Featured Works

E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia

Dr. Schneps

While many people have embraced e-readers for their convenience, researchers at the Science Education Department of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics are demonstrating the benefits e-readers can provide to people with dyslexia. In their paper, "E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia," principal investigator Matthew H. Schneps, along with Jenny M. Thomson, Chen Chen, Gerhard Sonnert, and Marc Pomplun, report the results of their study of dyslexic high schoolers using e-readers. They found that small-screen hand-held devices facilitated an improvement in reading speed and comprehension in many of the students. Combining these results with an earlier study of theirs, the authors speculate that the shorter lines and less crowded text of small e-readers helps reduce word fixation and reading regression. While the authors emphasize that not all dyslexic subjects showed improvement with e-readers, they conclude that the rapid evolution of digital technologies holds promise for making reading more accessible to those with dyslexia.

Dr. Schneps is the founder and director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Center for Astrophysics. His research on science education has recently focused on how neurological differences, especially dyslexia, affect learning. He has recently written on the cognitive advantages associated with dyslexia, and has shared his own experiences as a scientist with dyslexia.

Feature by Mitu Choksi, OSC Open Access Fellow and graduate student at the Harvard Divinity School.

Recapturing the Sublime

Ellison Featured Work

Dr. Aaron M. Ellison, Senior Research Fellow in Ecology at the Harvard Forest, writes about the confluence of culture and the natural world in his recent article "The Suffocating Embrace of Landscape and the Picturesque Conditioning of Ecology." In this paper, Ellison argues that changes in landscape representation mirror a shift in the way humanity interacts with the environment. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, visual interpretations of the landscape have moved away from the wonder of the Romantic era. However, this shift is not altogether unwelcome. While numerous scientific studies have debunked the conception that there is an inherent balance in nature, the myth of the harmonious natural landscape, perpetuated by painters such as Albert Bierstadt and Fernand Léger, persists in both the art world and scientific circles. While Modernist and Postmodernist worldviews may offer a more realistic vision of nature, Ellison implores artists and ecologists to recapture some of the sublimity apparent in historical landscape painting. Ellison contends that the time has come to fully rediscover the interconnectedness of life on Earth.

Dr. Ellison researches the evolutionary ecology of carnivorous plants, the response of ants and plants to global climate change, and food web dynamics and community ecology of wetlands and forests. He also studies the application of Bayesian statistical inference to ecological research and environmental decision-making. You can find "The Suffocating Embrace of Landscape and the Picturesque Conditioning of Ecology" and 63 additional works authored by Dr. Ellison in DASH.

Feature by Vero Smith, OSC Open Access Fellow and graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Photo of Ellison by David Foster, Director of Harvard Forest.

Storing Renewable Energy

SEAS Storing Renewable Energy Team

Widespread adoption of renewable energy sources, such as solar energy and wind power, is challenging because they provide intermittent generating capacity. One solution to this challenge is to store electrical energy for later use. Currently, electricity is generated on demand and consumed almost instantly. The only adopted technology used to store excess energy at the scale of the electrical grid consists of pumping water uphill, which requires a special geography—an elevated reservoir—and it may disrupt the surrounding natural environment. In "A metal-free organic-inorganic aqueous flow battery," a team of Harvard researchers led by Michael Aziz, Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, combined computational methods and organic chemistry to create a battery particularly well suited for cost-effective storage of wind and solar electricity for use over extended periods when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. You can read more about the team's innovation in DASH here.

Feature by Theodore Feldman, OSC Open Access Fellow and graduate student at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Development of Urban Structure in Ancient Mesopotamia

Jason Ur

Though Iraq and Syria are frequently in the news today for sectarian strife and internal divisions, in the fourth millennium BCE the region birthed the first urban centers as settlements overcame the social strife that led to fissions and prevented population growth. This dramatic development has led to much scholarly debate and is the subject of Prof. Jason Ur's paper, "Households and the Emergence of Cities in Ancient Mesopotamia."

Ur challenges the model of urbanism arising from the development of bureaucratic structures such as the temple and the state, representing the elite or society as a whole. As cities were still understood in the pre-urban terms of kinship in texts from centuries later, Ur finds such a revolutionary change in social development to be implausible. He presents an alternative model of urban development that maintains the place of the household as the center of society, even as settlements grew into cities. By expanding their concept of the household beyond the domestic residence, early urbanites were able to create a "dynamic network of nested households" that included the temples, royal households, and the city itself. Ur argues that this household model of the city made all members of the community actors in the development of the urban structure, not passive subjects of an independent elite. With a kinship understanding of society, the growing inequality would not be structured along class divisions, which would tend to lead to conflict and fission, but within patrimonial relationships. Consequently, the household model elucidates the rational interest of all levels of society to participate in the urban system.

Jason Ur, a Professor of Anthropology at Harvard, has directed archaeological projects in Iraq and Syria. He has also made extensive use of declassified photographs from American spy satellites to locate the settlements, irrigation systems, and pastoral landscapes of ancient Mesopotamia. You can find "Households and the Emergence of Cities in Ancient Mesopotamia" and 17 additional works authored by Professor Ur in DASH.

Feature by Mitu Choksi, OSC Open Access Fellow and graduate student at the Harvard Divinity School.

Leadership in the Information Revolution

Dr Nye

The information revolution has fundamentally changed how we understand effective leadership styles in America. In the past, leadership was thought as effective when of commands and controls - a relic of the twentieth century's hierarchical organizations. However, newly available work from Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor, former Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and recent recipient of Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, shows how traditional leadership styles are less effective in the twenty-first century. Instead, as the hierarchical structure of organizations disappears and collaboration dominates corporate culture today, new models of leadership are needed. His work, entitled "Leadership" and part of the forthcoming book, American Governance, edited by Stephen L. Schechter, outlines the changing focus of leadership as technology and lifestyle disrupt our traditional views. In one example, Nye highlights research affirming a model for multiple leaders in the context of thriving but complex dotcom startups. The findings, he concludes, demonstrate how effective leadership across our institutions now depends on the participation of multiple leaders to make decisions and achieve goals.

You can find "Leadership" and six additional works authored by Dr. Nye in DASH.

Feature by Bryce Mullins, OSC Open Access Fellow and student at Harvard Extension School.

New insight into the Gospel of Philip

Gospel of Philip fragment

Recent work by Karen L. King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, has made waves in the field of New Testament and Early Christianity studies by focusing on previously unknown, ancient Christian texts that challenge many long-held beliefs, including the question of Jesus's marital status. Among other works in DASH, Professor King's "The Place of the Gospel of Philip in the Context of Early Christian Claims about Jesus's Marital Status" featured in New Testament Studies investigates themes of marriage within the early Christian text the Gospel of Philip. She argues that the Gospel "introduces a rich set of images into the arena of Christian ritual or sacramental theology by referring to Christian initiation as entrance into the bridal chamber… modeled paradigmatically in Jesus's marriage to Mary Magdalene." Of interest to historians and ethicists alike, her analysis uncovers rich layers of meaning that encourages the rethinking of norms ascribed to gender and sexuality in Christianity.

A supporter of Open Access at Harvard, Professor King's work has been downloaded nearly 3,000 times since mid-2012. Find her featured article and more in DASH, including the widely recognized ""Jesus said to them, 'My wife …'": A New Coptic Papyrus Fragment" (2014).

The IKEA Effect

Norton featured work image

Many people, drawn in by attractive displays and subtle lighting, are swayed to purchase home goods from IKEA, only to become frustrated by the assembly process. But what if the assembly process causes us to value and find greater satisfaction in the final product? This question, and broader questions surrounding the psychology of investment, forms one pillar of scholarship by Michael I. Norton, Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. In his article "The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love," Norton, along with Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely, discusses how self-created products can lead consumers to greater feelings of competence and value. In one experiment reported in the article, participants were asked to value (in the form of a monetary bid) an origami creature of their own making and one made by an expert. Creators were willing to bid much higher for their own creation over the arguably better product.

Professor Norton's other work focuses on social norms regarding people's behaviors and attitudes, an example of which was featured in a recent NYT article. Over 20 articles by Professor Norton are available in DASH.

Two Harvard professors, Dr. Walter Willett and Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, featured on NPR

Dr. Walter Willett, Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, was recently featured on a NPR segment regarding the effectiveness and health outcomes of low-fat diet fads in the 1990s. Experts at that time recommend diets low in fat to prevent heart disease, which led to people replacing fats with carbohydrates. Dr. Willett's research countered the health benefits of a low-fat diet; Willett stated during the segment that "the high-carb, low-fat approach might not lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes." Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an epidemiologist from the Harvard Medical School, also weighed in during the segment: "The thinking that it's OK to swap saturated fats for these refined carbs 'has not been useful advice.'"

DASH contains more than 40 works by Dr. Willett, starting with his 1995 article "Diet, nutrition, and avoidable cancer" and by Dr. Mozaffarian, an example being his 2013 article "Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis."

The Year in Elections, 2013

a Cambodian official handing out paper ballots at an election

"In many countries, polling day ends with disputes about ballot-box fraud, corruption, and flawed registers. Which claims are legitimate? And which are false complaints from sore losers?" These are the questions asked by Pippa Norris, Director of The Electoral Integrity Project and McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and her co-authors Richard W. Frank and Ferran Martinez i Coma in The Year in Elections, 2013: The World's Flawed and Failed Contests. This report "aims to evaluate the quality of elections held around the world," and covers 73 national parliamentary and presidential contests in 66 countries over 18 months (from July 2012 to the end of 2013). One striking highlight of this report is that "the United States ranks 26th out of 73 elections worldwide, the lowest score among Western nations."

The Electoral Integrity Project's The Year in Elections, 2013: The World's Flawed and Failed Contests is openly available in DASH.

Suber's Open Access honored as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013

PS headshot

Open Access (MIT Press, 2012) by Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and Harvard Open Access Project, has been named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 by Choice. Published by the American Library Association, Choice is read by over 22,000 librarians and scholars who make collection development and scholarly research decisions for academic libraries. The designation of Outstanding Academic Titles recognizes works that show importance within a discipline, originality or uniqueness, and overall excellence in presentation and scholarship. In his preface to Open Access, Suber describes his book as "a succinct introduction to the basics, long enough to cover the major topics in reasonable detail and short enough for busy people to read."

Peter Suber's book, Open Access, is openly available in DASH. Suber's home page for the book includes updates and supplements as well as links to reviews, translations, and open-access editions: http://bit.ly/oa-book.

Does Music Make You Smarter?

Sam Mehr

In a recent New York Times article, published December 22, 2013, Samuel Mehr, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, summarized his recent work on the cognitive benefits of music education. "Does music make you smarter?" he asks. Mehr, along with his colleagues conducted two new randomized trials with preschoolers and parents at Harvard's Laboratory for Developmental Studies. Their conclusion? "We found no evidence that a brief series of parent-child music classes improved preschoolers' cognitive skills," states Mehr. However, Mehr goes on to say that "even if future studies fail to support the existence of music's cognitive benefits, this should not deter parents from providing their children with music lessons."

Samuel Mehr's paper (written with Adena Schachner, Rachel Katz, and Elizabeth Spelke) "Two Randomized Trials Provide No Consistent Evidence for Nonmusical Cognitive Benefits of Brief Preschool Music Enrichment" is available in DASH.

Photo by Gerry Szymanski

Making (Up) an Archive

Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran textile

In a paper given at the 2013 conference of the Digital Islamic Humanities Project, Harvard professor Afsaneh Najmabadi outlines the disciplinary and theoretical considerations of establishing a multi-genre digital archive to document a historically underrepresented group in established archives: women of Iran's Qajar dynasty (1796-1925). The Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran is a digital repository that, as of April 2013, provides access to 33,000 images, 43 private family collections, and ten institutional collections. Professor Najmabadi, Principal Investigator on this project, emphasizes the scholastic advantages of "pull[ing] together disparate archival threads" by gathering personal and family objects, photographs, and oral histories on a digital platform. "[This] has produced a fabric that is not simply the sum total of the separate threads. The resulting fabric generates connections that facilitate doing richer histories," states Najmabadi.

Professor Najmabadi's paper, "Making (Up) an Archive: What Could Writing History Look Like in a Digital Age?" is available in DASH.

Studying Suicide and Self-Harm

File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

A recent feature in The New York Times describes Harvard Professor of Psychology Matthew K. Nock as "one of the most original and influential suicide researchers in the world."

In his article "Future Directions for the Study of Suicide and Self-Injury," Prof. Nock calls for standard definitions of such terms as "suicide plan" and "suicide attempt;" use of technological advances to measure thoughts of self-harm; and a better understanding of risk factors, their relation to one another, and their correlation to actual instances of self-harm. "Whatever the specific directions we take," Nock argues, "it is imperative that we act quickly, strongly, creatively, and comprehensively so that we can begin to decrease the tragic injury and loss of life due to suicide and self-injury."

You can find a list of Prof. Nock's works in DASH here.

The Future of Special Collections

John Overholt

In his article "Five Theses on the Future of Special Collections," John Overholt argues that the stewards of special collections must embrace openness, unmediated access, and the changing profiles of users. "We are privileged to be working," he states, "at the dawn of an era in which special collections will become the raw materials upon which the creative energies of the world can be exercised."

Overholt is Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson and of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts.

2013 Sloan Research Fellows

Five Harvard researchers have been awarded fellowships by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Sloan Research Fellowships recognize distinguished performance by early-career scientists and the researchers' unique potential to make substantial contributions to their fields.

Three of the Harvard recipients have made works publicly available in DASH: Krzysztof Gajos, Assistant Professor of Computer Science; David T. Johnston, Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences; and Xi Yin, Assoicate Professor of Physics.

Blind Spots

Mahzarin Banaji. Photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Research shows that even "good people," those who make an earnest effort to make unbiased judgments and act only on their best intentions, still bear unconscious prejudices against certain social groups. In their book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald examine how membership in social groups can influence our deepest feelings about others based on such factors as age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexuality, disability status, and nationality.

Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, has written extensively on these mental blindspots in relation to crime alerts, trustworthiness, and those considered to be lucky or unlucky.

No Longer Gage: Neuroimaging A 19th-Century Brain

Portrait of Phineas Gage

In 1848, railroad foreman Phineas Gage was packing explosive powder into a hole with an iron tamping rod. The powder ignited and the blast drove the rod–over three and a half feet in length–into the man's cheek. It rammed through his brain and skull and then landed yards away. Miraculously, Gage survived.

However, according to the account of his physician, John Martyn Harlow, the man was no longer himself. Contrary to his previous character and demeanor, Gage appeared to Harlow to be "fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity." He became "capricious and vacillating," impertinent, and unwilling to take advice.

In their article, "Mapping Connectivity Damage in the Case of Phineas Gage," Harvard Medical School Professor of Radiology Ron Kilkinis and his colleagues use modern neuroimaging techniques to take a fresh look at Gage's case. Gage's skull, along with the tamping iron responsible for his injury, can be found on display in the Warren Anatomical Museum of Harvard's Countway Library of Medicine.

The Robot Swarm

Kilobots. Photo by Michael Rubenstein

A kilobot is a modular robot about the size of a quarter. It can't do much on its own, but a collective of several hundred kilobots can work together to form shapes and overcome obstacles in their path.

Together, the robots act like a swarm, maintaining set distances from one other, communicating with neighbors, and coming to collective agreement about the position of each member of the collective.

In their article, "Kilobot: A Robotic Module for Demonstrating Behaviors in a Large Scale (210 Units) Collective", Michael Rubenstein, a post-doctoral fellow in computer science, and Radhika Nagpal, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Computer Science, demonstrate how a collective of robots can self-assemble into a desired shape, reforming the shape if it is disrupted or if there is a change in the number of bots.

Recovering Economic Loss after the Deepwater Horizon Spill

Clouds of smoke billow up from controlled burns taking place in the Gulf of Mexico May 19, 2010. The controlled burns were set to reduce the amount of oil in the water following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Between April 20 and July 15, 2010, over 200 million gallons of oil poured from the Deepwater Horizon rig into the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to the environmental damage, commercial fisherman and others suffered significant economic losses.

In his paper, Liability for Economic Loss in Connection with the Deepwater Horizon Spill, Professor of Law John C. P. Goldberg examines the liability of those responsible for the spill.

Prof. Goldberg wrote the paper as an advisory memorandum to Kenneth R. Feinberg, administrator of a $20 billion fund set up by BP to compensate victims of the spill. The document was released to the public in late November of this year.

Early Grades and Later Earnings

Prof. Raj Chetty

In their paper, "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence From Project STAR," Professors Raj Chetty and John Friedman report that students' experiences in kindergarten and the first few grades significantly affect their financial future.

By matching up data from current federal tax returns with the results of a late 1980s study of over eleven thousand K-3 students, the researchers demonstrated that the quality of a student's kindergarten classroom environment is "highly correlated" not only to earnings, but also to "college attendance rates, quality of college attended, home ownership, and 401(k) savings." Further, they found that both poor and rich students enjoy a financial boost; the effects aren't limited to those privileged to attend the best schools.

Profs. Chetty and Friedman looked at the aggregate effect of factors like class size, peer performance, and teacher quality on the students' adult lives. While the available data did not allow them to examine each factor separately, the evidence strongly suggests that great teachers have the biggest impact of all.

Read more in a Gazette interview with the professors here. Raj Chetty is a Professor of Economics and recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. You can find a list of Prof. Chetty's works in DASH here. John Friedman is an Assistant Professor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Find his works in DASH here.

Way Down in the Hole

A promotional screenshot from the fourth season of HBO drama The Wire showing DuQuan, Randy, Michael and Namond, some of the new characters.

David Simon's HBO series The Wire dramatizes the lives of impoverished residents of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. As Ammol Chaddha and William Julius Wilson observe in their article, "Way Down in the Hole: Systemic Urban Inequality and The Wire," the series critiques the widely-held notion that individuals are primarily responsible for their economic situations.

Over five seasons, The Wire examines crime and incarceration, gangs and street culture, joblessness and work, politics and urban policy, and education and youth. The series offers an alternative explanation of urban poverty, one supported by scholarship on inequality: "political, social, and economic factors reinforce each other to produce profound disadvantage for the urban poor," disparities that "are reproduced across generations." By presenting the lives and choices of individual characters, the show also demonstrates the ways in which "individuals' decisions and behavior are often shaped by–and indeed limited by–social, political, and economic forces beyond their control."

Anmol Chaddha is a doctoral student of sociology and social policy in the Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. William Julius Wilson is Lewis F. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor in the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. You can find a complete list of Prof. Wilson's works in DASH here.

The Art of Dying

He sleeps his last sleep. A Conferederate soldier who after being wounded evidently dragged himself to a little ravine on the hill side, where he died.

In her article The Civil War Soldier and the Art of Dying, Harvard President and Lincoln Professor of History, Drew Gilpin Faust, examines the way in which the Civil War changed how Americans thought about death.

Faust points out that the impact of death in the Civil War extended beyond the quantity of casualties, the unprecedented scale of the slaughter.

"Death's significance for the Civil War generation," Faust argues, "derived as well from the way it violated prevailing assumptions about life's proper end—about who should die, when and where, and under what circumstances."

On September 18, the American Experience series on PBS will air Death and the Civil War, a new documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Ric Burns based on President Faust's prize-winning book This Republic of Suffering.

You can find a full list of President Faust's articles in DASH here.

I Am the Greatest!

Bust portrait of Muhammad Ali, World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg

Overconfidence might not be such a bad trait, at least from an evolutionary standpoint. In their article, "Evolution: Selection for Positive Illusions," Profs. Matthijs van Veelen and Martin Nowak observe that most of us overestimate our abilities and underestimate our exposure to risk.

That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but thinking you're the greatest (even if you're really just "pretty good") may actually offer an evolutionary advantage.

Martin Nowak is a Professor of Mathematics and Biology, as well as the Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard. You can find a complete list of Prof. Nowak's articles in DASH here.

Best Intentions, Ironic Results

Comedian Larry David at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. Photo by David Shankbone

The humor in shows like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm usually arises out of their protagonists' penchant for saying or doing the most inappropriate thing possible in a given situation. But how does this work in real life?

In his article, "How to Think, Say, or Do Precisely the Worst Thing For Any Occasion," Daniel M. Wegner, the John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in Memory of William James, suggests that our blunders have to do with something called "the ironic process of mental control."

When we actively strive to avoid some thought or action, the mental processes that watch for mistakes can sometimes backfire on us, actually increasing our chances of making just such mortifying mistakes. This is especially true when we're distracted or under pressure.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Wegner's work in DASH here.

Can We Identify Mass Murderers Before They Strike?

Jared Lougner

Seung-Hui Cho, Nidal Hasan, and Jared Lee Loughner: three men guilty of mass shootings (at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, and a constituents meeting held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, respectively). In hindsight, it seems that it should have been possible to identify them as potential murderers before their horrible acts—whether by their odd or ominous behavior, or perhaps by matching them up with the psychological profiles of past mass killers.

In his piece for the online magazine Salon "Why Psychiatrists Can't Predict Mass Murderers," Professor of Psychology Richard J. McNally considers the difficult task of "distinguishing the truly dangerous from the merely odd." You can find a complete list of Prof. McNally's works in DASH here.

Why Have Americans Become More Obese?

Illustration of obesity and waist circumference. From left to right, as labeled in the original image, the "healthy" man has a 33 inch (84 cm) waist, the "overweight" man a 45 inch (114 cm) waist, and the "obese" man a 60 inch (152cm) waist.

If you want to understand obesity in America, and how it's changed in the last few decades, just take a look at the potato.

Americans have always eaten a lot of potatoes, but before the 1950s, people mostly baked, boiled, or mashed their spuds at home. Today the most common way Americans consume their favorite vegetable is the french fry—cut and peeled by a machine, frozen for transport, and then deep fried at a fast food chain.

In their essay, "Why Have Americans Become More Obese," three economists argue that the nature of obesity in the United States has shifted as a result of changes in how food is prepared: "The switch from individual to mass preparation lowered the time price of food consumption and led to increased quantity and variety of foods consumed." Faster preparation meant taking in more calories, leading predictably to an ever-expanding waistline.

David Cutler, Otto Eckstein Professor of Applied Economics, and Edward L. Glaeser, the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, co-authored the study in 2003 with Harvard alumnus Jesse M. Shapiro, now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Religion, Science, and Anatomy

Cover of a medieval manuscript of Ibn Sina's al-Qanun

In his paper, "The Question of Anatomy: Towards a Different Understanding of the Interactions of Religion and Science in the Medieval Middle East," Prof. Ahmed Ragab explains that in the Middle Ages, anatomy was not, as it is today, a matter of empirical observation. Instead, in the Medieval Middle East, the discourse of anatomy had its foundations in the medical theory of the ancient Greeks and the religious teachings of Islam. Medical scholars had to find creative ways "to deal with the conflicting authorities and sometimes contradicting narratives" of these two traditions.

Prof. Ragab, an affiliate of the FAS department of the history of science, is also the first Richard T. Watson Assistant Professor of Science and Religion in the Faculty of Divinity. He will be delivering a public lecture to mark the inauguration of this new professorship on March 29, 2012, at Andover Hall.

Advising the Advisors

U.S. Supreme Court Building. Photo by Duncan Lock.

"Any law professor who does not get asked to sign 'scholars' briefs'," Richard Fallon observes, "is not much of a scholar." A professor in constitutional law at Harvard Law School, Fallon considers the ethical implications for legal scholars of participating in scholarly briefs in his article, "Scholars' Briefs and the Vocation of a Law Professor."

In briefs of this kind, scholars draw on both their legal knowledge and their perceived objectivity to provide support to one side of an argument before a court. Scholars may write the briefs themselves, but often they are sought out by one party or the other to endorse an already-written brief.

In his article, Prof. Fallon suggests that his colleagues ought to consider exercising some restraint when it comes to these documents: "Law professors often should say no, or at least we should say no much more frequently than many of us now do. And when we say yes—as we should sometimes—we should insist that scholars' briefs reflect higher norms of scholarly integrity than many such briefs now satisfy."

Three Harvard Professors Awarded Genius Grants

Roland Fryer Jr., Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics; Markus Greiner, associate professor of physics; and Matthew K. Nock, professor of psychology, have each been awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. The fellowships, often referred to as "genius" grants, provide $500,000 for the recipient to pursue creative and intellectual projects.

You can find work by all three of these Harvard Professors in DASH. Prof. Fryer's work investigates the economic and social conditions of being black in America. Prof. Greiner uses lasers to cool and trap atoms in order to study quantum phenomena, and Prof. Nock's work is focused on the causes of suicide and self-harm.

Harvard Economist Advises Mitt Romney

Harvard Economist, N. George Mankiw

Earlier this month, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney assembled his panel of economic advisors.

One of the new appointees was N. Gregory Mankiw, author of the popular textbooks Macroeconomics and Principles of Economics and Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard. Mankiw is also the former chairman of President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors and author of a popular blog about economic policy issues.

In February 2004, the Council of Economic Advisors released a report (the Economic Report of the President) that sparked a contentious debate about offshore outsourcing. In a 2006 paper co-authored with Prof. Phillip Swagel, Mankiw comments on the controversy. The paper "examines the differing ways in which economists and non-economists talk about offshore outsourcing" and concludes that "empirical evidence to date, while still tentative…suggests that increased employment in the overseas affiliates of U.S. multinationals is associated with more employment in the U.S. parent than less."

You can find a complete list of Prof. Mankiw's work in DASH here.

Global Wind Power

2.5 MW Wind Turbines on Scout Moor Windfarm, England. Photo by Paul Anderson

Could the world run on wind power? "Absolutely," says Michael McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies.

Based on a simulation of global wind fields, McElroy and his colleagues concluded:

"A network of land-based 2.5 MW turbines restricted to non-forested, ice-free, non-urban areas operating as little as 20% of their rated capacity, could supply more than 40 times current worlde consumption of electricity, more than 5 times total global use of energy in all forms."

The full study, "Global Potential for Wind-Generated Electricity," was co-authored with Xi Lu, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Atmospheric Chemistry, and Juha Kiviluoma of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

You can find a complete list of Prof. McElroy's work in DASH here.

Painting, Pollock, and Fluid Dynamics

Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm; Fair use argument: It is representative of the work of Jackson Pollock, who is a major artist in the period covered by the article. It is of educational and informational benefit to the reader.

In the 1940s, the American artist Jackson Pollock developed a new style of abstract painting. He used common, synthetic paints, dripping or pouring these directly onto the canvas. Pollock described the technique of his "drip paintings" this way: "I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added."

In "Painting with Drops, Jets, and Sheets," Harvard Professor of Physics, Applied Mathematics and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan, along with his colleagues at Boston College, use Pollock's work to illustrate and reconsider the boundary between art and physics.

The artist is not a slave to the physical properties of her materials; she uses her materials to execute an aesthetic vision which transcends them. The authors argue, however, that Pollock "creatively ceded some of the responsibility for the appearance of his work to natural phenomena, inviting fluid dynamics to coauthor his pieces." They suggest that "using the tools of physics and art history one may begin to dilineate the intersection of what is aesthetically viable and what is physically possible."

You can find a complete list of Prof. Mahadevan's work in DASH here.

Those Who Study and Teach the Qur'an

A copy of the Qur'an opened for reading. Flickr.com user "el7bara"

Addressing a forum of Islamic scholars, William A. Graham, Dean of Harvard's School of Divinity, spoke of how "both Muslim and non-Muslim students and teachers of Islamic history and religion can participate productively in common colloquy about matters touching the Qur'an."

The talk, "Those who study and teach the Qu'ran," was recently collected in Islamic and Comparative Religious Studies: Selected Writings, an anthology of Dean Graham's work, and is now available in DASH.

Out on Broadway

Broadway Sign, cropped from original photograph by Aimée Tyrrell, December 2005

Harvard Professor Robin Bernstein observes that there has long been tension between New York's center for theater and drama and the city's LGBT theater practitioners.

In "Staging Lesbian and Gay New York," collected in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York, Prof. Bernstein explains that "the history of scripted live performances by or about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in New York City is the history of a vexed relationship with Broadway, the mainstream visibility it offers, and the politics and aesthetics it polices."

Robin Bernstein is an Associate Professor, jointly appointed to the African and African American Studies department and the Program of Studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

Buddhists & Brain Science

Statue of the Buddha; from Wikimedia Commons user: Sethuramrajesh65

The vision of humanity presented by modern brain sciences deprives our lives of deeper meaning by reducing our emotional states, individual preferences, and (ostensibly) free choices to so many electrical impulses and molecular interactions. At least this is the view held by many humanists.

Anne Harrington, Professor of the History of Science, challenges this perspective in her article Buddhist Brains: A Case Study in the Reenchantment of the Brain Sciences. Examining studies on the effects of Buddhist meditation on the brains of advanced practitioners, Prof. Harrington suggests that "the brain sciences themselves allow for a more optimistic vision" for the future of human values.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Harrington's work in DASH here.

Godfather to an Insect

A Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) butterfly; photo by Ernst Vikne

Vladimir Nabokov is best known for his literary achievements. Nabokov authored seventeen novels, including the classic Lolita, and penned such masterworks of short fiction as "Signs and Symbols" and "Spring in Fialta."

Less well-known is Nabokov's work as an amateur lepidopterist, a collector and classifier of butterflies. In 1941, Nabokov volunteered to help Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology to organize its collection of butterflies and moths. He was awarded a research appointment at the Museum and developed a novel theory about the origins of a group of butterflies known as Polyommatus blues. This variety of butterfly, he suggested, emigrated to North American from Asia in five distinct waves.

Using modern methods of genetic analysis, the Museum's current curator of Lepidoptera, Naomi Pierce, put Nabokov's theory to the test. In their article, "Phylogeny and Palaeoecology of Polyommatus Blue Butterflies Show Beringia Was a Climate-Regulated Gateway to the New World," Prof. Pierce and her colleagues report that Nabokov's five-wave hypothesis was correct.

"By God, he got every one right," Pierce commented in The New York Times. "I couldn't get over it—I was blown away."

You can find a feature about the study in the Harvard Gazette.

The Poet and the Petitioner

Frontispiece and title page of: Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784): Poems on various subjects, religious and moral.

In her remarkable poem, "To the University of Cambridge, in New-England," Phillis Wheatley, a woman born in Africa and brought to American as a slave, cautions the young men of eighteenth century Harvard to avoid sin and devote themselves to study.

In "The Poet and the Petitioner: Two Black Women in Harvard's Early History," Margot Minardi contrasts Wheatley's poem to a petition filed by a woman called "Belinda, an Affrican." When her Tory master fled the colonies and returned to England, Belinda appealed to the Massachusetts' state legislature (known as the General Court) for financial support.

As Minardi, Assistant Professor of History and Humanities at Reed College, explains:

Of these two women, who came to Massachusetts as slaves, one was a prodigy, the other illiterate, yet their two documents, the poem and the petition, served similar purposes. They got the men of Harvard College and the General Court—two of the oldest and most important secular institutions in Massachusetts—to pay attention, if only for a few moments, to the thoughts and experiences of black women.

Prof. Minardi's work appears in the book Yards and Gates: Gender in Harvard and Radcliffe History, edited by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard's 300th Anniversary University Professor. The full text of the book is stored in DASH and available for download.

How to Deal with Information Overload . . . in the 17th Century

Prof. Ann Blair, photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Ann Blair, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, points out that information overload is not a problem particular to our digital age.

In her article, "Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload, ca. 1550-1700", Prof. Blair discusses how, in early modern Europe, "the perception of an overabundance of books fueled the production of many more books, of especially large ones, designed to remedy the problem—from new genres like the universal bibliography and the book review to new (or not-so-new) contributions to well-established genres, including the florilegium, the dictionary, and the encyclopedic compilation."

Blair discusses this issue in depth in her new book Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information Before the Modern Age and interviewed about the book for the NPR program "Talk of the Nation."

You can find a complete list of Prof. Blair's works in DASH here.

Preparing Health Professionals for the 21st Century

Students working with an artificial patient (Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, CTU in Prague). Photo by VIC CVUT

According to a global commission on the education of health professionals, medical schools and departments of public health must commit to structural changes if they are to prepare graduates for the challenges of the 21st century.

In a report published in The Lancet, the commission expresses concern about "fragmented, outdated, and static curricula;" "[the] mismatch of competencies to patient and population needs; poor teamwork; persistent gender stratification of professional status" and other "systematic" problems.

"What is clearly needed," states Julio Frenk, a lead author of the report and Dean of Harvard's School of Public Health, "is a thorough and authoritative re-examination of health professional education . . ."

The complete report, Health Professionals for a New Century: Transforming Education to Strengthen Health Systems in an Interdependent World, is available for download in DASH.

New England Romantic Literature: America's Civil Scripture or Yankee Regionalism?

"The First Thanksgiving," by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Dickinson, and Harriet Beecher Stowe each contributed to an origin story of the American spirit that bound it to a Yankee, Anglo-Saxon past.

America's cultural history, however, encompasses more than Plymouth Rock and Puritan Boston.

In his article, The New England Renaissance and American Literary Ethnocentrism, Prof. Lawrence Buell, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, considers both the national importance and the regional particularity of New England Romantic literature.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Buell's works in DASH here.

Is Home Foreclosure Bad for Your Health?

Foreclosure sign. Photo by WikiCommons user Mikeishere701.

Policy makers have been struggling to deal with the economic effects of the home foreclosure crisis; but what about the health effects? In their article, Will the Public's Health Fall Victim to the Home Foreclosure Epidemic, Gary Bennet and his colleagues consider how foreclosure, a stressful life event with a prolonged duration, might increase the risk of chronic disease.

Bennet is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Society, Human Development & Health at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH); Reginald D. Tucker-Seeley, a co-author on the paper, is a research associate in HSPH.

You can find more open access works by Prof. Bennet by visiting his Harvard Catalyst profile.

Tattoos, Criminals, and Modern Architecture

A page from Lombroso's L'homme criminel

Modernist architect Adolf Loos championed unadorned, abstract structures and regarded ornamentation as a sign of cultural backwardness. "The evolution of culture," he declared, "is synonymous with the removal of ornamentation from objects of everyday use."

In their article, Criminal Skins: Tattoos and Modern Architecture in the Work of Adolf Loos, Jimena Canales and Andrew Herscher examine how Loos's theories drew upon and perpetuated ideas from nineteenth-century criminal anthropology. Canales, Associate Professor of the History of Science, explains how Loos connected the ornamentation of everyday objects and structures with the practice of tattooing. Drawing on the work of Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, Loos argued that the desire to ornament architectural forms, like the urge to inscribe the body, was evidence of evolutionary backsliding, a fall into savagery and degenerate criminality.

You can find a complete listing of Prof. Canales's works in DASH here.

Dwarves, Saints, and Beetles! Oh, my!

Franz Kafka's Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis)

"One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin." So begins Franz Kafka's short novel, Die Verwandlung, better known to English readers as The Metamorphosis.

In his article for Comparative Literature, Leland de la Durantaye, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of English, considers Kafka's influence on the polyglot prose stylist, Vladimir Nabokov.

As a rule, the author of Lolita championed the use of concrete details in fiction and denounced mythology and symbolism. Prof. de la Druantaye observes, however, that Nabokov's interpretation of The Metamorphosis "makes Kafka's story into an allegory of the fate of the artist surrounded by uncomprehending mediocrity."

You can find a complete listing of Prof. de la Durantaye's works in DASH here.

Can DNA "Witness" Race?

Professor Fullwiley in the field at the Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire, LBV CHU, Aristide Le Dantec Hospital in Dakar, Senegal working on a collaborative sickle cell trait study. 2006.

In her article, "Can DNA 'Witness' Race?: Forensic Uses of an Imperfect Ancestry Testing Technology," Duana Fullwiley, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and of African and African American Studies, questions law enforcement's use of the so-called "DNA Witness" technology.

The inventors of "DNA Witness" claim that their method can identify the race of a suspect based on a comparison of DNA from a crime scene with a set of genetic markers thought to be associated with ancestry.

Prof. Fullwiley "examine[s] the use of DNAWitness to determine the prospective race of a suspect in order to provide evidence to law enforcement for narrowing a suspect pool." She further argues that "DNAWitness falls short of legal and scientific standards for trial admissibility and eludes certain legal logic concerning the use of racial categories in interpreting DNA."

You can find a complete listing of Prof. Fullwiley's articles in DASH here.

Digital Natives & Creative Rights

Prof. John Palfrey

Harvard law professor John Palfrey, co-author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, describes "digital natives" as children who were born into and raised in the digital world. Digital natives may not think twice about using a peer-to-peer file system to illegally download a copy of an album or film, yet they still care about the rights of their favorite artists and want creative people to be able to earn a living from their work.

In their article, Youth, Creativity, and Copyright in the Digital Age, Prof. Palfrey and his colleagues examine how young people understand the relationship between digital creativity and copyright law. The results of a qualitative research study show that "young people operate in the digital realm overwhelmingly ignorant of the rights, and to a lesser degree the restrictions, established in copyright law."

The authors argue for the need to educate digital natives about copyright law, "empowering young people as actors in society, both in terms of their ability to contribute to cultural knowledge and creative practices and to engage in the laws that govern society."

You can find a complete listing of Prof. Palfrey's articles in DASH here.

Tabula rasa? Not so much.

Steven Pinker. Photo Credit: Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

Are we the products of heredity or the environment? Of nature or nurture?

Human beings are not simply automatons going through the biologically-determined motions of life; they're not born blank slates, either, just waiting to be inscribed by culture and history.

So says Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology. In his article, Why Nature & Nurture Won't Go Away, Pinker goes on to argue that the obvious compromise—"it's both"—also misses the mark. We can't simply say that all human attributes and behaviors can be understood as some combination of intrinsic structures and environmental influence, and leave it at that.

Instead of providing easy answers, Prof. Pinker examines how the nature/nurture debate has been framed in fields as divergent as behavioral genetics and postmodern philosophy, and considers why the dispute persists.

You can find a complete listing of Prof. Pinker's works in DASH here.

Spamming for Dollars

Jonathan Zittrain

Why would someone send out thousands of identical email messages on the same day, touting a particular stock? Apparently, because spamming works—for the spammer, if not for the ordinary investor.

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law, and Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, explains how these scams function in Spam Works: Evidence from Stock Touts and Corresponding Market Activity.

Prof. Zittrain reports that he has found "convincing evidence that stock prices are being manipulated through spam," observing that "stocks experience a significantly positive return on days prior to heavy touting via spam." The paper examines the impact of spam on stock trading and proposes "several regulatory and industry interventions" to deal with the problem.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Zittrain's works in DASH here.

"Most Were Much Affected and Many In Much Distress"

Portable field pulpit Oak, c. 1742-1770 American Tract Society, Garland, Texas (63)

It was "a series of religious revivals in the American colonies which people experienced as a 'new Birth': described as an acute awareness of sight, sound, and inward feeling, as if just woken from sleep."

This is how Joan van der Woude, Assistant Professor of English and of History and Literature, describes The Great Awakening in her contribution, this bold and wide-ranging anthology of American culture has generated interest, commentary, and controversy.

Publishers Weekly summed it up this way: "The full national-literary character of the United States is on display in this mighty history and reference work for our time."

Counterterrorism in the 21st Century

Logo of the FBI Counterterrorism Division

Terrorist groups motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam and acting without state sponsorship present a significant security challenge to the United States. In his paper, Designing Institutions to Deal with Terrorism, Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics, suggests that countering the threat posed by "the new terrorism" will require a restructuring of the United States' counterterrorism (CT) institutions, particularly the FBI, along with greater cooperation with the CT activities of other nations.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Feldstein's works in DASH here.

Myth, Cosmic Terror, and the Templo Mayor

We have a "fractured image" of the religion and society of the ancient Aztecs, says David L. Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor for the Study of Latin America in the Faculty of Divinity and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

We may wonder how "a people who conceived of and carved the uniquely marvelous calendar stone and developed one of the most accurate calendrical systems of the ancient world [could] spend so much time, energy, and wealth to obtain and sacrifice human victims for every conceivable feast day in the calendar?"

In his article, "Myth, Cosmic Terror, and the Templo Mayor," Prof. Carrasco seeks to explain such seeming contradictions by examining The Templo Mayor and the city of Tenochtitlan as paradigmatic expressions of a pattern of Aztec social organization characterized by "conflict, warfare, and human sacrifice at major temples."

Confusion, Contradiction and Irony: The Iraqi Media in 2010

Deborah Amos

Deborah Amos reports that "after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, Iraq's news media environment transformed almost overnight from the tightly controlled propaganda arm of Saddam Hussein's rule into one of the most diverse and unrestricted news environments in the Middle East."

In her paper, "Confusion, Contradiction and Irony: The Iraqi Media in 2010," Amos describes this new media landscape and examines how Iraqis have responded to it.

She also addresses two key questions: "Is the Iraq news media an environment that encourages democracy and state building? What are the prospects to retain an open and pluralistic media landscape within Iraq's sectarian system?"

Deborah Amos covers Iraq for NPR news and wrote this paper while serving as a Shorenstein Center Goldsmith Fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School.

Torture at Times: Waterboarding in the Media

Waterboard on display at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Should waterboarding—the practice of simulating drowning and then reviving the victim—be considered torture?

Journalists and editors have grappled with this question hundreds of times since 2004, when revelations regarding U.S. interrogation methods revived the public debate about waterboarding.

In their paper, Torture at Times: Waterboarding in the Media, students from Harvard Law School and Harvard College examine how newspapers in the United States referred to waterboarding.

Neal Desai and his co-authors report that from the 1930s until 2003, waterboarding was commonly referred to as torture by American newspapers. However, from 2004 to 2008, these same papers almost never referred to waterboarding as torture. More specifically, Desai and his team discovered that "[U.S.] newspapers are much more likely to call waterboarding torture if a country other than the United States is the perpetrator."

Ethnic Identity: A Dilemma for Second-Generation Black Immigrants

Port-au-Prince (photo by Doron Feldman) / New York City

How does a teenager in New York City whose parents came from Haiti understand her ethnic identity? Does she identify as a black American? As Haitian? As Haitian-American?

In her article Ethnic and Racial Identities of Second-Generation Black Immigrants in New York City, Mary Waters, M. E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology, examines how race and class interact to define the identities of second generation West Indian and Haitian Americans in New York City.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Waters's works in DASH here.

Is Mathematics Discovered or Invented?

Plato and Aristotle

In his article, "Mathematical Platonism and its Opposites," Barry Mazur considers whether mathematics is discovered in nature or invented by man.

Prof. Mazur examines this question not as a philosopher or a cultural historian, however, but as a mathematician—an individual inspired by structure and conversant with the felt experience of doing math.

Happiness Clusters

This graph suggests clustering in happiness and unhappiness within the network, and it suggests a relationship between being peripheral and being unhappy

We're accustomed to seeing happiness as something individual and internal, a state of mind that has to do with the circumstances and psychology of a particular person. Not so, say Harvard professors Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler.

According to their findings in "Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large Social Network: Longitudinal Analysis Over 20 Years in the Framingham Heart Study," happiness is better understood as "a network phenomenon, clustering in groups of people."

If you're looking for long-term happiness, the study suggests, the best strategy may simply be to surround yourself with happy people.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Christakis's works in DASH here.

Darwin in Caricature

Caricature by André Gill of Charles Darwin and Émile Littré depicted as performing monkeys at a circus breaking through gullibility (credulité), superstitions, errors, and ignorance.

In his own time, Darwin's theories were widely discussed in scholarly journals and amongst members of learned societies. But ordinary people in the nineteenth century were more likely to encounter Darwin's ideas through newspapers and magazines, biographies, songs, and cartoons.

In her article, Darwin in Caricature: A Study in the Popularisation and Dissemination of Evolution, Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, examines the portrayal of evolution in nineteenth century cartoons.

You can find a complete list of Prof. Browne's works in DASH here.

Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering

Prof. Asim Khwaja

In their article, Estimating the Impact of the Hajj: Religion and Tolerance in Islam's Global Gathering, Asim Khwaja, Michael Kremer, and David Clingingsmith report that pilgrims to Mecca return with "a feeling of unity with fellow Muslims."

This experience does not lead, however, to "antipathy toward non-Muslims," but rather to an "increased belief in peace, and in equality and harmony among adherents of different religions."

Asim Khwaja (pictured) is Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School; Michael R. Kremer is Gates Professor of Developing Societies and a member of both the Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Against the Goldstone Report

"The Goldstone Report is, to any fair reader, a shoddy piece of work, unworthy of serious consideration by people of good will, committed to the truth." This is how Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and an outspoken defender of Israel, describes The Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (also known as the Goldstone Report).

You can consider Prof. Dershowitz's full argument in The Case Against the Goldstone Report: A Study in Evidentiary Bias.

Religion and Economic Growth

Prof. Robert R. Barro

Does it matter to a country's economic growth whether its citizens attend church services, or if they believe in Heaven and Hell?

In their article, Religion and Economic Growth across Countries, Robert R. Barro, Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics; and Rachel M. McCleary, Senior Research Fellow at The Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Taubman Center, use international survey data from a broad panel of countries to investigate the effects of church attendance and religious beliefs on economic growth.

You can find a full list of Prof. Barro's works in DASH here; Dr. McCleary's works can be found here.

The Struggle over "Ecoterrorism"

Monkey Wrench Gang Cover

In his article, "What Is Called Ecoterrorism," Lawrence Buell, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, examines how a pair of novels, Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) and Michael Crichton's State of Fear (2004), helped to define the meaning of the term "ecoterrorism," forging it as "a rhetorical weapon not only against radicals but sometimes even mainstream reform initiatives."

You can find a full list of Prof. Buell's works in DASH here.

Game Face

Prof. Hanspeter Pfister

As movie-goers and video-gamers, we're accustomed to seeing life-like digital faces. Computer-generated countenances are also widely used in medicine, biometrics, and virtual reality. Still, it's very difficult to create faces that will fool us; human beings are wired, it seems, to pick up on very small differences in faces.

Prof. Hanspeter Pfister, Director of Visual Computing in the Initiative in Innovative Computing, has been working on this problem for years. In Analysis of Human Faces Using a Measurement-Based Skin Reflectance Model, Prof. Pfister and his colleagues describe some of the techniques they have developed for capturing and digitally reproducing an actor's performance and likeness.

You can find Prof. Pfister's works in DASH, many of which deal with digital representation of faces and places, here.

The Supreme Court During Crisis

Prof. Gary King

In their article, The Supreme Court During Crisis: How War Affects only Non-War Cases, Prof. Gary King and his colleagues report the results of a large-scale, quantitative study of civil rights and liberties cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during national security crises.

The results are surprising: "When crises threaten the nation's security, the justices are substantially more likely to curtail rights and liberties than when peace prevails. Yet paradoxically, and in contradiction to virtually every theory of crisis jurisprudence, war appears to affect only cases that are unrelated to the war."

You can find a full list of Prof. King's works in DASH here.

If You're So Smart, How Come You're Dead?

Earth from High Orbit

As Steven Shapin explains in "Descartes the Doctor: Rationalism and Its Therapies," seventeenth century philosophers were painfully aware that that "the ability to prevent and cure disease, to alleviate suffering and extend human life has recurrently been used as a public test of the truth and power of philosophic and scientific systems . . ."

Thus, although Rene Descartes is best known today as "the father of modern philosophy," he was also in the habit of doling out hands-on medical advice and making claims about his future longevity.

You can find a full list of Prof. Shapin's works in DASH here.

Breaking Through Internet Censorship

Dozens of national governments filter citizen access to the web. However, as Prof. John Palfrey and his colleagues explain in their 2007 Circumvention Landscape Report: "A large variety of different projects have developed tools that can be used to circumvent this filtering . . ."

You can find a full list of Prof. Palfrey's works in DASH here.

Cycles of Civilization

As Prof. Jason Ur explains in Cycles of Civilization in Northern Mesopotamia, 4400-2000 BC, "over a span of more than two millenia, northern Mesopotamia witnessed the emergence of urban complex society, its collapse and rebirth, and a further episode of collapse."

In this article, Prof. Ur examines and interprets recent archaeological data from excavations and surveys in northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey to trace the rise and fall of ancient urban places.

You can find a full list of Prof. Ur's works in DASH here.

Transsexuality in Iran

In her article, Transing and Transpassing Across Sex-Gender Walls in Iran, Prof. Afsaneh Najamabadi examines the journalistic, biomedical, jurisprudential, and religious construction of transsexuality in Iran, arguing that the country's "religio-legal framework of transsexuality has been productive of paradoxical, and certainly unintended, effects that at times benefit homosexuals."