Neptune's Laboratory: Fantasy, Fear, and Science at Sea

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Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 1.0 X 9.4 inches | 1.25 pounds
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About the Author

Antony Adler is Research Associate in the History Department at Carleton College. His work centers on the history of marine science and technology and ocean exploration. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Washington and has been a postdoctoral instructor at the University of Washington and a postdoctoral fellow with the Program on Science, Technology & Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


In his entertaining, readable history of marine science, [Adler] shows how humanity's fundamental ignorance about the sea has often fed fantastical ideas of it as savior, battlefield, playground, storehouse, angry beast or hapless victim...Left me with a sense of urgency about the ocean's perilous state...Enlightening.--Boris Worm"Nature" (10/15/2019)
The best narrative of oceanography's history that I have ever read, Neptune's Laboratory elucidates humanity's relationship with the ocean. Compelling, imaginative, and exceptionally well researched, this book will make a difference in the world by offering insight into the fears and fantasies that forged our understandings of the ocean in the past and how, against mounting environmental challenges, they continue to shape our courses of action.--Helen Rozwadowski, author of Vast Expanses: A History of the Oceans
Neptune's Laboratory is a major accomplishment. Adler contributes penetrating new insights into marine research and technology from the last two centuries, and examines how that scholarship has shaped scientists' hopes and fears for the future. The result is a sophisticated, evocative, and highly original approach to subject matter that challenges easy analysis.--Eric Mills, author of The Fluid Envelope of Our Planet: How the Study of Ocean Currents Became a Science
This book presents a remarkable account of the imagined futures that scientists, politicians, explorers, and mariners built around marine environments over two centuries. Taking us through the history of marine sciences from the nineteenth century to the present, Adler argues for a picture of oceanography that takes seriously practice, context, and a profound human engagement with the oceans. Neptune's Laboratory will appeal to anyone interested in the history of the future.--Simon Werrett, author of Thrifty Science: Making the Most of Materials in the History of Experiment
An engaging new book about the history of humanity's relationship with, and improving understanding of, the ocean...Neptune's Laboratory is not only about the history of modern marine science but also about how we perceive the ocean--and how that perception has changed over time.--David Shiffman"Issues in Science and Technology" (01/29/2020)