The Implications of Synthetic Biology
There’s no mistaking Drew Endy’s profession: “I like to make things -- that’s what I do.” From his engineer’s perspective, the slow and painful methods of bioengineering demand a solution. Endy hopes to refine the tools necessary to move the field forward. “We’re going from looking at the living world as only c
Nanotechnology and the Study of Human Diseases
Subra Suresh fleshes out the promise of nanotechnology, at least in regard to our understanding of disease. His talk, which focuses on malaria and its impact on red blood cells, demonstrates how the fields of engineering, biology and medicine are converging.
To function properly, he explains, a red blood cel
Energy resources: Water quality
Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a worl
Electronics on Plastic: A Solution to the Energy Challenge, or a Pipe Dream?
As urgency to address climate change mounts, there’s ever greater interest in harnessing the unlimited potential of the sun to replace fossil fuels. This tantalizing prospect has inspired a raft of new scientific ventures, reports Stephen Forrest.
A theoretical field of silicon solar cells that is 1
Future energy demand and supply
When you consider that the global annual consumption of primary energy increased more than ten-fold during the 20th Century, the importance of planning future energy supply becomes clear.
Studying mammals: Life in the trees
David Attenborough looks at ‘life in the trees’: examining how species have evolved to cope with arboreal living. You will learn how lemurs, anteaters, bears and many others have developed different methods to help movement and survival.
Observations on the Science of Finance in the Practice of Finance
There will be a time “beyond crisis,” asserts Robert C. Merton, who delves into the dense science of derivatives -- a field he has fundamentally shaped -- to explain how the vast global economic collapse has come about, and how financial innovations at the heart of the collapse could also be tools for reconstruction.
Education Across Borders: The India Perspective
Rickshaw drivers in India are frequent victims of tuberculosis after just a few years inhaling traffic fumes. This near-epidemic went unacknowledged until
Kapil Sibal demanded a solution. The fix, now gaining traction across the country, is a solar-powered vehicle that eliminates pedaling. But what began as a project to ass
Creating a Game Plan for Transition to a Sustainable Economy
The “chief inspired protagonist” of one of the nation’s oldest and most successful green manufacturers apologizes for delivering a talk “more depressing than expected.” While discussing the challenges facing businesses attempting to transition to a more just and sustainable economy, Jeffrey Hollender enumera
Race from France to France, Leave Antarctica to Starboard
Rich Wilson had followed the Vendée Globe Race ('round-the-world single-handed) since its inception in 1988 but had never considered sailing it himself—“too hard, too long, too dangerous, too risky, too, too, too, the boats were too big, the sails were too big.”
Then he reconsidered the possibility when he realize
Modeling Human Mobility
Researchers who wish to study mobility patterns might be reaching for your phone. Increasingly, cell phones are equipped with locational receivers (Global Positioning Systems or GPS) and their bread crumb trails are opening up entirely new ways to study and predict the dynamics of travel. “We are in the GPS revolution because
Energy from sources other than fossil and nuclear fuels is to a large extent free of the concerns about environmental effects and renewability that characterise those two sources. Each alternative source supplies energy continually, whether or not we use it. This unit considers one of these alternative sources, geothermal energy derived from the interior heat of the Earth, and the potential for this alternative to supplant fossil and nuclear fuel use to power social needs fast enough to avoid t
The Future of Science Journalism
Susan Hockfield states that science journalism “is now, and in the decades ahead, absolutely indispensable.” As we confront global warming and health pandemics, science reporting must be sustained, Hockfield says, “in its rightful place, at the top of the profession and in the thick of the national conversation.
The Power of Competition: How to Focus the World’s Brains on your Innovation Challenges
Cooperation may be making us “a little bit too nice” when it comes to innovation, suggests Fiona Murray. She believes there’s nothing like competition for injecting energy into the process of solving key innovation problems, whether in business or society.
Murray is convinced competition make ventures “more ef
Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, showin by recent droughts. Globally, there are many reas that do ot have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a world
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.
Human Rights & the US State Department
Ambassador Shattuck provides insights from his experiences as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Clinton Administration. Highlights include his analysis of the global events in the post-Cold War period which he states foreshadowed the attacks of September 11th . He defines two competing forces, the forces of integration, (
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 Future of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear energy will emerge either as a solution to the twin crises of global warming and a secure energy supply, or global catastrophe. Within this panel at least, there doesn’t seem to be a comfortable middle ground.
MIT’s Andrew Kadak, one of the two speakers arguing the necessity of nuclear energy, advance