Richard Lewontin: Race as a Biological Illusion

Evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin, an opponent of sociobiology and biological determinism and a strong advocate of defining race strictly as a socially but not biologically meaningful category, was born in New York on this date in 1929. In 1972, Lewontin identified that most of the genetic variation within human populations is found within local geographic groups, and that differences among so-called […]

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Edwin Land and the Instant Camera

Edwin Herbert Land, a Harvard drop-out, demonstrated the first instant camera (soon to become the Polaroid Land Camera) on this date in 1947. Land had already founded the Polaroid company in 1937 after inventing an inexpensive polarizing filter used in film, sunglasses, optical microscopes, and other gadgets. He later served as a scientific adviser under the […]

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A Wary and Weary Word on Harvey Weinstein

by George Salamon   BULLSHIT. It’s not that all the outrage about and disgust for Harvey Weinstein are misplaced. It’s just that misogyny and sexism remain such broad and deep elements in our culture that directing the outrage and disgust at Weinstein, or at Trump’s pussygrabbing exploits, lets the rest of us off for not erasing […]

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Barbara Bergmann’s Feminist Economics

Barbara Bergmann, a senior staffer for President Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisors, a senior economist at the Agency for International Development, and an advisor to the Congressional Budget Office and the Census Bureau, was born in the Bronx to immigrant parents on this date in 1927. Bergmann was educated at Cornell and Harvard, and taught at the University of Maryland […]

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The Quantum Field Theoretician

Theoretical physicist Julian Schwinger, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard Feynman and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for their work reconciling quantum mechanics with Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity, was born to Polish Jewish émigrés in New York on this date in 1918. Schwinger received his Ph.D. (at age 21) at Columbia University, under the tutelage of Isidor […]

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Be Here Now

Spiritual explorer and writer Ram Dass, whose 1971 book, Be Here Now, introduced many, many baby boomers to meditation, mindfulness, and Eastern spirituality, was born Richard Alpert in Newton, Massachusetts on this date in 1931. Alpert partnered with Timothy Leary in conducting experiments with LSD at Harvard University, where both were faculty members ; they […]

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February 15: A Geneticist and Ethicist

Molecular biologist Maxine Frank Singer, who raised early alarms about the ethical issues involved in recombinant DNA research and organized the 1975 Asilomar Conference, which issued guidelines for dealing with those issues, was born in New York on this date in 1931. Singer was president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 1988 until 2002, […]

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December 6: Martha Minow of Harvard Law

Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School since 2009, whom President Obama named as “a teacher who changed my life,” was born in Highland Park, Illinois on this date in 1954. Minow has taught at Harvard Law since 1981 and is an expert in human rights, advocacy for oppressed minorities and women, military justice, […]

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November 25: Nelson Goodman and the Grue Paradox

Philosopher Henry Nelson Goodman, who taught at Harvard from 1968 until 1977, where he founded Project Zero to develop arts learning as a serious cognitive discipline, died at 92 on this date in 1998. Goodman’s chief contributions came in the fields of logic, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of art. He is perhaps […]

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