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  • The company says it has raised $750,000 in funding from Boost VC and Pioneer Fund, among others, and that its early investors have also been purchasing cooling credits.

A startup claims it has launched weather balloons that may have released reflective sulfur particles in the stratosphere, potentially crossing a controversial barrier in the field of solar geoengineering.

Geoengineering refers to deliberate efforts to manipulate the climate by reflecting more sunlight back into space, mimicking a natural process that occurs in the aftermath of large volcanic eruptions. In theory, spraying sulfur and similar particles in sufficient quantities could potentially ease global warming.

It's not technically difficult to release such compounds into the stratosphere. But scientists have mostly (though not entirely) refrained from carrying out even small-scale outdoor experiments. And it's not clear that any have yet injected materials into that specific layer of the atmosphere in the context of geoengineering-related research.

That's in part because it's highly controversial. Little is known about the real-world effect of such deliberate interventions at large scales, but they could have dangerous side effects. The impacts could also be worse in some regions than others, which could provoke geopolitical conflicts.

Some researchers who have long studied the technology are deeply troubled that the company, Make Sunsets, appears to have moved forward with launches from a site in Mexico without any public engagement or scientific scrutiny. It's already attempting to sell "cooling credits" for future balloon flights that could carry larger payloads.

Several researchers MIT Technology Review spoke with condemned the effort to commercialize geoengineering at this early stage. Some potential investors and customers who have reviewed the company's proposals say that it's not a serious scientific effort or a credible business but more of an attention grab designed to stir up controversy in the field.

Luke Iseman, the cofounder and CEO of Make Sunsets, acknowledges that the effort is part entrepreneurial and part provocation, an act of geoengineering activism.

He hopes that by moving ahead in the controversial space, the startup will help drive the public debate and push forward a scientific field that has faced great difficulty carrying out small-scale field experiments amid criticism.

"We joke slash not joke that this is partly a company and partly a cult," he says.

Iseman, previously a director of hardware at Y Combinator, says he expects to be pilloried by both geoengineering critics and researchers in the field for taking such a step, and he recognizes that "making me look like the Bond villain is going to be helpful to certain groups." But he says climate change is such a grave threat, and the world has moved so slowly to address the underlying problem, that more radical interventions are now required.

"It's morally wrong, in my opinion, for us not to be doing this," he says. What's important is "to do this as quickly and safely as we can."

Wildly premature

But dedicated experts in the field think such efforts are wildly premature and could have the opposite effect from what Iseman expects.

"The current state of science is not good enough … to either reject, or to accept, let alone implement" solar geoengineering, wrote Janos Pasztor, executive director of the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative, in an email. The initiative is calling for oversight of geoengineering and other climate-altering technologies, whether by governments, international accords or scientific bodies. "To go ahead with implementation at this stage is a very bad idea," he added, comparing it to Chinese scientist He Jiankui's decision to use CRISPR to edit the DNA of embryos while the scientific community was still debating the safety and ethics of such a step.

Shuchi Talati, a scholar in residence at American University who is forming a nonprofit focused on governance and justice in solar geoengineering, says Make Sunset's actions could set back the scientific field, reducing funding, dampening government support for trusted research, and accelerating calls to restrict studies.

The company's behavior plays into long-held fears that a "rogue" actor with no particular knowledge of atmospheric science or the implications of the technology could unilaterally choose to geoengineer the climate, without any kind of consensus around whether it's okay to do so—or what the appropriate global average temperature should be. That's because it's relatively cheap and technically simple to do, at least in a crude way.

David Victor, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, warned of such a scenario more than a decade ago. A "Greenfinger, self-appointed protector of the planet … could force a lot of geoengineering on his own," he said, invoking the Goldfinger character from a 1964 James Bond movie, best remembered for murdering a woman by painting her gold.

Some observers were quick to draw parallels between Make Sunsets and a decade-old incident in which an American entrepreneur reportedly poured a hundred tons of iron sulfate into the ocean, in an effort to spawn a plankton bloom that could aid salmon populations and suck down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Critics say it violated international restrictions on what's known as iron fertilization, which were in part inspired by a growing number of commercial proposals to sell carbon credits for such work. Some believe it subsequently stunted research efforts in field.

Pasztor and others stressed that Make Sunset's efforts underscore the urgent need to establish broad-based oversight and clear rules for responsible research in geoengineering and help determine whether or under what conditions there should be a social license to move forward with experiments or beyond. As MIT Technology Review first reported, the Biden administration is developing a federal research plan that would guide how scientists proceed with geoengineering studies.

Balloon launches

By Iseman's own description, the first two balloon launches were very rudimentary. He says they occurred in April somewhere in the state of Baja California, months before Make Sunsets was incorporated in October. Iseman says he pumped a few grams of sulfur dioxide into weather balloons and added what he estimated would be the right amount of helium to carry them into the stratosphere.

He expected they would burst under pressure at that altitude and release the particles. But it's not clear whether that happened, where the balloons ended up, or what impact the particles had, because there was no monitoring equipment on board the balloons. Iseman also acknowledges that they did not seek any approvals from government authorities or scientific agencies, in Mexico or elsewhere, before the first two launches.

"This was firmly in science project territory," he says, adding: "Basically, it was to confirm that I could do it."

A 2018 white paper raised the possibility that an environmental, humanitarian, or other type of group could use this simple balloon approach to carry out a distributed, do-it-yourself geoengineering scheme.

In future work, Make Sunsets hopes to increase the sulfur payloads, add telemetry equipment and other sensors, eventually move to reusable balloons, and publish data following the launches.

The company is already attempting to earn revenue from the cooling effects of future flights. It is offering to sell $10 "cooling credits" for releasing one gram of particles in the stratosphere—enough, it asserts, to offset the warming effect of one ton of carbon for one year.

"What I want to do is create as much cooling as quickly as I responsibly can, over the rest of my life, frankly," Iseman says, adding later that they will deploy as much sulfur in 2023 as "we can get customers to pay us" for.

The company says it has raised $750,000 in funding from Boost VC and Pioneer Fund, among others, and that its early investors have also been purchasing cooling credits. The venture firms didn't respond to inquiries from MIT Technology Review before press time.

'A terrible idea'

Talati was highly critical of the company's scientific claims, stressing that no one can credibly sell credits that purport to represent such a specific per gram outcome, given vast uncertainty at this stage of research.

"What they're claiming to actually accomplish with such a credit is the entirety of what's uncertain right now about geoengineering," she says.

Kelly Wanser, executive director of SilverLining, a nonprofit that supports research efforts on climate risks and potential interventions like geoengineering, agreed.

"From a business perspective, reflective cooling effects and risks cannot currently be quantified in any meaningful way, making the offering a speculative form of 'junk credit' that is unlikely to have value to climate credit markets," she wrote in an email.

Talati adds that it's hypocritical for Make Sunsets to assert they're acting on humanitarian grounds, while moving ahead without meaningfully engaging with the public, including with those who could be affected by their actions.

"They're violating the rights of communities to dictate their own future," she says.

David Keith, one of the world's leading experts on solar geoengineering, says that the amount of material in question—less than 10 grams of sulfur per flight—doesn't represent any real environmental danger; a commercial flight can emit about 100 grams per minute, he points out. Keith and his colleagues at Harvard University have worked for years to move forward on a small-scale stratospheric experiment known as SCoPEx, which has been repeatedly delayed.

But he says he's troubled by any effort to privatize core geoengineering technologies, including patenting them or selling credits for the releases, because "commercial development cannot produce the level of transparency and trust the world needs to make sensible decisions about deployment," as he wrote in an earlier blog post.

Keith says a private company would have financial motives to oversell the benefits, to downplay the risks, and to continue selling its services even as the planet cools to lower than preindustrial temperatures.

"Doing it as a startup is a terrible idea," he says.

For its part, the company says it's operating on the best modeling research available today, and that it will adjust its practices as it learns more and hopes to collaborate with nations and experts to guide these efforts as it scales up.

"We are convinced solar [geoengineeering] is the only feasible path to staying below 2 ˚C [of warming over preindustrial levels], and we will work with the scientific community to deploy this life-saving tool as safely and quickly as possible," Iseman said in an email.

But critics stress that the time to engage with experts and the public would have been before the company began injecting material into the stratosphere and trying to sell cooling credits—and that it's likely to face an icy reception from many of those parties now.

Update: This story was updated to add comments from Kelly Wanser, executive director of SilverLining.

Is this article about Product Reviews?

This story contains major spoilers for the film Avatar: The Way of Water.

Avatar: The Way of Water, like any good world-building sequel, introduces a deluge of new elements to its extraterrestrial setting of Pandora. There are different locations to visit, such as the home of the Metkayina, a reef-dwelling clan. There are strange species to meet, such as the whalelike tulkun. And there are unfamiliar characters to get to know, including the children of Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), the protagonists whose romance was chronicled in 2009's Avatar.

[Read: The 10 best films of 2022]

But one fresh face has induced more cringes than cheers. Miles Socorro (Jack Champion), a white kid who sports dreadlocks and goes by the nickname "Spider," isn't a Sully by blood, but he tries quite hard to be. Left behind as a baby on Pandora, he was unable to return to Earth because he was too small to survive the journey. Now a teenager, he wears only a loincloth and paints blue stripes on his skin to look more like the native Na'vi. He speaks the language, growls a lot, and indulges in juvenile antics, scampering onto lab equipment and annoying as many characters—alien and human alike—as he can. Jake considers him a "stray cat"; Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Jake and Neytiri's adopted daughter with a mysterious origin, calls him "monkey boy." He's basically Pandora's Chet Hanks—or a pint-size Tarzan, if you want to be more charitable.

Yet, as goofy as he may be, Spider is an essential addition to the franchise. Really. In some ways, he's the new Jake, a human caught up in the Na'vi world. But Spider has no avatar—a genetically engineered hybrid body used to freely roam Pandora—so he must navigate his habitat with an oxygen mask, always at a disadvantage compared with his blue friends. He's also revealed to be the biological son of Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the hateful villain from the first film who sought to destroy Pandora and who is resurrected for the sequel in a new, upgraded avatar form. Spider thus exists in a nebulous space when it comes to his identity. He's the offspring of the worst of mankind and wishes to resist his background, yet he cannot completely participate in the culture he admires and, in the case of his crush on Kiri, adores. He's unlike anybody else in The Way of Water, and, as such, he makes the film's story as interesting to watch as the spectacle the director James Cameron spent so long fine-tuning.

[Read: Hollywood learned all the wrong lessons from Avatar]

Consider what Spider does in the final hour of the film, when he saves Quaritch's life—and then rejects the man's offer to join him. The first decision has probably contributed to Spider's unpopularity, but both choices deepen the emotional stakes. Like the first Avatar, The Way of Water is in part about how humans can't help but lay waste to natural wonders; unlike its predecessor, however, it's also interested in observing the dynamics of found families. Although he feels a pull to rescue his biological father, Spider refuses to leave the Sullys behind. His presence makes both Quaritch and the Sullys more fascinating to follow: Quaritch is gutted when Spider turns him down, and the Sullys will eventually have to process what Spider did. Besides, Spider seems unsure of his own motives. Perhaps he recovered Quaritch out of pity. Perhaps his upbringing with the Na'vi taught him to value life at all costs.

Or perhaps he's beginning to see that Pandora is not paradise, no matter who's in control. Spider is a naive teenager enamored with a culture he only thinks he understands, and who's in desperate need of growing up. In the final showdown between Quaritch and the Sullys, he seems to do just that. During the fight, Spider becomes an observer—too small to deal much damage, but close enough to pick up on how dangerous the Sullys can be, most of all Neytiri. In one scene, Cameron trains the camera on Spider's face, allowing us to watch how Spider's perspective of her shifts: He goes from being in awe of her ability to being scared by her intensity. When she threatens his life so that Quaritch will let go of her child, something in Spider's regard for her breaks.

That doesn't mean his attitude toward the Na'vi changes entirely. The Way of Water ends before it can explore the aftermath of Jake and Quaritch's battle, but the film offers hints of the personal stakes to come for these characters. The first Avatar worked so well because its eye-popping visuals were paired with familiar, even predictable storytelling beats. In Spider, Cameron has created someone with the potential to help maintain that balance through the sequels. His growth could yield either a hero's journey or a turn toward darkness—or maybe something in between, especially if his interest in Kiri blossoms into something more.

Of course, I can't in good conscience fully defend a character whose vibe is, as my colleague David Sims put it in his review, "a little questionable." But as grating as Spider can be, and as repetitive and petulant as his dialogue gets, I saw him as a secret weapon—at the very least for showing off the film's effects. Scenes involving him, a character performed without the use of motion-capture technology, look seamless despite how much he interacts with the Na'vi. In the end, Spider is perhaps the perfect supporting character for a movie like The Way of Water. Like the waves lapping the Metkayina's shores, he's able to subtly polish the story and the sights.



Svalbard reindeer thrive as they shift diet towards 'popsicle-like' grasses

Increased plant growth due to warmer climate appears to be prompting change in eating habits

As the Arctic warms, concern for the plight of Santa's favourite sleigh pullers is mounting. But in one small corner of the far flung north – Svalbard – Rudolph and his friends are thriving.

Warmer temperatures are boosting plant growth and giving Svalbard reindeer more time to build up fat reserves; they also appear to be shifting their diets towards "popsicle-like" grasses that poke up through the ice and snow, data suggests.

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Max Tegmark envisions a scenario where general AI masters entertainment, movies, and eventually politics and international affairs.

This are the kinds of outcomes I see as more likely. AI-generated images/art might be just the beginning. What happens when you can churn out a sitcom by crafting a few detailed prompts? Then translate it into 30 languages with the push of a button?

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To my surprise I don't miss neurosurgery now I've retired, but still find joy in making things for my grandchildren

The pictures on my iPhone photo roll for the past two years are mainly of my granddaughters and, more recently, of my newborn grandson, interspersed with destroyed and rusty Russian tanks in Ukraine, where I went this year, having regularly travelled to teach surgery therefor 30 years.

But there are also a few pictures from the workshop at the bottom of my garden of the doll's house I have been building for Lizzie, my youngest granddaughter. I started working on it during lockdown and hope to finish it by Christmas. I suppose in some ways it is a substitute for operative neurosurgery as I "hung up my gloves" – as surgeons call retiring – more than two years ago, although I continue to teach and lecture.

Henry Marsh's latest book, And Finally: Matters of Life and Death, is out now

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Long Covid patients using unproven and expensive treatments, experts warn

Lack of approved therapies and need to work means people are turning to options such as 'blood washing'

People with long Covid are turning to unproven and expensive treatments because of a lack of approved therapies coupled with a need to return to paid work, experts have warned.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, more than 2.1 million people in November were still living with Covid symptoms more than four weeks after the first confirmed or suspected infection – about 3.3% of the UK population.

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A Black Birch in Winter
Is this article about Diversity & Inclusion?

Illustrations by Miki Lowe

Not everyone appreciated Richard Wilbur. The second poet laureate of the United States, he was the recipient of multiple Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award. Still, plenty of readers thought he was … a little meh. One New York Times reviewer said that reading Wilbur's collection The Mind-Reader was like conversing with "an old friend whose talk is genial but familiar—and occasionally dull." Another critic argued that Wilbur "never goes too far, but he never goes far enough." He often wrote of the natural world with earnest appreciation—a style that became particularly unchic in the '60s, when the dark, personal "confessional poetry" of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton was peaking.

Wilbur conceded that yes, he tended to see the world with a positive glow. He once said he believed "that the ultimate character of things is comely and good. I am perfectly aware that I say this in the teeth of all sorts of contrary evidence, and that I must be basing it partly on temperament and partly on faith, but that's my attitude." And yet, his optimism wasn't hollow of intellect. "A Black Birch in Winter" exemplifies this: The Times reviewer referenced the poem to say that Wilbur, at best, is "a fine amateur natural historian," able to paint pretty portraits of birches and other fauna. But the work isn't really about trees at all. It's about the ways in which our passing years can give us new perspectives, like fresh wood on an ancient trunk—and how time, in that sense, can make us open and wide-eyed rather than "finished" and deadened.

Wilbur is also clearly gesturing to his mentor Robert Frost's poem "Birches." In it, Frost imagines a young boy climbing a birch tree, scrambling up toward the sky. How tempting to keep going forever, he implies, to transcend everyday life altogether. But eventually, one needs to come back down. "Earth's the right place for love," Frost writes. You could see "A Black Birch," then, as a response to those who felt that Wibur's work was unambitious. Certainly, reaching for big ideas—questions of life, death, human limitation—is essential to poetry. But Wilbur seemed to think you could do that from Earth, looking up.

As we approach 2023, the old birch really does feel like a good metaphor. This year's been tough; I feel haggard, "roughened" like the bark that used to be "smooth, and glossy-dark." But I'll be thinking of New Year's as an "annual rebirth," and attempting to mimic what the birch has mastered: "To grow, stretch, crack, and not yet come apart."

Faith Hill

The original magazine page with two pictures of birch bark, with green splotches

You can zoom in on the page here.


The Biden administration is developing a controversial solar geoengineering research plan to the dismay of many experts

As global heating escalates, the US government has set out a plan to further study the controversial and seemingly sci-fi notion of deflecting the sun's rays before they hit Earth. But a growing group of scientists denounces any steps towards what is known as solar geoengineering.

The White House has set into motion a five-year outline for research into "climate interventions". Those include methods such as sending a phalanx of planes to spray reflective particles into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, in order to block incoming sunlight from adding to rising temperatures.

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Hello everyone! I am currently working on transmitter that should transmit signal to 1 km. How can I make it? I do not have expertise in this, could you recommend easiest and cheapest way to make this transmitter?

The transmitter must be omnidirectional and work without wi-fi or GPS connection. That is, the signal from the transmitter must be received by all receivers at a given frequency. The frequency must be unpopular so that the receiver does not respond to everything. At the same time, I am looking for the simplest solution for the assembly, it will not transmit audio or video signal, just radio signal. Maybe you can recommend something from ready-made solutions

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I don't even know if this is a real science… but I'm thinking some genome modification that will change our physical features like making us taller or slimmer or good looking etc

Is there any research at all in this field? Would we see anything amazing in the next 10-20 years?

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UK firm links with up global drug firms to make synthetic antibodies capable of binding to targets such as tumour cells

Inside a science park lab next to the University of York, two clusters of robots are busy moving clear plates with mechanical arms as they screen many millions of molecules. The machines need only 24 hours to complete work that would usually take teams of human scientists several days.

The lab is run by Aptamer Group, a small biotech firm that has quietly carved out a leading position in the development of a highly sought after technology. Its scientists create aptamers – fragments of DNA, also known as synthetic antibodies, that are used to diagnose illnesses, or to deliver drugs to their target to fight a range of diseases including



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Ukraine Unplugged
Is this article about Military?

Every morning my brown terrier, Hans, comes to wake me in the dark. As he jumps around impatiently, hurrying me up for a morning walk, I glance at my light switch's electricity indicator. If it shines blue, I am lucky: The electricity is back. I can brush my teeth using tap water before the walk. But if the blue indicator is off, that means no water, no light, and no central heating. On those days, I launch into a new routine that involves cold bottled water and flashlights.

Hans braces for a long descent down the stairs from the 14th floor. He used to be scared of stairs. As my husband and I were told at the dog shelter from which we adopted him two years ago, people had found him shivering in a staircase in an unfinished building outside Kyiv. Since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion in February, Hans has gotten used to the distant sounds of missile strikes, but for a long time he was still scared of stairs. Now that the elevator doesn't work on a majority of days, Hans has been forced to overcome his fear.

I live in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. For more than two months, Russia has been bombing energy infrastructure all over the country, killing dozens of civilians and leaving millions of others in darkness and cold. The first massive attack happened on October 10. Early in November, President Volodymyr Zelensky told the European Union's energy commissioner that Russia had damaged about 40 percent of Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Since then, the attacks have continued. A November 23 strike caused cellular and internet disruptions and compelled Ukrainian authorities to disconnect nuclear-power plants from the grid. Nearly the entire country was forced into a blackout that, in many places, lasted for 24 hours or longer.

[Read: Missile strikes leave Kyiv in the dark]

Each time Russia unleashes missiles on civilians, the world condemns its war crimes, but so far hasn't been able to stop them. By the Kremlin's own admission, Russia hopes that keeping the Ukrainian population cold and miserable will put pressure on Zelensky to negotiate. Ukraine, which insists that the invaders first withdraw, predicts that the Russian military will use any cease-fire to regroup in preparation for future attacks. In the meantime, the strikes on civilian targets keep coming, because Russia has finally understood why our army has been so successful on the war front: Ukrainians' resilience.

Although our soldiers live in much harsher conditions than civilians do, they at least have weapons to fight back. The only weapon we have, amid regular power cuts, rising prices, and diminishing resources, is our endurance. After each massive attack, our soldiers fight the enemy even harder. Our infrastructure and energy workers rush to repair the damage quickly. The rest of us continue to work, pay taxes, donate, and produce and buy goods to keep our economy running. We all contribute to victory, along with Ukraine's international partners.

Moscow has been hoping that the unbearable living conditions it has forced upon us will break our resolve. But we know whom to blame for our new life. As Zelensky has said, if we must choose between having electricity and living free of Russian domination, we will pick the latter.

These were my thoughts while my husband was teaching me how to play chess during one blackout late last month. Just after hearing distant missile strikes in the afternoon of November 23, we lost any connection with our relatives; we could not call them to find out if they were okay, because we had no phone signal. Everything went dark. We cooked some food on our portable gas stove, which we'd set up next to our fancy Whirlpool electric one, and had a modest candlelit dinner to calm our nerves.

The only way for us not to become frantic due to lack of information was the small radio that we had bought online, as many other Ukrainians did. Normally, we get news from the internet or TV, but radio has now become our main source during power cuts. We finally got back in touch with our loved ones a couple of days later, only to go through the same thing again and again during and after missile strikes and drone attacks.

Although the talking box calms you down a bit with cheerful messages about how strong Ukrainians are, it also gives an apocalyptic vibe. At any time of day, the alerts that cut into news reports are always unsettling: "Threat of a rocket attack! Please proceed to shelters!" When the alerts end, the station returns to a strange new normal: an ad for a maternity ward that lures future moms with a comfortable bomb shelter, guidance on how to respond if your kid finds a booby trap in a toy, advice on what to do and not do if you're captured.

You know you can't complain when somewhere in our country's east, people are suffering from daily shelling. Or when you hear how Russia keeps attacking the only pumping station that provides tap water for the southern city of Mykolaiv, where locals have been forced to live without a reliable supply since April. Kremlin forces have also been shelling nearby Kherson—a recently liberated port city where locals celebrated the end of the Russian occupation for several days—in what Zelensky describes as "the revenge of the losers."

In Kyiv and around the country, we sit in our cold, dark apartments and feel lucky. We know the next morning will come to us. And we will once again walk our dog or hunt for water and other resources on the streets, now filled with the smell of gasoline and buzzing with dozens of generators. We know that we will get a cup of hot coffee, and businesses will shelter us and let us work for a while using their generators' power.

Sometimes, I go to the window and see that our neighbors have light. That means that in a few hours, we might also get electricity. At our place, the power usually clicks on late at night. That's when we all rush to take a shower, wash the dishes, cook some food, refill water bottles, and charge our devices. And we have learned to do it all as fast as we can. You never know when or if you'll get power again.

I wish I could say that we are 100 percent resilient. Most people I know are ready to live in the dark as long as necessary to liberate our country. Each time the light comes back, we burst into joy. How can we surrender while, in places such as Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region, our soldiers are fighting for us in muddy and flooded trenches reminiscent of World War I? How can we give up after so many of our fellow civilians have suffered and died in the ruined, Russian-occupied city of Mariupol?

But some people are starting to lose it. They search for conspiracies and fight about who gets electricity, and why others get it earlier and for longer hours. "'Why is there no light in my building while the neighbors have it?' I see many posts like this on social media," the Ukrainian journalist Danylo Mokryk wrote in a Facebook post last month. He described the underlying sentiment as envy and a desire for everyone to suffer equally.

[Read: The information war isn't over yet]

Ukrainian media have reported that some citizens have discussed blocking the roads to protest what they view as an unfair allocation of electricity. The fact that some buildings experience more frequent power cuts than other buildings, and that citizens are given no information about why, is deepening public anxieties. The constant need for repairs of shelled substations makes restoring power much more difficult for energy operators. Everyone worries that the next massive attack might lead to even longer blackouts. The Ukrainian government has opened thousands of "invincibility points" all over the country, where it claims that everyone can warm up and charge their devices in case of a total power outage.

Until recently, I had never thought about the difficulty of maintaining a civilized modern society in total darkness. We got used to having everything we needed.

Now, in the dark, I understand that I actually need much less than I thought.

"This is an opportunity for us to get new skills and become stronger," a cameraman named Serhii Kirkizh told me. Early in the invasion, he spent nine days in a basement with his wife and their 4-year-old daughter in a village outside Kyiv.

Electrical and cellphone service there went off on February 26, two days into the Russian offensive. Russian soldiers did not enter the village but blocked all the roads surrounding it. Heavy fighting went on for 20 hours a day. The Kirkizhes united with their neighbors. Serhii from time to time had to run to his car to charge devices with its battery system. "That is where I listened to the radio and recorded the news to later play them for my neighbors," he said. His wife, Olha, said that even their daughter got used to darkness. When she needs anything at night now, she just grabs a flashlight and goes to get it.

I, too, have grown accustomed to the darkness. When the light goes off, I work on my chess skills or listen to the radio, falling more in love with my country day by day. We are no longer afraid of the dark, because we know the monster lurking in it. It will win if it breaks us. And we can't let that happen.

The Cynic's Dilemma
Is this article about Geopolitics?

Hopefully this isn't horribly apparent, but this piece was a slog to write. It required overcoming my professional disposition, resisting my cognitive wiring, and drying out from a certain website that I used to fiendishly inhale.

For a long moment in global politics, the planet seemed to be hurtling toward authoritarianism. It was terrifying, but I found myself strangely suited for apocalyptic times. Evolutionary biology had left me with a mind that scans the savanna for predators, and events confirmed that wasn't a vestigial instinct. As someone who easily imagines the worst, I felt seen by the Fates and Furies. Besides, the assault on democracy provided an invigorating sense of journalistic purpose.

But several months back, my sense of dread began to ebb. This coincided with my decision to remove Twitter from my phone—an attempt to remove a principal source of distraction. For a time, I would pull my device from my pocket and, zombie-like, would try to conjure the app, entering the letters TWI into the search bar, only to find that no such thing existed. I wasn't going cold turkey exactly, because I still visited the site on my laptop. But my weekly screen-time reports suggested the possibilities of psychic liberation.

[Caitlin Flanagan: You really need to quit Twitter]

The Jeremiah in my brain began murmuring instead of shouting. And as this year draws to a close, a strange sensation, one that I don't entirely trust, has begun to wash over me: optimism.

My Twitter withdrawal is not the only reason for my change in mood; I think it just allowed me to notice and accept good news. Of course, this was a year filled with plenty of fresh horrors. But for the first time in a long while, there are meaningful counterpoints, enough of them for me to feel as if the world might be finally reversing its antidemocratic course.

Almost every positive development caught me by surprise because I had so conditioned myself to expect the worst. The creaky old transatlantic alliance rallied to the Ukrainian cause—an act of noble sacrifice, which hasn't dissipated even as prices have risen as a direct consequence of the alliance's commitment to sanctions. Polities in Europe and the United States that not so long along seemed indifferent to autocracy and to be careening toward xenophobia are engaged in the most selfless act of solidarity in recent memory.

Back in March, Francis Fukuyama, a prophet of optimism, suggested that Ukraine's example of resistance might help spiritually rally liberal democracies to defend themselves against internal threats. He called it a revival of the "spirit of 1989."

That prediction, which I doubted when he issued it, has come to pass. Even if I can't prove that the causation tracks with Fukuyama's argument, the results are palpable. Since the start of the Ukraine war, Western democracies have voted to cast aside populist goons. Emmanuel Macron held off Marine Le Pen. In October, Brazilians disposed of Jair Bolsonaro. In the midterm elections, the United States roundly repudiated election-denying Republicans, evidence of Donald Trump's waning influence.

As in 1989, resistance to authoritarianism has spread to corners of the world where few analysts had predicted widespread dissent. Protests in Iran and China might be ephemeral bursts of frustration. But the Chinese demonstrations were worrying enough to the Communist Party that it dislodged the regime's zero-COVID policy. And the Iranian protesters have persisted despite the reality of the truncheon and the threat of the gallows.

[Francis Fukuyama: More proof that this really is the end of history]

Fukuyama is not the only one who has been vindicated. President Joe Biden has argued that democracies can prevail only if they demonstrate their efficacy. After years of dysfunction, the U.S. Congress has had a fertile cycle of legislating. It made massive investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and clean energy. After decades in which European leaders hectored American presidents for failing to meaningfully act to control climate change, the Inflation Reduction Act could cut emissions by 40 percent compared with their all-time high. (And as my former colleague Robinson Meyer has argued, that number might very well be understated.)

None of this mitigates the many sound reasons for pessimism. Ukraine's survival is no longer tenuous, but Russian crimes against humanity persist. Although U.S. voters punished Republicans for the Dobbs decision, the constriction of abortion rights is the new reality in dozens of states. Reports of Donald Trump's demise are usually just wishful.

But I'm apparently not alone in detaching myself from the psychic grip of apocalyptic thinking. A world that worries is a world that clicks incessantly and can't stop watching cable news. And both media traffic and ratings have collapsed as democracy has stopped clinging to the precipice. As a parochial matter, I hate that people aren't paying as much attention. But perhaps this is another reason for optimism. Optimism, how does that even feel? I'm not sure; it's been far too long.

How the James Webb Space Telescope transformed astronomy this year
Is this article about Aerospace?
James Webb Space Telescope launched on December 25, 2021. Its first images - like this one of the Carina Nebula - stunned researchers.

One year ago, on Christmas Day, the

James Webb Space Telescope

was launched. Since it began collecting data, it has captured – in stunning detail – previously unobservable stars, planets and galaxies.

(Image credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)


Artificial meat seems to have a really bright future. This company produces 3D-printed beefsteak which tastes really good and it's already served in restaurants.

The price will likely fall while the real meat price will keep rising as it has been rising for many years.

Real meat may become a new status symbol for the rich again as the history repeats itself.

The only case that may hinder that future that I can think of is a major research findings about the potential harmful effects of 3D-printed meat on human health.

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Leo has found 1 Regulatory Changes mention in this article
  • Ukraine's parliament just adopted a controversial new urban planning law, which has already garnered enough complaints via an online petition that it may be soon been repealed.

Archaeologists say cave complex must be preserved for 'indisputable and cultural value'

Dmytro Perov was at his day job, analysing planning applications for Kyiv city council, when he saw a familiar address – the derelict house in central Kyiv built by his family in the late 1800s that was confiscated by the Bolsheviks. The owners of the site now wanted to build on it and had made the unlikely claim that their office was based at the house, which Perov knew had no roof and collapsed walls.

When he was a child, his grandmother said somewhere on the land around the former family home were rumoured to be ancient caves. He described it as a "small family legend". Ukraine is home to a few cave complexes, most of which were built by monks, the most famous being Kyiv's Pecherska Lavra – or Cave Monastery in English.

Continue reading…




Cross-posted from r/askpsychology

The terms "left brain" and "right brain" are (outdated) terms for different types of thinking patterns: the former involving logic, analysis, math, and the latter involving intuition, synthesis, and arts. From my understanding of neuroscience, "left brain" and "right brain" are misleading terms and these types of thinking are not localized to a certain hemisphere. Nonetheless, I still know that there is a pattern here, and I can identify people in my everyday life who clearly fit one or the other of these categories. Some people are great at math but have terrible people skills; other people I have met I think have great intuition but struggle with technical matters. What explains this? Is this difference a neurobiological or psychological phenomenon? Or both?

My idea is that "right brain" thinking involves natural instinctual understanding (intuition), while "left brain" thinking imposes structure on instinctual understanding, which can lead to greater analytic ability at the expense of the ability to synthesize. There is innate ability that can lead to a preference for one or the other. However, some thinkers may be able to regain instinctual understanding without losing their ability to impose structure on their thoughts, which leads to creativity.

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As I understand, one method we try to do fusion is by holding the plasma in a magnetic field. The reason is there is no material to withstand the heat.

Now my simple idea: why do we not keep the plasma moving in an ordered, infinitly long path by keeping in moving along a ring, directing it with magnets.

My intuition tells me adjusting direction of a „projectile" should be easier than „reflecting" it. Also, keeping a massive amount of bullets in an ordered path seems simpler to control than chaotic movement inside a ball.

Just wanted it to get out there. I guess there is something quite basic Im missing, but I still would like to understand.

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Is this article about Machine Learning?
  • Descript " a powerful video editor reshaping the way creators engage with content by using AI to make video editing as simple as editing a text document. " I used this and it's amazing
  • Mem " the world's first self-organizing workspace. Starting with personal notes, Mem uses advanced AI to organize, make sense of, and predict which information will be most relevant to a user at any given moment or in any given context. "
  • Speak " Speak is creating an AI tutor that can have open-ended conversations with learners on any number of topics, providing real-time feedback on pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and more. " (I posted about Speak a couple days ago).

See all five of the companies they've chosen. They all sound amazing.

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