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Email: pne at umich dot edu
School of Information
3439 North Quad
University of Michigan
105 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285
Office: 734.764.2617
Fax: 206.337.1523

Prizes and Honors

Reviews

  • "Although it's a term reviewers have made into a cliché, I think A Vast Machine is nothing less than a tour de force. It is the most complete and balanced description we have of two sciences whose results and recommendations will, in the years ahead, be ever more intertwined with the decisions of political leaders and the fate of the human species." — Noel Castree, American Scientist [full review]
  • "A Vast Machine does an especially good job at recounting details of the historical evolution of [climate] models, without drowning the reader in jargon and, amazingly, without using any mathematics at all. Edwards'... account will be readily accessible to that legendary target, the general reader. ...[T]he author’s impressive scholarship and command of his material have produced a truly magisterial account." — Richard C.J. Somerville, Science [full review]
  • "The deepest insight Edwards provides comes from treating the production of knowledge about Earth’s climate as a technological system... Edwards’s masterful analysis... not only provides the best overview to date on how climate knowledge was produced, but has significantly expanded our historical understanding of how technological systems work in our modern global landscape." — Ronald Doel, The American Historical Review [full review]
  • "A thorough and dispassionate analysis by a historian of science and technology, Paul Edwards' book is well timed. Although written before the University of East Anglia e-mail leak, it anticipates many of the issues raised by the 'climategate' affair. [...] A Vast Machine puts the whole affair into historical context and should be compulsory reading for anyone who now feels empowered to pontificate on how climate science should be done." — Myles Allen, Nature [full review]
  • "Edwards's book is a game-changer. ...Anyone who reads this book and takes its arguments seriously will immediately see that that the past century of work on computer models, climate data, and global warming... cannot be understood as an application of 'more basic' sciences." — Naomi Oreskes, Metascience [full review]
  • "In climate science as in quantum mechanics, the observer is part of the system being observed. We can no more take ourselves out of the picture when gathering data and developing models of the Earth's climate than we can eliminate the detector from a double-slit experiment. The fact that knowledge cannot exist on its own – we are all part of our own knowledge – means that sometimes, knowing how we know the things we know is as important as the knowledge itself. Such is the deeper message of Paul N. Edwards' new book A Vast Machine." — Rasmus Benestad, Physics World [full review]
  • "Why should scholars of science and public policy read this fascinating journey through an information infrastructure evolution...? ...First, to see in detail how different sciences and the unfolding of policies and diverse social activities affect the evolution of a large system which is beyond the control of any single actor. ...The second reason is that an artificial construct like an infrastructure is the only possible bedrock for natural sciences’ claims of climate change." — Gianluca Miscione, Science and Public Policy [full review]

Web sightings

More reviews

  • "...supremely informative and insightful... never hard to read, weaving historical detail and epistemological abstraction into a coherent narrative." "A Best Book." — Danny Yee [full review]
  • Thomas Haigh, Communications of the ACM [full review]
  • Eric Conway, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences [full review]
  • Michael Lesk, Scientific Programming [full review]
  • Ron Stouffer, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society [full review]
  • Chad Monfreda, Review of Policy Research [full review]
  • Robert S. Chen, Environmental Health Perspectives [full review]
  • Roger Eardley-Pryor, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing [full review]
  • Thomas Weber, Frankfurter Allgemeine [full review]
  • Dominic Lenton, IEEE Engineering & Technology [full review]
  • Gabriel Henderson, Journal of the History of Biology [full review]
  • Romain Felli, Le Temps [full review]
  • P. Geoffrey Allen, International Journal of Forecasting [full review]
  • Gabriele Gramelsberger, Minerva [full review]