finding north how navigation makes us human

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Finding North

Author : George Michelsen Foy
ISBN : 9781250053893
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 89. 44 MB
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Navigation is the key human skill. It's something we do everywhere, whether feeling our way through a bedroom in the dark, or charting a ship's course. But how does navigation affect our brains, our memory, ourselves? Blending scientific research and memoir, and written in beautiful prose, Finding North starts with a quest by the author to understand this most basic of human skills---and why it's in mortal peril. In 1844, Foy's great-great grandfather, captain of a Norwegian cargo ship, perished at sea after getting lost in a snowstorm. Foy decides to unravel the mystery surrounding Halvor Michelsen's death---and the roots of his own obsession with navigation---by re-creating his ancestor's trip using only period instruments. Beforehand, he meets a colorful cast of characters to learn whether men really have better directional skills than women, how cells, eels, and spaceships navigate; and how tragedy results from GPS glitches. He interviews a cabby who has memorized every street in London, sails on a Haitian cargo sloop, and visits the site of a secret navigational cult in Greece. At the heart of Foy's story is this fact: navigation and the brain's memory centers are inextricably linked. As Foy unravels the secret behind Halvor's death, he also discovers why forsaking our navigation skills in favor of GPS may lead not only to Alzheimers and other diseases of memory, but to losing a key part of what makes us human.

Zero Decibels

Author : George Michelsen Foy
ISBN : 1439101043
Genre : Science
File Size : 64. 26 MB
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Have our noise-soaked lives driven us mad? And is absolute silence an impossible goal—or the one thing that can save us? A lively tale of one man’s quest to find the grail of total quiet.--- “ I don’t know at what point noise became intolerable for me,” George Michelsen Foy writes as he recalls standing on a subway platform in Manhattan, hands clamped firmly over his ears, face contorted in pain. But only then does Foy realize how overwhelmed he is by the city’s noise and vow to seek out absolute silence, if such an absence of sound can be discovered. Foy begins his quest by carrying a pocket-sized decibel meter to measure sound levels in the areas he frequents most—the subway, the local café, different rooms of his apartment—as well as the places he visits that inform his search, including the Parisian catacombs, Joseph Pulitzer’s “silent vault,” the snowy expanses of the Berkshires, and a giant nickel mine in Canada, where he travels more than a mile underground to escape all human-made sound. Along the way, Foy experiments with noise-canceling headphones, floatation tanks, and silent meditation before he finally tackles a Minnesota laboratory’s anechoic chamber that the Guinness Book of World Records calls “the quietest place on earth,” and where no one has ever endured even forty-five minutes alone in its pitch-black interior before finding the silence intolerable. Drawing on history, science, journalistic reportage, philosophy, religion, and personal memory, as well as conversations with experts in various fields whom he meets during his odyssey, Foy finds answers to his questions: How does one define silence? Did human beings ever experience silence in their early history? What is the relationship between noise and space? What are the implications of silence and our need for it—physically, mentally, emotionally, politically? Does absolute silence actually exist? If so, do we really want to hear it? And if we do hear it, what does it mean to us? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 30 million Americans suffer from environment-related deafness in today’s digital age of pervasive sound and sensory overload. Roughly the same number suffer from tinnitus, a condition, also environmentally related, that makes silence impossible in even the quietest places. In this respect, Foy’s quest for silence represents more than a simple psychological inquiry; both his queries and his findings help to answer the question “How can we live saner, healthier lives today?” Innovative, perceptive, and delightfully written, Zero Decibels will surely change how we perceive and appreciate the soundscape of our lives.

Run The Storm

Author : George Michelsen Foy
ISBN : 9781501184918
Genre : Nature
File Size : 78. 6 MB
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“The most insightful exploration of this unthinkable disaster.” —Outside “Here is the pitch-perfect pairing of subject and author, a gripping deconstruction of one of recent history’s most terrible and vexing sea tragedies…A meticulous forensic study that, in Foy’s able hands, rises to the level of literature.” —Hampton Sides “Fans of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air will love this exquisitely written and dramatic book. George Foy has an action story that doesn’t quit.” —Doug Stanton In the bestselling tradition of The Perfect Storm and The Finest Hours, a harrowing true account of the mysterious disappearance of the SS El Faro, a gigantic American cargo ship that sank in the Bermuda Triangle, taking with it thirty-three lives. On October 1, 2015, the SS El Faro, a massive American cargo ship that made regular runs between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico, delivering everything from deodorant to new Chevrolets, disappeared in Hurricane Joaquin, a category 4 storm. The ship, its hundreds of shipping containers, and its entire crew plummeted to the bottom of the ocean, three miles down. The sinking was the greatest seagoing US merchant marine shipping disaster since World War II. The massive ship had a seasoned crew, state-of-the-art navigation equipment, and advance warning of the storm. It seemed incomprehensible that such a ship could sink so suddenly. How, in this day and age, could something like this happen? The answer is that a ship as large as the El Faro doesn’t vanish for just one reason; it vanishes because many factors intersect—everything from hurricane-tracking algorithms to the decay of rubber gaskets on hatches to the arcane science of loading cargo containers to the psychology of a powerful ship’s captain. All of these factors and more came into play in the sinking of the El Faro. Relying on Coast Guard inquest hearings as well as on numerous interviews, George Michelsen Foy has crafted a brilliant account that brings to life the final voyage of El Faro, a story that lasts only a few days but which grows almost intolerably suspenseful as deep-rooted flaws leading to the disaster inexorably link together and worsen. We see captain, engineers, and crew fight for their lives, and hear their actual words (as recorded on the ship’s black box) while the hurricane relentlessly tightens its noose around the ship. We watch, minute by minute, all that is happening on board—the ship’s mysterious tilt to one side, worried calls to the engine room, ship-to-shore reports, the courage of the men and women as they fight to survive, and the berserk ocean’s savage consumption of the massive hull. And through it all, the pain and ultimate resilience of the families of El Faro’s crew. Meticulous and absolutely thrilling, Run the Storm is a masterwork of stunning power.

Inner Navigation

Author : Erik Jonsson
ISBN : 0743225031
Genre : Science
File Size : 69. 65 MB
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A FASCINATING INVESTIGATION OF HOW WE NAVIGATE THE PHYSICAL WORLD, INNER NAVIGATION IS A LIVELY, ENGAGING ACCOUNT OF SUBCONSCIOUS MAPMAKING. Why are we so often disoriented when we come up from the subway? Do we really walk in circles when we lose our bearings in the wilderness? How -- and why -- do we get lost at all? In this surprising, stimulating book, Erik Jonsson, a Swedish-born engineer who has spent a lifetime exploring navigation over every terrain, from the crowded cities of Europe to the emptiness of the desert, gives readers extraordinary new insights into the human way-finding system. Written for the nonscientist, Inner Navigation explains the astonishing array of physical and psychological cues the brain uses to situate us in space and build its "cognitive maps" -- the subconscious maps it employs to organize landmarks. Humans, Jonsson explains, also possess an intuitive direction frame -- an internal compass -- that keeps these maps oriented (when it functions properly) and a dead-reckoning system that constantly updates our location on the map as we move through the world. Even the most cynical city-dweller will be amazed to learn how much of this innate sense we use every day as we travel across town or around the world. Both a scientific and a human story, Inner Navigation contains a rich assortment of real-life insights and examples of the navigational challenges we all face, no matter where or how we live. It's a book that is as provocative to ponder as it is delightful to lose yourself in. Don't worry: Erik Jonsson will help you find your bearings.

Finding Your Own North Star

Author : Martha Beck
ISBN : 0307453138
Genre : Self-Help
File Size : 81. 70 MB
Format : PDF
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New York Times bestselling author and Life Designs, Inc. creator Martha Beck shares her step-by-step program that will guide you to fulfill your own potential and create a joyful life. In this book, you'll start by learning how to read the internal compasses already built into your brain and body--and why you may have spent your life ignoring their signals. As you become reacquainted with your own deepest desires, you'll identify and repair any unconscious beliefs or unhealed emotional wounds that may be blocking your progress. This will change your life, but don't worry--although every life is unique, major transformations have common elements, and Beck provides a map that will guide you through your own life changes. You'll learn how to navigate every stage, from the first flickering appearance of a new dream to the planning and implementation of your own ideal life. Based on Dr. Beck's work as a Harvard-trained sociologist, research associate at Harvard Business School, instructor at Thunderbird Business School, and especially on her experiences with her clients over the last six years, Finding Your Own North Star offers thoroughly tested case studies, questionnaires, and exercises to help you articulate your core desires and act on them to build a more satisfying life. “Explorers depend on the North Star when there are no other landmarks in sight. The same relationship exists between you and your right life, the ultimate realization of your potential for happiness. I believe that a knowledge of that perfect life sits inside you just as the North Star sits in its unaltering spot.” -- Martha Beck

Pinpoint How Gps Is Changing Technology Culture And Our Minds

Author : Greg Milner
ISBN : 9780393244991
Genre : Technology & Engineering
File Size : 24. 84 MB
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“One of the most mesmerizing and exhilarating, yet alarming modern technology books . . . an extraordinary tale.”—Gillian Tett, Financial Times Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary shared utility: the Global Positioning System. Even as it guides us across town, GPS helps land planes, route mobile calls, anticipate earthquakes, predict weather, locate oil deposits, measure neutrinos, grow our food, and regulate global finance. It is as ubiquitous and essential as another Cold War technology, the Internet. In Pinpoint, Greg Milner takes us on a fascinating tour of a hidden system that touches almost every aspect of our modern life. While GPS has brought us breathtakingly accurate information about our planetary environment and physical space, it has also created new forms of human behavior. We have let it saturate the world’s systems so completely and so quickly that we are just beginning to confront the possible consequences. A single GPS timing flaw, whether accidental or malicious, could bring down the electrical grid, hijack drones, or halt the world financial system. The use, and potential misuse, of GPS data by government and corporations raise disturbing questions about ethics and privacy. GPS may be altering the nature of human cognition—possibly even rearranging the gray matter in our heads. Pinpoint tells the sweeping story of GPS from its conceptual origins as a bomb guidance system to its presence in almost everything we do. Milner examines the different ways humans have understood physical space, delves into the neuroscience of cognitive maps, and questions GPS’s double-edged effect on our culture. A fascinating and original story of the scientific urge toward precision, Pinpoint offers startling insight into how humans understand their place in the world.

Age Of Discovery

Author : Ian Goldin
ISBN : 9781250085108
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 32. 25 MB
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The present is a contest between the bright and dark sides of discovery. To avoid being torn apart by its stresses, we need to recognize the fact—and gain courage and wisdom from the past. Age of Discovery shows how. Now is the best moment in history to be alive, but we have never felt more anxious or divided. Human health, aggregate wealth and education are flourishing. Scientific discovery is racing forward. But the same global flows of trade, capital, people and ideas that make gains possible for some people deliver big losses to others—and make us all more vulnerable to one another. Business and science are working giant revolutions upon our societies, but our politics and institutions evolve at a much slower pace. That’s why, in a moment when everyone ought to be celebrating giant global gains, many of us are righteously angry at being left out and stressed about where we’re headed. To make sense of present shocks, we need to step back and recognize: we’ve been here before. The first Renaissance, the time of Columbus, Copernicus, Gutenberg and others, likewise redrew all maps of the world, democratized communication and sparked a flourishing of creative achievement. But their world also grappled with the same dark side of rapid change: social division, political extremism, insecurity, pandemics and other unintended consequences of discovery. Now is the second Renaissance. We can still flourish—if we learn from the first.

Nathaniel Bowditch And The Power Of Numbers

Author : Tamara Plakins Thornton
ISBN : 9781469626949
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 84. 59 MB
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In this engagingly written biography, Tamara Plakins Thornton delves into the life and work of Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), a man Thomas Jefferson once called a "meteor in the hemisphere." Bowditch was a mathematician, astronomer, navigator, seafarer, and business executive whose Enlightenment-inspired perspectives shaped nineteenth-century capitalism while transforming American life more broadly. Enthralled with the precision and certainty of numbers and the unerring regularity of the physical universe, Bowditch operated and represented some of New England's most powerful institutions—from financial corporations to Harvard College—as clockwork mechanisms. By examining Bowditch's pathbreaking approaches to institutions, as well as the political and social controversies they provoked, Thornton's biography sheds new light on the rise of capitalism, American science, and social elites in the early republic. Fleshing out the multiple careers of Nathaniel Bowditch, this book is at once a lively biography, a window into the birth of bureaucracy, and a portrait of patrician life, giving us a broader, more-nuanced understanding of how powerful capitalists operated during this era and how the emerging quantitative sciences shaped the modern experience.

The Natural Navigator

Author : Tristan Gooley
ISBN : 9781615190461
Genre : Nature
File Size : 70. 62 MB
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Offers a guide to the age-old tradition of navigation on both land and sea through the observation of the Sun, Moon, and stars, weather patterns, landscape, growth of plants, and habitats of wildlife.

Eccentric Orbits

Author : John Bloom
ISBN : 9780802192820
Genre : Business & Economics
File Size : 78. 5 MB
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In the early 1990s, Motorola, the legendary American technology company developed a revolutionary satellite system called Iridium that promised to be its crowning achievement. Light years ahead of anything previously put into space, and built on technology developed for Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars,” Iridium’s constellation of 66 satellites in polar orbit meant that no matter where you were on Earth, at least one satellite was always overhead, and you could call Tibet from Fiji without a delay and without your call ever touching a wire. Iridium the satellite system was a mind-boggling technical accomplishment, surely the future of communication. The only problem was that Iridium the company was a commercial disaster. Only months after launching service, it was $11 billion in debt, burning through $100 million a month and crippled by baroque rate plans and agreements that forced calls through Moscow, Beijing, Fucino, Italy, and elsewhere. Bankruptcy was inevitable—the largest to that point in American history. And when no real buyers seemed to materialize, it looked like Iridium would go down as just a “science experiment.” That is, until Dan Colussy got a wild idea. Colussy, a former head of Pan-Am now retired and working on his golf game in Palm Beach, heard about Motorola’s plans to “de-orbit” the system and decided he would buy Iridium and somehow turn around one of the biggest blunders in the history of business. In Eccentric Orbits, John Bloom masterfully traces the conception, development, and launching of Iridium and Colussy’s tireless efforts to stop it from being destroyed, from meetings with his motley investor group, to the Clinton White House, to the Pentagon, to the hunt for customers in special ops, shipping, aviation, mining, search and rescue—anyone who would need a durable phone at the end of the Earth. Impeccably researched and wonderfully told, Eccentric Orbits is a rollicking, unforgettable tale of technological achievement, business failure, the military-industrial complex, and one of the greatest deals of all time.

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