Robert P. Crease

Robert P. Crease is Professor in and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, where he has taught for more than three decades. He is the author of The Great Equations, The Prism and the Pendulum, and other books. A contributor of op-eds, articles, and reviews to publications including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, he writes a monthly column for Physics World.

  • The Leak

    Politics, Activists, and Loss of Trust at Brookhaven National Laboratory

    Robert P. Crease

    How the discovery of a harmless leak of radiation sparked a media firestorm, political grandstanding, and fearmongering that closed a vital scientific facility.

    In 1997, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory found a small leak of radioactive water near their research reactor. Brookhaven was—and is—a world-class, Nobel Prize–winning lab, and its reactor was the cornerstone of US materials science and one of the world's finest research facilities. The leak, harmless to health, came from a storage pool rather than the reactor. But its discovery triggered a media and political firestorm that resulted in the reactor's shutdown, and even attempts to close the entire laboratory.

    A quarter century later, the episode reveals the dynamics of today's controversies in which fears and the dismissal of science disrupt serious discussion and research of vital issues such as vaccines, climate change, and toxic chemicals. This story has all the elements of a thriller, with vivid characters and dramatic twists and turns. Key players include congressmen and scientists; journalists and university presidents; actors, supermodels, and anti-nuclear activists, all interacting and teaming up in surprising ways. The authors, each with insider knowledge of and access to confidential documents and the key players, reveal how a fact of no health significance could be portrayed as a Chernobyl-like disaster. This compelling exposé reveals the gaps between scientists, politicians, media, and the public that have only gotten more dangerous since 1997.

    • Hardcover $29.95

Contributor

  • Evocative Objects

    Evocative Objects

    Things We Think With

    Sherry Turkle

    Autobiographical essays, framed by two interpretive essays by the editor, describe the power of an object to evoke emotion and provoke thought: reflections on a cello, a laptop computer, a 1964 Ford Falcon, an apple, a mummy in a museum, and other "things-to-think-with."

    For Sherry Turkle, "We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with." In Evocative Objects, Turkle collects writings by scientists, humanists, artists, and designers that trace the power of everyday things. These essays reveal objects as emotional and intellectual companions that anchor memory, sustain relationships, and provoke new ideas.These days, scholars show new interest in the importance of the concrete. This volume's special contribution is its focus on everyday riches: the simplest of objects—an apple, a datebook, a laptop computer—are shown to bring philosophy down to earth. The poet contends, "No ideas but in things." The notion of evocative objects goes further: objects carry both ideas and passions. In our relations to things, thought and feeling are inseparable.

    Whether it's a student's beloved 1964 Ford Falcon (left behind for a station wagon and motherhood), or a cello that inspires a meditation on fatherhood, the intimate objects in this collection are used to reflect on larger themes—the role of objects in design and play, discipline and desire, history and exchange, mourning and memory, transition and passage, meditation and new vision.In the interest of enriching these connections, Turkle pairs each autobiographical essay with a text from philosophy, history, literature, or theory, creating juxtapositions at once playful and profound. So we have Howard Gardner's keyboards and Lev Vygotsky's hobbyhorses; William Mitchell's Melbourne train and Roland Barthes' pleasures of text; Joseph Cevetello's glucometer and Donna Haraway's cyborgs. Each essay is framed by images that are themselves evocative. Essays by Turkle begin and end the collection, inviting us to look more closely at the everyday objects of our lives, the familiar objects that drive our routines, hold our affections, and open out our world in unexpected ways.

    • Hardcover $28.95
    • Paperback $19.95