The Janus Point

Julian Barbour

In a universe filled by chaos and disorder, one physicist makes the radical argument that the growth of order drives the passage of time -- and shapes the destiny of the universe.
 
Time is among the universe's greatest mysteries. Why, when most laws of physics allow for it to flow forward and backward, does it only go forward? Physicists have long appealed to the second law of thermodynamics, held to predict the increase of disorder in the universe, to explain this. In The Janus Point, physicist Julian Barbour argues that the second law has been misapplied and that the growth of order determines how we experience time. In his view, the big bang becomes the "Janus point," a moment of minimal order from which time could flow, and order increase, in two directions. The Janus Point has remarkable implications: while most physicists predict that the universe will become mired in disorder, Barbour sees the possibility that order -- the stuff of life -- can grow without bound.
 
A major new work of physics, The Janus Point will transform our understanding of the nature of existence.

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Smithsonian Associates

Part of the Smithsonian Associates Streaming series

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The Disordered Cosmos

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos -- and a call for a more just practice of science.
 
In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter -- all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.
 
One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly non-traditional, and grounded in Black feminist traditions.
 
Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to experience and understand the wonders of the universe.

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Free Virtual Event

Café Culture North East

in conversation w/ Adam Ferner

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The Bomber Mafia

Malcolm Gladwell

An exploration of how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war

In The Bomber Mafia, Malcolm Gladwell weaves together the stories of a Dutch genius and his homemade computer, a band of brothers in central Alabama, a British psychopath, and pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard to examine one of the greatest moral challenges in modern American history.

Most military thinkers in the years leading up to World War II saw the airplane as an afterthought. But a small band of idealistic strategists, the “Bomber Mafia,” asked: What if precision bombing could cripple the enemy and make war far less lethal?

In contrast, the bombing of Tokyo on the deadliest night of the war was the brainchild of General Curtis LeMay, whose brutal pragmatism and scorched-earth tactics in Japan cost thousands of civilian lives, but may have spared even more by averting a planned US invasion. In The Bomber Mafia, Gladwell asks, “Was it worth it?”

Things might have gone differently had LeMay’s predecessor, General Haywood Hansell, remained in charge. Hansell believed in precision bombing, but when he and Curtis LeMay squared off for a leadership handover in the jungles of Guam, LeMay emerged victorious, leading to the darkest night of World War II. The Bomber Mafia is a riveting tale of persistence, innovation, and the incalculable wages of war.

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Virtual conversation with Walter Isaacson

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The Temple Emanu-el Streicker Center

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With CBC’s Ismaila Alfa

Rotman School of Management

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Virtual conversation with CEO Heather Reisman

Indigo Author of the Month event

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The Unfit Heiress

Audrey Clare Farley

For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, a page-turning drama of fortunes, eugenics and women's reproductive rights framed by the sordid court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother.

At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in favor of passion and livelihood outside the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared certain "over-sexed" women could destroy civilization if allowed to reproduce and pass on their defects. Set against this backdrop, The Unfit Heiress chronicles the fight for inheritance, both genetic and monetary, between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her mother Maryon.

In 1934, aided by a California eugenics law, the socialite Maryon Cooper Hewitt had her "promiscuous" daughter declared feebleminded and sterilized without her knowledge. She did this to deprive Ann of millions of dollars from her father's estate, which contained a child-bearing stipulation. When a sensational court case ensued, the American public was captivated. So were eugenicists, who saw an opportunity to restrict reproductive rights in America for decades to come.

This riveting story unfolds through the brilliant research of Audrey Clare Farley, who captures the interior lives of these women on the pages and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be "unfit" for motherhood? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive the women who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?

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Midtown Scholar

Audrey Clare Farley in conversation with Susannah Cahalan

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Enoch Pratt Free Library

Audrey Clare Farley in conversation with Carrie Callaghan

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Press Reset

Jason Schreier

From the bestselling author of Blood, Sweat, and Pixels comes the next definitive, behind-the-scenes account of the video game industry: how some of the past decade's most renowned studios fell apart—and the stories, both triumphant and tragic, of what happened next.

Jason Schreier's groundbreaking reporting has earned him a place among the preeminent investigative journalists covering the world of video games. In his eagerly anticipated, deeply researched new book, Schreier trains his investigative eye on the volatility of the video game industry and the resilience of the people who work in it.

The business of videogames is both a prestige industry and an opaque one. Based on dozens of first-hand interviews that cover the development of landmark games—Bioshock Infinite, Epic Mickey, Dead Space, and more—on to the shocking closures of the studios that made them, Press Reset tells the stories of how real people are affected by game studio shutdowns, and how they recover, move on, or escape the industry entirely.

Schreier's insider interviews cover hostile takeovers, abusive bosses, corporate drama, bounced checks, and that one time the Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling decided he was going to lead a game studio that would take out World of Warcraft. Along the way, he asks pressing questions about why, when the video game industry is more successful than ever, it's become so hard to make a stable living making video games—and whether the business of making games can change before it's too late.

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The Strand (virtual event)

Jaso Schreier presents: PRESS RESET

Jason Schreier in conversation is Editor-in-Chief of IGN Tina Amini.

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Two Beats Ahead

Panos A. Panay

Discover what the musical mind has to teach us about innovation in this fascinating book, featuring interviews with Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, T Bone Burnett, Gloria Estefan, Imogen Heap, and many more. 
 
Musicians may just hold the keys to innovation in business. They don’t think like we do, and in the creative process, they don’t act like we do. It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most respected creators are also entrepreneurs.
 
In Two Beats Ahead, Panos A. Panay, senior vice president for strategy at Berklee College of Music, and R. Michael Hendrix, global design director at IDEO, interview some of the nation’s top musicians and business leaders about how they approach innovation differently. They speak with hit maker Desmond Child about the importance of demoing and with industry legend Jimmy Iovine about listening and knowing your audience. Readers will learn the secrets of collaboration from Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams, about “daring to suck” from Justin Timberlake, about the power of reinvention from Gloria Estefan, and the importance of experimentation from Imogen Heap and Radiohead. And they’ll learn the value of finding and producing talent with T Bone Burnett and Hank Shocklee, cofounder of Public Enemy.
 
A window into these brilliant mindsets, this book equips any entrepreneur or innovative thinker with tools they can put into practice to thrive in an evolving world.

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Free Virtual Event

IVY

Moderated by IVY CEO and YPO Metro NY Chapter Chair Beri Meric

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American Institute of Graphic Arts & Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston)

In conversation with Christoph Niemann

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Innovation Leader

Hosted by Innovation Leader CEO Scott Kirsner and Multimedia Editor Kaitlin Milliken

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Rotman School of Management

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This Is the Fire

Don Lemon

In this ‘vital book for these times’ (Kirkus Reviews), Don Lemon brings his vast audience and experience as a reporter and a Black man to today’s most urgent question: How can we end racism in America in our lifetimes?

The host of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is more popular than ever. As America’s only Black prime-time anchor, Lemon and his daily monologues on racism and antiracism, on the failures of the Trump administration and of so many of our leaders, and on America’s systemic flaws speak for his millions of fans. Now, in an urgent, deeply personal, riveting plea, he shows us all how deep our problems lie, and what we can do to begin to fix them.

Beginning with a letter to one of his Black nephews, he proceeds with reporting and reflections on his slave ancestors, his upbringing in the shadows of segregation, and his adult confrontations with politicians, activists, and scholars. In doing so, Lemon offers a searing and poetic ultimatum to America. He visits the slave port where a direct ancestor was shackled and shipped to America. He recalls a slave uprising in Louisiana, just a few miles from his birthplace. And he takes us to the heart of the 2020 protests in New York City. As he writes to his young nephew: We must resist racism every single day. We must resist it with love.

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Online

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

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Bird Uncaged

Marlon Peterson

From a leading prison abolitionist, a moving memoir about coming of age in Brooklyn and surviving incarceration—and a call to break free from all the cages that confine us.
 
Marlon Peterson grew up in 1980s Crown Heights, raised by Trinidadian immigrants. Amid the routine violence that shaped his neighborhood, Marlon became a high-achieving and devout child, the specter of the American dream opening up before him. But in the aftermath of immense trauma, he participated in a robbery that resulted in two murders. At nineteen, Peterson was charged and later convicted. He served ten long years in prison. While incarcerated, Peterson immersed himself in anti-violence activism, education, and prison abolition work.
 
In Bird Uncaged, Peterson challenges the typical “redemption” narrative and our assumptions about justice. With vulnerability and insight, he uncovers the many cages—from the daily violence and trauma of poverty, to policing, to enforced masculinity, and the brutality of incarceration—created and maintained by American society.

Bird Uncaged is a twenty-first-century abolitionist memoir, and a powerful debut that demands a shift from punishment to healing, an end to prisons, and a new vision of justice.

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Virtual Event

Commonwealth Club of California

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Free Virtual Event

Brooklyn Museum

w/ Ilyasah Shabazz

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Overheated

Kate Aronoff

This damning account of the forces that have hijacked progress on climate change shares a bold vision of what it will take, politically and economically, to face the existential threat of global warming head-on.

It has become impossible to deny that the planet is warming, and that governments must act. But a new denialism is taking root in the halls of power, shaped by decades of neoliberal policies and centuries of anti-democratic thinking. Since the 1980s, Democrats and Republicans have each granted enormous concessions to industries hell bent on maintaining business as usual. What’s worse, policymakers have given oil and gas executives a seat at the table designing policies that should euthanize their business model.

This approach, journalist Kate Aronoff makes clear, will only drive the planet further into emergency. Drawing on years of reporting, Aronoff lays out an alternative vision, detailing how democratic majorities can curb polluters’ power; create millions of well-paid, union jobs; enact climate reparations; and transform the economy into a more leisurely and sustainable one. Our future will require a radical reimagining of politics—with the world at stake.

 

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Free Virtual Event

Politics & Prose

in conversation with JANE FONDA

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Hawking Hawking

Charles Seife

Stephen Hawking was widely recognized as the world's best physicist and even the most brilliant man alive–but what if his true talent was self-promotion?

 

When Stephen Hawking died, he was widely recognized as the world's best physicist and even its smartest person.

 

He was neither.

 

In Hawking Hawking, science journalist Charles Seife explores how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity's greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn't rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes.

 

A brilliant exposé and powerful biography, Hawking Hawking uncovers the authentic Hawking buried underneath the fake. It is the story of a man whose brilliance in physics was matched by his genius for building his own myth.

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Crowdcast

Vroman's Bookstore Book Talk

Vroman's Bookstore Live hosts Charles Seife.

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