Monday, August 22, 2016

Three Important Breakthroughs

This Monday afternoon… following the usual struggle to find meaning in daily activities, i.e. “work”… I offer three breakthroughs for your consideration. The first two are life-saving discoveries that portend hope for us all in the days ahead.

The third is a re-discovery of a way of thinking. Dr. Michael Sandel, Harvard University, challenges the reigning (American capitalist) school of thought that “sees economics as a discipline that has nothing to do with morality, i.e. that ‘markets’ are morally neutral” and resolution of social problems is simply a matter of providing the appropriate dollar incentive to the top dog and everything will “trickle down” to the “others”.

Legions of Nanorobots Target Cancerous Tumours With Precision

“Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University have just achieved a spectacular breakthrough in cancer research. They have developed new nanorobotic agents capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug with precision by specifically targeting the active cancerous cells of tumours. This way of injecting medication ensures the optimal targeting of a tumour and avoids jeopardizing the integrity of organs and surrounding healthy tissues. As a result, the drug dosage that is highly toxic for the human organism could be significantly reduced.”

“The legions of nanorobotic agents are actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria -- and therefore self-propelled -- and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug's injection point and the area of the body to cure.” –more–

New test looks Parkinson's disease straight in the eye

“New research suggests changes in the retina may reveal Parkinson's disease in its early stages.”

“An ability to detect Parkinson's before it imparts irreparable damage on the brain would be a game changer when it comes to treatment options. This has inspired the development of blood tests and biosensors with the potential to pick up on the disease's early biomarkers, and now new research has raised the prospect of a simple, low-cost eye test to catch the disease before it evolves into telltale symptoms like tremors and muscle stiffness.” -more-

Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do? Episode 08: "What’s a Fair Start?"
Dr. Michael Sandel

Part One: What's a Fair Start?
Is it just to tax the rich to help the poor? John Rawls says we should answer this question by asking what principles you would choose to govern the distribution of income and wealth if you did not know who you were, whether you grew up in privilege or in poverty. Wouldn’t you want an equal distribution of wealth, or one that maximally benefits whomever happens to be the least advantaged? After all, that might be you. Rawls argues that even meritocracy—a distributive system that rewards effort—doesn’t go far enough in leveling the playing field because those who are naturally gifted will always get ahead. Furthermore, says Rawls, the naturally gifted can’t claim much credit because their success often depends on factors as arbitrary as birth order. Sandel makes Rawls point when he asks the students who were first born in their family to raise their hands.

Part Two: What Do We Deserve?
Professor Sandel recaps how income, wealth, and opportunities in life should be distributed, according to the three different theories raised so far in class. He summarizes libertarianism, the meritocratic system, and John Rawls egalitarian theory. Sandel then launches a discussion of the fairness of pay differentials in modern society. He compares the salary of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ($200,000) with the salary of televisions Judge Judy ($25 million). Sandel asks, is this fair? According to John Rawls, it is not. Rawls argues that an individuals personal success is often a function of morally arbitrary facts—luck, genes, and family circumstances—for which he or she can claim no credit. Those at the bottom are no less worthy simply because they weren’t born with the talents a particular society rewards, Rawls argues, and the only just way to deal with society’s inequalities is for the naturally advantaged to share their wealth with those less fortunate.

Go here for background on the PBS/Harvard series Justice: What’s The Right Thing to Do? 

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