How Technology Shapes Our Lives

by Dina Gerdeman

For centuries, the creation of innovative technology—from steam engines and automobiles to computers and smartphones—has dramatically changed the nature of our work. Less deeply understood has been the impact of technology on the inner currents of our personal lives, according to Harvard Business School Professor Debora Spar.

In fact, as many life-altering technologies have come into play, they have upended long-held beliefs about love, sex, marriage, and reproduction, says Spar in the new book Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny, which was published this week.

“Technological change doesn’t just stay in board rooms and companies,” she says. “It drives our most intimate personal relationships as well.”

Spar, the MBA Class of 1952 Professor of Business Administration at HBS, argues that

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Stellar winds hint at how planetary nebulae get their stunning shapes

In their dying throes, some stars leave behind beautiful planetary nebulae — disk, spiral or even butterfly-shaped clouds of dust and gas (SN: 5/17/18).

How these fantastically shaped clouds arise from round stars is a mystery. New observations of red giant stars suggest that massive planets or other objects orbiting dying stars help stir up stellar winds and shape planetary nebulae, researchers report in the Sept. 18 Science.

“We were wondering how stars can get these beautiful shapes,” says Leen Decin, an astrophysicist at KU Leuven in Belgium. So she and her colleagues examined 14 stars in the red giant phase, before they become planetary nebulae. Data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile revealed that stellar winds — fast-moving flows of gas, dust and subatomic particles such as protons — ejected from the red giant stars have different shapes, including spirals, disks and cones.


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