Said and Done | In the Media + Awards | May 2018

A section of Said and Done
Full May 2018 edition


Free will and the most profound quantum mystery | David Kaiser
Do human beings have free will? Kaiser explains what a research collaboration by more than a hundred quantum physicists discovered.
Commentary at The New York Times

What this dead German philosopher thinks about your midlife crisis | Kieran Setiya
"I think there is something right in Schopenhauer's dismal conception of our relationship with our ends, and that it can illuminate the darkness of midlife....We should not give up on our worthwhile goals. Their achievement matters. But we should meditate, too, on the value of the process."
Commentary at Fast Company Online

Philosophers should be keener to talk about the meaning of life | Kieran Setiya
"The idea that life has meaning is the idea that there is a truth of this extraordinary kind. Whether or not there is, the suggestion is not nonsense."

Commenary at Aeon Ideas

Detail from Portrait of Dr Gachet (1890), by Vincent van Gogh. Photo via Wikipedia


Economists warn Trump about tariffs with 1930s letter | Daron Acemoglu
Acemoglu signed the new letter because he believes the policies coming out of the White House “are bound to hurt most Americans.”
Commentary at Quartz

A healthy re-examination of free trade’s benefits and shocks | John Van Reenen
Economists have long argued that free trade makes everyone richer. But lately that view has come under attack, and economists are asking themselves some tough questions. Is free trade always a good thing? Do the losers from free trade need to be compensated? To explore the basics of free trade, The Economist spoke to Van Reenen.
Interview at The Economist

North Korea stops short of intention to relinquish nuclear arsenal | Vipin Narang
"This was a smart move by Kim," said Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science and nuclear proliferation expert at MIT. "Although it largely formalizes previous pledges on the moratoria from last November and March, it still leaves a lot of wiggle room for circumventing the pledges in the future, and nothing in there is irreversible. And nothing in there mentions denuclearization, of any variety."
Story at CBS | The Associated Press

Photo of Vipin Narang by Stuart Darsch

3Q: Alan Lightman on science and spiritual experience
Lightman's new book, “Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine,” examines the relationship of belief and knowing.
Interview at MIT News  | Story at The Washington Post

Humanist chaplain recommends books for those changing the world with tech   
"Technology, science, and business should be founded or created or innovated, shaped, on the basis of what is actually good for human beings," says Greg Epstein, MIT's first humanist chaplain, who was announced on April 24. Epstein's focus at MIT will help create spaces where students can explore ethical and moral dimensions of distuptive technology.
Story at Mashable


An algorithm for life? | Erica Funkhouser
Any way to engage a community in a celebration of reading and writing is all right by Erica Funkhouser, an accomplished poet who lives in Essex and teaches at MIT. “There is no algorithm about what life is, what a human being is,” says Funkhouser. “Literature is where we go to find out how complicated we are, and embrace the complexity of that.”
Story in The Boston Globe

Ian Cheney releases a new documentary film: The Most Unknown
The Most Unknown is an epic documentary film that sends nine scientists to extraordinary parts of the world to uncover unexpected answers to some of humanity’s biggest questions: How did life begin? What is time? How much do we really know? The film will be in theaters in May, available on Netflix in August.
Trailer on YouTube



Parag Pathak wins John Bates Clark Medal for best economist under 40
“Parag's research has made fundamental contributions to the field of market design and its application to school choice mechanisms, and the economics of education more generally,” said Nancy Rose, head of the Department of Economics, and the Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics at MIT. "Because of his contributions, hundreds of thousands of students in large urban public school systems are more likely to be matched to schools they prefer.”
Story at MIT News | Story at Bloomberg: "A top prize for a theory that works"

Economist Amy Finkelstein elected to the American Academy of Sciences
Finkelstein was honored for her research achievements along with MIT professors Kardar, Wen, and Zhang. She is one of the two principal investigators for the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, a randomized evaluation of the impact of extending Medicaid coverage to low income, uninsured adults, and is the recipient of many awards, including the the John Bates Clark Medal (2012), and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2009).
Story at MIT News

Six outstanding SHASS teachers receive the 2018 Levitan Teaching Award
Bravo to: Eran Egozy Elizabeth Wood, Olivia D’ Ambrosio, Shariann Lewitt, Mariana San Martín, and Arda Gitmez.
Story at SHASS News

Six members of the SHASS staff receive 2018 Infinite Mile Awards for 2018
Bravo to: Thomas Dattilo, Alicia Mackin, Nicole Paschal, Meghan Pepin, Kalina Schloneger, and Andrea Wirth.
Story at SHASS News

Lily Tsai and Agustin Rayo receive MIT's Committed to Caring Award
The award honors dedicated professors who are superb advisors and mentors for graduate students, who set the tone for positive student experiences.
Story at MIT News

Malick Ghachem and Stefan Helmreich selected as Radcliffe Institute Fellows
The two SHASS professors were among just 3.5% of applicants accepted to Radcliffe's Institute for Advance Study at Harvard University. Both will work on new manuscripts: Helmreich on The Book of Waves: An Anthropologist Reads Physical Oceanography; Ghachem on In the Name of the Colony: The Revolt against the Indies Company in Haiti: 1720-1725. 
Announcement at Radcliffe Institute

Graduate students Mina Pollmann and Ben Chang win NSF graduate fellowships
Pollmann and Chang have each been selected to receive a 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Progam Fellowship. GRFP Fellows recipients often become life-long leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.
Story at Political Science

Rachel Esplin Odell and Meicen Sun each awarded World Politics Fellowship
The grants are given by the Smith Richardson Foundation to support PhD dissertation research on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, strategic studies, area studies, and diplomatic and military history. Rachel Esplin Odell has also been awarded the 2018 Alexander George Award for the Foreign Policy Analysis section at ISA.
Story at MIT Political Science

In Song Kim receives Michael Wallerstein Award
Assistant Professor In Song Kim, has been selected by the Political Economy section of APSA, to receive this year’s Wallerstein Award for the best published article in political economy in 2017. Kim won for his American Political Science Review article, "Political Cleavages within Industry: Firm-level Lobbying for Trade Liberalization."

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Said and Done is published by SHASS Communications
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Published 16 May 2018