60 Second Story

We need more stories in our lives, yet we don’t have much time for them. Most digital cameras and webcams allow you to take one minute of video and audio at resolutions suitable for the web. The solution: 60 second stories, of course. We are pleased to announce the 60 second story competition. 60 second stories are works of fiction recorded by their authors as digital videos, less than one…

Cold War Chess

Chess provided one of the safety valves that kept the lid on the cold war. But how did chess come to play this role: both symbol of the war and its antithesis? And how does chess illuminate the process by which the west triumphed over communism? –Daniel Johnson –Cold War Chess (Prospect) Check it out, mate.

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Definitional Drift: Math Goes Postmodern

In popular conception, mathematics is the ultimate resolvable discipline, immune to the epistemological murkiness that so bedevils other fields of knowledge in this relativistic age. Yet Philip Davis, emeritus professor of mathematics at Brown University, has pointed out recently that mathematics also is “a multi-semiotic enterprise” prone to ambiguity and definitional drift. Earlier this year, Davis gave a lecture to the mathematics department at USC titled “How Do We Know…

The Medium is the Moral

It has been more than 40 years since Marshall McLuhan wrote that the “medium is the message,” a lesson that Duke University has had to relearn the hard way concerning its iPod giveaway this academic year to some 1,650 first-year students. Almost immediately, the “iPod First-Year Experience” was dubbed a trendy gimmick, and the university went on the defensive, emphasizing that the Apple music player was the device of choice…