24.02 Moral Problems and the Good Life (MIT)
Subject examines classic texts from the history of Western moral philosophy, and their answers to the question of what is the best way to live. These texts include works by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, and J. S. Mill. Among the questions that arise are: What is it to have a good life? How important is moral integrity, personal happiness, individual autonomy, and self expression, if one is to live in the best way that one can? Emphasis on close analysis and the evaluation of philosophica
STS.006J Bioethics (MIT)
Many difficult ethical questions have arisen from the explosive growth of biomedical research and the health-care industry since World War II. When and how should doctors be allowed to help patients end their lives? Should embryos be cloned for research and/or reproduction? Should parents be given control over the genetic make-up of their children? What sorts of living things is it appropriate to use as research subjects? How should we distribute scarce and expensive medical resources? While som
4.462 Building Technologies II: Building Structural Systems I (MIT)
This course serves as an introduction to the history, theory, and construction of basic structural systems with an introduction to energy issues in buildings. Emphasis is placed on developing an understanding of basic systematic and elemental behavior; principles of structural behavior and analysis of individual structural elements and strategies for load carrying. The subject introduces fundamental energy topics including thermodynamics, psychrometrics, and comfort, as they relate to building d
Stem Cells: Programming and Personalized Medicine
After years of relentless lab work, rising and falling expectations, and the challenge of a sometimes hostile public, Rudolf Jaenisch says, “The scenario that looked like a fantasy … has come closer to reality. We can study complex human diseases in a Petri dish and potentially contribute to therapy.” In this l
Jupiter and its moons
Jupiter has long been an object of wonder, with its dramatic Great Red Spot, its numerous and varied satellites and the stunning collision of the comet Shoemaker Levy 9 with the Jovian atmosphere in 1994. This unit will introduce you to our solar system's largest planet and its major satellites and the history of their exploration.
ME++ The Cyborg Self and the Networked City
Throughout history, humans have created unique physical spaces in which to live, work and socialize. But the digital age has completely transformed the places in which we conduct our affairs, according to William J. Mitchell. We don’t congregate at the town bank any more for financial transactions. We visit ATMs or bank online.
Engineering for the Ecological Age: Lessons from History
John Ochsendorf, a structural engineer, “fell in love with archaeology” during college. His senior thesis at Cornell involved a 600-year-old Incan suspension bridge made entirely out of grass. Ochsendorf learned that this apparently primitive structure owed its astonishing longevity to regular rebuilds by the l
In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, four panelists with strong personal and professional ties to Haiti share their insights about the different paths to rebuilding and reconstructing the country.
Erica James begins with a view of Haiti’s history of “insécurité”, a term used to describe “cycles of polit
Recent History of Boston Transportation
Frederick Salvucci’s perspective on transportation development is an amalgam of civil engineering, history, economics, policy, and not least, the direct impact on people’s lives. Here he surveys the evolution of transportation in Boston and beyond from the 1830s to the present.
Salvucci covers si
Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons
Joseph Cirincione delivers an energetic and at times impassioned primer on the standoff with Iran on its nuclear program, drawn in part from his latest book, The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (Columbia University Press, Spring 2007).
He offers a succinct ‘equation’ to describe what drives nat
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
Chantal Akerman: Moving through Time and Space
This exploration/homage arrives in the form of a lecture/conversation, breaking some conventions, not unlike the object/subject of the event, Chantal Akerman, filmmaker and video artist. Two Akerman experts discuss her work in the kick-off event to an exhibition at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center.
The Inner History of Devices
Contemporary science has done a great disservice to Sigmund Freud, suggests Sherry Turkle, who believes the psychoanalytic tradition can teach us much about the often concealed connections between physical objects and our thoughts and feelings. On the occasion of the publication of her latest book, The Inner History of Devi
enChanting Musical Artifacts in Unlikely Places: Rare Resources in MIT’s Lewis Music Library
There are times when it’s necessary to judge a book by its cover, or a single page, because that’s all that remains. Michael Scott Cuthbert and Nancy Schrock reveal some treasures from MIT’s early music collection which, while often incomplete or damaged, sing volumes about their origins and use.
Contemplative Dimensions of Human Experience
In a mind-stretching talk covering the history of the planet, development of higher-order consciousness, and East-West religious practices, Trappist monk Thomas Keating claims that humanity is poised to take its next evolutionary step, to the “furthest levels of human understanding.”
The Gutenberg Parenthesis: Oral Tradition and Digital Technologies
Should we view the last 500 years or so of Western culture as a strange interlude, defined by printed page and other artifacts that once dominated the landscape but are now fading in relevance? In this forum, Thomas Pettitt makes the deliberately provocative case for a Gutenberg “Parenthesis” -- a period marked b
The Current Crisis in the Middle East
True to form, Noam Chomsky makes a sweeping and copiously detailed indictment of U.S. Middle East policy, brooking no contrary or alternate views. His history-filled lecture (interrupted by occasional applause) focuses on four crises, involving the Palestinians, the Lebanon invasion, the Iraq war and the “impending catastroph
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
Perhaps no one comprehends the roots of depravity and cruelty better than Philip Zimbardo. He is renowned for such research as the Stanford Prison Experiment, which demonstrated how, in the right circumstances, ordinary people can swiftly become amoral monsters. Evil is not so much inherent in individuals, Zimbardo showed, but e
Chomsky on Gaza
While he admits to no surprise about events in Gaza, Noam Chomsky does consider “the latest U.S.-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians” a step beyond terrorism and aggression. He says “some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, being pounded daily by the most s
Computers with Commonsense: Artificial Intelligence at the MIT Round Table
Visiting the San Diego Zoo’s orangutans and chimpanzees inspires Patrick Henry Winston to ponder what makes humans different from our primate cousins. His field of artificial intelligence extends that question to thinking about how humans differ from computers. Winston’s goal is to “develop a computational theo