age of Terabytes and Terror
The boundaries are shifting between public interest and "the right to be let alone."

Reflections on Privacy 2.0
Some issues that appear to be questions of privacy turn out to be matters of security or health policy.

Brave New World of Wiretapping
As telephone conversations migrate to the Internet, the government wants to listen in.

Tools of the Spy Trade
Night-vision cameras, biometric sensors and other gadgets already give snoops access to private spaces. Coming soon: palm-size "bug-bots."

How to Keep Secrets Safe
A versatile range of software solutions can protect the privacy of your information and online activities to any desired degree.

The End of Privacy?
Social-networking Web sites may be radically realigning what is considered public and private.

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Scientific American, August 2008

China's Children of Smoke
Epidemiologists find molecular clues to air pollution's impact on youngsters. Routine use of screening technologies to measure such biomarkers could, at least theoretically, identify people at risk from specific pollutants.

Facing the Freshwater Crisis
As demand for freshwater soars, global supplies are becoming unpredictable. Existing technologies could avert a water crisis but must be implemented soon.

Why Migraines Strike

Biologists finally are unraveling the medical mysteries of migraine, from aura to pain.

Quantum Computing with Ions
Researchers are taking the first steps toward building ultrapowerful computers that use individual atoms to perform calculations.

Bracing for a Solar Superstorm
A recurrence of the 1859 solar superstorm would be a cosmic Katrina, causing billions of dollars of damage to satellites, power grids and radio communications.

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Scientific American, July 2008

Traces of a Distant Past
Modern DNA furnishes an ever clearer picture of the multimillennial trek that our ancestors made from Africa all the way to the tip of South America, starting 60,000 years ago.

The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe
A new approach to the decades-old problem of quantum gravity shows how the building blocks of space and time pull themselves together.

New Jobs for Ancient Chaperones
With newly recognized roles in cancer and immunity, the heat shock proteins that normally protect cells against stress might become therapeutic allies.

Hands-on Computing
Multi-touch screens could improve collaboration without a mouse or keyboard.

No-Till: The Quiet Revolution
Because plowing degrades the land, farmers are increasingly turning to a more sustainable alternative.

The Neuroscience of Dance
Recent brain-imaging studies reveal some of the complex neural choreography behind our ability to dance.

Simple Groups at Play
A new set of problems challenges puzzle lovers to get acquainted with the tricky mathematical symmetries embodied in "sporadic simple groups."

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Scientific American, June 2008

The Ethics of Climate Change
When economists analyze how much to spend on global warming, they must weigh the value of our current prosperity against that of the diminished well-being of our grandchildren.

The Cosmic Origins of Time's Arrow
Maybe time's seemingly unvarying flow forward is a short-term fluke in a universe where the distant future and distant past look the same.

Gaining Ground on Breast Cancer
The newest targeted therapies help doctors to tailor effective treatments to individual patients.

Digital Image Forensics
Modern software makes image tampering easier but also enables new methods of detection.

What Is a Species?
Biologists still struggle with that fundamental but scientifically pivotal question.

The Tunguska Mystery
Finding a piece of the elusive cosmic body that devastated a Siberian forest a century ago could help save the earth in the centuries to come.

The Neurobiology of Trust
A small molecule that induces labor in pregnant women also exerts a pivotal influence every day on our inclination to trust strangers.

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Scientific American, May 2008

The Genesis of Planets
Theorists long imagined that the formation of young solar systems was a serene process with a stately progression, in which the eventual appearance of planets was a foregone conclusion. The latest evidence, however -- including observations of worlds circling other stars -- argues that planet formation is startlingly chaotic.

Regulating Evolution
Most animals share similar genes. The staggering diversity in their physical forms springs from switches in the DNA that govern where and when those genes are active.

Science 2.0
Is posting raw experimental data online, for all to see, a great tool or a great risk?

How Cells Clean House
Autophagy, a process that normally keeps cells in good working order, seems to be linked to aging and diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Hooked from the Fist Cigarette
Cigarette addiction can arise astonishingly fast. New research could help make quitting easier.

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Scientific American, April 2008

The Color of Plants on Other Worlds
If it isn't easy being green on Earth, where chlorophyll is well tuned to absorb most of the energy in our sun's yellow light, imagine the difficulties elsewhere in the galaxy. Plants growing on worlds around cooler, brighter or more tempestuous stars would need to rely on red, blue or even black pigments to survive. That insight offers astronomers new clues about what to look for in their search for extraterrestrial life.

Regrowing Human Limbs

The ability to regenerate lost body parts -- salamander-style -- could revolutionize the treatment of amputations and major wounds.

Rulers of Light
A kind of laser light called an optical frequency comb can make atomic clocks and other instruments much more precise.

The Doping Dilemma
Game theory suggests how to stop the pervasive abuse of drugs in cycling, baseball and other sports.

Detecting Nuclear Smuggling
Radiation monitors at U.S. ports cannot reliably detect highly enriched uranium, which onshore terrorists could assemble into a nuclear bomb.

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Scientific American, March 2008

The End of Cosmology?
Will the big bang be forgotten? The accelerating cosmic expansion is wiping away every trace of the universe's origin.

When Markets Beat the Polls

Internet-based financial markets may predict elections more reliably than polls do. They can augur future box-office returns and flu seasons, too.

White Matter Matters
Long regarded as passive support for cogitating neurons, the brain's white matter shows that it actively affects learning and mental illness.

The Limits of Quantum Computers
Futuristic quantum computers could be exceptionally fast at certain tasks, but for most problems they would only modestly outclass today's conventional machines.

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Scientific American, February 2008

The Future of Physics
The Discovery Machine.
The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics.
Building the Next-Generation Collider.

The Unquiet Ice
Abundant liquid water discovered underneath the great polar ice sheets could catastrophically intensify the effects of global warming on the rise of sea level around the world.

RFID Powder
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags label all kinds of inventoried goods and speed commuters through toll plazas. Now tiny RFID components are being developed with a rather different aim: thwarting counterfeiters.

Your Cells Are My Cells
Many, perhaps all, people harbor a small number of cells from genetically different individuals -- from their mothers and, for women who have been pregnant, from their children. What in the world do these foreigners do in the body?

Building a Future on Science
Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel A. L. Nicolelis taps into the chatter of neurons to drive robotic prosthetics. Now he hopes to tap the potential of his country's population by building a network of "science cities."

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A Devil's Chaplain - Richard Dawkins

From Publishers Weekly

Oxford don Dawkins is familiar to readers with any interest in evolution. While the late Stephen Jay Gould was alive, he and Dawkins were friendly antagonists on the question of whether evolution "progresses" (Gould: No, Dawkins: Yes, depending on your definition of "progress"). Dawkins's The Selfish Gene has been very influential, not least for his introduction of the "meme," sort of a Lamarckian culturally inherited trait. In this, his first collection of essays, Dawkins muses on a wide spectrum of topics: why the jury system isn't the best way to determine innocence or guilt; the vindication of Darwinism (or what he insists is properly called neo-Darwinism) in the past quarter-century; the fallacy in thinking that individual genes, for instance a "gay gene," can be directly linked to personality traits; what he sees as the dangers of giving opponents the benefit of the doubt just because they wrap their arguments in religious belief; several sympathetic pieces on Gould; and a final section on why we all can be said to be "out of Africa." Fans of Dawkins's earlier books should snap up this collection. Readers new to him may find that the short format (many of these essays were originally forewords to books, book reviews or magazine pieces) doesn't quite do his reputation justice. Dawkins will antagonize some readers by his attacks on religion: his tone in these essays may fall just short of intellectual arrogance, but he certainly exhibits an intellectual impatience not always beneficial to his argument. Still, Dawkins's enthusiasm for the diversity of life on this planet should prove contagious.

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Unweaving The Rainbow - Richard Dawkins Review

Why do poets and artists so often disparage science in their work? For that matter, why does so much scientific literature compare poorly with, say, the phone book? After struggling with questions like these for years, biologist Richard Dawkins has taken a wide-ranging view of the subjects of meaning and beauty in Unweaving the Rainbow, a deeply humanistic examination of science, mysticism, and human nature. Notably strong-willed in a profession of bet-hedgers and wait-and-seers, Dawkins carries the reader along on a romp through the natural and cultural worlds, determined that "science, at its best, should leave room for poetry."

Inspired by the frequently asked question, "Why do you bother getting up in the morning?" following publication of his book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins set out determined to show that understanding nature's mechanics need not sap one's zest for life. Alternately enlightening and maddening, Unweaving the Rainbow will appeal to all thoughtful readers, whether wild-eyed technophiles or grumpy, cabin-dwelling Luddites. Excoriations of newspaper astrology columns follow quotes from Blake and Shakespeare, which are sandwiched between sparkling, easy-to-follow discussions of probability, behavior, and evolution. In Dawkins's world (and, he hopes, in ours), science is poetry; he ends his journey by referring to his title's author and subject, maintaining that "A Keats and a Newton, listening to each other, might hear the galaxies sing." --Rob Lightner

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The Blind Watchmaker - Richard Dawkins

From Publishers Weekly

Oxford zoologist Dawkins (The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype trumpets his thesis in his subtitlealmost guarantee enough that his book will stir controversy. Simply put, he has responded head-on to the argument-by-design most notably made by the 18th century theologian William Paley that the universe, like a watch in its complexity, needed, in effect, a watchmaker to design it. Hewing to Darwin's fundamental (his opponents might say fundamentalist) message, Dawkins sums up: "The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the evolution of organized complexity." Avoiding an arrogant tone despite his up-front convictions, he takes pains to explain carefully, from various sides, why even such esteemed scientists as Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, with their "punctuated equilibrium" thesis, are actually gradualists like Darwin himself in their evolutionary views. Dawkins is difficult reading as he describes his computer models of evolutionary possibilities. But, as he draws on his zoological background, emphasizing recent genetic techniques, he can be as engrossing as he is cogent and convincing. His concept of "taming chance" by breaking down the "very improbable into less improbable small components" is daring neo-Darwinism. Line drawings.

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The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

From Publishers Weekly

The antireligion wars started by Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris will heat up even more with this salvo from celebrated Oxford biologist Dawkins. For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. But Dawkins, who gave us the selfish gene, anticipates this criticism. He says it's the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions—fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium—that close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. While Dawkins can be witty, even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: the biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas's proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense." The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, for instance, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design. In other chapters, he attempts to construct a scientific scaffolding for atheism, such as using evolution again to rebut the notion that without God there can be no morality. He insists that religion is a divisive and oppressive force, but he is less convincing in arguing that the world would be better and more peaceful without it. (Oct. 18)

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The Ancestor's Tale - Richard Dawkins Review

Just as we trace our personal family trees from parents to grandparents and so on back in time, so in The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins traces the ancestry of life. As he is at pains to point out, this is very much our human tale, our ancestry. Surprisingly, it is one that many otherwise literate people are largely unaware of. Hopefully Dawkins's name and well deserved reputation as a best selling writer will introduce them to this wonderful saga.

The Ancestor's Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls ‘concestors,’ those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago. It is a remarkable story which is still very much in the process of being uncovered. And, of course from a scientist of Dawkins stature and reputation we get an insider's knowledge of the most up-to-date science and many of those involved in the research. And, as we have come to expect of Dawkins, it is told with a passionate commitment to scientific veracity and a nose for a good story. Dawkins's knowledge of the vast and wonderful sweep of life's diversity is admirable. Not only does it encompass the most interesting living representatives of so many groups of organisms but also the important and informative fossil ones, many of which have only been found in recent years.

Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology as ‘cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin of life.’ It is, to my mind, a sensible and perfectly acceptable approach although some might complain about going against the grain of evolution. The great benefit for the general reader is that it begins with the more familiar present and the animals nearest and dearest to us—our immediate human ancestors. And then it delves back into the more remote and less familiar past with its droves of lesser known and extinct fossil forms. The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each based around a group of organisms and discusses their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illustrated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional charts and maps through time, providing a visual compliment and complement to the text. The design also allows Dawkins to make numerous running comments and characteristic asides. There are also numerous references and a good index.-- Douglas Palmer

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The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins Review

Inheriting the mantle of revolutionary biologist from Darwin, Watson, and Crick, Richard Dawkins forced an enormous change in the way we see ourselves and the world with the publication of The Selfish Gene. Suppose, instead of thinking about organisms using genes to reproduce themselves, as we had since Mendel's work was rediscovered, we turn it around and imagine that "our" genes build and maintain us in order to make more genes. That simple reversal seems to answer many puzzlers which had stumped scientists for years, and we haven't thought of evolution in the same way since.

Why are there miles and miles of "unused" DNA within each of our bodies? Why should a bee give up its own chance to reproduce to help raise her sisters and brothers? With a prophet's clarity, Dawkins told us the answers from the perspective of molecules competing for limited space and resources to produce more of their own kind. Drawing fascinating examples from every field of biology, he paved the way for a serious re-evaluation of evolution. He also introduced the concept of self-reproducing ideas, or memes, which (seemingly) use humans exclusively for their propagation. If we are puppets, he says, at least we can try to understand our strings. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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