August 17th, 2018
Yuval Harari says humans are a post-truth species. No shit. Ever wonder why folks ignore the truth? Here's one thought, and here's another. Regardless, let's keep working on meeting people where they are, and finding a way forward, so we can turn this ship around on the quick step.
This week's question was: what's the (real) business incentive for clean energy?
Our guest was Will Hackman. Will’s an expert and author on various energy, environmental, and climate change topics. He also bolted immediately after the call to go to Alaska and potentially never come back. Check it out anyways!
Subscribe now to get next Tuesday's episode: can Texas go (clean energy) independent?
Our guest: candidate for Texas district 21, Joseph Kopser. He's a military vet, and a clean energy entrepreneur. This is the first in our partnership with 314action.org to introduce you to the scientists, doctors, etc running for office on November 6th.
On to the news!
The Wonder Plant That Could Slash Fertilizer Use
"A team of researchers has shown that the secret of this Mexican corn’s success lies in its aerial roots—necklaces of finger-sized, rhubarb-red tubes that encircle the stem. These roots drip with a thick, clear, glistening mucus that’s loaded with bacteria. Thanks to these microbes, the corn can fertilize itself by pulling nitrogen directly from the surrounding air.
The Sierra Mixe corn takes eight months to mature—too long to make it commercially useful. But if its remarkable ability could be bred into conventional corn, which matures in just three months, it would be an agricultural game changer."
+ More food:
- European Ruling Could Slow Africa’s Push for CRISPR Crops
- Ravenous for Meat, China Faces a Climate Quandary
- Livestock treatment may offer solution to antibiotics crisis
- Global dimming may mitigate warming, but could hurt crop yields
Climate Change 🔥🌊💨
Jakarta, the fastest-sinking city in the world
"The Indonesian capital of Jakarta is home to 10 million people but it is also one of the fastest-sinking cities in the world. If this goes unchecked, parts of the megacity could be entirely submerged by 2050, say researchers. Is it too late?
It sits on swampy land, the Java Sea lapping against it, and 13 rivers running through it. So it shouldn't be a surprise that flooding is frequent in Jakarta and, according to experts, it is getting worse. But it's not just about freak floods, this massive city is literally disappearing into the ground."
+ More climate around the world:
- China could face deadly heat waves due to climate change
- Emerging economies will slow down as temperatures rise
- Scorching Summer in Europe Signals Long-Term Climate Changes
- Water is running out in Jordan
The Earth Ablaze
"While we naturally focus on the immediate loss of lives, the full toll may not be so immediate. Recent epidemiological research following the enormous fires in Indonesia in the past few years suggests that lung disease from smoke and particulate matter inhalation may have caused over 100,000 additional premature deaths across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
A dangerous, large-scale feedback loop that promotes wildfires has emerged. Forests, woodlands and grasslands hold much of Earth’s terrestrial carbon. When they burn, more carbon dioxide is released, increasing concentrations in the atmosphere and causing land and sea surface temperatures to rise. This warming increases the likelihood of even more widespread and intense fires and exacerbates the severe weather and sea level rise we are now beginning to experience.
What has been particularly worrisome in recent years is that the world’s largest forests, the taiga of Russia and its boreal forest cousins that ring the Arctic and store much of the world’s carbon, experienced wildfires at a rate and scale not seen in at least 10,000 years."
Biology 401 💉👾💊
She discovered how to edit a human. Is that good?
"The speed of CRISPR’s dissemination represents a threat as well as a breakthrough. Anxious about the lack of control, Doudna convened a conference of 500 ethicists, scientists and lawyers in 2015 to consider all the apparently fantastical futures ushered in by the ability to tinker with the code of life. She wanted to set out rules and protocols before the technology was applied to humans."
+ More bio:
- The $250 Biohack That’s Revolutionizing Life With Diabetes
- Artificial intelligence tool 'as good as experts' at detecting eye problems
- Goddammit. Hospital bacteria are starting to tolerate hand sanitizer
- Crazy new antibiotics found in these leaves
- Alzheimer's research takes a step...back (science is hard)
The Final Frontier/Escape Hatch 🚀
New NASA Planet Hunter May Find 10,000 Alien Worlds in Just Two Years
"As eye-catching as 10,000 planets are, the particularly important number here is the 3,500 sub-Neptune worlds, Christiansen said. Those planets will be TESS' proving grounds in terms of its formal requirements and will help scientists understand how small rocky planets are formed."
+ More space:
- Are We Alone? Maybe. The Better Question Is, Can We Survive?
- SETI Researchers Want to End the Alien-Detection Hype (well, not "end", but temper)
- NASA Is Trying To Save Us From The Sun
Fuck Cancer, Volume CIV 🖕
Tumor cells can unleash tiny weapons to ward off immune system attacks, oh come on
"Scientists have discovered that cancer cells can release tiny weapons called exosomes that target immune cells before they have a chance to reach a tumor."
+ Quick note: fuck cancer
+ More cancer:
- After 30 years, an immunotherapy to rival CAR-T finally nears the clinic
- IBM Has a Watson Dilemma (science is hard)
- Johns Hopkins wants to predict whether immunology will work
Robots & AI 🤖🧠⚡️
Should Artificial Intelligence Copy the Human Brain?
"To understand artificial neural networks, picture a bunch of points in space connected to one another like the neurons in our brains. Adjusting the strength of the connections between these points is a rough analog for what happens when a brain learns. The result is a neural wiring diagram, with favorable pathways to desired results, such as correctly identifying an image.
Today’s deep-learning systems don’t resemble our brains. At best, they look like the outer portion of the retina, where a scant few layers of neurons do initial processing of an image."
Inside Russia's invasion of the U.S. electric grid
"In the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia deterred any major attack by the other with existentially dangerous arsenals of nuclear-tipped missiles. Now, Russia has what it views as a potent new deterrent, experts say — cyber implants in the U.S. electric grid.
Over the last year, Russian hackers have infiltrated power stations and other points on the U.S. grid — and now are inside hundreds, empowering them to create chaos with massive blackouts, U.S. officials say."
The Highlight Reel
- Virginia wants all the wind energy
Is this is the future of batteries? (please say yes)
Fun fact: Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Power 100% of the US. But Should It?
Elephants Have a Secret Weapon Against Cancer -- of course they do
Would you let a robot spider perform surgeries inside your body? (See Matrix, The)
Yuval Noah Harari on what the year 2050 has in store for humankind (Roseanne reboot?)
Interstellar Travel Requires a Long-Term Approach (and Humans Are Too Impatient) GIVE IT TO ME
A New Pacemaker Hack Puts Malware Directly on the Device
Where the Pacific Northwest’s “Big One” Is More Likely to Strike
Thanks for reading, thanks for acting, and thanks for giving a shit.
Have a great weekend, everyone!