Santiago Ramón y Cajal is a towering figure in the history of science. Hailed today as the father of modern anatomy and neurobiology, he was largely responsible for the modern conception of the brain. Advice for a Young Investigator, first published in 1897, offers a witty and anecdotal guide for scientists that can be enjoyed by both novice and veteran researchers. In this BIT, Ramón y Cajal considers what it takes to be a successful scientific investigator.
What began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. In this BIT, Hector Postigo examines the evolution of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, showing that citizens’ concerns were largely ignored in the policy process.
In his writing, the architect Paul Shepheard examines old assumptions about architecture and replaces the critical theory of the academic with the active theory of the architect-citizen enamored of the world around him. In this BIT, he takes Thanksgiving Day as an opportunity to reflect on the diaspora of his family and the evolution of human emotional bonds; and, conducting a seminar, he wonders how philosophy became part of architecture.
If the mind and the world are entirely governed by natural laws, there seems to be no room left for free will to operate. In this BIT, Steven Horst offers an account of laws that is compatible with claims for libertarian free will. He argues that one can embrace the truth of individual laws, or indeed any set of such laws, without any implication of determinism, because the idealization conditions of each law are essentially open-ended.
In this BIT, André Nusselder uses the core psychoanalytic notion of fantasy to examine our relationship to computers and digital technology. Lacanian psychoanalysis considers fantasy to be an indispensable “screen” for our interaction with the outside world; Nusselder argues that, at the mental level, computer screens and other human-computer interfaces incorporate this function of fantasy: they mediate the real and the virtual.
This selection from a recently updated edition of a classic work by Paul Churchland considers such questions as the nature of mental states and processes, in what medium they take place, how they are related to the physical world, whether consciousness survives the disintegration of the physical body, and if a purely physical system such as a computer could enjoy real conscious experience.
This BIT offers an excerpt from a foundational work of cognitive science—considered one of the most important and influential books ever published by the MIT Press—that outlines a theory of the development of specifically human higher mental functions.
Competitive video and computer game play is nothing new; what is new in the world of digital gaming is the emergence of professional computer game play. This BIT explores how a form of play becomes a sport, with professional players, agents, referees, leagues, tournaments, sponsorships, and spectators.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. An invisible, tasteless, colorless gas, it can be converted to nonpolluting, zero-emission, renewable energy. In this BIT, Peter Hoffmann makes the case for hydrogen as the cornerstone of a new energy economy, offering a history of the technology from the nineteenth century to the present and introducing the concept of “hydricity.”
During the past three decades, neurology researcher James Austin (author of Zen and the Brain) has been at the cutting edge of both Zen and neuroscience, constantly discovering new examples of how these two large fields each illuminate the other. In this BIT, Austin discusses how meditation trains our attention, reprogramming it toward subtle forms of awareness that are more openly mindful. He reveals many subtleties in our networks of attention.