Read PDF Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide

Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. You can download and read online Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide file PDF Book only if you are registered here. And also you can download or read online all Book PDF file that related with Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide book. Happy reading Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide Bookeveryone. Download file Free Book PDF Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide at Complete PDF Library. This Book have some digital formats such us :paperbook, ebook, kindle, epub, fb2 and another formats. Here is The CompletePDF Book Library. It's free to register here to get Book file PDF Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide Pocket Guide.

Science in popular culture: Serious injuries are healed with the wave of a medical gizmo. The media makes it all look easy. Can scientists hope to accomplish such amazing feats in the real world, or are they merely flights of fancy? This book is a fun look of what can, and can't, be achieved with current technology in today's laboratory experiments. Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. To learn more about how to request items watch this short online video. You can view this on the NLA website. New search User lists Site feedback Ask a librarian Help.

Advanced search Search history. The second type of alternate-world story assumes that parallel universes exist and that travel between them is possible. The means of travel matters less than the result: Several episodes of Star Trek — and Star Trek: The TV series Sliders follows its four heroes through a different parallel universe each week as they try to get home to their own. Another quartet of heroes goes universe hopping on purpose in Robert A. Ideas such as the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and the unpredictability of evolution suggest that we are not as special as we like to think.

Stories of alternate worlds, though rooted in those ideas, promote the opposite view. The alternate realities they depict are never as attractive as ours. Treats contingency in evolution; source of the discussion in this essay. The Alternate History List. An exhaustive, searchable bibliography of alternate-world stories, with a masterful introduction. Androids Androids are robots designed to look and act human. They exist, now and for the foreseeable future, only in fiction.

Unable to sense or respond to the world around them, they move only in preprogrammed ways and speak only prerecorded words. True androids would—like the humans they simulate—have full, fluid mobility in both body and limbs. They would be intelligent enough to interact, in flexible and adaptable ways, with humans, other androids, and the material world. They would be able to interpret casual human speech accurately and to produce a reasonable facsimile of it themselves. A robot that achieved even one of these goals would be a technological step far beyond the current state of the art.

A closer look at the problem of mobility shows why. Mobile robots have traditionally been designed with wheels, to run on flat surfaces such as warehouse and factory floors. More sophisticated robots, like the Mars explorer Sojourner, can traverse rough terrain but still use a carlike design: A true android, however, would carry itself like a human rather than a car: Motions such as bending, reaching, or lifting would alter the center of gravity and unbalance the android. Walking, with its constant shifting of weight and attitude, would require even more complex adjustments.

Stair climbing, the most challenging form of everyday human walking, would be a nightmare for android designers. The technological problems of making a humanoid robot with fluid, humanlike mobility are probably soluble. The resulting machine, how- Androids 11 ever, is likely to be extremely complex, high-maintenance, and expensive. Would-be builders and marketers of commercial androids would face a difficult question from prospective customers: What would an android offer, aside from novelty, that would justify its cost?

What could an android do that a human or conventional nonhumanoid robot could not do as well or better, and for less money? The androids portrayed in popular culture easily meet the technological challenges and quietly sidestep the economic uncertainties that would bedevil the real thing. They move, think, and speak as fluidly as flesh-and-blood humans, and they are so reliable that mechanical failures rarely disrupt the illusion that they are human. The illusion is so perfect, in fact, that fictional androids routinely do well in jobs that challenge flesh-and-blood humans.

The Next Generation — , is third in command of a giant starship. Zhora Joanna Cassidy , one of the fugitive androids in the film Blade Runner , has a brief but apparently successful career as an exotic dancer. The list of examples could be much longer: It is precisely that paradox—characters that are seemingly human, yet also nonhuman—that drives most stories about androids. Over seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data seeks to understand human emotions so that he can experience them for himself. The android heroes of the films Bicentennial Man and A.

Popular culture has good dramatic reasons to take the technological sophistication and everyday utility of androids for granted. They are really stories about humans and what it means to be one. Androids, Humanoids, and other Sci-Fi Monsters: Science and Soul in Science Fiction Films. New York University Press, University of Illinois Press, Discussions of androids as vehicles for exploring the nature of humanity. Comprehensive, award-winning site tracking current developments in android technology.

Atomic Energy Albert Einstein showed early in the twentieth century that matter and energy could be converted into one another. The magnitude of c makes the relationship wildly unbalanced: Matter-energy conversions take place when a large atomic nucleus splits into two or more smaller pieces fission or when two small nuclei combine into a single larger one fusion.

Both processes usually consume energy and yield products that have slightly more mass than the original ingredients. Hyman Rickover, was launched in The first experimental nuclear power plant went on line in , and the first commercial plant began supplying electricity to the city of Pittsburgh in late A wide range of other proposed uses for nuclear energy—nuclear-powered cars and the use of atomic bombs for large-scale earth-moving projects—died in the planning stages.

Nuclear-powered cargo ships and spacecraft achieved limited development but faced nonexistent demand and growing public opposition. Commercial fusion power plants have also failed to materialize: Popular culture rarely makes clear distinctions between fission and fusion. The key distinction is between two conflicting images of atomic energy. The optimistic view portrays it as a powerful-but-pliant servant, the pessimistic view as a barely controllable demon, always on the verge of a rampage. The nearly instantaneous release of all that energy—in the form of heat, blast, and radiation—is what makes nuclear weapons far more destructive than conventional weapons.

The largest conventional bombs routinely used during World War II contained a little less than two tons of high explosive. The optimistic view of nuclear weapons assumes that they can be treated as more powerful and so more efficient versions of conventional weapons. It also assumes that—again like conventional weapons—their effects will be limited to the immediate target area.

Fail-Safe novel , film treats the nuclear destruction of Moscow and New York City in similar terms: Terrorists and megalomaniacs threatening to set off nuclear weapons are a standard plot device in action movies from Goldfinger to Broken Arrow and The Peacemaker , but the threat is always confined to a single city. The pessimistic view assumes that the effects of nuclear weapons can be neither contained nor predicted.

Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide - Greenwood - ABC-CLIO

Still others suggest that nuclear explosions may trigger an environmental catastrophe. So, at the other end of the plausibility spectrum are the irradiated monsters popular in s science-fiction films. The heat generated by the nuclear reaction boils water that in conventional power plants would have been heated by burning coal or oil. Though widely used for both purposes since the late s, nuclear power plants have been the center of intense political controversy.

Advocates point to their limited demand for fuel and their lack of airpolluting chemical emissions. Critics emphasize the problem disposing of radioactive waste and the potential loss of life and property that would result from a serious accident. Stories involving large vehicles with nuclear propulsion take an implicitly optimistic view of the technology. The Wrath of Khan , rarely destroy the vehicle. A quickthinking crew member is, nearly always, able to contain the damage, often at the cost of his own life. Stories about commercial, electricity-generating nuclear power plants are also generally optimistic.

A few even tend toward the messianic. Dark humor is common on both sides of the ongoing debate over the safety of nuclear power plants. Here, the issue is the long-term effect of radiation emissions on nearby residents. Nuclear-generated heat could have saved the nowburied northern states had not radical environmentalists blocked construction of the necessary plants.

Some stories about commercial nuclear power plants are less ferocious in their optimism. The efforts are nearly always successful, though they often leave one or more of the heroes dead, injured, or psychologically battered. Both kinds of stories share an underlying message: Nuclear plants are safe, but only in the hands of trained professionals willing to give their lives to protect the public from the terrible forces they control. Optimistic and pessimistic views of nuclear power plants are visible in much purer form in work designed to persuade more than entertain.

Antinuclear graffiti plays on fears that radiation-leaking power plants will produce hideous mutations. To some, efforts to control and use it represent limitless opportunity. To others, they represent unconscionable risk. Scientists and the Development of Nuclear Weapons. Brief introduction, for nonspecialists, to events up to Definitive study of American reactions to nuclear weapons from into the s. Kaku, Michio, and Jennifer Trainer. An evenhanded, journalistic account of the controversy over nuclear power plants, outlining the positions of both sides.

Science in Popular Culture

Life under a Cloud: American Anxiety about the Atom. Less depth than Boyer but more chronological range. They are forest dwellers who live primarily on fruit but also eat nuts, insects, the meat of small animals, and the young of larger ones. Chimps are known for their high intelligence and complex social structure. They hunt cooperatively, share food, and respond in coordinated ways to approaching enemies.

They communicate vocally in the wild, and individuals have been taught in captivity to communicate with humans through gestures and signs. Chimps make and use tools as humans do and, like humans, pass on the knowledge of how to make tools to their young. They also, according to recent studies, commit premeditated acts of violence against one another. This violence includes both the murder of individual chimps by rivals and organized warfare between communities competing for foraging territory.

The killings sometimes, but not always, end in cannibalism. For members of a species so closely related to humans, so complex in its social organization, and so clearly intelligent, chimpanzees get little respect in popular culture. Whales and dolphins are admired for their grace, dogs for their loyalty, and horses for the working partnerships they form with humans. It has only rarely allowed them the kind of active, independent roles routinely assigned to dolphins Flipper , dogs Lassie , or horses The Black Stallion.

Chimp entertainment acts based on this principle, staples of circuses and stage shows in the first half of the twentieth century, easily made the transition to television. On Chimpanzees 19 television, a new variety of chimp act developed: All-ape series from Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp in the early s to The Chimp Channel in the late s relied on low-comedy standards like pratfalls and bodily-function jokes to sustain the story and depended on the novelty of performing chimps to make the timeworn gags funny.

Their chimp stars were, therefore, as interchangeable as the chimps in a circus or stage act. They were funny as members of a species, not as individuals. Most chimps featured in film and on television play specific characters and have specific roles in the on-screen story, but the characters are stereotyped and the roles limited. Most are comic sidekicks: Others are surrogate children: When confined to such roles, chimps have little to do with the main story being told.

They may be whirlwinds of activity on screen, but as is true of human sidekicks and human children, their actions are digressions from the plot rather than steps toward its resolution. Exceptions to this pattern—tales where chimpanzee characters take center stage and shape their own destinies—are rare but significant. One of the first, Robert A. Project X focuses on a young air force pilot who tries to save chimps slated for a lethal experiment, but it makes the chimps into active coconspirators. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes , fourth of five films in the series, chronicles a near-future revolt by enslaved apes against their human masters.

The leader of the revolt, Caesar, is a highly evolved chimpanzee whose parents traveled back in time from the apedominated Earth of the s a.

  • Das Wüstenhaus: Roman (German Edition)?
  • Footprints.
  • Cody Goes To Camp (Cody The Dog Detective Book 1)?
  • Party Bridge.
  • The Latin Church in Norman Italy;
  • J.K. Lassers Small Business Taxes 2008: Your Complete Guide to a Better Bottom Line.
  • ?

He is, thanks to a complex time loop, the architect of the world into which his parents would be born. The fierce, efficient mass violence of the revolt modeled on the Watts riots of seems far more plausible as chimp behavior now than it did in Caesar may yet prove to be the truest fictional representative of his species. My Conversations with Chimpanzees. Survey, for nonspecialists, of research on chimpanzee intelligence and communications.

The foremost observer of chimpanzee behavior in the wild summarizes thirty years of fieldwork. Landau, Virginia, et al. The Jane Goodall Institute. Information on chimpanzees generally and research on chimpanzee behavior including communication in captivity. Ten authoritative fact pages on chimpanzee anatomy, behavior, ecology, and communication, plus a bibliography. Single-celled organisms such as bacteria, which reproduce by dividing, clone themselves naturally. Natural cloning is rare among multicelled animals, since it limits genetic diversity and tends to hasten extinction.

Identical twins, formed when a fertilized egg divides in the womb, are also clones— genetically identical but produced by sexual rather than asexual reproduction and carrying the genes of two parents rather than one. Cloning in the laboratory involves taking a cell from the organism to be cloned, removing its nucleus, and transferring the DNA to an egg cell from which the DNA has been removed.

The egg is then implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother and brought to term. Laboratory cloning became possible in the s, but only by using cells taken from an embryo—cells that had not yet differentiated and specialized to form particular organs. The clone, Dolly, became a worldwide celebrity and a catalyst for intense debates over ethical and public policy issues. Successful cloning of cattle, pigs, and mice followed, and on 25 November scientists at Advanced Cell Technologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced the successful cloning of human embryos.

Those successes, however, created the widespread conviction that the ability to clone at will is only a matter of time. The United States and Britain placed moratoria on human cloning research within a year of the birth of Dolly. Australia and many European countries instituted various regulations of their own. Japan passed legislation in December making human cloning a crime, and the United States is 22 Cloning now considering a similar ban. Popular culture reflects the ethical, religious, and legal concerns that drove this legislation.

Long before Dolly, it established extravagant expectations of what cloning could do. The first is that a clone is not just a genetic duplicate of its parent but an identical physical duplicate as well. Popular culture tends, therefore, to imply that cloning inevitably produces exact duplicates. Human clones would, like Dolly and other animal clones, grow from embryos—albeit genetically altered ones. A man who was X years old when his cloned offspring was born would, like any other parent, always be X years older than his child.

A clone, like a child conceived sexually, would grow in a different womb and grow up in a different physical environment. The clone would strongly resemble, but not precisely duplicate, its single parent, Strict attention to biological reality would, of course, preclude many of the dramatic possibilities that make clones interesting subjects for stories.

  • Mastering Expert Testimony: A Courtroom Handbook for Mental Health Professionals!
  • Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide - A. Bowdoin Van Riper - Google Книги?
  • Cool Like That: A So For Real Novel.
  • My Soul Cries Out: The Journey of My Life?
  • Imminent Domain: The Story of the Kingdom of God and Its Celebration?
  • .
  • Kiwi, Pelikan und Leguan – drei Kindergeschichten zum Vorlesen (German Edition).

Photocopy-style cloning adds the possibility of creating duplicates at any time—and in any quantity—the duplicator desires. Popular culture tends, not surprisingly, to choose drama over accuracy. It builds to the revelation that the president has been cloned, in order simultaneously to appear in public and work behind closed doors.

The film Multiplicity uses the same concept as the basis for farce. Doug Kinney Michael Keaton has himself secretly cloned so that he can literally be in two places at once. The deception works, fooling his friends and even his wife, because the cloned Dougs are physically identical to the original. Quark, a short-lived TV comedy series about the crew of a interstellar garbage scow barge , features a pair of physically identical and identically dressed characters named The popular image of human cloning.

Popular culture often misrepresents cloning as the biological equivalent of photocopying: One Betty is a clone of the other, but each, in a running joke, firmly insists that she is the original. The two Bettys are a relatively rare example of individuals and their clones being given identical personalities and mannerisms. The drama in The Multiple Man and the biggest laughs in Multiplicity depend on the fact that their clones have individual personalities. Stories about clones are, in fact, more likely than much of popular culture to appreciate the role of social forces in shaping individual personalities.

The mass production by cloning of hundreds of identical human beings is a particularly potent symbol of this kind of dehumanization.

HOW TO ANALYZE PEOPLE ON SIGHT - FULL AudioBook - Human Analysis, Psychology, Body Language

It makes literal what has for most of the industrial age remained metaphorical: The mass cloning attempted by Dr. Josef Mengele in The Boys from Brazil requires a small army of women to carry the small army of Hitler clones to term. The women of The Boys from Brazil are reduced to machines, living incubators for the clones. The clones themselves are, in a different sense, equally dehumanized. The TV series Space: The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, a film, takes the equation of cloning and dehumanization to its logical conclusion.

In it, a secret clinic rebuilds the bodies of horribly injured patients by cloning them and using the clones for spare parts. Popular culture, from W. Combined with cloning, it is certain proof that a scientist possesses an unhealthy ego, perhaps even sees himself as God. Ian Malcolm, the mathematician who serves as the voice of restraint in Jurassic Park novel , film chides entrepreneur John Hammond for cloning dinosaurs simply to turn a profit.

It would be different, Malcolm argues in the film, if Hammond were resurrecting the condor: Dinosaurs, Malcolm insists, are another matter: Harry Wolper, the eccentrically brilliant scientist who sets out to clone his dead wife in Creator novel , film cheerfully admits that he is playing God. Indeed, he relishes the role. Above and Beyond also fail to achieve their goals: Even the well-intentioned cloning depicted in Multiplicity and The Multiple Man ultimately fails: Manipulating the nonliving world—damming a river, diverting a lava flow—is heroic.

Manipulating the living world— cloning humans, growing giant animals—is evidence of a dangerously unstable mind. Includes chronologically organized links to news stories, a bibliography, and excerpts from published commentaries. An indispensable guide to cloning: The Road to Dolly and the Path Ahead.

Places the cloning of Dolly and its likely impact in the context of earlier attempts, alleged attempts, and hoaxes. Flesh of My Flesh: The Ethics of Cloning Humans. Rowan and Littlefield, Post-Dolly commentaries by leading scientists. Dolly and the Age of Biological Control. Harvard University Press, The biology, mechanics, and possible future of cloning, by those involved.

They come from reservoirs on the outermost fringes of the solar system: The comets we see from Earth have been knocked loose from these reservoirs and pulled into long, narrow elliptical orbits around the Sun. Small amounts of ice vaporize as the comet approaches the sun. A cubic kilometer of tail contains less matter than a cubic millimeter of air.

Every comet leaves a trail of dust and ice particles behind it as it passes through the solar system; occasionally, a comet disintegrates entirely. A comet or comet fragment may have caused the massive explosion at Tunguska, Siberia, in June Comet impacts may also have been responsible for some of the periodic mass extinctions that punctuate the history of life on Earth. Comets have often been regarded as omens—signs of triumph or disaster to come. What they signify is not always clear. A comet hung in the skies over Western Europe in as William of Normandy prepared to fight Harold Godwinson for the right to rule England.

William must have seen it, in retrospect at least, as a good omen: Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Comets 29 improbably—long life. Most people would see the comet once in their lifetime, but someone born in a year when it appeared might see it twice. He did just that, dying in as the comet made an unusually spectacular appearance.

It uses the comet not as an omen of impending death but as a sign that Welty had lived a long, full life. The comet in the film Night of the Comet causes more varied, if less plausible, mayhem: If it strikes the earth intact, it will trigger a new mass extinction. If only a piece of it strikes, hundreds of thousands will die, but civilization will survive.

The fictional comets, for all their modern trappings, do what comets have always done in popular culture: They are, as usual, maddeningly vague omens. The fictional characters, as did Kings William and Harold in , know that changes are coming but not what the changes will be. Cambridge University Press, Focuses on large, spectacular comets and their cultural impact. Simon and Schuster, Outlines, in detail, astronomical errors in movies and TV shows.

Computers Computers are machines for electronically storing and manipulating data. Any computer, no matter how large or powerful, is a system of interconnected components: PCs may also be linked to other PCs, to a nearby mainframe, or—by modems and phone lines or more sophisticated means—to a distant mainframe that provides a gateway to the global Internet.

A Reference Guide

Once furnished with a set of instructions and a set of data to which to apply them, a computer becomes one of the few human-made tools that can act entirely independently of its user. They are independent, however, only within narrow limits. Human users must supply data in a form that they can recognize, as well as sets of instructions that are internally coherent and capable of producing the desired results. Even trivial errors in the data or the instructions applied to it can render the computer useless. ENIAC, widely regarded as the first true electronic computer, made its debut at the University of Pennsylvania in The next fifty-five years of computer history embodied two trends: Computers became steadily more powerful, compact, and reliable as vacuum tubes gave way to transistors in the s and integrated circuits in the s.

Advances in integrated circuits and the microprocessors they make up have continued the morepower-in-less-space trend since then. Hundred-dollar programmable calculators, according to one widely quoted anecdote, are now more powerful than the onboard computers that guided Apollo spacecraft to the Moon a generation ago. The same trend made it possible by the mids to put a powerful computer in a typewriter-sized box.

The advent of such machines began the democratization of computers.

Science in popular culture

The development of intuitive controls—notably the Macintosh and Windows operating systems in the mids—extended the process. The explosive growth of the Internet in the s completed it, drawing millions of new users into their first extended interactions with computers and creating new markets for low-cost, easy-to-use machines. Computers affected everyday life even when they were big, expensive, and rare.

Their transformation into everyday tools, as familiar as telephones or television sets, has made their effects more visible and more pervasive.

Get this edition

The portrayals play, often simultaneously, on the extravagant hopes and the intense anxieties that computers generate. Big, powerful machines became symbols of the big, powerful organizations that bought and used them. Replacement by a machine, a fate once feared only by blue-collar workers, became a white-collar nightmare as well.

The threat, though powerful, remained unspecific. The film 32 Computers That Touch of Mink, a romantic comedy set in a corporate office building, features a computer that goes berserk and spews its carefully sorted punch-cards across the room. These features place EMIRAC well ahead of the most sophisticated search engines in general use half a century later, but they mask serious flaws. Asked for information on a subject, EMIRAC apparently prints the first approximately relevant piece of data it finds in its databanks.

A variation on the story— A Space Odyssey is a classic example—places human characters in a confined space controlled by a malevolent mainframe. A third version involves humans who—again, too trusting of computers—place nuclear weapons under their direct control. Catastrophe follows mechanical failure in Fail-Safe novel , film It would have to be able to think beyond its programming, adapting its thought patterns to new situations and new forms of data.

It would, in other words, have to clear a very tall barrier, the base of which real-world computer designers have only begun to probe. The major differences— greater speeds, fewer crashes, and perfect interfacing—are concessions to storytelling efficiency.

  1. La vache pourpre (French Edition).
  2. Daisies for the Doctor: and a basketful of other stories?
  4. Witnesses to War: The History Of Australian Conflict Reporting.
  5. Freely available;
  6. Far from threatening to reduce their users to numbers in a database, as fictional mainframes do, they allow users to assert and protect their individuality. The secret-agent heroes of the film Mission: A History of Modern Computing. A nontechnical, jargon-free survey of the history and the current state of the Internet, focusing on the technology involved.

    Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Reflections of a Computer Contrarian. Twenty-three critical essays on the social and cultural impact of computers and the Internet, written by a computer engineer determined to challenge conventional wisdom. A nontechnical, graphics-laden introduction to the hardware that makes up personal computers and peripheral devices.

    Roughly people have been frozen since the late s, and roughly 1, more have arranged to be frozen once they are declared legally dead. Preserved, their medical histories carefully documented, the frozen dead can be revived and restored to health once medical science has advanced enough to reverse the damage that killed them and the additional damage done by freezing. Cryonics advocates acknowledge that successful revivals are unlikely in the foreseeable future but note that individuals in cryonic storage, being legally dead already, have nothing to lose by waiting.

    Popular culture seldom treats cryonics in the context of the present. When it does, cryonics is seldom the point of the story. Thawing out an alien monster from the polar ice in John W. Thawing out a 40,year-old Neanderthal man from a glacier in the movie Iceman is a prelude to explorations of what makes us human. Movies like Sleeper and Forever Young use cryonics to establish Rip Van Winkle—style plots—comic in one case, romantic in the other. They treat the dilemma of a frozen-and-thawed hero who wakes up to find the world made alien by the passage of time.

    Stories about cryonic preservation that are set wholly in the future also take the process for granted, but only to a point. They postulate that the basic process is sound and that it has become standard under certain narrowly defined circumstances: Those complications are, frequently, central to the story. Often, the complications are medical: The fact that the process will erase six months of her memories, including their romance, is a minor problem. They can function adequately on a day-to-day basis but can no longer trust that their judgement is entirely sound.

    Equally often, however, the complications are external: Three scientists frozen for a long voyage to Jupiter in the film He faces a terrible choice: The dead are placed in peril when the living, who have all the political power, begin to view them not as people but as a resource. Major scientific and technological breakthroughs invariably have unintended consequences. Popular culture has often been a key venue for exploring the unintended consequences of new discoveries, and its treatment of cryonics shows it operating in that crucial role.

    A Short Introduction to Cryonics. A short, nontechnical introduction to cryonics and the logic behind it, from a leading advocacy group. More Work for Mother: Cyborgs Cyborgs are composite beings: They retain parts of their human bodies and all of their human consciousness. Unlike androids, which are machines that have human form, cyborgs are humans whose original, biological components have been selectively replaced with mechanical ones. Body-part replacement is, in a limited sense, an old and wellestablished process. False teeth and prosthetic limbs are centuries old, and replacements for degraded joints with teflon and steel is now an established medical practice.

    Mechanical devices designed to augment body parts are also common, ranging from eyeglasses to implanted pacemakers. Cyborgs, according to the most common definition, have mechanical parts controlled by computers that interface with the brain and nervous system. Advanced prosthetic limbs now in development represent the first steps toward this goal. Most people, in the unlikely event that they were asked to describe a cyborg, would probably imagine a person whose mechanical parts equaled or even outnumbered their biological ones.

    Beings meeting that description exist only in fiction, but there they are common. Fictional cyborgs who act primarily as action-adventure heroes gain superhuman powers from their mechanical parts at little personal cost. His Cyborgs 39 computer-enhanced left eye works as a variable-magnification telescope and range finder—a small, portable spy satellite. His mechanical parts rarely malfunction unless the plot demands it, and after the pilot episode, the psychological scars of his near-fatal accident and high-tech resurrection quickly fade.

    If being part machine bothers him, he seldom shows it. Not all fictional cyborgs enjoy such uncomplicated lives. Alex Murphy, the hero of RoboCop and two sequels, and Darth Vader, the archvillain of the Star Wars saga, gain physical strength by becoming cyborgs but also lose some of their humanity. The metal masks that hide their faces and the distorted, mechanical sounds of their voices suggest that they are in danger of becoming machines.

    Their cold, emotionless behavior hints at the same danger—as if their mechanical parts were demons taking possession of their soul. The Borg, a cyborg race that periodically rampages through the Star Trek universe, are the ultimate practitioners of this kind of possession. They reproduce, vampirelike, by transforming their victims.

    Stories about cyborgs losing their humanity play on deep-seated fears but nearly always have happy endings. Vader is redeemed when, at the climax of Return of the Jedi , his deeply buried love for his son Luke Skywalker resurfaces and turns him against the evil emperor. Even the attacks of Borg are, in time, shown to be reversible.

    Jean-Luc Picard, captured and assimilated by them in Star Trek: The Next Generation, is freed from their technological bondage by surgery and from their psychological bondage by the love of his family and crew. Seven-of-Nine, a woman in her early thirties who had been assimilated by the Borg as a child, is gradually nursed back to humanity by Capt. Kathryn Janeway over several seasons of Star Trek: It is no coincidence that for all four cyborgs the key to redemption is a loving relationship with another person.

    Our society is deeply ambivalent about technology: Cyborgs—humans tied to machines in the most intimate way imaginable—are powerful symbols of that feeling. Stories about their loss and recovery of their humanity offer a reassuring message: Rigorous survey of cyborg technology already in use. The Reinvention of Nature. Dense, complex, classic exploration of the cultural meaning of cyborgs. A Guide to the Visual History of Cyborgs. Brief but comprehensive one-page survey of cyborg images.

    Can scientists hope to accomplish such amazing feats in the real world, or are they merely flights of fancy? This book is a fun look at what can, and can't, be achieved with current technology in today's laboratory experiments. Fans of the Jetsons , Star Trek , and Star Wars will learn the facts behind the fiction through entires that describe the scientific inventions and procedures on the screen, and how they differ from the reality. He discusses how animals such as chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants are portrayed in books and films, and what we really know about animal intelligence.

    This book lifts the curtain on science fiction, revealing how and where scientific laws have been discarded for the sake of a good plot.