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We will then investigate the science and engineering aspects of the technologies that might be brought to bear, looking, in particular, at the side effects, hidden and external costs and long-range implications. We will bring in speakers, either familiar with the problem domain or the technology or both and we will conduct open discussion of the issues. Though we will be discussing science and technology to a deeper degree than one usually sees in media reports, we will do this with minimal math requirements. We will attempt to make the issues accessible to anyone who has had algebra.

Our objective is to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the problem and the technologies, especially the costs, benefits and trade-offs. Armed with this understanding we will apply critical analysis to the policy environment that will affect the development and deployment of the technology. Public policies, such as tax incentives, research investment and support for education in science and engineering, will determine how we actually solve these problems.

As an example of a policy decision effect on technology, the current administration decided that it would not sign the Kyoto Protocol or support the efforts, which has subsequently put a damper on federal spending on emissions research. At the outset of the seminar we will examine the nature of a problem or issue of major scope. The problem will be described based on the relevant science. For example, global warming will be examined through articles that have appeared in Scientific American or the Perspectives section of Science.

These articles require no significant mathematical background beyond algebra, and are generally accessible to any college student with at least one science course. In-seminar explanations for aspects of the science not understood by the general audience will be provided as needed. One does not need to be a computer scientist in order to understand the basic notions of data processing to produce information, or to understand the applications of the World Wide Web to social change. But one does need to have a sense of what is possible and what isn't in order to make critical judgments about the uses of technology in solving important problems.


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When we investigate both the issues and the technological aspects of solutions we will not just look at the surface of these subjects. A central objective of this seminar is to develop a deeper, better understanding of technologies and science behind them , how they work, what they can and what they cannot do. Tobler wrote the essay after repeated conversations with Goethe.

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There you go! Now what are these aphorisms about? They are about Nature. With all men she plays a game for love, and rejoices the more they win.

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She makes him dependent on the earth, heavy and sluggish, and always rouses him up afresh. But how did the original readers of the first issue of Nature react to these aphorisms chosen to celebrate the first issue of a scientific journal and translated by Huxley? Their reaction were interesting!

In an article published in Nature in we find out the following, which made me smile:. When they began to read it they thought it was mine, and that I had suddenly gone mad. It is poetry, and can I say anything more severe? Instead of engaging in rhapsodic effusions about Nature as a woman, Huxley would henceforth, it seems, write about nature as a system, as a sum of phenomena, as order. This view of nature, unlike the aphorisms, is still with us, especially in the journal Nature.