In 1990, Kate O'Connor was the aide for the lieutenant governor of a small, largely inconsequential New England state. Fourteen years later, when Howard Dean became a front runner for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, that job -- her first -- suddenly changed.
A dramatic worldwide shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans has also given employees the ability to take planning into their own hands. But with this freedom comes a confusion: What's the role of the employer versus the role of the employee in all this?
On a late winter day in 1922, the sound of a gun shot resounded with a loud boom in the hills surrounding the house of three-year-old Edgar Curtis. The sound itself wasn't out of the ordinary, since the Curtises lived near a firing range. What was extraordinary was the question the boy turned to ask his mother: "What is that big, black noise?"
Even the smartest people make irrational choices, says Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize-winning psychologist. Here's why -- and what you can do about it.
The future is a difficult thing to grasp, and not just because we can't see it. Bringing innovation to life requires imagination, resourcefulness, the sort of limitless creative ambition we today associate mainly with science fiction writers.
Reductionists believe that memories, emotions, and feelings can be broken down to nothing more than interactions between brain cells and their associated molecules. In other words, "you" are your brain.
What happens when you do make it to the top of your field, only to find that it’s not exactly what you’d expected or been told to expect?
The presiding philosophy of the Laboratory for Perception is ultimately more informed by the possibilities of the future than by the past. Eagleman is fascinated by the idea that we could import the technology into human biology to enhance our sensory perception of the world, broadening and deepening our reality.
Momentary enthusiasm, a few nice words at the inauguration, then gridlock: it’s the ebb and flow of electoral politics in America, and it's lead liberal and conservative insiders alike to argue that representatives ought to capitulate every now and then, if only for the sake of negotiation.
We expect works of art to enlighten us, and we expect science to enlighten us -- yet the two fields are frequently regarded as separate, distinct entities which we respond to using different areas of the brain. Are those distinctions are arbitrary?
Today, the question of how people make decisions is an animated and essential one, capturing the attention of everyone from neuroscientists to lawyers to artists. In 1956, there was one person in all of New York known for his work on the brain: Harry Grundfest. An aspiring psychiatrist, Eric Kandel chose to take an elective in brain science and found himself studying alongside Grudfest at Columbia University.
Brain imaging studies show that every time we learn a new task, we're changing our brain by expanding our neural network.
Google versus Facebook. Silicon Valley versus Hollywood. Wall Street versus Main Street. Increasingly, the rivalries and alliances that define our lives have nothing to do with kings, queens, or Congress. What we’re witnessing is a fundamental shift in the way our society is organized.
Information is power. The Internet has made it possible to share and spread information faster than ever before. Unprecedented levels of access to information means that democracy is bound to take root and flower in even the most authoritarian corners of the world -- right? Not necessarily, says MacKinnon.
What’s more offensive than crushed heads and mangled limbs? Exposed female nipples, according to Facebook’s criteria for deleting user content, published for the first time on Gawker two weeks ago.
When we think family, we often think values, tradition, averages: 2 parents, 2.5 kids. But the concept of what makes up a family is anything but stable, says Sonia Arrison, a policy analyst who studies the impact of new technologies on society. And due to an unprecedented recent increase in longevity, it's changing again.
Margaret Moore, co-founder and co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, answers all our burning questions about how to sift through the chaos of the digital age and organize our lives and minds. (Hint: it starts with the brain.)
“If you think about it this way, if you are a Martian coming by earth and looking at all these humans and then looking at how they work you wouldn’t—it would never dawn on you to say, ‘Well, now, this thing needs free will!’ What are you talking about?” says Michael Gazzaniga, one of the world's leading researchers in cognitive neuroscience.
It's unusual for a website to charge for its services, admits Lynda Weinman, but the fee "allows us to have a sustainable business model where we can pay contributors." Her approach represents a compromise between the open ideals of the web and the financial needs of the people who fill its pages.
According to the online community that has formed in opposition to the legislation, it amounts to online censorship. But is the controversy really about free speech, or is it just another showdown between rich and powerful Hollywood, and even richer and more powerful Silicon Valley? How will SOPA and PIPA affect everyone?
Once they’re gone, mammalian arms and legs can't ever be restored. But if you cut off a salamander's leg it will reappear in just a few weeks. The enigma of amphibian organ regeneration has long puzzled scientists. Now, a new wave of scientists hopes to put it to use.
As soon as 2025, large parts of the world could experience perrennial water shortages, says Dr. Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center and a leading expert on hydroclimatology, climate change adaptation, and risk analysis.
“To me, being a DJ and being the Director of the Media Lab are essentially the same thing,” says Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab.
Roberto Díaz was the principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony orchestra. Watch as he explains why bringing a hundred musicians together in to one synchronized ensemble is not easy - it's a feat of human expression well-deserving of our attention.
Patricia Milligan discusses the conflict between a generation that has carved out a niche and is intent on securing it and a generation that's burning for a shot. The give-and-take between the two is global in scale.
"We are children when we talk about the cosmic scale of energies throughout the entire universe," says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. But with a little (okay, a lot) of human ingenuity, we may one day have the ability to harness the energy of the stars.
Do holiday sales make your palms sweat with anticipation? That's because they're designed to. “There's a very, very deep art and science to pricing," says Lee Eisenberg, author of Shoptimism. Watch as he explains the tricks of the trade and how you can avoid them.
“We are at the cusp of a revolution in medicine and biotechnology that will radically increase not just our life spans but also, and more importantly, our health spans," says Sonia Arrison, author of 100: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything.
What's the difference between a Jackson Pollock painting and a finger-painting? Why is "The Magic Flute" so enduring, while other classical compositions have been forgotten? Leon Botstein, the dean of Bard College, examines what we're talking about when we talk about art.
In the 21st century, biology will usher in advances in regenerative medicine. Stem cells will be at the center of discovery and application in that new field.
"Consciousness of course is one of the largest questions of brain structure and function. And we approach it now perhaps differently than we have in the past with our new tools. But I’m not convinced that we understand it any better," says Joy Hirsch.
In honor of that award, we're republishing a segment from our October interview with Abed, in which he talks about what women and girls can teach the world.
Unemployment among those aged 16-29 is at its highest rate since WWII. “Follow your passion,” while hard to argue with, is clearly an inadequate career plan.
We now have the power to map the brain, peering into the human mind to decode words from silent thoughts. But what will human consciousness look like, if we ever finally catch a glimpse of it? Neuroscientist Joy Hirsch kicks off the debate.
"It turns out we’re not the only species that assembles ourselves into networks," says sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis.
The winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced this Friday, October 7th. Last week, a former Norwegian prime minister ignited speculation about this year's winner by announcing, "It will be an interesting and very important prize ... I think it will be well-received."
Megan Erickson is an Associate Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, she taught reading and writing to ninth and tenth graders in NYC public schools and tutored students of all ages at the Stuyvesant Writing Center, which she helped launch. In her spare time, she worked in the communications department at the Center for Constitutional Rights and served as a mentor at the Urban Assembly, where she designed and led an extracurricular civics course on grassroots community action. She’s written on education, small business, and the arts for CNNMoney, Fortune Small Business, and The Huffington Post. Megan received her master’s degree in Education from Teachers College. You can reach her at email@example.com.