Science

Nick Haslam reviews 'The Secret Life of The Mind: How our brain thinks, feels, and decides' by Mariano Sigman

Nick Haslam
30 August 2017

Along time ago in a university far, far away, I received an application for graduate study in psychology. The applicant claimed to have no particular orientation to the field, just a broad and open-minded curiosity. In her own words, she was a ‘tabula rosa’: a rose tablet. The student had misrendered John Locke’s famous tabula rasa, the empiricist metaphor of ... More

Robyn Williams reviews 'Radio Astronomer: John Bolton and a new window on the universe' by Peter Robertson

Robyn Williams
30 August 2017

What shocks me, as I consider this important new book, is how completely John Bolton has disappeared from the public mind. Just consider, he pioneered extragalactic radio astronomy, built two superb radio telescopes, was worthy of a Nobel Prize, hired or mentored a generation of top scientists – and was played by Sam Neill in the film The Dish (2000). Nei ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'A Day in the Life of the Brain: The neuroscience of consciousness from dawn till dusk' by Susan Greenfield

Nick Haslam
29 March 2017

The youthful genre of popular neuroscience enjoys a few advantages that popular psychology, its older sibling, does not. The general public holds neuroscience in higher esteem, more confident in its scientific legitimacy. The concreteness of brain science – its colourful scans, its focus on a kilogram or so of custardy matter rather than a weightless cloud of mind ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'ADHD Nation: The disorder. The drugs. The inside story.' by Alan Schwarz

Nick Haslam
20 December 2016

The spectrum of opinion on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD in the acronym-crazed world of psychiatry – runs from the firiest red to the deepest purple ...

More

Ian Gibbins reviews 'The Best Australian Science Writing 2016' edited by Jo Chandler NewSouth

Ian Gibbins
30 November 2016

Most scientists are writers. Notwithstanding the distortions induced by the ‘publish or perish’ imperative of funding agencies and academic appointment committees, the publication of original research is fundamental to the scientific process. Depending on the field, a successful scientist may write a hundred or more publications over his or her career. In terms ... More

Nick Haslam reviews 'Ivan Pavlov: A Russian life in science' by Daniel P. Todes

Nick Haslam
30 November 2016

Conventional wisdom has it that Ivan Pavlov made dogs salivate to the sound of a bell, discovered the conditioned reflex, and laid the foundations for behaviourism, an austere creed that ruled the mind to be off limits for science. Almost all of this is false. Pavlov’s bell was in fact a sophisticated adjustable buzzer. The ‘conditioned reflex’ is a mistransla ... More

Gary N. Lines reviews 'Rise of the Machines: The lost history of cybernetics' by Thomas Rid

Gary N. Lines
26 September 2016

What is the definition of the postmodern concept known as cybernetics? Englishman and mathematician Thomas Rid, a professor in the War Studies department at ...

More

Ashley Hay reviews 'In Love with Betty the Crow: The first 40 years of ABC RN's 'The Science Show'' by Robyn Williams

Ashley Hay
26 April 2016

When David Attenborough's memoir Life on Air was published in 2002, the magazine I worked for arranged for me to interview him. By then I had been interviewing people for a while and thought myself quite unflusterable. I keyed in the number, listened to the dial tone. And then it was as if the call had been answered by God (interesting, as an atheist). My r ... More

Paul Giles reviews 'The Invention of Nature' by Andrea Wulf

Paul Giles
24 February 2016

Alexander von Humboldt, who died in 1859 at the age of eighty-nine, was not only the most famous scientist of his day but also one of the world's best-known figures. He met often with political leaders, from Thomas Jefferson in the new United States to King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, and he expanded outwards from his bases in Paris and Berlin to pursue variou ... More

Danielle Clode reviews 'The Best Australian Science Writing' edited by Bianca Nogrady

Danielle Clode
18 December 2015

In 2010, writing in Westerly, Carmel Lawrence despaired about the lack of science writing in the collection of 'best non-fiction' of the year that she had been asked to review. It wasn't, she concluded, for want of material. Science writing had undergone a huge resurgence in popularity at t ... More

Page 1 of 2