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  Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain and How it Changedthe World by Carl Zimmer Free Press: 2004.384 pp.$26 To be published in the UK by Heinemann in April,£17.99  Rina Knoeff The provocative title ofthis book alone, Soul Made Flesh  ,made me want to readit.After all,we live in a time where sci-entists are doing their best to explain allmental phenomena in terms ofmatter.Advanced medical technology,such asthe magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)scan,makes the processes ofthe brain visible and gives us the feeling that we are gaining an insight into the nature ofthemind and its functions.Even more,we arerelieved when psychological disorders canbe explained in terms ofa malfunctioningbrain.It enables us to ascribe our depres-sions and mania to something alien that isnot essentially part ofour true selves.Carl Zimmer’s fascinating book showsthat what we think ofas recent developmentsbegan in the seventeenth century,when theEnglish anatomist Thomas Willis began dissecting brains in Beam Hall at Oxford.At the beginning ofthe seventeenth century,the brain was seen as a ‘bowl ofcurds’,func-tioning as a kind ofrefrigerator to cool theheat ofthe blood.By the end ofthe century,thanks to Willis,the brain was studied as theseat ofemotions,perception and memory.Surprisingly enough,Willis is largely unknown.Some might remember him as thediscoverer ofthe so-called ‘circle ofWillis’,a ring ofblood vessels at the base ofthe brain,but it is not widely known that his descrip-tions ofthe brain and nerves are at the root ofmodern neurology.According to Zimmer,this is because John Locke’s ideas eclipsedthose ofWillis.Locke argued that we cannotknow much about the inner working ofthemind,so we should restrict ourselves to theideas themselves and how they are confirmedby everyday experience.Willis,on the otherhand,showed that the anatomy and chem-istry ofthe brain could reveal the working ofthe mind — an idea that was dangerous atthe time because it smacked ofatheism.Yet,Willis managed to keep out oftheo-logical trouble by strictly separating theimmortal,rational soul from its bodily counterpart,the sensitive soul.The latter,Willis argued,consists oftiny particles thatfunction as messengers,conveying sense and motion from the brain via the nerves tothe rest ofthe body,and vice versa.Illness is caused by miscommunication and damageto the brain.Most notably,Willis was able to explain psychological illnesses and dis-abilities resulting from brain damage.Zimmer’s book is fascinating,not leastbecause it provides a vivid picture oftheworld ofwhich Willis was a part.Not only does he describe the smells ofseventeenth-century Oxford in a way that transports youright there,but he also convincingly explainsWillis’s work in its political and religiouscontexts.We meet Oliver Cromwell and hispuritan followers as well as King Charles IIand his curiosity for the new experimentalnatural philosophy.Thomas Hobbes andLady Anne Conway also figure in the story.Last,but not least,the reader is made part of the audience watching the often outrageousand crazy experiments ofthe so-calledOxford experimental circle — a group of natural philosophers busy with topics asdiverse as submarines,blood transfusions,spacecraft and vacuum pumps.Historians ofscience have written exten-sively about seventeenth-century Englishnatural philosophy.Yet making sense ofthediverse experiments ofthe Royal Society andits forerunners remains a tricky enterprise.Historians usually focus on one or twophilosophers,a series ofexperiments or aparticular philosophical movement.Zim-mer’s book is remarkable in that it offers amultifaceted picture ofthe world and work ofWillis.In so doing he has managed to makesense ofWillis’s ideas in turbulent times of revolution,plague and fire.In the final chapter,Zimmer moves fromthe dissection room in seventeenth-century  books and arts NATURE | VOL 427 | 12 FEBRUARY 2004 | 585 Oxford to a present-day MRI investigation at Princeton University.He introduces us to the philosopher Joshua Green,who isinterrogating someone in the machine whilehe looks at depictions ofthe brain on hiscomputer screen.The aim ofhis research isto establish a better understanding ofthenature ofmoral judgements.The soulmade flesh — it is an eerie reality of modern neurological and philosophicalresearch.To my taste,Zimmer does notsufficiently distinguish Willis’s conceptofsoul from its twentieth-century counterpart.For Willis,the concept of soul referred to the processes oflife atlarge,whereas nowadays we associate thesoul with mental functions.In the seventeenth century,people triedto cure diseases ofthe mind by manipulatingthe brain and nervous system.It is this conti-nuity ofconcern that makes Zimmer’s book such a fascinating read.  ■ Rina Knoeffis in the Faculty ofArts and Culture,Maastricht University,6200 MD Maastricht,the Netherlands. Soul searching Systematic surveyof the spheres Physics of the Solar System:Dynamics and Evolution, SpacePhysics, and Spacetime Structure by Bruno Bertotti,Paolo Farrinella &David Vokrouhlicky´ Kluwer: 2003.701 pp.$229,£128, 󲂬  209  Doug Hamilton Progress in our understanding ofthe SolarSystem has been extremely rapid over thepast decade.It has been fuelled by the dis-coveries ofextrasolar planets,the Kuiperbelt and myriad distant planetary satellites,by spacecraft fly-bys ofasteroids andcomets,by the in situ  exploration ofMars,and by the advent offast computers andefficient numerical algorithms.To the greatbenefit ofstudents and practitioners alike,the appearance ofadvanced textbooks hasbeen almost as rapid.The most recent offer-ing is Physics ofthe Solar System ,a well-written and comprehensive overview ofthediverse bodies that surround the Sun and of the intricate interplay between them. Physics ofthe Solar System is much broaderin scope than two other recent advancedtextbooks, Solar System Dynamics  by CarlMurray and Stanley Dermott (CambridgeUniversity Press,2000) and Alessandro  What have advances in neuroscience told us about the mind? Christopher Wren’s drawing ofthe brain showsblood vessels discovered by Thomas Willis. SPL  ©    200 4 Nature PublishingGroup  Morbidelli’s Modern Celestial Mechanics  (Taylor & Francis,2002).These titles focusedprimarily on orbital dynamics,a topic thataccounts for only about halfof  Physics ofthe Solar System ,which manages to cover it clearly and succinctly by outlining many deriva-tions rather than providing full details.Preceding the orbital dynamics is anopening section that emphasizes the physicalstates ofplanetary bodies,including theirrotation,gravitational fields,tidal distor-tions and heat budgets,and another thatfocuses on magnetospheres and atmos-pheres.The volume concludes with severalchapters devoted to issues relevant for artifi-cial satellites.The book is more focused anddeeper than Planetary Sciences  (CambridgeUniversity Press,2001) by Imke de Pater andJack Lissauer,but is less broad,containing no chemistry and only a limited discussionofgeological topics. Physics ofthe Solar System is tightly writ-ten,fun to read and should appeal to expertsin the field and new graduate students alike.Within its covers abound a wealth ofinter-esting and little-known nuggets ofplanetary lore that,although available in the scientificliterature,have not appeared in an accessibletext before.For instance,it is well known thatplanets move along elliptical paths aroundthe Sun and that these orbits precess (orrotate) slowly in space under the influence ofweak gravitational perturbations from theother planets.What is less widely known isthat these elliptical orbits do not always precess independently;those ofJupiter andUranus,for example,oscillate about oneanother,while precessing at a common rate.The book has a nice introduction to planetary atmospheres that starts from theconcept ofhydrostatic equilibrium.Theauthors show that an atmosphere ofcon-stant temperature continually loses gas molecules to space,and they make an ana-logy to the solar wind.Magnetic fields aretreated in greater depth than is usual for aplanetary textbook,but without the over-whelming detail ofa text on plasma physics.The authors keep their focus on the SolarSystem by pointing out,for instance,that the energy source that powers Earth’s magnetic dynamo is thought to arise fromheat released as Earth’s core solidifies.Thelack ofongoing core solidification in Venus,rather than the slow rotation ofour sisterplanet,is the preferred explanation for itslack ofan active dynamo.The authors provide a clear and insightfuldiscussion ofplanetary gravitational fields.They describe how the dipole terms ofanexpansion ofa gravitational field vanish withthe choice ofthe centre ofmass as the srcin,and show that two ofthe five quadrupoleterms disappear when the z  -axis is chosen topoint along the spin axis.They show thatalthough geostationary satellites drift slightly relative to a fixed point on Earth’s equator,there are two stable longitudes where thisdrift vanishes,thanks to a 1:1 resonance withthe geopotential.These longitudes are definedbythe minimum equatorial diameter of Earth,which pierces our planet near the Maldives and the Galapagos — true islandsofstability in Earth’s chaotic seas.There is also a beautiful presentation of orbital-perturbation theory.It begins with a derivation ofthe perturbation equations ofcelestial mechanics based on changes toenergy and angular momentum.Subsequentdiscussion applies the equations to theexamples ofatmospheric drag and Earth’squadrupole field.I followthe same schemewhen teaching my undergraduate orbital-dynamics class.Each chapter comes with a generous set of useful and challenging problems,making thetext appropriate for a graduate-level courseon the Solar System.One minor quibble isthat the chapter on the space-time structureofthe Solar System,which is a briefintroduc-tion to the general theory ofrelativity,is lesswell linked to the book’s other topics thanone expects from the book’s subtitle.Even so,I strongly recommend making space on yourshelfand time in your schedule for this lively,interesting and authoritative volume.  ■ Doug Hamilton is in the Department of Astronomy,University ofMaryland,College Park,Maryland 20742-2421,USA. books and arts 586 NATURE | VOL 427 | 12 FEBRUARY 2004 | Science and the city  Walks around the Scientific Worldof Barcelona by Xavier Duran & Merce Piqueras Ajuntament de Barcelona: 2003.362 pp. 󲂬  Jacqueline Reynolds and Charles Tanford The Spanish city ofBarcelona dates back to the third century BC .It expanded greatly under Roman occupation from 27 BC to AD 14 but remained largely unaffected by the Moorish invasion that left its mark onso much ofthe southern Iberian peninsula.Barcelona’s strategic location on theMediterranean trade routes helped it todevelop into an important industrial andcommercial centre.Traditional guide booksemphasize the city’s beautiful architecture,much ofit designed by Antoni Gaudí,along with the wealth ofmuseums,theartistic tradition,the famous football teamand the hosting ofthe 1992 OlympicGames.Knowledgeable travellers will prob-ably associate the painters Pablo Picassoand Salvador Dalí with the city,but few would make any connection with science, Inspiring:Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished church,the Sagrada Familia,dominates the Barcelona skyline. CELESTIALPANORAMAS/ALAMY  ©    200 4 Nature PublishingGroup
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