Clouds

Nature and Culture

Author: Richard Hamblyn

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780237707

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 7784

Clouds have been objects of delight and fascination throughout human history, their fleeting magnificence and endless variety having inspired scientists and daydreamers alike. Described by Aristophanes as “the patron goddesses of idle men,” clouds and the ever-changing patterns they create have long symbolized the restlessness and unpredictability of nature, and yet they are also the source of life-giving rains. In this book, Richard Hamblyn examines clouds in their cultural, historic, and scientific contexts, exploring their prevalence in our skies as well as in our literature, art, and music. As Hamblyn shows, clouds function not only as a crucial means of circulating water around the globe but also as a finely tuned thermostat regulating the planet’s temperature. He discusses the many different kinds of clouds, from high, scattered cirrus clouds to the plump thought-bubbles of cumulus clouds, even exploring man-made clouds and clouds on other planets. He also shows how clouds have featured as meaningful symbols in human culture, whether as ominous portents of coming calamities or as ethereal figures giving shape to the heavens, whether in Wordsworth’s poetry or today’s tech speak. Comprehensive yet compact, cogent and beautifully illustrated, this is the ultimate guidebook to those shapeshifters of the sky.

Volcano

Nature and Culture

Author: James Hamilton

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1861899556

Category: Science

Page: 208

View: 1664

For years, tourists have trekked across cracked rock at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano to witness the awe-inspiring sight of creeping lava and its devastating effects on the landscape. In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland, stranding travelers as a cloud of ash covered western and northern Europe, causing the largest disruption of air travel since World War II. And just a few months later, Mount Merapi blew in Indonesia, killing over 350 people and displacing over 350,000 others, awakening people once more to the dangerous potential of these sleeping giants. Though today largely dormant, volcanoes continue to erupt across the world, reminding us of their sheer physical power. In Volcano, James Hamilton explores the cultural history generated by the violence and terrifying beauty of volcanoes. He describes the reverberations of early eruptions of Vesuvius and Etna in Greek and Roman myth. He also examines the depiction of volcanoes in art—from the earliest known wall painting of an erupting volcano in 6200 BCE to the distinctive colors of Andy Warhol and Michael Sandle’s exploding mountains. Surveying a number of twenty-first-century works, Hamilton shows that volcanoes continue to influence the artistic imagination. Combining established figures such as Joseph Wright and J. M. W. Turner with previously unseen perspectives, this richly illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in science as well as the cultural impact of these spectacular natural features.

Water

Nature and Culture

Author: Veronica Strang

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 178023483X

Category: Nature

Page: 224

View: 9234

As any scientist will tell you, there is no substance more vital than water. Our history is necessarily a history with water, whether we have irrigated our fields with it, cooled our machines, washed ourselves, drank it down deeply, or even worshipped it. In Water, Veronic Strang ladles through the rich history of our interaction with water, offering an accessible examination of the crucial properties that make water so unique alongside the complex story of our evolving relationship with it. As Strang shows, our attitudes about water and the things that we rely on it for have changed dramatically over time. Once a mystical source of regenerative powers, it has since played various roles as our attitudes about hygiene, health, and disease have developed; as it has become useful to our industry; as agriculture has become ever more complex; and, of course, as we have learned to make money from it. Today water—who controls it, and how—is one of the largest issues facing our society, influencing everything from the welfare of the billions of people living on earth to the vitality of its natural habitats. Balancing history, science, and environmental and cultural studies, Strang offers an important, multi-faceted view of a critical resource.

Swamp

Nature and Culture

Author: Anthony Wilson

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780238916

Category: Science

Page: 248

View: 4314

Throughout history, swamps have been idealized and demonized, purged and protected. Today, they are simultaneously considered metaphorical places of evil, pestilence, and death, and treasured as diverse biological ecosystems teeming with life. Covering not only swamps and bogs but also marshes and wetlands, Swamp ventures into the cultural and ecological histories of these mysterious, mythologized, and misunderstood landscapes. Anthony Wilson takes readers into swamps across the globe, from the freshwater marshes of Botswana’s tremendous Okavango delta, to the notable swamps between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to the peat bogs in Russia, the British Isles, and Scandinavia, which have been used as energy sources for centuries. It explores ideas and representations of wetlands across centuries, cultures, and continents, considering legend and folklore, mythology, literature, film, and natural and cultural history. As it plumbs the murky depths of swamps from the distant past to an uncertain future, Swamps provides an engaging, accessible, informative, and lavishly illustrated journey into these fascinating landscapes.

Islands

Nature and Culture

Author: Stephen A. Royle

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780234015

Category: Nature

Page: 224

View: 3542

From Charles Darwin’s enlightening voyage to the Galapagos Islands to moat-encased prisons incarcerating the world’s deadliest prisoners, islands have been sites of immense scientific, political, and creative importance. An inspiration for artists and writers, they can be lively centers of holiday revelry or remote, mysterious spots; places of escape or of exile and imprisonment. In this cultural and scientific history of these alluring, isolated territories, Stephen A. Royle describes the great variety of islands, their economies, and the animals, plants, and people who thrive on them. Royle shows that despite the view of some islands as earthly paradises, they are often beset by severe limitations in both resources and opportunities. Detailing the population loss many islands have faced in recent years, he considers how islanders have developed their homes into tourist destinations in order to combat economic instability. He also explores their exotic, otherworldly beauty and the ways they have provided both refuge and inspiration for artists, such as Paul Gauguin in Tahiti and George Orwell on the Scottish island of Jura. Filled with illustrations, Islands is a compelling and comprehensive survey of the geographical and cultural aspects of island life.

Mountain

Nature and Culture

Author: Veronica della Dora

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780236956

Category: Science

Page: 248

View: 3919

Majestic and awe-inspiring, there is nothing like the sight of a mountain on the horizon. Throughout all of human history mountains have been linked to the eternal, attracting us to their dizzying heights, stunning us with their natural beauty, and often threatening us with their dangers. Through a compelling journey to both real and imaginary peaks, this book explores how the mountain has figured in our history, culture, and imaginations. Veronica della Dora explores the ways mountains have functioned spiritually as a boundary between life and death, a bridge between the earth and the heavens. Interlacing science, culture, and religion, she sketches the mountain as a geological phenomenon that has profoundly influenced and been influenced by the human imagination, shaping our environmental consciousness and helping us understand our—quite small indeed—place in the world. She also explores their significance as objects of human feats, as prizes of adventure and sport, and as places of serene beauty for vacationers. Magnificently illustrated and showcasing famous peaks from all around the world, Mountain offers a fascinating dual portrait of these giants in nature and culture.

Storm

Nature and Culture

Author: John Withington

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780237081

Category: Science

Page: 224

View: 8179

Gales, cyclones, blizzards, tornados, and hurricanes—few things demonstrate the awesome power of nature like a good storm. Devastating, diverse, and sometimes appearing completely out of nowhere, storms are also a source of both scientific and aesthetic wonder. In this book, John Withington takes an in-depth and unique look at the nature of storms and the impact that they have—both physical and cultural—on our lives. Withington shows how storms have changed the course of human history. From Roman times to the modern day, he shows how their devastating effects have wiped out entire communities, changed the fates of battle, and even reset the entire planet. He also shows how beneficial they have been to us: as an important feature of our atmosphere and climate, but also as a source of inspiration for nearly every artist who has ever lived, from Homer to Rembrandt, in works from the Old Testament to Robinson Crusoe. Beautifully illustrated, this book offers a fascinating look at Earth’s most fearsome events.

Cave

Nature and Culture

Author: Ralph Crane,Lisa Fletcher

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780234600

Category: Nature

Page: 224

View: 6966

Shortlisted for the Tratman Award 2015 To enter caves is to venture beyond the realm of the everyday. From huge vaulted caverns to impassable, water-filled passages; from the karst topography of Guilin in China to the lava tubes of Hawaii; from tiny remote pilgrimage sites to massive tourism enterprises, caves are places of mystery. Dark spaces that remain largely unexplored, caves are astonishing wonders of nature and habitats for exotic flora and fauna. This book investigates the natural and cultural history of caves and considers the roles caves have played in the human imagination and experience of the natural world. It explores the long history of the human fascination with caves, across countries and continents, examining their dual role as spaces of both wonder and fear. It tells the tales of the adventurers who pioneered the science of caves and those of the explorers and cave-divers still searching for new, unmapped routes deep into the earth. This book explores the lure of the subterranean world by examining caving and cave tourism and by looking to the mythology, literature, and art of caves. This lavishly illustrated book will appeal to general readers and experts alike interested in the ecology and use of caves, or the extraordinary artistic responses earth’s dark recesses have evoked over the centuries.

Uprisings for the Earth

Reconnecting Culture with Nature

Author: Osprey Orielle Lake

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780974524597

Category: Nature

Page: 292

View: 9668

Uprisings for the Earth delves into a new kinship with nature while acknowledging the treasures of urban life and the unique stake each person has in resolving critical and timely challenges. While avoiding doomsday scenarios, Lake offers a frank inquiry into a variety of causes leading to our current global peril while also providing a deep well of hope and profound insight. She weaves together history, ecology, culture, governance, women's leadership and the arts to map out an integrated approach to working in partnership with nature while creating a more just and sustainable future. Her wisdom, lyrical style, and thorough research frame chapters such as ?Around the Fire: From Global Warming to a Renewed Hearth”, ?Anthem to Water”, ?Democracy Ancient and Modern” and ?Honor the Women.” Lake takes us along wild rivers as she explores water conservation and the mysteries of water science; sits us around a fire along with great minds of past and present to contemplate the climate crisis; and takes us to several continents where we navigate deeper into history of culture and land. Consider this book required reading for its inspiration, innovation and hope for the Earth and future generations.

Desert

Nature and Culture

Author: Roslynn D. Haynes

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 178023208X

Category: Nature

Page: 224

View: 4024

Sand. Cacti. Lizards. Mirages. Deserts call to mind exotic places, a sense of adventure and freedom, but also thirst and desolation. In Desert, Roslynn D. Haynes takes a fresh look at this geographical feature and cultural entity as it becomes an increasingly threatened environment. Considering the immense geographical diversity of deserts from the Sahara to Antarctica, Haynes explores the intriguing and often bizarre ways plants and animals adapt to such a hostile environment, as well as the diverse peoples that have inhabited deserts and evolved unique lifestyles and cultures in response to their surroundings. She asks why Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all originated in the deserts of the Middle East and traces the connections between the minimalism of desert existence and the pursuit of a spiritual dimension. Finally, she describes the allure deserts have exerted on the West, the significance of desolate landscapes in literature and film, and the revolution in artists’ responses to the desert as an empty space and as an inspiration for new visual techniques with which to view it. Ending with a look at how commercial and military interests threaten desert ecologies, Desert casts new light on our view of these seemingly barren places.

Silver

Nature and Culture

Author: Lindsay Shen

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780238010

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 6826

From spoons to bullets to sterling coins, silver permeates our everyday culture and language. For millennia we’ve used it to buy what we need, adorn our bodies, or trumpet our social status, and likewise it’s been useful to vanquish werewolves, vampires, and even our own smelly socks. This book captures all of these facets of silver and more, telling the fascinating story of one of our most hardworking precious metals. As Lindsay Shen shows, while always valued for its beauty and rarity—used to bolster dowries and pay armies alike—silver today is also exploited for its chemistry and can be found in everything from the clothes we wear to the electronics we use to the medical devices that save our lives. Born in the supernovae of stars and buried deep in the earth, it has been mined by many different societies, traded throughout the world, and been the source of wars and the downfall of empires. It is also a metal of pure reflection, a shining symbol of purity. Featuring many glistening illustrations of silver in nature, art, jewelry, film, advertising, and popular culture, this is a superb overview of a metal both precious and useful, one with a rich and eventful history.

Comets

Nature and Culture

Author: P. Andrew Karam

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780238584

Category: Science

Page: 224

View: 3464

Radiating fire and ice, comets as a phenomenon seem part science, part myth. Two thousand years ago when a comet shot across the night sky, it convinced the Romans that Julius Caesar was a god. In 1066, Halley’s Comet was interpreted as a foreshadowing of the death of Harold the Second in the Battle of Hastings. Even today the arrival of a comet often feels auspicious, confirming our hopes, fears, and sense of wonder in the universe. In Comets, P. Andrew Karam takes the reader on a far-ranging exploration of these most beautiful and dramatic objects in the skies, revealing how comets and humanity have been interwoven throughout history. He delves into the science of comets and how it has changed over time; the way comets have been depicted in art, religion, literature, and popular culture; and how comets have appeared in the heavens through the centuries. Comprehensive in scope and beautifully illustrated throughout, the book will appeal not only to the budding astronomer, but to anyone with an appreciation for these compelling and remarkable celestial bodies.

Waterfall

Nature and Culture

Author: Brian J. Hudson

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1861899564

Category: Science

Page: 248

View: 7060

From Niagara Falls in the United States to Angel Falls in Venezuela, Victoria Falls in Africa, and Hannoki Falls in Japan, waterfalls provide some of the world’s loveliest panoramas. With their glistening spray and deafening roar, these astonishing natural wonders attract hordes of people each year who seek out, with cameras in hand, these terrifying and sublime examples of natural beauty. While waterfalls have often been considered in terms of their picturesque qualities, their rich cultural background has been neglected. In Waterfall, Brian Hudson portrays these marvels in a new light. He explores the many myths and legends waterfalls have inspired in cultures ranging from Native American to Celtic and Indian, and how they have been depicted in art, literature, film, and music. He also examines their influence on architecture and landscape design, as manmade waterfalls begin to be a staple of parks, gardens, and backyard landscaping. Hudson also discusses the ecology of waterfalls and the conflict that arises from their importance as both a source of hydroelectric power and tourist attractions in many countries. As erosion takes its own toll, the additional environmental impacts of human exploitation could be devastating. A superb addition to the library of any nature lover, this beautifully illustrated book provides a fascinating look at the history and value of these stunning cascades of water.

A Passion for This Earth

Writers, Scientists, and Activists Explore Our Relationship with Nature and the Environment

Author: Michelle Benjamin

Publisher: Greystone Books

ISBN: 1926685059

Category: Nature

Page: 192

View: 8199

David Suzuki's lifelong work as an environmentalist, naturalist, and scientist have influenced countless others in their fight to save the planet, 20 such devotees of them have contributed to this inspiring collection. These journalists, scientists, writers and environmentalists have taken their enthusiasm for Suzuki's philosophy and funneled it into their own personal recollections, manifestos, and essays: Rick Bass describes his love for the Yaak Valley in Montana; Richard Mabey takes readers to a moonlit May evening in Suffolk; David Helvarg tells us of a stirring seaside memory from his childhood. No matter what journey these writers take us on, the unifying theme of their work is always the same: a deep and abiding love of nature — inspired and shared by David Suzuki.

Lightning

Nature and Culture

Author: Derek M. Elsom

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780235461

Category: Science

Page: 240

View: 4888

Few phenomena inspire more awe than lightning. Streaking across the sky, it daunts us with its power and amazes us with its beauty. In Lightning, Derek M. Elsom explores this natural phenomenon and traces the long history of our study of it. From early civilizations’ assumptions that it was the work of gods, through eighteenth-century scientific analyses (and, yes, Ben Franklin’s kite), Elsom tells about our efforts to understand and explain lightning. He explores the many surprising folklore beliefs about lightning protection and contrasts these with today's scientific approaches. Alongside scientific explorations, he also tracks the path of lightning through our culture, from myths and legends to art and design. In addition, Elsom offers handy tips for avoiding getting struck by lightning. Beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs and artistic renderings, this striking book will appeal equally to weather buffs and folklorists, scientists and artists.

Earthquake

Nature and Culture

Author: Andrew Robinson

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780230613

Category: Nature

Page: 208

View: 1055

The 2011 devastating, tsunami-triggering quake off the coast of Japan and 2010’s horrifying destruction in Haiti reinforce the fact that large cities in every continent are at risk from earthquakes. Quakes threaten Los Angeles, Beijing, Cairo, Delhi, Singapore, and many more cities, and despite advances in earthquake science and engineering and improved disaster preparedness by governments and international aid agencies, they continue to cause immense loss of life and property damage. Earthquake explores the occurrence of major earthquakes around the world, their effects on the societies where they strike, and the other catastrophes they cause, from landslides and fires to floods and tsunamis. Examining the science involved in measuring and explaining earthquakes, Andrew Robinson looks at our attempts to design against their consequences and the possibility of having the ability to predict them one day. Robinson also delves into the ways nations have mythologized earthquakes through religion and the arts—Norse mythology explained earthquakes as the violent struggling of the god Loki as he was punished for murdering another god, the ancient Greeks believed Poseidon caused earthquakes whenever he was in a bad mood or wanted to punish people, and Japanese mythology states that Namazu, a giant catfish, triggers quakes when he thrashes around. He discusses the portrayal of earthquakes in popular culture, where authors and filmmakers often use the memory of cities laid to waste—such as Kobe, Japan, in 1995 or San Francisco in 1906—or imagine the hypothetical “Big One,” the earthquake expected someday out of California’s San Andreas Fault. With tremors happening in seemingly implausible places like Chicago and Washington DC, Earthquake is a timely book that will enrich earthquake scholarship and enlighten anyone interested in these ruinous natural disasters.

Fire

Nature and Culture

Author: Stephen J. Pyne

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780230605

Category: Nature

Page: 207

View: 2321

For over 400 million years, fire has been an integral force on our planet. It can be as innocent as a bonfire or as destructive and lethal as a wildfire. Human history is rife with fires that have leveled cities—the Fire of Moscow in 1812 that destroyed seventy-five percent of the city, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that took down 17,000 buildings, and the fire that obliterated San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake are just a few. Fire is a force of nature that can consume everything in its wake, and yet it also has tremendous powers of cleansing and renewal. At the end of the day, we can’t live without it. In Fire, Stephen J. Pyne offers a concise history of fire and its use by humanity, explaining how fire has been at the core of hunting, foraging, farming, herding, urbanizing, and managing nature reserves. He depicts how it gave humans power in ancient times, which resulted in humanity beginning to reshape the world for its own benefit. He describes how fire was used by aboriginal societies and the ways agricultural societies added control over fuel, but warns that our mastery of the science and art of fire has not given us complete control—fire disasters throughout history have defined cultures, and unexpected fires that begin as the result of other disasters have shocking effects. Pyne traces fire’s influence on landscapes, art, science, and even climate, exploring the power a simple spark has over our imaginations. Lavishly illustrated with a host of rare and unexpected images, Fire is a sizzling and accessible tale of our relationship with this primal natural force.

The Invention of Clouds

How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies

Author: Richard Hamblyn

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 033053730X

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 304

View: 6296

An extraordinary yet little-known scientific advance occurred in the opening years of the nineteenth century when a young amateur meteorologist, Luke Howard, gave the clouds the names by which they are known to this day. By creating a language to define structures that had, up to then, been considered random and unknowable, Howard revolutionized the science of meteorology and earned the admiration of his leading contemporaries in art, literature and science. Richard Hamblyn charts Howard’s life from obscurity to international fame, and back to obscurity once more. He recreates the period’s intoxicating atmosphere of scientific discovery, and shows how this provided inspiration for figures such as Goethe, Shelley and Constable. Offering rich insights into the nature of celebrity, the close relationship between the sciences and the arts, and the excitement generated by new ideas, The Invention of Clouds is an enthralling work of social and scientific history.

Earth Muse

Feminism, Nature, and Art

Author: Carol Bigwood

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780877229872

Category: Philosophy

Page: 375

View: 3883

Describes what the author sees as a suppression of the feminine in Western culture, technology, and philosophy and opens a feminist postmodern space from which fresh differences may emerge. This title explores underdeveloped themes in American and Canadian feminism. It offers a deconstruction of the phallocentric dichotomies of nature and culture.

Rattling Spears

A History of Indigenous Australian Art

Author: Ian McLean

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780236239

Category: Art

Page: 272

View: 7202

Large, bold, and colorful, Indigenous Australian art—sometimes known as Aboriginal art—has impressed itself on the contemporary art scene, becoming one of the most popular arts in the world. In this book, Ian McLean tells the improbable story of how a culture once viewed as one of the most primitive in the world invented its own distinct forms of modernism and conquered the contemporary art world. Beginning with its collision with modernity in the late eighteenth century, McLean looks at Indigenous Australian art as a complex practice that brought the world’s oldest aesthetic traditions into the modern era. Taking readers beyond hype, cliché, and political correctness, he explores the different regional variations, styles, materials, and approaches, examining artists as wide-ranging as the Wanjina ancestors and anonymous rock artists of the early colonial period to the stars of the contemporary art scene such as Emily Kngwarreye and Gordon Bennett. Beautifully illustrated, this book offers not just a stunning introduction to this rich artistic tradition but a way of rethinking modern and contemporary art writ large.