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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



American Men & Women of Science, 28th edition by Gale (American Men and Women of Science, 8 volume series: Gale Cengage)

American Men & Women of Science is a biographical directory of todays leaders in the physical, biological and related sciences.

Its Advisory Board includes James E. Bobick, Former Department Head, Science and Technology Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; K. Lee Lerner, Managing Director LernerMedia and Managing Partner Lerner & Lerner, LLC; and David A. Tyckoson, Associate Dean, Henry Madden Library, California State University, Fresno.

American Men & Women of Science (AMWS), the twenty-eighth edition, was first compiled as American Men of Science by J. McKeen Cattell in 1906. In its 104 year history, AMWS has profiled the careers of more than 300,000 people in various scientific fields. Since the first edition, the number of U.S. and Canadian scientists and the fields they pursue has grown immensely. This edition alone lists 131,011 people in science, 1,000 of which are listed for the first time and approximately 40,000 updated entries. Although the 8-volume series has grown, its stated purpose is the same as when Dr. Cattell first undertook the task of producing a biographical directory of active American scientists.

The biographies of people in science constitute seven of the eight volumes of the current edition of American Men & Women of Science and provide the following information, if available and applicable: birthdate, birthplace, citizenship, name of spouse, name(s) or number of children, field of specialty, education, honorary degrees, professional experience, honors and awards, memberships, research information, addresses, facsimile numbers, and e-mail addresses for each entrant. These sections are preceded by subheads in boldface for easier reference. The eighth volume, the discipline index, organizes entrants by field of activity. This index, adapted from the National Science Foundation's Taxonomy of Degree and Employment Specialties, classifies entrants by 192 subject specialties listed in the table of contents of Volume 8. The index lists entrants by state or province within each subject specialty, allowing the user to easily locate a person in science in a given geographic area. Also included are statistical information and charts showing the distribution of AMWS entrants by age and discipline and an annotated listing of the recipients of the Nobel Prizes, the Crafoord Prize, the Charles Stark Draper Prize, the National Medal of Science, the Fields Medal, the National Medal of Technology, and the Alan T. Waterman Award since the previous edition.

While the scientific fields covered by AMWS are comprehensive, no attempt has been made to include all U.S. and Canadian scientists. Entrants are meant to be limited to those who have made significant contributions in their field. The names of new entrants were submitted for consideration at the editors' request by current entrants and by leaders of academic, government and private research programs and associations. Those included met the following criteria:

  1. Distinguished achievement, by reason of experience, training or accomplishment, including contributions to literature, coupled with continuing activity in scientific work; or
  2. Research activity of high quality in science as evidenced by publication in reputable scientific journals; or, for those whose work cannot be published due to governmental or industrial security, research activity of high quality in science as evidenced by the judgment of the individual's peers; or
  3. Attainment of a position of substantial responsibility requiring scientific training and experience.

American Men & Women of Science profiles living persons in the physical and biological fields, as well as public health scientists, engineers, mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists. The information is collected by means of direct communication whenever possible. All entrants received forms for corroboration and updating. The information submitted by entrants is included as completely as possible within the boundaries of editorial and space restrictions. Entrants known to be deceased are noted as such and a reference to the previous edition is given. Entrants who are not citizens of the United States or Canada are included if a significant portion of their work was performed in North America.

American Men & Women of Science remains without peer as a chronicle of scientific endeavor and achievement in the United States and Canada. The volume, following the purpose of the original author, records educational, personal and career data which makes "a contribution to the organization of science in America" and "make men [and women] of science acquainted with one another and with one another's work."

The volume is available in electronic formats.

The Best General Reference in Science Sees an Innovative 9th Edition

 VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, 9th Edition edited by Glenn D. Considine and Peter H. Kulik (Wiley-Interscience)

Chronicals significant scientific advancements with special attention to Life-Biosciences; Chemistry; Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Energy Sources and Power Technology; Mathematics and Engineering Sciences; Medicine, Anatomy, and Physiology; Physics; Plant Sciences; Space and Planetary Sciences

Continuing a proud tradition of excellence that dates back nearly seven decades to the First Edition, published in 1938, VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA now finds itself in the Information Age. Born before the Atomic Age and updated at intervals ever since, the book now finds itself in the Information Age, and much has changed. Indeed, so much has changed for this edition that, in answer to the first question of what is new, we might just as well ask: What isn't new?

With frequent, extensive revisions, this work has kept speed with advances in science throughout the 20th century and now the tradition continues into the 21st century with this landmark Ninth Edition. A concise, extensive, and accessible resource, VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA remains a reference work that contains comprehensive coverage of all areas of science including engineering, mathematics, and medicine.

Much of the existing material has been extensively revised, with new or completely rewritten articles in emerging technologies like genetics engineering and cloning, bioprocess engineering, astrobiology and the universe, artificial intelligence, AIDS and STDs, global warming, computer science and the Internet, and flat panel display technology. Each topic is discussed progressively, beginning with a simple definition expressed in plain terms, developing into a more detailed treatment, and augmented by additional reading suggestions containing both updated print and Internet references. Topics covered in VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA include animal science, anatomy, astronomy, atmospheric science, chemistry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, earth science, energy sources, information science, life science, materials, mechanical engineering, medicine, mining, physics, physiology, planetary science, structural engineering, and a host of other subjects.

The essence of VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA is enduring summary research, and it remains a fine, concise, comprehensive, and accessible general science work. Its intellectual scope ranges from the introductory to the highly technical in a vast and ever‑expanding array of topical coverage in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and more. As has long been the case, the editors have designed the book to be approachable by students of many ages. An important feature continued in this work, therefore, is the progressive development of the discussion of each topic, beginning with a simple definition expressed in plain terms, developing into a more detailed treatment, and augmented by often‑extensive Additional Reading suggestions.

Contemporary readers can now turn to VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA for information about how their daily lives are increasingly affected by the sophistication of today's science and the complexity of modern technology. They will be reminded that knowledge and discovery exist in a continuum, and that often, but not always, what is new depends entirely on what came before.

It is obvious to the editors we have entered a new Age of Discovery, as witnessed by the scores of new entries on topics that were in their nascent stages in 1994 with the 8th edition. The 9th Edition features entirely new or completely rewritten home articles or whole families of articles on the full array of topical coverage, including but by no means limited to: Genetics, Engineering, Human Genome Project (The), and Cloning; Bioprocess Engineering (Biotechnology); Space Shuttle, Space Stations, Spacecraft Missions, Satellites (Communications and Navigation), Cosmology, X‑ray Astronomy (family of articles), Astrobiology and The Universe; Artificial Intelligence (family of articles); Medicine, Diseases, Vaccines, Vision (family of articles), AIDS, and STDs; Climate, Global Warming, and Acid Rain; Gerontology and Biochemical Theories of Aging; Computer Sciences and The Internet; and Flat Panel Display Technology (family of articles).

Next the suggested readings at the end of articles now contain both updated print and Internet references. One has only to engage a typical search engine, on any server, on a large topic, say Artificial Intelligence, to realize the value of these sources. Instead of beginning with "hits" that number in the thousands, VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA readers will have the luxury of having much of the culling already done for them, as they will be offered good "first places" to go for more information. These thousands of references throughout the Ninth Edition will, one hopes, provide a bridge to further and deeper knowledge on literally scores of topics.

New to this edition, editors have added detailed Time Lines and Glossaries to some of the large home articles (Bioprocess Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Vision and the Eye, Optical Fiber Systems, The Internet and many others) to offer "at a glance" information and historical perspective. Finally, the editors have added brief biographies of scores of scientists whose work is alluded to in the text of the book. A history of their times is not complete without mention of their works. Science is history.

A statistical summary of the Ninth Edition would include (1) more than 8,000 entries; (2) more than 9,000 cross­references for convenient retrieval of information; (3) an alphabetical index with more than 19,500 lines; and (4) 4,378 diagrams, graphs and photographs, and in excess of 550 tables. The interior references in the book, where one article refers to another article that offers augmented or corollary coverage, and the visual aids, as well as the index, have been entirely overhauled; this will result in much greater ease in "navigating" the book.

It is the best place to begin with encompassing the vast innovations of the science at the beginning of the 21st century. VAN NOSTRAND'S SCIENTIFIC ENCYCLOPEDIA is the best reference for initial consultation and orientation.

ANIMAL LIFE: Amphibians, Annelida, Arthropods, Birds, Coelenterates, Echinoderms, Fishes, Insects, Mammals, Mesozoa, Mollusks, Paleontology, Protozoa, Reptiles, Rotifers, Zoology
BIOSCIENCES: Amino Acids, Bacteriology, Biochemistry, Biology, Biophysics, Cytology, Enzymes, Fermentation, Genetics, Hormones, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Proteins, Recombinant DNA, Viruses, Vitamins
CHEMISTRY: Acids and Bases, Catalysts, Chemical Elements, Colloid Systems, Corrosion, Crystals, Electrochemistry, Free Radicals, Inorganic Chemistry, Ions, Macromolecular Science, Organic Chemistry, Oxidation‑Reduction, Photochemistry, Physical Chemistry, Solutions and Saltes
EARTH AND ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES: Climatology, Ecology, Geochemistry, Geodynamics, Geology, Geophysics, Hydrology, Meteorology, Oceanography, Tectonics, Seismology, Volcanology
ENERGY SOURCES AND POWER TECHNOLOGY: Batteries, Biomass and Wastes, Coal, Combustion, Electric Power, Geothermal Energy, Hydroelectric Power, Natural Gas, Nuclear Energy, Ocean Energy, Resources, Petroleum, Solar Energy, Steam Generation, Tidal Energy, Turbines, Wind Power
MATHEMATICS AND INFORMATION SCIENCES: Automatic Control, Communications, Computing Data Processing, Measurements, Navigation and Guidance, Statistics, Units and Standards
MATERIALS AND ENGINEERING SCIENCES: Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Glass and Ceramics, Laser Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy, Mining, Microelectronics, Plastics and Fibers, Process Engineering, Structural Engineering, Transportation
MEDICINE, ANATOMY, AND PHYSIOLOGY: Brain and Nervous System, Cancer and Oncology, Cardiovascular System, Chemotherapy, Dermatology, Diagnostics, Digestive System, Endocrine System, Genetic Disorders, Gerontology, Hematology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Kidney and Urinary Tract, Mental Illness, Muscular System, Ophthalmology, Otorhinolaryngology/Dental, Parasitology, Pharmacology, Reproductive System, Respiratory System, Rheumatology, Skeletal System
PHYSICS: Atoms and Molecules, Electricity, Electronics, Fluid State, Gravitation. Magnetism. Mechanics. Motion. Optics, Radiation, Solid State, Sound, Subatomic Particles, Surfaces, Theoretical Physics, Waves
PLANT SCIENCES: Agriculture, Algae, Botany, Diseases and Pests, Fruits, Fungi, Growth Modifiers, Nutritional Values, Plant Breeding, Seeds and Germ Plasm, Trees, Yeasts and Molds 
SPACE AND PLANETARY SCIENCES: Astrochemistry, Astrodynamics, Astronautics, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Probes and Satellites, Solar Systems

  The Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia by Douglas M. Considine and Glenn D. Considine (8th edition, 1994: Wiley-Interscience) (Hardcover edition 2 volumes)(CD-ROM edition)

For a generation of new readers...the classic concise scientific encyclopedia for over half a century--is now available on CD-ROM, including new and updated material. Over 7,000 articles, contributed by more than 700 distinguished experts, convey the theories, issues, and breakthroughs in every major scientific discipline--including physics, astronomy, chemistry, life science, engineering, medicine, and environmental science. Wiley presents this wealth of information in a CD-ROM format that makes searching any scientific topic faster and easier. Taking advantage of the ease of point-and-click access, users can effortlessly navigate this vital reference for information across the science spectrum.

The long-awaited revision of this internationally acclaimed resource offers thorough yet concise coverage of every major discipline of science and technology--from animal life to the biosciences, from earth and planetary sciences to medicine, and from mathematics to information science and a broad spectrum of engineering. Includes 60% updated material, with 300+ pages of new articles. 3,000 illustrations; 500 tables, charts and diagrams.

This encyclopedia has a good history of revision. A comparison with the previous edition shows that about 200 new pages have been added to the text. There are approximately 7,300 entries, an increase of several hundred. Throughout the text are many appropriately placed black-and-white photographs, line drawings, tables, charts, and diagrams. In the past this work has been criticized for the quality of its illustrations. There are several instances in this new edition of attempts to improve the contrast and size of photographs.

The index now appears at the end of each volume so the volumes can be used independently. A sampling determined that there are approximately 12,600 index entries and more than 5,300 cross-references in the text. This dual system of cross-references and indexing is barely adequate.

The only comparable work is the McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology. It has 7,700 alphabetically arranged entries, 1,700 illustrations, and an outstanding index of 30,000 citations. More than 3,000 authors contributed to the work, and all articles are signed. There is a bibliography of databases and appendixes of conversion units, symbols and abbreviations, and a classification of living organisms. In addition, there is a list of important scientists. McGraw-Hill is clearly superior in illustration quality and indexing. In contrast, Van Nostrand's has almost twice the number of pages and longer entries than McGraw-Hill.

Advancements in science and engineering have occurred at a surprisingly rapid pace since the release of the seventh edition of this encyclopedia. Large portions of the reference have required comprehensive rewriting and new illustrations. Scores of new topics have been included to create this thoroughly updated eighth edition.

The appearance of this new edition in 1994 marks the continuation of a tradition commenced well over a half-century ago. In 1938 Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia, First Edition, was published and welcomed by educators worldwide at a time when what we know today as modern science was just getting underway. The early encyclopedia was well received by students and educators alike during a critical time span when science became established as a major factor in shaping the progress and economy of individual nations and at the global level.

A vital need existed for a permanent science reference that could be updated periodically and made conveniently available to audiences that numbered in the millions. The pioneering VNSE  met these criteria and continues today as a reliable technical information source for making private and public decisions that present a backdrop of technical alternatives.

As information processing capabilities expand, the editors’ roles become more important and more difficult. With expanding masses of raw information, the tasks of sorting and weighing the relative importance of new data require increasing editorial judgment and skill. The editors not only have the task of identifying new information and of eliminating obsolete data, but even more importantly, they have the chore of providing the keys to the meaning of new data. Great care must be exercised by the editors to select and include numerous sources of additional reading on all important topics. References must be selected for their authenticity, their own particular vantage points, and notably for new content that augments and not simply repeats the content of the encyclopedia entry per se.


Six major categories of scientific endeavor are addressed by the VNSE, Eighth Edition. In turn, each of these categories is divided into more specialized fields. It is clearly evident, of course, that science is a highly interdisciplinary field of knowledge, a fact that tends to blur rigid definitions. The six basic categories may be subdivided as follows:

Earth and Space Sciences.  Astrodynamics, Astronautics, Astronomy, Cosmology, Geodesy, Geology, Geophysics, Hydrology, Meteorology, Oceanography, Seismology, Spacecraft

Life Sciences.  Amphibians, Anatomy, Bacteriology, Biosciences, Birds, Diseases, Ecology, Fishes, Gene Sciences, Insects, Mammals, Other Life, Paleontology, Physiology, Plants, Reptiles

Energy and Environmental Sciences.  Chemical Fuels, Environment, Fossil Fuels, Geothermal Energy, Hydropower, Nuclear Power, Solar Energy, Tidal Energy

Materials Sciences.  Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy, Mining, Solid State, Structural Engineering, Synthetics and Polymers, Composites

Physics and Chemistry.  Acoustics, Atoms/Molecules, Crystals, Electricity, Electronics, Fluids, Inorganics, Lasers, Magnetism, Mechanics, Optics, Organics, Particle Physics, Radiation, Thermodynamics, Thin Films

Mathematics and Information Sciences.  Communications, Computers, Statistics, Standards

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