Science

Why We Can’t Forget about the Brain

Iain McGilchrist— It might seem reductive to link the highest achievements of the human mind, in philosophy and the arts, to the structure of the brain. I believe it is not. For one thing, even if it were possible for mind to be ‘reduced’, as we say, to matter, this

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Addicted to Distraction

Judson Brewer— This is where the magic happens. Once behavior and reward are paired, the dopamine neurons change their phasic firing pattern to respond to stimuli that predict rewards. Enter the trigger into the scene of reward-based learning. We see someone smoking a cigarette, and we suddenly get a craving.

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Climate Change Street Fighters

Michael Mendez— No other politico in Washington, DC, has moved the issue of climate change to a national platform of prominence so quickly as Democratic Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her “Green New Deal” is a radical proposal to decarbonize America’s economy while tackling inequality. It has stirred passionate reactions from

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My Doctor Told Me the Cost of the Appointment . . . Give or Take $200!

Peter A. Ubel— I had a persistent skin condition, and my dermatologist thought I should see someone with more experience caring for that kind of lesion. So, I went to a new dermatologist—I will call her Dr. Freezeitoff. At the front desk, the clerk reminded me that Dr. Freezeitoff wasn’t

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How Soon Will We Make Artificial Brains?

Michael D. Mauk— Artificial minds are all the rage in books and movies. The popularity of characters such as Commander Data of Star Trek Next Generation reveals how much we enjoy considering the possibility of machines that think. This idea is made even more captivating by real-world artificial intelligence successes

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Who Owns Software?

Gerardo Con Diaz— When we own something, we can usually explain what that thing is. My car is an object that I recognize, and the blog posts I write are texts that I can identify rather quickly. It wouldn’t be difficult for me to tell whether someone took my car

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Urbanization and Sustainability

Steward Pickett— Sustainability has become one of the touchstones of the twenty-first century. As the human inhabitants of the planet consume an ever-larger share of the Earth’s resources and increasingly tax its capacities to recycle wastes and deal with contaminants, sustainability has become a powerful image. But it is much

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Resilient Design: Innovation for Future Uncertainty

Jon Coaffee— Recent scientific research has revealed that we have drastically underestimated the threat of climate change, with the impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather abnormalities likely to be felt most dramatically in large urban conurbations. Almost exactly seven years after Hurricane Sandy hit the US Eastern seaboard causing devastation

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Nature’s Remedies: The Environmental Impact of Chinese Medicine in the Global Medical Marketplace

Tamara Venit Shelton— Nearly three years ago, on January 18, 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the World Health Organization and presented a traditional bronze statue used to identify acupuncture points on the human body. The gift was part of the Chinese government’s ongoing campaign to promote Traditional Chinese Medicine,

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The Health Care Debate and the Perils of Medicine for Profit

Frank M. Snowden— Health care is key in the forthcoming US election, with polls indicating that the American people regard the issue—in tandem with the economy—as their top priority. Voters are seriously anxious about current provisions of care and worried about possible further efforts to undermine Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In

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