Think Inc. Thursdays #006

This week the first edition of the Journal of Controversial Ideas was published, and there’s not a pay-wall in sight. How lucky are we? The week has also brought us some scientific breakthroughs that could change our future for the better, and some legal decisions that make us question our ideals.

If you come across news that everyone should know about, send me a link to it via info@thinkinc.org.au and we might include it in the next edition!

Warm regards,

Suzi

WE CAME, WE SAW, WE POISONED?

NASA’s Martian robot, Perseverance, has successfully converted some of Mars’ carbon-rich atmosphere into oxygen. This is game-changing, as Mars’ lack of oxygen was an obvious barrier to human exploration.

The process is done with an instrument called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment). The issue is that MOXIE creates poisonous carbon monoxide as a byproduct, which makes us wonder if this will have a deleterious effect on the Red Planet.

Shout-out to Martin Evans for the tip-off on this story and its possible implications!

THE DRAGON HAS LANDED

The Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft and its four astronauts have successfully touched down on the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. The trip took 23 hours and wasn’t without its challenges – there was a point in which some pace junk skimmed the perimeter of the ship, causing the the crew to rush to put on their pressurising suits.

The crew plan on conducting more than 200 scientific experiments which will help scientists better understand diseases, and also better understand the effects that space has on the human body so they can better prepare astronauts for future, longer-duration space travel to the moon.

→ Click here to learn more.

YOU CAN'T SAY THAT

Peter Singer, Jeff McMahan, and Francesca Minerva have published the first edition of their journal, the Journal of Controversial Ideas. The first edition lives up to the name, including ten free-to-read articles on controversial topics such as de-platforming, black-face, gender, feminism, and creationism. The journal allows authors to use pseudonyms, something that the founders were highly criticized for (an example from The Conversation).

In the editorial they defend their decision, citing the fact that many philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, Voltaire, and Hume all used pseudonyms to publish some of their work; and that “ideas ought to be judged on their own merits, not on the basis of any characteristic of the person who happened to formulate them.” It got us thinking about the article that our friend Claire Lehmann from Quillette wrote in defence of pseudonyms.

If you’re interested, check out the recent interview that Peter did with the New Yorker in which he talks about the creation of the journal.

→ Click here to read the first edition of the Journal of Controversial Ideas.

PS. You can see Peter on-stage or online this August at our tour An Evening with Peter Singer.

EARTH-FRIENDLY PLASTIC

It’s well known that plastics damage not only the environment but also our health, so we are thrilled about the discoveries outlined in this paper published on April 21 in Nature.

It describes a new plastic material that degrades by up to 98 percent after less than a week in damp composting soil. The plastic contains polymer-munching enzymes that are activated by heat and moisture to degrade the plastic from the inside. Some of the plastics tested broke down into lactic acid, which microbes in the soil can use as food. This is much better than other supposedly biodegradable plastics that are only partly compostable.

LAB-GROWN PET FOOD

We know industrial farming is a huge contributor to carbon emissions and that scientists are developing ways to grow tasty meat in a lab without all the suffering and pollution that comes along with it. Well now even pet food companies are looking to get in on it!

Three out of every five Australian households own a pet, but animals aren’t usually included in meat consumption per household despite the fact that they eat a lot of it. So in the end, the pet food industry has a substantial environmental impact, which is something a small handful of startups are trying to curb.

One such company, Because Animals, started by sourcing cells from mice for cat food, and rabbits for dog food, reflecting their diets in the wild. The cells are sourced from the animal without having to kill it, isn’t that great?

→ Click here to learn more.

PRESERVING LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ

Paris, 2017, Dr Sarah Halimi was at home when her neighbour, Kobili Traoré, broke into her apartment and attacked her. Traoré threw the 65-year-old Jewish mother off her balcony as he yelled passages from the Quran, and was heard saying “I have killed the shaitan ”.

Recently the French courts have upheld their decision that Traoré is not criminally responsible due to him being in a cannabis-induced psychosis at the time of the crime. This has incited protests all over France. Seasoned champion of Classic Western Values, French President Emmanuel Macron, called for a change in French law. “Deciding to take narcotics and then ‘going mad’ should, not in my view, remove your criminal responsibility,” Macron said. 

This is in the wake of Macron’s anti-separatism bill, and his discourse on Islamism, which he believes flourishes when France allows ideas of self-hatred and anti-colonialism to become the status-quo.

→ Click here to learn more.

Photo of the Week

Did you catch the pink super moon on Tuesday? Don’t worry if you missed it, because this year we are lucky enough to have two super moons. 

The next one will be on the 26th of May, and will be a total lunar eclipse that will turn the moon a blood-red colour. A super moon the unofficial name for a full or new moon that occurs when the moon is in perigee (aka when it’s closest to the Earth). This makes the moon look much brighter and bigger.

→ Click here to learn more.

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