Books in brief

    Dog, Inc.: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man's Best Friend

    Avery 320 pp. $26 (2010)

    Pet cloning is big business. Investigative reporter John Woestendiek looks behind the scenes at the emerging industry of commercial dog cloning. It started in 2008 with a pitbull called Booger, whose American owner loved him so much she paid US$50,000 to a South Korean firm to produce a litter of his identical offspring. Woestendiek suggests that the ethics of dog cloning is driven as much by our love of man's best friend as by the underlying science. He asks whether our obsession with animals makes us more likely to transgress ethical boundaries.

    Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them

    The New Press 336 pp. $27.95 (2010)

    Coins, jewellery, a padlock, a toy goat — people ingest the strangest things. Focusing on items rescued from patients' stomachs, award-winning writer Mary Cappello explores the psychology of why people eat non-nutritional objects. Her book centres on physician Chevalier Jackson's collection of swallowed artefacts in Philadelphia's Mütter Museum. Through the tales behind that exhibit, she unearths a history of class and poverty that compelled boys to swallow their last coins, and explores colourful characters such as sword swallowers.

    Ourselves Unborn: A History of the Fetus in Modern America

    Oxford University Press 320 pp. $29.95 (2010)

    We attach to the fetus a host of meanings — political, cultural and scientific. Historian Sara Dubow argues that these are largely based on our notions of identity, authority and sexuality, rather than fact or theology. She examines how these meanings have changed throughout history. Since the late nineteenth century, the fetus has been at the centre of a tug of war between science and religion. Although technology brought a greater understanding of embryo development in the twentieth century, social change has also made the fetus the subject of controversy.

    America Identified: Biometric Technology and Society

    The MIT Press 200 pp. $32 (2010)

    Biometric technologies — such as fingerprint sensors, retina scans and handwriting analysis — are increasingly used to identify individuals. Drawing on research with focus groups, political scientist Lisa Nelson explores public attitudes to surveillance. She describes how public users of these technologies are sensitive to issues of privacy, trust and confidence in the institutions that acquire it. The expansion of these identification methods by governments through history, she explains, has bred distrust in biometrics, and highlights the need to balance harm, prevention and liberty.

    Virtual Teamwork: Mastering the Art and Practice of Online Learning and Corporate Collaboration

    Edited by:
    Edited by Wiley 268 pp. $49.95 (2010)

    Scientists increasingly work and teach in collaborations that have remote members. This collection of expert perspectives, edited by enterprise-learning professor Robert Ubell, offers a practical guide to virtual teamwork. It explains how to communicate across borders of geography, culture and motivational style to manage productive exchanges between participants. The essays offer advice on running online class projects and detail the latest virtual team technology.

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    Books in brief. Nature 468, 1035 (2010).

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