9780754658504

Reading Popular Physics: Disciplinary Skirmishes and Textual Strategies

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780754658504

  • ISBN10:

    0754658503

  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2017-07-14
  • Publisher: Routledge

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Summary

Elizabeth Leane's pioneering exploration of physics popularizations richly illuminates their larger significance as well as their vagaries. Filled with apt examples and keen readings, this book opens perspectives important to all concerned with science and its place in human thought. Peter Pesic, St. John's College, New Mexico, author of Abel's Proof and Sky in a Bottle Elizabeth Leane's Reading Popular Physics is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the nature and implications of physics popularizations. A literary critic trained in science, Leane treats popular science writing as a distinct and significant genre, focusing particularly on five bestselling books: Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, Steven Weinberg's The First Three Minutes, James Gleick's Chaos, M. Mitchell Waldrop's Complexity, and Gary Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters. Leane situates her examination of the texts within the heated interdisciplinary exchanges known as the 'Science Wars', focusing specifically on the disputed issue of the role of language in science Her use of literary analysis reveals how popular science books function as sites for 'disciplinary skirmishes', as she uncovers the ways in which popularizers of science influence the public. In addition to their explicit discussion of scientific concepts, Leane argues, these authors employ subtle textual strategies that encode claims about the nature and status of scientific knowledge-claims that are all the more powerful because they are unacknowledged. Her book will change the way these texts are read, offering readers a fresh perspective on this highly visible and influential genre. Contents: Introduction; Popular physics books: a brief history; 'I blame the popularisers ...': the boom and its backlash; The 'two cultures': some theoretical developments; Knowing quanta: anthropomorphic metaphor in popularizations of quantum theory; Exploding the Big Bang: popular cosmology as mythic narrative; Chaos, Complexity and characterization: stereotypes of the scientist in physics popularizations; Conclusion; Works cited; Index. About the Author: Elizabeth Leane is a lecturer in the School of English, Journalism and European Languages at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

Author Biography

Elizabeth Leane is a lecturer in the School of English, Journalism and European Languages at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

Table of Contents

Popular physics books : a brief historyp. 19
" I blame the popularisers . . ." : the boom and its backlashp. 41
The "two cultures" : some theoretical developmentsp. 61
Knowing quanta : anthropomorphic metaphor in popularizations of quantum theoryp. 81
Exploding the big bang : popular cosmology as mythic narrativep. 107
Chaos, complexity and characterization : stereotypes of the scientist in physics popularizationsp. 137
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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