There are a wide range of interactions between ‘science’ and ‘the public’. Examples range from visiting a museum, or indulging in a science-related hobby, to reading a newspaper article about a breakthrough in the techniques of therapeutic cloning. Many of these interactions could be said to be ‘passive’. This unit explores the practicalities of the public becoming more ‘active’ in the direction of science practice by ‘two-way’ interactions, with dialogue taking place between
Alzheimer’s Disease: Realizing the Promise of Molecular Medicine
In 1906, when Alois Alzheimer first described the disease that bears his name, it was a rarity; life expectancy in the US was around 50 years, and few people lived long enough to develop Alzheimer’s disease (AD). But as life expectancies have risen around the world, AD has become vastly more prevalent, and it is now one of the m
Security, Privacy and Technology
New technologies allow individuals, corporations and government entities to monitor, track and identify employees, customers and the general public. This panel provides a forum to discuss security and privacy in today's global economy.
Defining the Boundaries: Homeland Security and Its Impact on Scientific Research
In August 2001, MIT launched a review of the university’s commitment to unclassified research on campus. One month later, the events of September 11th gave this review a harsh immediacy, and transformed the discussion. New government policies that constrain the open exchange of information among scientists, Jerome Frie
The Militarization of Science and Space
Chomsky launches a savage, two-pronged assault on national economic policies and efforts at “global domination….By now the stakes are so high that issues of survival arise,” says Chomsky.
The basic principle underlying our current economy is “to make rich people happy and make everybody else frightened.” Chom
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
The authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy caused a sensation on the Beltway and on campuses across the U.S. Here they walk a respectful MIT audience through their argument that Israel does not deserve unconditional support from the U.S.
Stephen Walt builds a case that a special relationship exists
The War in Afghanistan: How to End It
[from the MIT News Office]
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urges the Afghanistan government to consider bringing Taliban supporters into its political system, telling an MIT audience that the prompt pursuit of a political deal among Afghanistan’s warring factions is necessary to build a lasting p
Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist
Who knew that one of mankind’s greatest scientists also worked as a gumshoe on London’s mean streets, or that this same absent-minded professor helped England fix its monetary policy from an office in the Tower of London? Thomas Levenson brings all sorts of surprises to light in his own sleuthing of a little known but significa
Denialism: Media in the Age of Disinformation
A few hundred years after the Enlightenment, western civilization is rushing back to the Dark Ages. The causes are debatable, but, argue these science journalists, the public increasingly rejects the findings of science, from climate change to evolution, and is turning away from rationality and reason in general.
Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher
His latest book, Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic Philosopher, came about quite accidentally, Irving Singer recounts. Singer was writing a book about several filmmakers, and discovered, when starting on the Bergman chapter, that the filmmaker had directed dozens of movies. Singer set out to explore this oeuvre – no easy task
Living with Catastrophic Terrorism: Can Science and Technology Make the U.S. Safer?
After the terrorists attack of September 11, three Academies-the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine-sponsored a major study of the role that science and technology might play in countering the threat of catastrophic terrorism in the United States. This study involved a committee of 24 expe
The End of Saddam and the Future of Iraq
Saddam Hussein left a very visible legacy from 30 bloody years in power: countless victims and a broken nation. But there is also a more obscure inheritance, literally mountains of documents left by the Ba’ath Party and security groups. Kanan Makiya’s mission is to retrieve and index these materials, and make public the comprehensive c
Counting the Dead in Iraq
It’s no wonder there was an outcry when Gilbert Burnham’s group released its report on mortality in Iraq. The numbers of civilian deaths so overwhelmed body counts calculated by other groups that many were stunned or disbelieving, and Burnham earned the enmity of some U.S. and Iraqi government officials.
Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq
The Bush administration began its “great misuse of history” shortly after 9/11, says
John Dower, when it seized upon Japan’s 1941 Pearl Harbor attack as a useful analogy, a way to promote its own invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation. Dower views as simplistic these “popular hooks to history
Yes We Must: Achieve Diversity through Leadership-Student Remarks
Two students deliver heartfelt appeals for courage and integrity at the annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast.
In the 1940s, Matt Gethers recounts, his grandfather was forced to flee South Carolina after defending his brother against white racists in a store. Gethers wonders if he’d have put his life on the l
The Next Giant Leaps in Space Exploration
From satellite-enabled radio and TV to climate tracking, space has become a “ubiquitous capability in our lifetime,” as Edward Crawley puts it. But he also notes there is uncertainty about the future of U.S. spaceflight, which closely follows the “cadence” of political elections. AeroAstro symposium panelists bot
The Future of Government-Citizen Engagement
As the U.S. moves toward universal broadband access, look for increased government openness, new opportunities for civic engagement, and some dangers along the way, say these panelists.
While Chris Csikszentmihalyi acknowledges the civic potential of broadband, he does not believe it will be a simple matter for geog
The Future of Digital Public Media
Public broadcasting executives and producers discuss their changing roles as digital technology transforms the news and entertainment industries, and provides individuals with powerful tools for shaping their communities. Moderator Jake Shapiro asks panelists to discuss ventures that illustrate new dimensions of public medi
Government Transparency and Collaborative Journalism
In December 2009, the Obama administration directed federal agencies and departments to implement "principles of transparency, participation and collaboration," and provided deadlines for making government information available online. At the same time, citizens and journalists are developing new technologies to manage and analyze
Nicholas Pearce is a proud advocate of programs that help young people from urban areas transition into higher education. He has not only benefited from such programs, but has given back through his participation as a volunteer, mentor, and speaker. As a high schooljunior, he attended MIT's six-week summer program, Minority Introduction t