The intrauterine device (IUD) has been viewed both as a means for women’s reproductive autonomy and as coercive tool of state-imposed population control, as a convenient form of birth control on a par with the pill and as a threat to women’s health. This BIT examines the early development of the IUD through a feminist science lens, describing efforts to improve and measure its contraceptive efficacy.
The humanities can add valuable insights to the study of memory. This BIT draws on recent neuroscientific research to explore one of the great masterpieces of fifteenth-century Flemish painting, Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross. It connects memory to the direct and indirect bodily responses to a work of art.
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.
Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. This BIT, excerpted from an influential book by the late Daniel Wegner, offers an innovative view of one aspect of free will. Wegner argues that when people project action to imaginary agents, they create virtual agents, apparent sources of their own volition.
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.
The Earth’s oceans are overfished, despite more than fifty years of cooperation among the world’s fishing nations. There are too many boats chasing too few fish. In this BIT, J. Samuel Barkin and Elizabeth R. DeSombre offer a provocative proposal for a global regulatory and policy approach, describing the “capture” of regulation by industry and offering a plan for a global institution for fisheries regulation.
The new generation of architects faces a cold reality of economic and ecological crises. Architects may assure each other of their own importance, but society has come to view architecture as a luxury it can do without. For Eric Cesal, this recognition becomes an occasion to rethink architecture and its value from the very core. In this BIT, Cesal considers the economics of architecture and why an architect needs to know about finance as well as about buildings.
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.
Fund manager and former corporate buyout specialist Travis Bradford argues—on the basis of standard business and economic forecasting models—that over the next two decades solar energy will increasingly become the best and cheapest choice for most electricity and energy applications. In this BIT, Bradford provides the basic facts about solar energy and describes a variety of economic and political incentives that would encourage its use.
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.