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Underbug : an obsessive tale of termites and technology

Author: Lisa Margonelli; Thomas J Shahan
Publisher: New York : Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018. ©2018
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
"Are we more like termites than we ever imagined? In Underbug, the award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli introduces us to the enigmatic creatures that collectively outweigh human beings ten to one and consume $40 billion worth of valuable stuff annually. Over the course of a decade-long obsession with one of nature's most influential but least understood bugs, Margonelli pokes around termite mounds and high-tech  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Nonfiction
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Lisa Margonelli; Thomas J Shahan
ISBN: 9780374282073 0374282072 9780374538460 0374538468
OCLC Number: 1004919593
Description: 303 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Part I --
A termite safari --
Part II --
Riddles in the dirt --
An inconvenient insect --
Into the mound --
Complexity is the essence --
Because they are so sweet --
A black box with six legs --
Waiting for Carnot --
Part III --
The second termite safari --
Life in the firehose --
Jazz in the metagenome --
Burning very slowly --
Restless streams --
Part IV --
Crossing the abstraction barrier --
Influential individuals --
The robot apocalypse --
Part V --
Darwin's termites --
The soul of the soil --
The math of fairy circles --
The soul of the cell --
Empathy and the drone --
White ants --
Part VI --
Them and us.
Other Titles: Obsessive tale of termites and technology
Under bug
Responsibility: Lisa Margonelli ; illustrations by Thomas Shahan.

Abstract:

"Are we more like termites than we ever imagined? In Underbug, the award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli introduces us to the enigmatic creatures that collectively outweigh human beings ten to one and consume $40 billion worth of valuable stuff annually. Over the course of a decade-long obsession with one of nature's most influential but least understood bugs, Margonelli pokes around termite mounds and high-tech research facilities, closely watching biologists, roboticists, and geneticists. What begins as a natural history of the termite becomes a personal exploration of the unnatural future we're building, with darker observations on power, technology, historical trauma, and the limits of human cognition. Her globe-trotting journey veers into uncharted territory, from evolutionary theory to Edwardian science literature to the military-industrial complex. Whether in Namibia or Cambridge, Arizona or Australia, Margonelli turns up astounding facts and raises provocative questions. Is a termite an individual or a unit of a superorganism? Can we harness the termite's properties to change the world? If we build termite-like swarming robots, will they inevitably destroy us? Is it possible to think without having a mind? Underbug burrows into these questions and many others--unearthing disquieting answers about the world's most underrated insect and what it means to be human."--Dust jacket.

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