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NPR
4 min read
Happiness

Is Happiness A Universal Human Right?

March 20 is the International Day of Happiness, the result of a UN resolution adopted in 2012 that identifies the pursuit of happiness as "a fundamental human goal" and promotes a more holistic approach to public policy and economic growth — one that recognizes happiness and wellbeing as important pieces of sustainable and equitable development. The official page for the International Day of Happiness, HappinessDay.org, goes one step further in declaring happiness a "universal human right." But is happiness really a human right? And is happiness a goal we should actively pursue? I think the an
The Atlantic
14 min read
Science

How Aristotle Created the Computer

The history of computers is often told as a history of objects, from the abacus to the Babbage engine up through the code-breaking machines of World War II. In fact, it is better understood as a history of ideas, mainly ideas that emerged from mathematical logic, an obscure and cult-like discipline that first developed in the 19th century. Mathematical logic was pioneered by philosopher-mathematicians, most notably George Boole and Gottlob Frege, who were themselves inspired by Leibniz’s dream of a universal “concept language,” and the ancient logical system of Aristotle. Mathematical logic wa
NPR
4 min read

Harvard Scientists Call For Better Rules To Guide Research On 'Embryoids'

How far should scientists be allowed to go in creating things that resemble primitive human brains, hearts, and even human embryos? That's the question being asked by a group of Harvard scientists who are doing exactly that in their labs. They're using stem cells, genetics and other new biological engineering techniques to create tissues, primitive organs and other living structures that mimic parts of the human body. Their concern is that they and others doing this type of "synthetic biology" research might be treading into disturbing territory. "We don't know where this going to go," says Jo