• “Donuts aren’t exactly a superfood, but it turns out they may be capable of providing your brain with what it needs to effectively start the day. While a donut isn’t the healthiest morning breakfast, sometimes it’s what your brain actually needs. If you’re having trouble concentrating or remembering things in the morning, it’s often because your brain is missing the sugar (generally in the form of glucose) it needs to function normally. The sugar is used as an energy source for the brain so it can do all the things it needs to do. One of those things is producing an important neurotransmitter chemical called acetylcholine, which is important to a good memory, your ability to pay attention, and your mood.”
    (tags: food nutrition brain)
  • “Creativity and imagination are the most important ingredients for coping with post-normal times, according to Sardar. This paper looks at the way creativity itself is being transformed in the West, from the individualistic/atomistic view of Modernity towards a more contextual, collaborative, complex approach. It explores the potential and possibilities for this more participatory creativity to help go beyond the “crisis of the future,” and argues that the centrality of creativity must go beyond the mythology of genius and inspiration to inform philosophy, ethics, and action. Philosophical reflection and the imagination of desirable futures can emerge from a creative ethic that stresses the value of generative interactions and contexts that support creativity.”
  • File under unintended consequences and “no one could have predicted”: “a new, comprehensive study from Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political science professor and former Air Force lecturer, substantiates what is (a) already bleedingly obvious and (b) known to the U.S. Government for many years: namely, that the prime cause of suicide bombings is not Hatred of Our Freedoms or Inherent Violence in Islamic Culture or a Desire for Worldwide Sharia Rule by Caliphate, but rather. . . . foreign military occupations.”
  • How did companies at the Trade Center respond to the destruction brought about by the attack on September 11th? In this paper we look through the concrete and glass facade of the twin towers into the socio-technical networks of people, machines, and ideas that constituted the trading rooms. We follow the traders of an investment bank adjacent to the Trade Center in their escape away from Ground Zero to a makeshift trading room in New Jersey. We accompany them in their efforts at restoring trading operations, which revealed a socio-technical network of relations, connections, bandwidth politics, and time-critical data normally hidden from view. We support these findings with interview materials from a focus group with heads of technology of major Trade Center companies. Successful recovery, we found, was a combination of planning and spontaneity, of redundancy and self-organization, typical of firms with non-bureaucratic and non-hierarchical forms.
  • “This paper describes and analyses the history of the fundamental equation of modern financial economics: the Black-Scholes (or Black-Scholes-Merton) option pricing equation. In that history, several themes of potentially general importance are revealed. First, the key mathematical work was not rule-following but bricolage, creative tinkering. Second, it was, however, bricolage guided by the goal of finding a solution to the problem of option pricing analogous to existing exemplary solutions, notably the Capital Asset Pricing Model, which had successfully been applied to stock prices. Third, the central strands of work on option pricing, although all recognizably ‘orthodox’ economics, were not unitary. There was significant theoretical disagreement amongst the pioneers of option pricing theory; this disagreement, paradoxically, turns out to be a strength of the theory. Fourth, option pricing theory… altered the world, in general in a way that made itself more true.”
    (tags: finance sts)
  • :The aim of this paper is to outline a theoretical framework for the analysis of markets and to present the main elements of a program of future research. It argues that if the dynamics of economic markets is to be understood, it has to be placed in the context of the broader movement of economization, of which it currently constitutes a dominant modality. Locating marketization in the larger framework of economization, the approach stresses the increasingly dominant role of materialities and economic knowledge in market making.”
  • In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that work in the social studies of science and technology can be appropriated, or consciously deployed, to serve political ends. Correspondingly, pressure has risen on scholars in this field to choose sides in controversies involving science and technology. This paper argues that `co-production’ — the simultaneous production of knowledge and social order — provides a more satisfying conceptual framework than `controversy’ for understanding the relationship between science and society, and the scholar’s rôle in that relationship. Political engagement is better achieved through reflexive, critical scholarship than through identification with apparent `winners’ or `losers’ in well-defined but contingent controversies. Reflexivity is especially desirable when selecting sites for research, styles of explanation, and methods of articulating normative positions.
  • This article argues that climate change produces discordances in established ways of understanding the human place in nature, and so offers unique challenges and opportunities for the interpretive social sciences. Scientific assessments such as those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change helped establish climate change as a global phenomenon, but in the process they detached knowledge from meaning. Climate facts arise from impersonal observation whereas meanings emerge from embedded experience. Climate science thus cuts against the grain of common sense and undermines existing social institutions and ethical commitments at four levels: communal, political, spatial and temporal. The article explores the tensions that arise when the impersonal, apolitical and universal imaginary of climate change projected by science comes into conflict with the subjective, situated and normative imaginations of human actors engaging with nature.
  • Drawing upon actor-network theory, this article analyses the socio-technological construction of China’s strategy for the telecommunications market transformation. We define the telecommunications market as the non-human actor. The public and society, the state, and the operators constitute three groups of human actors representing the social interests in the telecommunications industry. We have observed that these actors’ interests are influenced by the situation of technology advance, the telecommunications development level, the macro reform progress and the national policies concerning the political and economic systems, and the international trend in telecommunications reforms…. Our case study demonstrates that the applications of actor-network theory can be extended to investigate the formulation of a national strategy.
  • Beyond catalyzing changes in what we do, technology affects how we think. The Internet has emerged as a new context for self-exploration and social encounter; psychopharmacology, robotics, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence — all are technologies that raise fundamental questions about selfhood, identity, community, and what it means to be human. With the support of the Mitchell Kapor Foundation, the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self was founded in 2001 by Sherry Turkle, Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology. The Initiative’s goal is to be a center for research and reflection on the subjective side of technology and to raise the level of public discourse on the social and psychological dimensions of technological change.
  • “Addressing the annual Headmaster and Mistress’s Conference in London, Sarah Harper, Professor of Gerontology and Demography of OIA, called on Schools to consider introducing life course skills to help children cope with future longevity. ‘Half of the girls born in the UK at the end of last century are predicted to live into the 22nd Century. It is thus essential that our schools start to prepare our children for the significant increases in longevity which we are now facing.'” An interesting idea, but how do you really do it?