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The Abacus and the Cross

by Nancy Marie Brown

Science writer Brown tells the life story of Gerbert d'Aurillac, better known as Pope Sylvester II, the pope of the year 1000. She dwells on his mathematical and scientific ability but does not ignore the political intrigue that often put him out of favor with kings and earlier popes. Her explanation of his scientific knowledge corrects many long held myths, such as that everyone believed the world would end in AD 1000 and that everyone thought the earth was flat. However, she creates new ones in the process. The reader is left to think that, after Gerbert's brief light, the "Dark Ages" closed in again and no more science was accomplished until the "Renaissance. " Too much of her story is told in scientific "either/or" terms when history is much more "and/also. " Her effort is laudable but her background understanding incomplete. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

The Abacus and the Cross

by Nancy Marie Brown

The medieval Catholic Church, widely considered a source of intolerance and inquisitorial fervor, was not anti-science during the Dark Ages-in fact, the pope in the year 1000 was the leading mathematician and astronomer of his day. Called "The Scientist Pope," Gerbert of Aurillac rose from peasant beginnings to lead the church. By turns a teacher, traitor, kingmaker, and visionary, Gerbert is the first Christian known to teach math using the nine Arabic numerals and zero.In The Abacus and the Cross, Nancy Marie Brown skillfully explores the new learning Gerbert brought to Europe. A fascinating narrative of one remarkable math teacher, The Abacus and the Cross will captivate readers of history, science, and religion alike.

The Far Traveler

by Nancy Marie Brown

Five hundred years before Columbus, a Viking woman named Gudrid sailed off the edge of the known world. She landed in the New World and lived there for three years, giving birth to a baby before sailing home. Or so the Icelandic sagas say. Even after archaeologists found a Viking longhouse in Newfoundland, no one believed that the details of Gudrid's story were true. Then, in 2001, a team of scientists discovered what may have been this pioneering woman's last house, buried under a hay field in Iceland, just where the sagas suggested it could be. Joining scientists experimenting with cutting-edge technology and the latest archaeological techniques, and tracing Gudrid's steps on land and in the sagas, Nancy Marie Brown reconstructs a life that spanned--and expanded--the bounds of the then-known world. She also sheds new light on the society that gave rise to a woman even more extraordinary than legend has painted her and illuminates the reasons for its collapse.

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman

by Nancy Marie Brown

Five hundred years before Columbus, a Viking woman named Gudrid sailed off the edge of the known world. She landed in the New World and lived there for three years, giving birth to a baby before sailing home. Or so the Icelandic sagas say. Even after archaeologists found a Viking longhouse in Newfoundland, no one believed that the details of Gudrid's story were true. Then, in 2001, a team of scientists discovered what may have been this pioneering woman's last house, buried under a hay field in Iceland, just where the sagas suggested it could be. Joining scientists experimenting with cutting-edge technology and the latest archaeological techniques, and tracing Gudrid's steps on land and in the sagas, Nancy Marie Brown reconstructs a life that spanned-and expanded-the bounds of the then-known world. She also sheds new light on the society that gave rise to a woman even more extraordinary than legend has painted her and illuminates the reasons for its collapse. Includes references, notes, sources.

Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods

by Nancy Marie Brown Nina Fedoroff

While European restaurants race to footnote menus, reassuring concerned gourmands that no genetically modified ingredients were used in the preparation of their food, starving populations around the world eagerly await the next harvest of scientifically improved crops. Mendel in the Kitchen provides a clear and balanced picture of this tangled, tricky (and very timely) topic. Any farmer you talk to could tell you that we have been playing with the genetic makeup of our food for millennia, carefully coaxing nature to do our bidding. The practice officially dates back to Gregor Mendel – who was not a renowned scientist, but a 19th century Augustinian monk. Mendel spent many hours toiling in his garden, testing and cultivating more than 28,000 pea plants, selectively determining very specific characteristics of the peas that were produced, ultimately giving birth to the idea of heredity - and the now very common practice of artificially modifying our food. But as science takes the helm, steering common field practices into the laboratory, the world is now keenly aware of how adept we have become at tinkering with nature - which in turn has produced a variety of questions. Are genetically modified foods really safe? Will the foods ultimately make us sick, perhaps in ways we can't even imagine? Isn't it genuinely dangerous to change the nature of nature itself? Fedoroff, a leading geneticist and recognized expert in biotechnology, answers these questions, and more. Addressing the fear and mistrust that is rapidly spreading, Federoff and her co-author, science writer Nancy Brown, weave a narrative rich in history, technology, and science to dispel myths and misunderstandings. In the end, Fedoroff arues, plant biotechnology can help us to become better stewards of the earth while permitting us to feed ourselves and generations of children to come. Indeed, this new approach to agriculture holds the promise of being the most environmentally conservative way to increase our food supply.

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