“What if?” questions are one of the most basic ingredients of Science – and also of life! It is almost sufficient to define consciousness as “the means by which possible future events affect the present”. Mordechai Ben-Ari poses the question: “Why was there only one Japan?” and in a piece of comparative cultural analysis considers why, when faced with advanced scientific and industrial superiority, societies do not necessarily embrace the “new technology”.
Physician/Patient communication is one of the most vital aspects of health care, but often doctors have dilemmas with respect to their communication and ethical responsibilities to their patient’s families – even following the death of a patient. In her article: “An Assessment of Rights Theory in a Specific Health Care Context” Catherine Edwards discusses in terms of “Rights Theory” a case she was involved in and analyses the various ethical tensions in a situation involving a surviving relative of a deceased patient. The case highlights some of the problems of dealing with ethical issues in terms of conflicting rights.
Physics courses tend, by their very nature, to be quite intense and aim to equip students with the tools to solve problems and stretch their minds. This is a good thing, but sometimes the race to attack “complicated” problems leaves the “simple” problems behind, and “rule following” takes precedence over thinking and understanding – this is not such a good thing. In “Qualitative versus quantitative thinking: are we teaching the right thing?” Eric Mazur describes his experiences in giving an introductory physics course in relation to the balance between problem-solving and understanding.
Universities are continually having to “re-invent” themselves, and especially now in the UK, financial and government pressures are mediating important changes in the relationship between universities and society. Giving his view of the university of the future, João Caraça asks the question: “Should universities be concerned with Teaching or with Learning?”