Today, big-brand companies seem to be making commitments to sustainability that go beyond the usual “greenwashing” efforts undertaken largely for public relations purposes. McDonald’s promises to use only beef, coffee, fish, chicken, and cooking oil obtained from sustainable sources. Coca-Cola promises to achieve water neutrality. Walmart has pledged to become carbon neutral. This BIT examines some of these corporate sustainability efforts and their ultimate goal.
Jill Stoner’s architect’s eye tracks differently from most, drawn not to the lauded and iconic but to what she calls “the landscape of our constructed mistakes”—metropolitan hinterlands rife with failed and foreclosed developments, undersubscribed office parks, chain hotels, and abandoned malls. In this BIT, Stoner introduces the idea of “minor architectures” that emerge from the bottoms of power structures and within the language of those structures.
Late nineteenth-century Britain saw an extraordinary surge in patent disputes over the new technologies of electrical power, lighting, telephony, and radio, which played out in the twin tribunals of the courtroom and the press. In this BIT, Stathis Arapostathis and Graeme Gooday examine the persistent conflicts over inventorship in electrical invention in this period, analyzing disputes over who should be considered the “first and true inventor” of early electrical technologies.
In this BIT, the philosopher Mladen Dolar introduces a new, philosophically grounded theory of the voice. Dolar considers a Lacanian metaphysics of the voice, developing Lacan’s claim that the voice is one of the paramount embodiments of the psychoanalytic object.
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.”
In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue whether mental causation or consciousness can exist given unproven first assumptions, Peter Ulric Tse proposes that we instead listen to what neurons have to say. In this BIT, Tse examines the role of physical/informational criteria in the neuronal model of mental causation and free will.
Why does rationality matter for democracy? In this BIT, Michael Lynch offers a spirited defense of reason and rationality in an era of widespread skepticism. Lynch investigates how our reason is affected by emotion and intuition, discussing, among other things, fMRIs of the brains of George Bush supporters, the Platonist ideal of reason, and Huck Finn’s moral dilemma.
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.
The authors of Individual and Collective Memory Consolidation propose that that individuals and collectives form memories by analogous processes. This BIT examines the collective retrograde amnesia in mainland Chinese populations that experienced the Cultural Revolution and discusses the persistence of consolidated collective memory despite traumatic disruption.
From an essential text for the aspiring architect, this BIT offers realistic, unvarnished advice. A practicing architect and planner, professor of architecture, and architecture columnist offers reasons for becoming an architect (including “creative and intellectual fulfillment,” “love of drawing—without a computer,” and “immortality”) as well as reasons for not becoming an architect (including “lack of work,” “competition,” and “ego vulnerability”).