Science and the Importance of Seeing

We usually visualise cells as colourless, stationary blobs; but new advances in imaging have radically changed our power to capture the lives of cells.

Science, we know, demands that we become comfortable dwelling within the abstract. No one can ever ‘see’ a quark or lepton, though we can listen to musical interpretations of the activity of subatomic particles. So too, the very cells that constitute our bodies are elusive; when we isolate them and direct light upon them to study them, we inevitably kill them. The less we can visualise, make auditory, or tactile the subjects of micro-science, the fewer chances are there that we will trade the mental state of wonderment for familiarity and comprehension. It may not be hyperbole to say that some of the philosophical questions that arise Continue reading “Science and the Importance of Seeing”


Brains, death, and definition

In the latest issue of The New Atlantis Alan Rubenstein—a staff member of the United States President’s Council on Bioethics—discusses a report written by that council, entitled and about, Controversies in the Determination of Death. “At stake in the report,” he says, “is the moral status of those human beings who are ‘suspended at the threshold.’” Continue reading “Brains, death, and definition”