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41. Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices
$39.95 $33.46
42. Reading and Understanding Research
$4.67 list($21.50)
43. Investigations
$39.95 $38.27
44. Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative
$11.86 $11.65 list($16.95)
45. Backyard Ballistics
$110.00 $83.69
46. Classification, Parameter Estimation
$39.95 $38.27
47. Conducting Research Literature
$119.95 $65.80
48. Design of Experiments: Statistical
$10.46 $8.90 list($13.95)
49. The Evolution of Useful Things:
$120.60 $111.01
50. Ecological Methodology (2nd Edition)
$120.00 $75.00
51. Process Control Instrumentation
$144.00 $142.15
52. Raman Scattering in Materials
$305.00 $90.56
53. X-Rays From Laser Plasmas : Generation
$124.46 list($149.95)
54. Sensory Evaluation Techniques,
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55. Handbook of Spectroscopy (2 Vol.
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56. Randomized Algorithms (Cambridge
$82.95 $75.00
57. Molecular Systematics
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58. Statistical Methods in Agriculture
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59. Manipulating the Mouse Embryo:
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60. When Things Start to Think

41. Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek
by Simon Field, Simon Quellen Field
list price: $16.95
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Asin: 1556525206
Catlog: Book (2003-12)
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Sales Rank: 1600
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Step-by-step instructions to building more than 30 fascinating devices are included in this book for workbench warriors and grown-up geeks. Detailed illustrations and diagrams explain how to construct a simple radio with a soldering iron, a few basic circuits, and three shiny pennies. Instructions are included for a rotary steam engine that requires a candle, a soda can, a length of copper tubing, and just 15 minutes. To use optics to roast a hot dog, no electricity or stove is required, just a flexible plastic mirror, a wooden box, a little algebra, and a sunny day. Also included are experiments most science teachers probably never demonstrated, such as magnets that levitate in midair, metals that melt in hot water, a Van de Graaff generator made from a pair of empty soda cans, and lasers that transmit radio signals. Every experiment is followed by an explanation of the applicable physics or chemistry. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars How kids can have fun with parents and get educated too!
I have looked at a number of similar books that provide interesting science activities that are cool enough to hold a childs interest. However, most of them have moderately good things to create that take a lot of hands on time from parents. By the time the fun science project is done, the kids have lost interest. Not so with Simon Field's "Gonzo Gizmos".

The first project I attempted was a simple candle powered steamboat with my 6 y.o. daughter. After purchasing a bit of flexible 1/8 inch copper tubing at the hardware store (the hard part) we created a great working steamboat in about 15 minutes, and my daughter did most of the work. She took several baths with it putting around the tub, brought it to school for her "Show and Tell", and can even tell you how it works. I then went onto the "Gauss Rifle" with my 9 y.o. son. Wow!!!

Most of the projects take only a little time, and if you can't find the materials, he gives you a nice website to purchase them. This is a really fun book that you can dive into and get kids engaged in a few minutes with a project that will teach them real science, and will be cool enough to brag about with their friends. Moreover the layout is great. A description of the project and what it does, including great titles; then a cookbook list of materials, and where to get them; a recipe; and then a darn good description of the science behind the project. Believe me, with project titles like "The Hydrogen Bomb" (A battery powered H2O dialysis machine that after separating the Oxygen and Hydrogen is ignited with a piezo electric sparker, causes a small explosion that squirts water several feet into the air!), how could any kid resist! Moreover, how could a parent resist. Buy this and try it. It is really great. ... Read more

42. Reading and Understanding Research
by Lawrence F. Locke, Stephen J. Silverman, Waneen Wyrick Spirduso
list price: $39.95
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Asin: 0761927689
Catlog: Book (2004-03-03)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Sales Rank: 227669
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Book Description

Click 'Additional Materials' for downloadable sample

“The authors have hit another home run. This terrific text provides the layperson and graduate students a wonderful entrée into the research process. In eight carefully crafted and readable chapters, the reader is supported via excellent examples, group exercises, and supplemental readings to significantly improve their abilities to read, understand, and critique qualitative and quantitative research reports and research reviews.”
 —Mary O'Sullivan, Associate Dean, College of Education, Ohio State University

“This is the best book I know of on how to read and use published research. It is pervaded by common sense, a nontechnical and user-friendly approach, and an insightful treatment of key issues that other books rarely address, such as the important things you can get from research reports besides ‘results.’ This edition provides greater coverage of qualitative and mixed methods research, and an expanded, annotated bibliography. While it is aimed primarily at consumers of research, a great deal of the content will also be useful to those doing research.” 
— Joseph Maxwell, George Mason University

The book that has helped demystify qualitative and quantitative research articles for thousands of readers has now been fully updated and revised.

Reading and Understanding Research, Second Edition is based on the notion that helping to demystify the process of consuming research will not only make for better students, but will help make for better research. The authors presume no special background in research, and begin by introducing and framing the notion of reading research within a wider social context. Next they offer insight on when to seek out research, locating and selecting the right reports, and how to help evaluate research for trustworthiness. A step-by-step reading of reports from qualitative and quantitative studies follows, and the final chapters examine in greater detail the different types of research to be encountered and how to examine the research more critically. This book is ideal for a novice researcher (and those that teach them!). 

New to the Second Edition:

• A new chapter on the utilization of research
• Expanded coverage of qualitative methods
• Updated resource lists
• More coverage of the twelve steps for understanding different types of research

... Read more

43. Investigations
by Stuart A. Kauffman
list price: $21.50
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Asin: 0195121058
Catlog: Book (2002-07-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 219561
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the tradition of Schrodinger's classic What Is Life?, this book is a tour-de-force investigation of the basis of life itself, with conclusions that radically undermine the scientific approaches on which modern science rests-the approaches of Newton, Boltzman, Bohr, and Einstein. Kauffman's At Home in the Universe, which The New York Times Book Review called "passionately written" and nature named "courageous," introduced pivotal ideas about order and evolution in complex life systems. In investigations, Kauffman builds on these theories and finds that classical science does not take into account that physical systems--such as people in a biosphere--effect their dynamic environments in addition to being affected by them. These systems act on their own behalf as autonomous agents, but what defines them as such? In other words, what is life? By defining and explaining autonomous agents and work in the contexts of thermodynamics and of information theory, Kauffman supplies a novel answer to this age-old question that goes beyond traditional scientific thinking. Much of Investigations unpacks the progressively surprising implications of his definition. Kauffman lays out a foundation for a new concept of organization, and explores the requirements for the emergence of a general biology that will transcend terrestrial biology to seek laws governing biospheres anywhere in the cosmos. Moreover, he presents four candidate laws to explain how autonomous agents co-create their biosphere and the startling idea of a "co-creating" cosmos. A showcase of Kauffman's most fundamental and significant ideas, Investigations presents a new way of thinking about the basics of general biology that will change the way we understand life itself--on this planet and anywhere else in the cosmos. ... Read more

Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars A rugged read of a book
I have followed the writings of Stuart Kauffman very closely since his first book 'Origins of Order'. The Santa Fe Institute with which he is associated is a wonderful think-tank of multi-disciplinary, but converging studies. Kauffman's contribution to this group has been huge.

I find that Kauffman's world view is compelling, resonant and deeply fascinating. This book contains the ideas within 'At Home in the Universe' and then extends them into the 'adjacent possible'.

Be prepared when reading this book to be taxed on your knowledge of cell chemistry, mathematics, thermodynamics and evolution. The rapid jumps between disciplines are handy for explaining some rather obtuse ideas, but Kauffman may isolate many readers by diving in to unelaborated detail on the idiosyncracies of these subjects. Even a brief overview of some of the terms used in his metaphors would be a great help to those without PhDs.

Personally, I buy Kauffman's worldview hook, line and sinker which makes any of his writings a must-read for me, but I am convinced that the audience for this book was not carefully considered, and as a result it seems that it is written for himself primarily. It could do with a thorough edit removing the grandiose language.

Stu, I know you can do better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Life in a Complex Universe
"Investigations" marks a new phase in Stuart Kauffman's seminal work on self-organization and complexity. In this fascinating extension of his theoretical approach to the generation of order in the universe, he focusses on the idea of the autonomous agent, which forms the basis for a new and more precise definition of the living organism. The autonomous agent, according to Kauffman, is an organization of matter that extracts works from its environment in order to maintain its structural and functional integrity over time. An autonomous agent is one that does work on its own behalf. Kauffman goes into considerable physical detail to show how this is not only possible but inevitable. Because of the intimate relation between work and self-maintenance in this schema, Kauffman speaks of organisms as exemplifying a fourth law of thermodynamics that allows for increasing organizational complexity in the midst of a universe whose entropy is constantly increasing.

The fourth law explains how the diversity of the biosphere continues to increase through an exploration of "the adjacent possible," the realm of alternative organizations reachable through single mutations. In this view, the proliferation of life forms is not so much the result of chance as it is of a working out of the natural tendency of existing entities to self-organize into structures of greater and greater complexity.

Kauffman's muscular writing in "Investigations" once again demonstrates an exceptional combination of rigorous scientific logic and a poetic vision that encompasses a fertile and abundant universe.

5-0 out of 5 stars Questions which shake science
This is a great book. Not by the suggested answers to the problems related to the notion of Life, but by the questions which are asked. It breaks dogmas in physics which simply do not allow the comprehension of biology from a physical perspective. Kauffman notes limits of our actual physics, and proposes tentative ways of exploring.
This book is good for anyone with an inquisitive mind and a desire to explore the nature of Life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Confusion is Part of the Solution
Stuart Kauffman has been probing the "deep structure" of life for decades. He is one of the founding members of the Santa Fe Institute, the leading center for the emerging sciences of complexity. His work therein started in complex Boolean networks in which he found "order for free" in a void seeming to consist of nothing but chaos. This lead him to highly dynamical yet self-structuring autocatalytic sets (now known as "Kauffman sets") which eventually lead him to search for a general biology from which all of life could extrapolate. Kauffman never was much for neo-Darwinism or natural selection, and here he continues his holistic approach to self-organizing biospheres.

Investigations attempts, in part, to outline four candidate laws governing biospheres (large dynamical systems full of self-organizing autonomous agents - such as the universe itself). A lofty pursuit to be sure, givien that biospheres are teeming with so much complexity, interdependence and obscured initial states (to name just a few of the obvious pitfalls). There are also the problems, as Kauffman points out, that biospheres are "nonergodic" and their "nonequilibrium" flowing into a "persistent adjacent other."

Recondite minutia notwithstanding, Investigations is fun in a way not many books of this intellectual magnitude are. Kauffman cuts the hard science with wit and pondering of the utmost human persuasion. While he undermines the very foundations on which modern science stands (the work of Newton, Boltzman, Einstein and Bohr), Kauffman compares the geniuses of Shakespeare and Einstein ("I'm not sure whose genius is the more awesome, " he says.) and emphasizes the importance of story in understanding our lives in the universe.

With a healthy mix of speculation, cutting-edge science and hypothesis steeped in years of grappling with the hard questions, Stuart Kauffman's Investigations is sure to inspire and intrigue, as well as confound and confuse. As he says, "Oh, confusion. Perhaps a certain confusion is healthy. We have not tried to embrace all of this at once before."

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting ideas but get this man a decent editor
Normally I'd dismiss out of hand anyone who claims to have found a fourth law of thermodynamics but from Stuart Kauffman, I'll hear what he has to say. I've been following Kauffman's work for years and his thinking is as engaging as ever. Unfortunately, his prose is not. Grandiose, clumsy and over-written, he sells his ideas short. The language is unreadably uneven as it ranges from patronising pop-sci gobbley-gook to technical minutaie of molecular biology.

Kauffman attempts to articulate something that he calls "general biology". This is simply a dressed-up term for the classic problem of the origin of life. Unfortunately, his explanation also follows the classic pop-sci strategy of explaining one mysterious thing (life) by replacing it with other equally mysterious concepts (work and semantics). In this part of the book, the writing is woefully repetitive and elliptic. No real conclusions are drawn, which is a a monumental let-down given the ego-maniacally overblown introduction. There is an intellectual abyss between Kauffman's definition of life as auto-catalytic systems with one work cycle, and real cells that undergo reproduction and darwinian evolution.

Nevertheless, there are many nuggets of gold in the later chapters. Probably the most interesting is the idea of the adjacent possible. The adjacent possible is the set of all possible chemicals that can be synthesized in one chemical step from all existing chemicals. Unlike other concepts introduced in the book, it is something that can be computed (though not exhaustively). Kauffman then proposes a fourth law of chemical thermodynamics: a chemical system advances into the adjacent-possible as fast as it can. Kauffman shows how this hypothetical fourth law can be analysed by relating this to his previous work on sustainable chemical diversity. Indeed, the best parts of the book are where Kauffman re-caps his previous work on auto-catalytic systems and genomes of real organisms, and then extends the analysis to explain his fourth law of thermodynamics.

Kauffman makes some neat analogies between the chemical adjacent-possible with economics. He points out that classical economic models of pricing rely on the assumption of a finite prestable collection of goods and services. Instead, a more fruitful model for an economy of products can be made in analogy to the ever-explanding set of catalytic chemicals. There is also a great analysis on the limits of the economy of scale where Kauffman makes a analogy between the Ksat problem and the problem of producing diverse products in a single factory. And finally, in the grand tradition of pop-sci books, there is a final chapter where all the problems of quantum mechanics and cosmology are solved with the application of one special idea. Although this last chapter is pure science fiction, the book is worth perservering as some of the ideas are original, useful and genuinely thought provoking. ... Read more

44. Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials
list price: $39.95
our price: $39.95
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Asin: 0761926879
Catlog: Book (2003-02-13)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Sales Rank: 224927
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Book Description

"This book is a must for anyone teaching, or wishing to better understand, qualitative research . . . This handbook is destined to be a classic text in the field of qualitative research that belongs on every student's and researcher's bookshelf."


Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, the third volume in the paperback version of the Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd Edition, considers the tasks of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting empirical materials, and comprises the Handbook's Parts IV ("Methods of Collecting and Analyzing Empirical Materials") and V ("The Art of Interpretation, Evaluation, and Presentation").

Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials introduces the researcher to basic methods of gathering, analyzing and interpreting qualitative empirical materials. Part 1 moves from interviewing to observing, to the use of artifacts, documents and records from the past; to visual, and autoethnographic methods. It then takes up analysis methods, including computer-assisted methodologies, as well as strategies for analyzing talk, and text. Esther Madriz reads focus groups through critical feminist inquiry, and Erve Chambers discusses applied ethnography.

"This may well be 'the one book on qualitative research' that one would want to take 'to a desert island,' as the editors hope."


The Handbook of Qualitative Research, Second Edition is widely considered to be the state of the art in evaluating the field of qualitative inquiry. Now published in paperback in response to the needs of classroom teachers, Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, Second Edition will be an ideal supplement for a course on research methods, across a wide number of academic disciplines.

"The Handbook of Qualitative Research represents a major publishing event. It comprehensively gathers together and organizes rapidly-growing developments in the philosophy, theory, and method of conducting qualitative research."


... Read more

45. Backyard Ballistics
by William Gurstelle
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.86
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Asin: 1556523750
Catlog: Book (2001-06-01)
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Sales Rank: 451
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ordinary folks can construct 13 awesome ballistic devices in their garage or basement workshops using inexpensive household or hardware store materials and this step-by-step guide. Clear instructions, diagrams, and photographs show how to build projects ranging from the simple-a match-powered rocket-to the more complex-a scale-model, table-top catapult-to the offbeat-a tennis ball cannon. With a strong emphasis on safety, the book also gives tips on troubleshooting, explains the physics behind the projects, and profiles scientists and extraordinary experimenters such as Alfred Nobel, Robert Goddard, and Isaac Newton. This book will be indispensable for the legions of backyard toy-rocket launchers and fireworks fanatics who wish every day was the fourth of July. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Parents, Dont be scared
This is a great book. Just from skimming through it you can tell that a lot of thought and precaution went into it's construction. Parents may be scared seeing a book like this in the hands of their child, but don't be frightened. Most of the projects in here are pretty innocuous and saftey is paramount. The book and author STRESS proper precautions and advise saftey gear for any dangerous experiments. If you have a kid who has been playing with fire, been showing a disturbing interest in explosives or such, then buy them this book and do these projects with them! It will give kids a productive, educational and supervised outlet for these curiosities and fascinations and will give you a chance to teach them a bit about physics and further bond with them. Some young pyros grow into arsonists, others grow into firemen and physicists... you make the choice! Instead of punishing them and trying to curb their interest in such things, channel this energy into something positive.

From the perspective of an adult or adolesent this book is still great. Fun projects and lots of information make for a fun read, and an even more fun summer project. Science teachers and the like will love this book as some of these projects could prove wonderful classroom demonstrations to aid in teaching and more importantly, in getting kids' attention and perhaps sparking an interest.

Great book. more stuff like this might help the curb effects of all the negative stuff out there like the Anarchist's Cookbook and all those [explosive] websites.

A big five stars!

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and great fun
This is one of those ultimate guy books, fun for boys 8 to 80. It brought back memories of building similar devices in my youth, although I never built anything close to the diverse collection the author has brought together and describes in this interesting book. The book contains instructions and even troubleshooting suggestions for 12 different projects, ranging from a potato canon to Greek fire to the dry-cleaner bag balloon. I remember using a compound called Bangsite 40 years ago when I was a boy that was probably calcium carbide to build a primitive canon, and he was a similar one here.

In addition to all the projects, the author does a fine job of providing a little education on the fine points of the history of many of these devices, and on some of the most important inventors in history. There are briref but very readable articles on Archimedes, Robert H. Goddard (the "father of rocketry"), Alfred Nobel, and others.

A particularly interesting section is the one on the history of the catapult. The author details its use from 400 B.C. to the 15th century. For example, we learn that last successful use of the catapult (before it was replaced by canon) was at the Battle of Rhodes in 1480, and that 500 A.D. is the earliest recorded use of gravity-powered catapults or trebouchets in the Middle East. In 1191 Richard I (the "Lion-Hearted") participated in a hard-fought battle between the Franks and the Turks in which they battered each other with 300 catapults. And torsion engines were in widespread use in the Roman army by 50 A.D. In 1450, the canon supplanted the catapult throughout Europe and its long use in warfare came to an end.

There are also interesting articles on The Roman Candle, the Medieval Crossbow, and Secret Weapons (such as missiles and rockets). At 170 pages in medium-size format, there are a lot of interesting historical facts and information in addition to all the material on the projects. This is a great idea for a book and I'm surprised no-one has ever done it before.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun
Definitely fun projects for guys! If you feel like blowing something up, but still want to be safe, this is for you!

5-0 out of 5 stars Pleasing men of all ages!
Being an avid potato gunner, I picked this book up at the local library, and after reading it over, I just had to to get it. The book will please everyone thats into building fun projects during the lazy summer days & will provide enjoyment for hours! The book goes into very good detail with each project & stresses safety as a key thing, which is good because the projects in this book can be somewhat dangeroeus ONLY if you don't follow instructions & use common sense. I recommended this book to anyone in need for a good project to work on or just for fun! Definitly on my top 10 list.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great book for kids of all ages.
I bought this book for my boyfriend, and he practicaly sleeps with it. Not only does this book help you build the projects step-by-step, but it also provides the mechanics behind WHY it works in language easy enough for a ten year old to understand (with a little help on some of the vocabulary.) Would be valueable in science fairs and scouting projects as well. ... Read more

46. Classification, Parameter Estimation and State Estimation : An Engineering Approach Using MatLab
by Ferdinand van derHeijden, RobertDuin, Dick deRidder, David M. J.Tax
list price: $110.00
our price: $110.00
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Asin: 0470090138
Catlog: Book (2004-11-05)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Sales Rank: 355040
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Book Description

Classification, Parameter Estimation and State Estimation is a practical guide for data analysts and designers of measurement systems and postgraduates students that are interested in advanced measurement systems using MatLab. 'Prtools' is a powerful MatLab toolbox for pattern recognition and is written and owned by one of the co-authors, B. Duin of the Delft University of Technology.

After an introductory chapter, the book provides the theoretical construction for classification, estimation and state estimation. The book also deals with the skills required to bring the theoretical concepts to practical systems, and how to evaluate these systems. Together with the many examples in the chapters, the book is accompanied by a MatLab toolbox for pattern recognition and classification. The appendix provides the necessary documentation for this toolbox as well as an overview of the most useful functions from these toolboxes. With its integrated and unified approach to classification, parameter estimation and state estimation, this book is a suitable practical supplement in existing university courses in pattern classification, optimal estimation and data analysis.

  • Covers all contemporary main methods for classification and estimation.
  • Integrated approach to classification, parameter estimation and state estimation
  • Highlights the practical deployment of theoretical issues.
  • Provides a concise and practical approach supported by Matlab toolbox.
  • Offers exercises at the end of each chapter and numerous worked out examples.
  • PRtools toolbox (MatLab) and code of worked out examples available from the internet
  • Many examples showing implementations in MatLab
  • Enables students to practice their skills using a MatLab environment
... Read more

47. Conducting Research Literature Reviews : From Paper to the Internet
by Arlene Fink
list price: $39.95
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Asin: 0761909052
Catlog: Book (1998-04-21)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Sales Rank: 72688
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

How can an individual identify and make sense of the voluminous amount of currently available information on nearly every important topic in education, health, social welfare, psychology, and business? What criteria can be used to distinguish between good and poor studies? Conducting Research Literature Reviews shows readers how to identify, interpret, and analyze published and unpublished research literature. Through the use of checklists, case examples, and exercises, author Arlene Fink unravels the intricacies of: selecting questions to maximize the efficiency of the review; identifying subject headings and key words for electronic searches; identifying the most appropriate databases; including supplementing computer and Web-based searches; identifying and dealing with unpublished studies; setting inclusion and exclusion criteria; justifying methods for reviewing only the `highest quality' literature; preparing a structured literature abstraction form; ensuring the reliability and validity of the review; synthesizing and reporting results; conducting and evaluating descriptive literature reviews; and, how to understand and evaluate the principles of meta-analysis.

... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Readable guide
This is a readable guide to executing a large-scale literature review, with special attention to the issues of doing a quantitative synthesis. It is written for people in the health professions rather than scholars, so the latter may find the treatment a bit light. ... Read more

48. Design of Experiments: Statistical Principles of Research Design and Analysis
by Robert O. Kuehl
list price: $119.95
our price: $119.95
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Asin: 0534368344
Catlog: Book (1999-08-13)
Publisher: Duxbury Press
Sales Rank: 159442
Average Customer Review: 3 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Robert Kuehl's DESIGN OF EXPERIMENTS, Second Edition, prepares students to design and analyze experiments that will help them succeed in the real world. Kuehl uses a large array of real data sets from a broad spectrum of scientific and technological fields. This approach provides realistic settings for conducting actual research projects. Next, he emphasizes the importance of developing a treatment design based on a research hypothesis as an initial step, then developing an experimental or observational study design that facilitates efficient data collection. In addition to a consistent focus on research design, Kuehl offers an interpretation for each analysis. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Statistics text for people who understand statistics
Kuehl covers a lot of statistical designs, and provides great examples and practice problems. However, the book is not "user friendly" even for student who have had several semesters coursework in regression analysis. Also, the author tends to change his notation from chapter to chapter without telling the reader, thus creating great confusion. For example "r" or "k" could signify replicate. Some sections are poorly organized. ... Read more

49. The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
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Asin: 0679740392
Catlog: Book (1994-02-01)
Publisher: Vintage
Average Customer Review: 3.17 out of 5 stars
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This surprising book may appear to be about the simple things of life--forks, paper clips, zippers--but in fact it is a far-flung historical adventure on the evolution of common culture. To trace the fork's history, Duke University professor of civil engineering Henry Petroski travels from prehistoric times to Texas barbecue to Cardinal Richelieu to England's Industrial Revolution to the American Civil War--and beyond. Each item described offers a cultural history lesson, plus there's plenty of engineering detail for those so inclined. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Tech History book
This is a scholarly look at the history of invention. Henry Petroski is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Duke and has written several books of this genre. The book is well written, has many footnotes, and an eight page bibliography. While the book is not technical per se, it would probably be most enjoyable by other engineers and fans of technological history.
The author tracks the engineering and development of several common devices of everyday life. Two that he spends a lot of time on are the fork and the paper clip. There are several full chapters examining issues such as the first historical records of use, patents, and the development of companies and industries as these items became incredibly popular. Other items receiving lesser treatment include wheelbarrows, tin cans, and McDonalds hamburger containers.
This book will give you an appreciation of the time frame that great inventions occupy. Most of the items discussed here are developed over several lifetimes, or at least several working lifetimes. This alone should be very instructive to anyone trying to get a feel for the history of invention. The histories given are very detailed with names, dates, addresses, patent numbers and drawings, and the economic data (manufacturing costs, prices, etc.). If you find intriguing the question of where and how did we get all of the modern devices that we use everyday, you will enjoy this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at the development of everyday objects
Things get improved because in their current form, they do not work properly. Henry Petroski's book, The Evolution of Useful Things, traces the development of objects in our everyday life, including detailed histories of the development of the staple, the zipper, silverware, and hand tools. The book is interesting, although Petroski does tend to shy away from offering a theory of development, and instead offers a conjectures about how things might have developed. He explains, but he does not offer a theory or an argument that explains everything. Overall, though, a goos book, well researched, well illustrated, and interesting on many levels.

4-0 out of 5 stars Form follows failure
This book is an extended essay about the process of invention. In it, Petroski takes the viewpoint that the form of manufactured items is the result of an evolutionary-like process. He stresses that for any specific item, the form it has is only an arbitrary choice from many possible solutions that the inventor could have come up with. And the driving force behind invention, according to Petroski is failure- -each change in form that an invention takes is the result of trying to address some failure in what was done previously.

Petroski introduces the book with an item that very aptly demonstrates his thesis: the fork. He details the history of the development of the fork, starting with the table manners of the Middle Ages, when people were in the habit of using knives to both spear bits of food and convey them to their mouths. But in order to chop off bits of food from larger pieces, it was handy to have a second knife to hold the larger piece steady. Of course, the second knife was also like to put a hole in the larger piece, and wasn't well adapted to holding things, not until someone had the brilliant idea of making a stabilizing knife with two prongs instead of one. Eventually, this stabilizing knife began to be used for conveying food to the mouth instead of just holding food steady while cutting, and it was found that four prongs were much better suited for this task than two. Each step of the way through the history of the fork, Petroski points out how when the implement of the time failed to accomplish its intended task satisfactorily, its form was modified, until the fork took its present customary form. At the same time, however, Petroski also stresses that the current form of the fork is only one possible solution to the food conveyance problem. He compares its development to that of chopsticks, which are equally well suited to the same task, but take a very different form.

Other objects given a detailed examination in this book include paper clips, zippers, and cans for food, as well as openers for cans. In this last topic, Petroski brings out the point that objects are often developed and brought into use long before their supporting technology is even conceived of. Although tin cans came into general use during the first half of the Nineteenth Century, it was to be another 50 years before the first can opener was finally developed. Until then, producers of canned foods expected their customers to open their cans by stabbing them with hammer and chisel and (miraculously) come back for more!

Overall, I found the book somewhat interesting, and certainly illuminating. While I agree that form does follow failure in many cases, I think that Petroski is too quick to dismiss aesthetic influences in the evolution of form. He notes that some forks in modern tableware sets have only 3 tines out of a desire to look different or special, even though they aren't as efficient at conveying food as 4-tined forks. But he dismisses this as being a minor factor, unimportant for the general evolution of the fork. Perhaps he is right in the case of forks, but there are a number of other items where fashion plays a larger role. High-heeled shoes, for instance, are certainly an evolutionary wrong-turn in foot attire, but not a dead end. Colored cars are wasteful in the mass production process, as Henry Ford was quick to point out, but he learned that color options are also a selling point. Indeed, many times a better solution for achieving a task can be invented, but then never brought to market because of economics. Or the form that finally does become standard is a less than optimal solution for the task, but cheaper to manufacture than a better one. Petroski points to tableware sets with over 200 individual items, each with a separate task. He argues that each item was developed in response to some perceived failure of another form at doing the stated task, and dismisses the idea that it was simply manufacturers trying to develop new things for consumers to buy so that they would have a complete set. Personally, I'm not so sure that the manufacturers really depended entirely on failure to develop the forms of their tableware. I find it easy to imagine an artist being asked to come up with some more fancy designs that could be created in silver so that customers would have more items to purchase. Perhaps some of these new silver utensils received their titles only after they were actually created and tested to see what they might be good at. In short, I think that economics may have a stronger influence on the form of things than Petroski seems willing to grant in this book. But in any case, the book is very well researched and documented. It is amply illustrated with black-and-white photos and drawings. The text itself flows smoothly and is quite clear for general and technical readers alike although it can be a bit dry at times.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Lucid Primer on Industrial Design for Everyday Folks
How does everyday discontent lead to material progres? Does form follow function? What are some common mistakes in patent writing? The Evolution of Everyday Objects, explores the hidden history of axes, spoons, paperclips, garbage bags,tin cans, and zippers for a general audience. Henry Petroski, a professor of industrial design at Duke University, also introduces unlikely heroes like Walter Hunt (the safety pin) Richard Drew (Scotch tape), and Jacob Rabinow (pick-proof lock) while celebrating the marvels of engineering and industrial design.
This lucid primer weaves a weird and wonderful tale of techincal evolution and expanding consumerism. Petroski argues that disappointment with available choices inspires inventors, engineers, and industrial designers to continually expand our consumer choices. Form, contrary to rumors, follows failure. Edison's edict seems more apt than ever.
Petroski focuses on the telling details behind both familiar success stories and the far more frequent failures of consumer objects and modern artifacts. Although this 288-page paperback lacks illustrations and might seem a bit repeative and/or simplistic to specialists, Petroski's book should appeal to aspiring inventors, engineering students, and curious readers seeking a better understanding of our modern consumer culture. You might even look at your cluttered desk, a crowded department store, and your crammed tool shed with more appreciation.

3-0 out of 5 stars A little dry, but worthwhile
Petroski's field is design, but his take on it is the history of design rather than the "science" of design as Donald Norman (of The Design of Everyday Things fame). Although their approach is different, the two men share some of the same insights into how and why objects are the way they were. But where Norman's philosophy is that an object can be designed to be "better," Petroski feels that an object will always be less than perfect. His theory, in part, is that because most objects have multiple purposes, the object can not perform any single task perfectly. This idea of the competition of purposes is best illustrated from the book by Petroski's examination of eating utensils. The perfect utensil would be one that could cut and lift food to the mouth for eating. But knifes that cut have difficulty in lifting, forks are almost useless with a soup, and a spoon doesn't cut well. By showing us the evolution of the flatware selection (which remains imperfect), Petroski gives weight to his theory.

But I'm not wholly convinced. Perhaps it's because I read Norman first that I want to defend him. I want to believe that objects can be bettered--an interface can be easier to use, etc. The difference between Norman and Petroski is also one of style. Norman's prose is almost light weight compared to the dense, multi-syllabic approach used by Petroski, and Norman wasn't afraid to use terms and ideas that were not in lay usage. It could be that Norman's short columnar structure breaks up the duty of trying to convey so much information that his is more readable prose. It could also be that Petroski likes the language of academia, even when it begins to obfuscate. From the design standpoint, both authors are worthwhile. It is important to see specific examples of real world solutions to design problems to come up with ideas for our own designs, be it a fork, a building, or software. ... Read more

50. Ecological Methodology (2nd Edition)
by Charles J. Krebs
list price: $120.60
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Asin: 0321021738
Catlog: Book (1998-07-23)
Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
Sales Rank: 329393
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have book for young ecologists
This is a wonderful book. As a graduating senior in Ecology, I can say that there is no way I could have completed my research without this book. Krebs is cited in journal articles constantly, and there is a reason - this reference work is thorough, well written and gives many examples to follow. I also recommend the EcoMeth software mentioned in the text, it is well worth the cost. Just browsing through the book will give you ideas on how to analyze your data. It even provides wonderful advice for those just in the process of setting up their experiments. All in all, it's top notch!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference text
Krebs' text is a thorough and outstanding reference for any ecologist. This is is the ideal balance of technical background and practical application of methods commonly used in ecology. Ive found other sources either too cursory or far too involved with derivations of formulae, etc. Krebs hits the major points for the methods he discusses, describes the strengths and weaknesses, and gives the original citations (for most) so the reader can seek more information if necessary. ... Read more

51. Process Control Instrumentation Technology
by Curtis D. Johnson
list price: $120.00
our price: $120.00
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Asin: 0130602485
Catlog: Book (2002-08-15)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Sales Rank: 474849
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This manual is designed to provide users with an understanding and appreciation of some of the theoretical concepts behind control system elements and operations, without the need of advanced math and theory. It also presents some of the practical details of how elements of a control system are designed and operated, such as would be gained from on-the-job experience. This middle ground of knowledge enables users to design the elements of a control system from a practical, working perspective, and comprehend how these elements affect overall system operation and tuning.The guidebook provides an introduction to process control, and covers analog and digital signal conditioning, thermal, mechanical and optical sensors, final control, discrete-state process control, controller principles, analog controllers, digital control and control loop characteristics.For those working in measurement and instrumentation and with PLCs. ... Read more

Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars Same material in 1988 edition!
For those of us looking for new up-to-date technical information in the process field we will have to go elsewhere. This book contains the same basic information as in the first edition. While it has some good material for learning beginning theoretical process control at the technical level it is a waste of money if you are interested in modern technology.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good book for beinners but take a look at your course req
This was one of the first books i read on process control.Whether or not you should buy the book would depend on what your course demands.

The beauty of the book lies in its lucidity which shows the authors understanding of all the sensors and instruments...the book stresses on the principles of working of all the instruments. i understood every single transducer I learnt about in the book.Another plus point of the book is that it is self-sufficient, in that you dont have to take another book while reading this one.It starts off by discussing all that you need to know about OP-Amp circuits for process control and even digital electronics.

My course in Process Control demanded a very high degree of detail in most of the process control mechnanisms and transducers so i didnt find everything I needed in this book.But it covered my syllabus to the greatest extent of all the books and explained it in a beautiful manner. ... Read more

52. Raman Scattering in Materials Science (Springer Series in Materials Science, 42)
by Willes H. Weber, Roberto Merlin, R. Merlin
list price: $144.00
our price: $144.00
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Asin: 3540672230
Catlog: Book (2000-06-01)
Publisher: Springer-Verlag Telos
Sales Rank: 1244051
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Book Description

Raman scattering is now being applied with increasing success to a wide range of practical problems at the cutting edge of materials science. The purpose of this book is to make Raman spectroscopy understandable to the non-specialist and thus to bring it into the mainstream of routine materials characterization. The book is pedagogical in approach and focuses on technologically important condensed-matter systems in which the specific use of Raman spectroscopy yields new and useful information. Included are chapters on instrumentation, bulk semiconductors and alloys, heterostructures, high-Tc superconductors, catalysts, carbon-based materials, wide-gap and super-hard materials, and polymers. ... Read more

53. X-Rays From Laser Plasmas : Generation and Applications
by I. C. E.Turcu, J. B.Dance
list price: $305.00
our price: $305.00
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Asin: 0471983977
Catlog: Book (1998-11-11)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Sales Rank: 526106
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Book Description

Soft X-rays have great potential for use in a wide variety of applications, including the semiconductor industry and the life sciences. X-Rays from Laser Plasmas: Generation and Applications focuses exclusively and in detail on the science and technology of soft X-rays produced with non-synchrotron sources. Using a minimum of mathematical formulae, it discusses how such X-rays can be efficiently and economically generated from plasmas produced by lasers, and how they interact with matter. Authored by Dr Edmond Turcu, one of the pioneers in this field, X-Rays from Laser Plasmas: Generation and Applications will be of great interest to a wide variety of readers, including all those working in X-ray lithography, microscopy, and radiobiology. ... Read more

54. Sensory Evaluation Techniques, Third Edition
by Morten Meilgaard, Gail Vance Civille, B. Thomas Carr
list price: $149.95
our price: $124.46
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Asin: 0849302765
Catlog: Book (1999-06-24)
Publisher: CRC Press
Sales Rank: 396400
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Book Description

Honey-mustard chicken roasting in an oven, fashion models sporting the latest line of lipstick, blush and balm, and the piercing sound of paper being torn in half may not seem to have much in common. But in reality, food, cosmetic and paper products similar to these often undergo rigorous testing at some stage or another as part of a fascinating-and stimulating-scientific process: sensory evaluation.Aimed at the practicing sensory professional, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, Third Edition, makes product evaluation clear, concise, and approachable, with the simplest to the most complex sensory methods and their interpretation spelled out. The book explores the theory and applications of sensory evaluation methods with sufficient background material to allow the user to understand the evaluation of sensory perception and actually perform sensory tests. The book's "how-to" description of sensory evaluation methods features all of the commonly-used practical sensory tests, followed by a guide to selecting the optimal method for a given problem. Descriptions are accompanied by several practical examples. Consumer research techniques are included, and the book contains complete instructions for the Spectrumä method of descriptive analysis, as well as relevant selection of those statistical techniques the sensory analyst needs, with examples illustrating the analysis of sensory tests.New in the Third Edition is the latest information on sensory tests and statistical techniques for the analysis of sensory data being introduced all over the world. The Unified Approach to discrimination testing, for example, which is now becoming the norm in sensory science, is examined in detail, with examples provided. Also new: a Test Sensitivity Analyzer and over 300 scales and hundreds of standard terms for the Spectrum method. So whether it be for instructors and students of sensory science, practicing sensory analysts, or researchers and libraries in the production and marketing of food, beverages, cosmetics, fragrances, textiles and paper products, Sensory Evaluation Techniques, Third Edition, is one of the most comprehensive sources on sensory panel techniques in the industry. ... Read more

55. Handbook of Spectroscopy (2 Vol. Set)
list price: $520.00
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Asin: 3527297820
Catlog: Book (2003-10-31)
Publisher: Wiley-VCH
Sales Rank: 909918
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Book Description

This handbook provides a straightforward introduction to the field, showing what it can do and how it does it, together with a clear, integrated and objective account of the wealth of information that can be derived from spectra. The sequence of chapters covers the whole range of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the physical processes involved, from nuclear phenomena to molecular rotation processes.
- A day-by-day laboratory guide: its design based on 300 questionnaires filled-out by spectroscopists at universities, industries and research institutes
- A well-structured information source containing 5 methods and 5 applications sections framed by sections on general topics
- Guides users to a decision about which spectroscopic method and which instrumentation will be the most appropriate to solve their own practical problem
- A time- and cost-saving reference: data tables provide the comparison of different methods in a standardized form
- Rapid access to essential information
- Correct analysis of a huge number of measured spectra data and smart use of such information sources as databases and spectra libraries

In short, a spectroscopist?s dream come true.
... Read more

56. Randomized Algorithms (Cambridge International Series on Parallel Computation)
by Rajeev Motwani, Prabhakar Raghavan
list price: $60.00
our price: $46.80
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Asin: 0521474655
Catlog: Book (1995-08-25)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 134392
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

For many applications, a randomized algorithm is either the simplest or the fastest algorithm available, and sometimes both. This book introduces the basic concepts in the design and analysis of randomized algorithms. The first part of the text presents basic tools such as probability theory and probabilistic analysis that are frequently used in algorithmic applications. Algorithmic examples are also given to illustrate the use of each tool in a concrete setting. In the second part of the book, each chapter focuses on an important area to which randomized algorithms can be applied, providing a comprehensive and representative selection of the algorithms that might be used in each of these areas. Although written primarily as a text for advanced undergraduates and graduate students, this book should also prove invaluable as a reference for professionals and researchers. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A subtle introduction to probablistic algoritms
This book is a jewel. It demonstrates how clever and beautifully simple probabilistic ideas can lead to the design of very efficient algorithms. I like its very verbal intuitive style,
with proof strategies being always transparently explained.
For computer scientists, this is *the* reference work in randomized algorithms, by now a major paradigm of algorithms design. For classical probabilists, this
could serve as an eye-opener on unsuspected applications of their field to important areas of computer science.

4-0 out of 5 stars An enciclopedia for randomized algorithms.
The book has an exoustive amount of algorithms. Not everything is proved. Sometimes the proof contains to few steps to be understood. There are many algorithms explained well. After reading this book it is easy to create your own randomized algorithms.

4-0 out of 5 stars extremely informative but obscure
I've taken two CS classes that use this book and I always felt like this book was very informative. The algorithms and concepts that Motwani brings forth are extremely insightful and interesting. However, the presentation of the proofs has a lot of room for improvement. Notation is carried over from previous chapters and is sometimes unexplained, which makes it very difficult for someone who does not have a lot of familiarity with the material presented. The book presents very interesting topics and leaves a lot of open (unresolved) questions to the reader's curiosity and challenge.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very good high-level survey of Randomized Algorithms
I have just completed a graduate course using this book. At times the book is a bit terse (not necessarily a negative!) and overall I can highly recommend it.

Wolf Bein, UNLV ... Read more

57. Molecular Systematics
by David M. Hillis, Craig Moritz, Barbara K. Mable
list price: $82.95
our price: $82.95
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Asin: 0878932828
Catlog: Book (1996-01-01)
Publisher: Sinauer Associates
Sales Rank: 256898
Average Customer Review: 3.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Within the past decade, molecular systematic methods have been applied in most fields of biology to provide an evolutionary framework whenever comparisons are made among individuals, populations, or higher taxa. The first edition of Molecular Systematics became a standard reference for this vigorous field by describing each aspect of the planning, execution, and analysis of a molecular systematic study. The new edition updates and expands this coverage, and includes considerable information on new molecular techniques and methods of analysis.

Molecular Systematics includes chapters on sampling design, the collection and storage of tissues, each of the major molecular techniques, and intraspecific and phylogenetic analysis. The sampling chapters describe how to plan a study and how to collect, transport, and store the appropriate tissues for each study. The techniques chapters cover principles, assumptions, applications, limitations, and protocols for isozyme electrophoresis, molecular cytogenetics, DNA hybridization, the polymerase chain reaction, restriction site and fragment analysis, and nucleic acid sequencing and alignment. Advantages and disadvantages of alternative approaches are discussed for each technique, and recent developments (such as new methods of fluorescent in situ hybridization, rapid screening methods for detecting DNA sequence variation, automated sequencing methods, new approaches for PCR, and microsatellite analyses) are detailed. Three additional chapters cover the rationale and methodology of molecular data analysis at both the population and interspecific levels, and provide information on using and obtaining the relevant computer programs (including the many programs available for free across the Internet). The chapter on phylogenetic analysis has been considerably expanded to include the latest developments in maximum likelihood analysis, spectral analysis, methods for reconstructing reticulating networks, corrections for complex models of sequence evolution, and methods for assessing confidence in phylogenetic results. The book also includes discussion of processes of molecular evolution, experimental molecular studies, molecular simulations, the molecular meaning of homology, and limitations and applications of the molecular clock hypothesis.

This edition of Molecular Systematics will provide new insights and is an important reference work for established investigators, as well as a comprehensive introduction for newcomers to the field. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars simply brilliant
Hillis gets down to the nitty gritty right away in this information packed book. The text is very readable and he goes into some detail on the methods used to reconstruct phylogenies from sequence data. He pulls no punches in describing the weaknesses and strengths of each method, and further offers insight as to where the field is headed and what we can expect in future analyses as genomic and EST databases become ever larger.

In short, this is a detailed overview of using sequence data to test evolutionary hypotheses. It is an essential part of your bookshelf as an evolutionary biologist. Highly recommend!

2-0 out of 5 stars What is Molecular Phylogenetics?
This book does not tell anything about sequence alignment.
Except this 'little problem' it is a good book anyway.
But do you think that sequence alignment is not an important issue in molecular phylogenetics?

4-0 out of 5 stars review of Molecular Systematics
Molecular Systematics is the best general text on population and evolutionary genetics I have read. It provides sufficient depth to give adequate understanding of molecular phylogenetics and molecular population genetics data for most purposes. The broad research behind the work makes it an excellent starting point for finding journal articles on specific subjects within this field. The only drawback to the book is that it is five years old and the field is quite fast moving. Hopefully a new edition will appear shortly. ... Read more

58. Statistical Methods in Agriculture and Experimental Biology, Third Edition
by R. Mead, Robert N. Curnow, Anne M. Hasted, Roger Mead, R. N. Curnow, A. M. Hasted, Robert M Curnow
list price: $64.95
our price: $44.00
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Asin: 1584881879
Catlog: Book (2002-08-28)
Publisher: Chapman & Hall/CRC
Sales Rank: 504813
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Book Description

The third edition of this popular introductory text maintains the character that won worldwide respect for its predecessors but features a number of enhancements that broaden its scope, increase its utility, and bring the treatment thoroughly up to date. It provides complete coverage of the statistical ideas and methods essential to students in agriculture or experimental biology. In addition to covering fundamental methodology, this treatment also includes more advanced topics that the authors believe help develop an appreciation of the breadth of statistical methodology now available. The emphasis is not on mathematical detail, but on ensuring students understand why and when various methods should be used.New in the Third Edition:"A chapter on the two simplest yet most important methods of multivariate analysis"Increased emphasis on modern computer applications "Discussions on a wider range of data types and the graphical display of data"Analysis of mixed cropping experiments and on-farm experiments ... Read more

59. Manipulating the Mouse Embryo: A Laboratory Manual
by Brigid Hogan, Rosa Beddington, Frank Costantini, Elizabeth Lacy
list price: $109.00
our price: $109.00
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Asin: 0879693843
Catlog: Book (1994-11-01)
Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Sales Rank: 174057
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The 1986 publication of Manipulating the Mouse Embryo catalyzed the interaction between molecular biology and mammalian embryology. For the first time, detailed instructions on how to begin applying recombinant DNA technology to important questions about mammalian embryonic development were made available to a broad audience. The gathering pace of such studies in recent years has brought improvements to existing methods and fueled the creation of new and powerful technologies. The second edition of this classic manual has been completely revised and expanded to incorporate these advances. It contains new sections on the production and analysis of transgenic mice, the manipulation of preimplantation embryos to generate chimeras, the culture and manipulation of embryonic stem cells, including gene "knockouts," and techniques for visualizing genes, gene products, and specific cell types. As before, included with the protocols is a summary of current understanding of mouse development at a molecular level. In its new edition, this manual of proven distinction is again an authoritative and comprehensive source of technical guidance for experienced investigators and an essential resource for newcomers to mammalian genetics and embryology.

Please see the companion videos to this manual:

-Transgenic Techniques in Mice
-Targeted Mutagenesis in Mice ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Manipulating the Mouse Embryo
This book is essential for all who work in the transgenic and knockout mouse industry. Everything you need to know to begin, maintain, and analyze your transgenic or knockout facility is in this book. I have not required any other refernces to run my facility or perform my experiments. The books cover topics such as setting up the mouse colony, to microinjecting, to in situ hybridization, to preparing any solutions you made need. ... Read more

60. When Things Start to Think
by Gershenfeld Neil
list price: $14.00
our price: $11.20
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Asin: 080505880X
Catlog: Book (2000-02-15)
Publisher: Owl Books
Sales Rank: 94352
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

This is a book for people who want to know what the future is going to look like and for people who want to know how to create the future. Gershenfeld offers a glimpse at the brave new post-computerized world, where microchips work for us instead of against us. He argues that we waste the potential of the microchip when we confine it to a box on our desk: the real electronic revolution will come when computers have all but disappeared into the walls around us. Imagine a digital book that looks like a traditional book printed on paper and is pleasant to read in bed but has all the mutability of a screen display. How about a personal fabricator that can organize digitized atoms into anything you want, or a musical keyboard that can be woven into a denim jacket? Gershenfeld tells the story of his Things that Think group at MIT's Media Lab, the group of innovative scientists and researchers dedicated to integrating digital technology into the fabric of our lives.
... Read more

Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars Easy General Overall Read
When Things Start To Think
By Neil Gershenfeld

When Things Start To Think was a very interesting overview from the authors personal point of view on of what happens when technology meets the traditional social world that we live in. Much of it is derived from Gershenfields own knowledge as he explores the world of new technology. He admits to discussing thoughout the book about his ground breaking experience with Yo-yo Ma, and how much of his experience is derived around his years in the Media Lab. Emerging from these detailed stories, such as how marries music with technology, we start to understand that his efforts is a vision of a future that is much more "accessible, connected, expressive, and responsive."

Gershenfield touches on many various areas of technology from wearable computers, to The Big Blue chess playing super computer, to the future of money. He attempts to cover massive amounts of ground on this huge topic of progressive and intelligent technology that some might not consider this book a very in-depth read. However, I would consider it a wonderful overview for those who are interested about the development and evolution of unique technologies that have inspired us to dream about the future. These dreams help us to envision what possibilities can be done when science, curiosity, and desire to create collide.

I don't think that Gershenfield meant this book to be a scholarly one at all, but it was a more causal, easy, and fun read for all to enjoy on a low- tech level. Overall I thought it was a enlightening story on Gresherfield's experiences, and he does drive home the idea that as technology develops out of it's "adolescence" it's important to bring it closer to people so that it's less obtrusive and more useful.

3-0 out of 5 stars Bossy Refridgerators?
An excellent book for the layperson to understand where computing is headed and where the lines between life sciences and technology blur. Gershenfeld makes it easy to understand how our lives will be affected by the incredible advances we are making in all fields of science. This book belongs on the shelf right along side Kurzweil, Norman and Metcalfe. It will round out our comprehension of the future, both near and farther out on the horizon. I learned about PEM three-dimensional printers and how they will help us model our ideas. I learned about the all too easy use of buzzwords such as "fuzzy logic" to confuse the public into thinking something "new" is happening. I learned a great new definition for religion-"Beliefs about our existence that are not falsifiable have a central place in human experience-they're called religion." And I learned about a great place for students of all backgrounds to work together for fun and maybe even profit-the Media labs at MIT. And I found an answer to a question that has long been bothering me. "Marvin Minsky believes that the study of artificial intelligence failed to live up to its promise, not because of any lack of intelligence in the programs or the programmers, but because of the limited life experience of a computer that can't see, or hear, or move." Anyone with even a hint of questions about the future and what it might hold for us should pick up this book. It is marvelous reading, despite the weight of the subject matter!

4-0 out of 5 stars Do things have rights, too? Oh, Yeah!!!
Can you imagine books that can change into other books so all you need is one book or a pair of computerized shoes that communicates through your body network? "When Things Start to Think" is a book written by Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Media Lab at MIT that will let you get a head start for people who are interested in future technology development. The book gives a really good discussion on the digital evolution and answers three hard-to-answer questions: what are things that think, why should things think, and how will things that think be developed? Gershenfeld starts each chapter (idea) with a brief introduction and history background of the idea (technology). Then he discusses further into the development and current issues that are relatively close to the topic and maybe transforming it into a new concept with a little brainstorming.

Gershenfeld not only focuses on future technology development, but he also criticizes the perception that people have toward computers today. He suggests that people need attitude adjustment since the technology development is growing at an incredible rate. Digital money or smart money is an excellent example since everyone now does digital money transactions on-line. How do we adjust our attitude since we are rapidly changing from atom-money to bit-money? Gershenfeld has a very unique point of view. He also gives a fascinating opinion on why things should think, especially he proposes three rights for things: "have an identity, access other objects, and detect the nature of their environment" (Gershenfeld, 1999, p. 104).

"When Things Start to Think" is an easy-read book for people who not only looking for possible future technology development, but also are interested exploring the concepts and algorithms behind them. I found this book is very interesting and inspired me to explore further on the idea of "the personal fabricator" and the three rights for things. Some ideas he talks about in the book are very interesting, such as the wearable computer and the books that can change into other books. Some idea reminds me of another science fiction book "He, She and It." People might be excited and fascinated by these new ideas, but at the same time there is also one question we should ask ourselves: Are we ready? I would love to hear updated information of news experiments or ideas from Gershenfeld.

5-0 out of 5 stars A tour of the future....
When I first read the book, I was astonished at how intuitive everything was - well explained, well thought out, and extremely well written.

I still look at the newspaper on my coffee table and wait for the day that it can do the tricks that the author suggested! If you're into technology, and are even remotely involved with the internet, this book is for you...

And it will be for your children.

4-0 out of 5 stars Computers are for people...not the other way around.
The author of this book is clearly of the opinion that the "Digital Revolution" is more of what he calls a 'disinformation campaign'. His arguments are to the effect that computers and gadgets need to be responsive to human needs, this not being the case to this date. Computers should be a suit of clothes a person can wear (literally!!) and not a straightjacket, the author seems to say. We should expect more from computers, and the Digital Revolution should be for people, not computers.

The author is definitely correct in saying this, as computers are still difficult to use for most people. The author's book is an attempt to propose remedies for this state of affairs, and some of these are highly creative, making the book very interesting to read. Some of the more clever ideas include smart paper, wearable computers, and smart money. He also overviews more exotic notions of computation, such as DNA and quantum computation. These ideas and developments are all very exciting, and no doubt most of them will come about....and soon. ... Read more

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