The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

A 21st Century Bestiary

Author: Caspar Henderson

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022604470X

Category: Nature

Page: 448

View: 8449

From medieval bestiaries to Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ve long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer’s song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology—they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don’t. With The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar Henderson offers readers a fascinating, beautifully produced modern-day menagerie. But whereas medieval bestiaries were often based on folklore and myth, the creatures that abound in Henderson’s book—from the axolotl to the zebrafish—are, with one exception, very much with us, albeit sometimes in depleted numbers. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings transports readers to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up—that are somehow more astonishing than anything we might have imagined. The yeti crab, for example, uses its furry claws to farm the bacteria on which it feeds. The waterbear, meanwhile, is among nature’s “extreme survivors,” able to withstand a week unprotected in outer space. These and other strange and surprising species invite readers to reflect on what we value—or fail to value—and what we might change. A powerful combination of wit, cutting-edge natural history, and philosophical meditation, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an infectious and inspiring celebration of the sheer ingenuity and variety of life in a time of crisis and change.

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

A 21st Century Bestiary

Author: Caspar Henderson

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022604484X

Category: Nature

Page: 448

View: 2924

From medieval bestiaries to Borges’s Book of Imaginary Beings, we’ve long been enchanted by extraordinary animals, be they terrifying three-headed dogs or asps impervious to a snake charmer’s song. But bestiaries are more than just zany zoology—they are artful attempts to convey broader beliefs about human beings and the natural order. Today, we no longer fear sea monsters or banshees. But from the infamous honey badger to the giant squid, animals continue to captivate us with the things they can do and the things they cannot, what we know about them and what we don’t. With The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, Caspar Henderson offers readers a fascinating, beautifully produced modern-day menagerie. But whereas medieval bestiaries were often based on folklore and myth, the creatures that abound in Henderson’s book—from the axolotl to the zebrafish—are, with one exception, very much with us, albeit sometimes in depleted numbers. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings transports readers to a world of real creatures that seem as if they should be made up—that are somehow more astonishing than anything we might have imagined. The yeti crab, for example, uses its furry claws to farm the bacteria on which it feeds. The waterbear, meanwhile, is among nature’s “extreme survivors,” able to withstand a week unprotected in outer space. These and other strange and surprising species invite readers to reflect on what we value—or fail to value—and what we might change. A powerful combination of wit, cutting-edge natural history, and philosophical meditation, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is an infectious and inspiring celebration of the sheer ingenuity and variety of life in a time of crisis and change.

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

A 21st Century Bestiary

Author: Caspar Henderson

Publisher: Granta Books

ISBN: 1847085911

Category: Nature

Page: 336

View: 9835

A bestiary for the 21st Century, comprising of 26 chapters, each one focusing on an animal or being from A - Z, from 'Axolotl' to 'Zebrafish'. It is a wonderful, eclectic array of 'barely imagined beings', creatures that exist but are often so strange or unknown that they could have sprung from the pages of a medieval bestiary or Pliny's Natural History. In each chapter the author digresses with great dexterity, humour and intelligence, using each 'being' as way in to exploring our precarious relationship with the natural world, to better imagine ourselves and the world around us. The book is also a passionate celebration of wonder and beauty, and a recognition of the world's 'ghost species', the walking dead threatened by extinction.

A New Map of Wonders

A Journey in Search of Modern Marvels

Author: Caspar Henderson

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 022629207X

Category: Science

Page: 368

View: 3654

We live in a world that is known, every corner thoroughly explored. But has this knowledge cost us the ability to wonder? Wonder, Caspar Henderson argues, is at its most supremely valuable in just such a world because it reaffirms our humanity and gives us hope for the future. That’s the power of wonder, and that’s what we should aim to cultivate in our lives. But what are the wonders of the modern world? Henderson’s brilliant exploration borrows from the form of one of the oldest and most widely known sources of wonder: maps. Large, detailed mappae mundi invited people in medieval Europe to vividly imagine places and possibilities they had never seen before: manticores with the head of a man, the body of a lion, and the stinging tail of a scorpion; tribes of one-eyed men who fought griffins for diamonds; and fearsome Scythian warriors who drank the blood of their enemies from their skulls. As outlandish as these maps and the stories that went with them sound to us today, Henderson argues that our views of the world today are sometimes no less incomplete or misleading. Scientists are only beginning to map the human brain, for example, revealing it as vastly more complex than any computer we can conceive. Our current understanding of physical reality is woefully incomplete. A New Map of Wonders explores these and other realms of the wonderful, in different times and cultures and in the present day, taking readers from Aboriginal Australian landscapes to sacred sites in Great Britain, all the while keeping sight questions such as the cognitive basis of wonder and the relationship between wonder and science. Beautifully illustrated and written with wit and moral complexity, this sequel to The Book of Barely Imagined Beings is a fascinating account of the power of wonder and an unforgettable meditation on its importance to our future.

The Book of Beasts

Being a Translation from a Latin Bestiary of the Twelfth Century

Author: Terence Hanbury White

Publisher: UW-Madison Libraries Parallel Press

ISBN: 9781893311299

Category: Animals

Page: 296

View: 6020

White's The Bestiary: A Book of Beasts was the first and, for a time, the only English translation of a medieval bestiary. White provides an excellent appendix that explains how the creatures of the bestiary influenced the development of allegory and symbolism in art and literature.

Breverton's Phantasmagoria

Author: Terry Breverton

Publisher: Quercus

ISBN: 1623652359

Category: Reference

Page: 384

View: 5057

From dragons and wyverns to vampires, werewolves and mischievous gremlins, pixies and fairies, Breverton's Phantasmagoria is a unique compendium of over 250 mythical animals. Prepare to revisit familiar myths, such as vampires, werewolves and the Loch Ness Monster, the Minotaur and Medusa from Greek legend, and Biblical beasts such as Behemoth and Leviathan. Discover new mysterious animals like the giant serpents of Central America, the lethal Mongolian death worm, and the Ennedi tiger in Africa, and investigate the evidence for sightings of Bigfoot and the reclusive Yeti. Packed with quirky line illustrations and a wealth of weird and wonderful information, Breverton's Phantasmagoria surveys the globe to uncover over 250 imaginary creatures passed down from generation to generation.

The Art of Losing Control

A Philosopher's Search for Ecstatic Experience

Author: Jules Evans

Publisher: Canongate Books

ISBN: 1782118772

Category: Philosophy

Page: 352

View: 9049

Humans have always sought ecstatic experiences - moments where they go beyond their ordinary self and feel connected to something greater than them. Such moments are fundamental to human flourishing, but they can also be dangerous. Beginning around the Enlightenment, western intellectual culture has written off ecstasy as ignorance or delusion. But philosopher Jules Evans argues that this diminishes our reality and denies us the healing, connection and meaning that ecstasy can bring. He sets out to discover how people find ecstasy in a post-religious culture, how it can be good for us, and also harmful. Along the way, he explores the growing science of ecstasy, to help the reader - and himself - learn the art of losing control. Jules' exploration of ecstasy is an intellectual and emotional odyssey balancing personal experience, interviews and readings from ancient and modern philosophers that will change the way you think about how you feel. From Aristotle and Plato, via the Bishop of London and Sister Bliss, radical jihadis and Silicon Valley transhumanists, The Art of Losing Control is a funny and life-enhancing journey through under-explored terrain.

Breverton's Nautical Curiosities

Author: Terry Breverton

Publisher: Quercus

ISBN: 1623653207

Category: Reference

Page: 384

View: 5422

Breverton's Nautical Curiosities is about ships, people and the sea. However, unlike many other nautical compendiums, the focus of this book is on the unusual, the overlooked or the downright extraordinary. Thus, someone most of us do not know, Admiral William Brown, is given equal coverage to Admiral Nelson. Without Admiral Brown releasing Garibaldi, modern Italy might not exist. And without the barely known genius John Ericsson designing the Monitor, the Confederacy might have won the American Civil War. Readers will be stimulated to read more about the remarkable men--explorers, admirals and trawlermen--who have shaped our world. The sea has had a remarkable effect upon our language. We hear the terms "steer clear," "hit the deck," "don't rock the boat," "to harbor a grudge" and the like, and give little thought to them. In the pages of this book, the reader will find the origin of "bumpkin," a "brace of shakes," "born with a silver spoon," "booby prize," "to take on board," "above board," "bombed" (in the sense of being drunk), the "blues," "blind-side," "blind drunk," "the pot calling the kettle black," "reach the bitter end," "wasters," "ahoy," "all at sea," "to keep aloof," "piss-artist," "taken aback," "barbecue" and "bamboozle." Other colourful terms, which have passed out of common usage, such as "bring one's arse to anchor" (sit down), "belly timber" (food) and "bog orange" (potato) are also included, as well as important pirate haunts, technical terms, famous battles, maritime inventors and ship speed records.

Animal, Mineral, Radical

Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food

Author: BK Loren

Publisher: Counterpoint Press

ISBN: 1619020734

Category: Literary Collections

Page: 219

View: 8332

Meditative essays detail the complexities of human relationships and consciousness and look at themes of nature, family, and love.

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms

The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind

Author: Richard Fortey

Publisher: Knopf

ISBN: 0307957411

Category: Science

Page: 352

View: 4704

From one of the world’s leading natural scientists and the acclaimed author of Trilobite!, Life: A Natural History of Four Billion Years of Life on Earth and Dry Storeroom No. 1 comes a fascinating chronicle of life’s history told not through the fossil record but through the stories of organisms that have survived, almost unchanged, throughout time. Evolution, it seems, has not completely obliterated its tracks as more advanced organisms have evolved; the history of life on earth is far older—and odder—than many of us realize. Scattered across the globe, these remarkable plants and animals continue to mark seminal events in geological time. From a moonlit beach in Delaware, where the hardy horseshoe crab shuffles its way to a frenzy of mass mating just as it did 450 million years ago, to the dense rainforests of New Zealand, where the elusive, unprepossessing velvet worm has burrowed deep into rotting timber since before the breakup of the ancient supercontinent, to a stretch of Australian coastline with stromatolite formations that bear witness to the Precambrian dawn, the existence of these survivors offers us a tantalizing glimpse of pivotal points in evolutionary history. These are not “living fossils” but rather a handful of tenacious creatures of days long gone. Written in buoyant, sparkling prose, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms is a marvelously captivating exploration of the world’s old-timers combining the very best of science writing with an explorer’s sense of adventure and wonder.

A Million Years in a Day

A Curious History of Everyday Life from the Stone Age to the Phone Age

Author: Greg Jenner

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 125008945X

Category: History

Page: 368

View: 5914

Who invented beds? When did we start cleaning our teeth? How old are wine and beer? Which came first: the toilet seat or toilet paper? What was the first clock? Every day, from the moment our alarm clock wakes us in the morning until our head hits our pillow at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old. Structured around one ordinary day, A Million Years in a Day reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. In this gloriously entertaining romp through human history, Greg Jenner explores the gradual—and often unexpected—evolution of our daily routines. This is not a story of wars, politics, or great events. Instead, Jenner has scoured Roman rubbish bins, Egyptian tombs, and Victorian sewers to bring us the most intriguing, surprising, and sometimes downright silly historical nuggets from our past. Drawn from across the world, spanning a million years of humanity, this book is a smorgasbord of historical delights. It is a history of all those things you always wondered about—and many you have never considered. It is the story of your life, one million years in the making.

The Book of Imaginary Beings

Author: Jorge Luis Borges,Margarita Guerrero,Andrew Hurley,Peter Sís

Publisher: Penguin Classics

ISBN: 9780143039938

Category: Fiction

Page: 236

View: 9427

A whimsical compendium of mythological creature profiles considers the inventions of such literary masters as Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and Kafka, in a humorously commentated volume that explores the qualities of a range of dragons, unicorns, and othercurious beasts.

Poor Numbers

How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It

Author: Morten Jerven

Publisher: Cornell University Press

ISBN: 0801467616

Category: Political Science

Page: 176

View: 5348

One of the most urgent challenges in African economic development is to devise a strategy for improving statistical capacity. Reliable statistics, including estimates of economic growth rates and per-capita income, are basic to the operation of governments in developing countries and vital to nongovernmental organizations and other entities that provide financial aid to them. Rich countries and international financial institutions such as the World Bank allocate their development resources on the basis of such data. The paucity of accurate statistics is not merely a technical problem; it has a massive impact on the welfare of citizens in developing countries. Where do these statistics originate? How accurate are they? Poor Numbers is the first analysis of the production and use of African economic development statistics. Morten Jerven's research shows how the statistical capacities of sub-Saharan African economies have fallen into disarray. The numbers substantially misstate the actual state of affairs. As a result, scarce resources are misapplied. Development policy does not deliver the benefits expected. Policymakers' attempts to improve the lot of the citizenry are frustrated. Donors have no accurate sense of the impact of the aid they supply. Jerven's findings from sub-Saharan Africa have far-reaching implications for aid and development policy. As Jerven notes, the current catchphrase in the development community is "evidence-based policy," and scholars are applying increasingly sophisticated econometric methods-but no statistical techniques can substitute for partial and unreliable data.

Drive

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Author: Daniel H. Pink

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9781101524381

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 272

View: 6782

Forget everything you thought you knew about how to motivate people—at work, at school, at home. It's wrong. As Daniel H. Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) explains in his paradigm-shattering book Drive, the secret to high performance and satisfaction in today's world is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Drawing on four decades of scientific research on human motivation, Pink exposes the mismatch between what science knows and what business does—and how that affects every aspect of our lives. He demonstrates that while the old-fashioned carrot-and-stick approach worked successfully in the 20th century, it's precisely the wrong way to motivate people for today's challenges. In Drive, he reveals the three elements of true motivation: *Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives *Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters *Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves Along the way, he takes us to companies that are enlisting new approaches to motivation and introduces us to the scientists and entrepreneurs who are pointing a bold way forward. Drive is bursting with big ideas—the rare book that will change how you think and transform how you live.

The Sea Inside

Author: Philip Hoare

Publisher: Melville House

ISBN: 1612193595

Category: Nature

Page: 374

View: 1007

Navigating between human and natural history and between science and myth, chronicles the author's journey through the oceans to rediscover the sea and its islands, birds, and beasts, and to seek encounters with animals and people.

Sea Journal

Author: Lisa Woollett

Publisher: N.A

ISBN: 9780957490215

Category:

Page: 100

View: 3749

Imaginary Animals

The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human

Author: Boria Sax

Publisher: Reaktion Books

ISBN: 1780232136

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 272

View: 8613

Fire-breathing dragons, beautiful mermaids, majestic unicorns, terrifying three-headed dogs—these fantastic creatures have long excited our imagination. Medieval authors placed them in the borders of manuscripts as markers of the boundaries of our understanding. Tales from around the world place these beasts in deserts, deep woods, remote islands, ocean depths, and alternate universes—just out of our reach. And in the sections on the apocalypse in the Bible, they proliferate as the end of time approaches, with horses with heads like lions, dragons, and serpents signaling the destruction of the world. Legends tell us that imaginary animals belong to a primordial time, before everything in the world had names, categories, and conceptual frameworks. In this book, Boria Sax digs into the stories of these fabulous beasts. He shows how, despite their liminal role, imaginary animals like griffins, dog-men, yetis, and more are socially constructed creatures, created through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as real ones. Tracing the history of imaginary animals from Paleolithic art to their roles in stories such as Harry Potter and even the advent of robotic pets, he reveals that these extraordinary figures help us psychologically—as monsters, they give form to our amorphous fears, while as creatures of wonder, they embody our hopes. Their greatest service, Sax concludes, is to continually challenge our imaginations, directing us beyond the limitations of conventional beliefs and expectations. Featuring over 230 illustrations of a veritable menagerie of fantastical and unreal beasts, Imaginary Animals is a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

The Particle at the End of the Universe

How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World

Author: Sean M. Carroll

Publisher: Dutton Adult

ISBN: 0142180300

Category: Science

Page: 353

View: 423

Examines the effort to discover the Higgs boson particle by tracing the development and use of the Large Hadron Collider and how its findings are dramatically shaping scientific understandings while enabling world-changing innovations.

Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own

Author: David Toomey

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 0393089940

Category: Science

Page: 288

View: 8623

“Weird indeed, and not a little wonderful.”—Nature In the 1980s and 1990s, in places where no one thought it possible, scientists found organisms they called extremophiles: lovers of extremes. There were bacteria in volcanic hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, single-celled algae in Antarctic ice floes, and fungi in the cooling pools of nuclear reactors. But might there be life stranger than the most extreme extremophile? Might there be, somewhere, another kind of life entirely? In fact, scientists have hypothesized life that uses ammonia instead of water, life based not in carbon but in silicon, life driven by nuclear chemistry, and life whose very atoms are unlike those in life we know. In recent years some scientists have begun to look for the tamer versions of such life on rock surfaces in the American Southwest, in a “shadow biosphere” that might impinge on the known biosphere, and even deep within human tissue. They have also hypothesized more radical versions that might survive in Martian permafrost, in the cold ethylene lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan, and in the hydrogen-rich atmospheres of giant planets in other solar systems. And they have imagined it in places off those worlds: the exotic ices in comets, the vast spaces between the stars, and—strangest of all—parallel universes. Distilling complex science in clear and lively prose, David Toomey illuminates the research of the biological avant-garde and describes the workings of weird organisms in riveting detail. His chapters feature an unforgettable cast of brilliant scientists and cover everything from problems with our definitions of life to the possibility of intelligent weird life. With wit and understanding that will delight scientists and lay readers alike, Toomey reveals how our current knowledge of life forms may account for only a tiny fraction of what’s really out there.

The Serpent's Promise

The Bible Retold as Science

Author: Steve Jones

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

ISBN: 0385670648

Category: Science

Page: 416

View: 3183

A unique contribution to the God/religion debate: a scientific take on the Bible that doesn't take sides. Many of the subjects studied by physicists or by biologists are found in the texts of the world's religions: the origins of the universe, of life and of mankind; fate, sex, age and death; and the prospects of eternal life or of fiery doom. The Bible is a handbook for understanding Nature and, in its own way, it succeeds. As a factual account, of course, it is out of date, but many of its statements can be rephrased in modern terms. Distinguished geneticist Steve Jones has done that: written a rivetingly accessible work on recent advances in our understanding of ourselves, using the Bible as a framework. His narrative is structured around the Good Book's grand themes, from Genesis to Revelations, and weaves a series of unexpected facts into a coherent whole. The struggle of rationalism with its opposite has, after decades of torpor, returned to centre stage. Polemics against and in favour of religion and atheism fill the shelves. Instead of adding to that pile, Steve Jones stands back and take a fresh look at that issue in a volume that is not an attack or a defence but which explores scriptural motifs--Creation, the Garden of Eden, original sin, the Exodus, virgin birth, the Resurrection, and the Last Judgment--using the methods and results of the latest scientific research. It is a remarkably quick jump, shows Professor Jones, from Adam to astrophysics. Although some of the questions raised are beyond the capabilities of science, at least a scientist can ask them in a new way. Steve Jones shows there is a better route to understanding the universe than through doctrine.