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Last modified: Friday, December 14, 2007

Book Marks

Recent publications by IU faculty

The Universe and the Atom

'The Universe and the Atom'

After more than 30 years of teaching physics at Indiana University-Bloomington, Don Lichtenberg has made his knowledge of physics available to the public both literally and figuratively. His new book, The Universe and the Atom, takes the reader on a physics journey from the beliefs of ancient Greeks to modern string theory; from the smallest particles known to man to the dynamics of the known universe. And he directs his expedition in the simplest terms possible.

"I tried to make the book as non-mathematical as possible," said Lichtenberg. "And I think I did a good job."

Fellow physics author and theorist Harry Lustig agrees, saying to Lichtenberg in a note, "Your book is absolutely outstanding. I have not seen a book for a lay audience which did such a wonderful job of presenting even the more difficult ideas of physics so clearly. I myself learned some connections I had never thought of."

"The book is principally concerned with nature at both the smallest and the largest scales, from atomic and subatomic particles to the universe as a whole," Lichtenberg wrote in the preface of his book. "We want to answer as well as we can the questions: 'What are we made of?' and 'What is the nature of the universe in which we live?'"

The Microscope and the Eye

'The Microscope and the Eye: A History of Reflections, 1740-1870'

In her recently published book, Jutta Schickore looks at scientific history through the lens of a microscope -- literally. The Microscope and the Eye: A History of Reflections, 1740-1870, is the culmination of a decade's worth of research and writing by the Indiana University professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science.

The book -- which focuses on the early 19th Century -- seeks to understand how scientists' understanding of the human eye and retina affected the perception and use of the microscope and vise versa. Early on, scientists saw the microscope as merely an extension of human vision. In short, scientists believed a perfect microscope could be created that could give a perfect magnification of an object. But, as the book's basic claim states, there was a shift in thought in the early 1800's.

"There was an important turning point in the way people used microscopes," said Schickore. "They created more regulations, practices and rules to deal with the limitations."

No longer did scientists believe a perfect microscope could be created. Instead, scholars began looking at the limitations of the device. For example, as the magnification power increased, the image became more blurred, and vice versa. This view gave rise to the creation of different types of microscopes for different fields of study. Each new model emphasized characteristics important to the given field.

The shift in thought may reflect a shift in the way science in general was thought about and conducted in the same time period. Schickore's current research is delving into this topic.

'Dissent from War'

"War is easy. Peace is difficult. That's the hard reality of human history." So begins Dissent from War, a new book by Robert L. Ivie, professor in the Indiana University Bloomington Department of Communication and Culture. The book has been published by Kumarian Press in Bloomfield, Conn.

The title can be read in at least three ways: the book is an analysis of what is meant by dissent; it is, itself, a dissent from war; and it exhorts readers to dissent. Ivie holds dissent to be an essential element of democracy. "My aim is to focus attention on dissent from war as a viable and healthy practice of democratic citizenship," writes Ivie, who has devoted his career to studying the rhetoric of war.

In Dissent from War, he combines scholarly analysis, philosophical approaches to war and peace, and stories about ordinary people caught up in the reality of war to illuminate questions of conscience, redemption and communication. Against the language of war, with its demonizing of the other, Ivie advocates for a process of peace-building that insists on humanizing those who are different. "Peace is an active, not a passive, state of being, which resists caricaturing adversaries and seeks to understand them better," he writes.

What Ivie calls "a complex cast of characters" whose lives and works are cited in the book includes Tolstoy, Jesus, the Greek dramatists and the Dalai Lama. It also includes Frank Strain, Ivie's Washington County, Ind., ancestor who fought in the Civil War against the evil of slavery but in later years felt no moral clarity about the war. And Jack R. Haley, a Terre Haute soldier who died in Germany in World War II -- and whose mother, near the end of her life, expressed just one regret: "I would find a way," she said, "for my boy not to go to war.

'The Bolsheviks in Power'

Alexander Rabinowitch, professor emeritus of history at Indiana University, was nearing completion of a book on the first year of Bolshevik rule in Russia when something surprising happened. He was given access, starting in 1991, to previously secret government and Communist party archives from the revolutionary period.

The result was an opportunity to look much more deeply into the inner workings of the factions and organizations that gave birth to the Soviet state. "That was the positive side," Rabinowitch writes. "The negative side was that, for practical purposes, I had to begin my research over again."

Now the book has been completed, and in a highly unusual occurrence, it has been published simultaneously in the U.S. (by Indiana University Press) and in Russia. In The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd,Rabinowitch shows how the hardening of authoritarian rule in Russia in 1917-18 resulted from a struggle to defend the revolution against continual crises, not merely from hard-line ideology. Focusing largely on events in Petrograd, he also reveals the essential role played by the Bolsheviks' more moderate revolutionary rivals.

"This masterful volume fills one of the most glaring holes in the historiography of the revolution and twentieth-century Russian history," writes author and historian Rex A. Wade in typical praise for the book.

Rabinowitch's The Bolsheviks Come to Power, published in 1976, recast the revolution as a popular uprising in the then-Russian capital Petrograd, not a mere coup d'etat. It was the first Western book on the revolution to be published in the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev.