Science, Technology and Innovation

Blowing up the Parthenon: the power of a symbol

The Parthenon is one of the most famous and recognisable buildings in the world. Bronwen Neil The Conversation Designed as a testimony to Athenian greatness, visible miles from the Acropolis (the citadel) on which it stands, the Parthenon still stands proudly among the remains of a massive complex of buildings that celebrated Athens’s deities. It is a witness to the lasting legacy of the ancient Greeks and their architectural ingenuity. But it is also a very good reminder of the ... Read More »

Dying With Dignity Versus The Metastases Of Our Religious Heritage

Why do we let religion rule our lives, but in particular our deaths? Geoff Russell takes a look at the power of Churches to prevent people from making the most intimate of choices. Geoff Russell New Matilda The fingers that once skipped around the frets and strings of her guitar made hard work of rolling the little plastic wheel. But as it finally moved into place, the process began: drip, drip, drip. Clear sodium pentobarbital moved into the plastic intravenous ... Read More »

End the Innovation Obsession

Some of our best ideas are in the rearview mirror. TORONTO — A year ago I stepped into the Samcheong Park Library in Seoul, South Korea, and saw the future. David Sax The New York Times The simple building in a forested park had a nice selection of books, a cafe at its center and a small patio. Classical music played while patrons read, reclining on extra-deep window benches that had cushions to sit on and tables that slid over ... Read More »

The Planet Has Seen Sudden Warming Before. It Wiped Out Almost Everything.

In some ways, the planet’s worst mass extinction — 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian Period — may parallel climate change today. Carl Zimmer The New York Times Some 252 million years ago, Earth almost died. In the oceans, 96 percent of all species became extinct. It’s harder to determine how many terrestrial species vanished, but the loss was comparable. This mass extinction, at the end of the Permian Period, was the worst in the planet’s ... Read More »

Pig-to-human heart transplant more likely after baboon success

Berlin: Pig hearts could soon be tested in humans after scientists passed an important milestone by keeping primates alive for three months after transplanting the organs. WAtoday Telegraph, London Surgeons in Germany grafted pig hearts into five baboons and kept four of the animals alive for at least 90 days, with one still in good health for more than six months. In 2000, the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation suggested that human trials would be considered once 60 per ... Read More »

Climate change: Can 12 billion tonnes of carbon be sucked from the air?

Is it remotely feasible to remove 12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air? Every year. For decades to come. BBC That’s the challenge posed by the latest conclusions of the UN’s climate science panel. It says that only by pulling this heat-trapping gas out of the atmosphere can we avoid dangerous climate change. But according to one leading researcher, there’s a bit of a hitch: “We haven’t a clue how to do it”. The problem is that scientists ... Read More »

Paris is burning

Worries are mounting that the global effort to fight climate change will not meet its goals. By KALINA OROSCHAKOFF Politico They were supposed to always have Paris. Three years after world leaders celebrated the signing of a landmark agreement intended to head off catastrophic global warming, the effort looks to be going down in flames. Scientists say the cuts to greenhouse gas emissions agreed to under the 2015 Paris climate agreement fall far short of what would be needed to ... Read More »

It’s Not Just America: Climate Policies Are Stumbling Worldwide

According to the UN, most major polluters are not on track to meet their Paris goals. But critics say that accounting may be too pessimistic. Robinson Meyer The Atlantic Humanity is losing ground in its battle against climate change. On Tuesday, a new UN report warned that the world is farther than it was last year from meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. More than half of the planet’s richest countries—including Canada, Australia, South Korea, the United States, ... Read More »

Climate change: CO2 emissions rising for first time in four years

Global efforts to tackle climate change are way off track says the UN, as it details the first rise in CO2 emissions in four years. The emissions gap report says that economic growth is responsible for a rise in 2017 while national efforts to cut carbon have faltered. Matt McGrath BBC To meet the goals of the Paris climate pact, the study says it’s crucial that global emissions peak by 2020. But the analysis says that this is now not likely even ... Read More »

‘Pandora’s box has been opened’: Scientist’s baby gene-editing claim fuels backlash

Beijing: A Chinese scientist’s claim that he has created the world’s first genetically edited babies has provoked a strong backlash from China’s science community, with several institutions supposedly linked to the… Kirsty Needham The Canberra Times Hundreds of Chinese scientists signed a letter on social media on Monday which condemned direct human experimentation as “crazy”. He Jiankui, a researcher in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, said he altered the genes of a pair of twins while they were embryos to ... Read More »

Meet Russia’s S-500: Can It Kill an F-22 or F-35?

Here’s all we know… As to when the S-500 will first come online, Lt. Gen. Viktor Gumenny, the Deputy Commander of Russia’s Aerospace Forces, said last year that deliveries of the initial systems should occur sometime around 2020. Zachary Keck The National Interest Russian state media have begun leaking some information about the country’s next-generation air and missile defense system, the S-500. (This first appeared… While maintaining that “most of the new system’s technical characteristics remain under wraps,” Sputnik this week began shedding some ... Read More »

Aussie brain-mapper discovers part of brain that lets you play piano

With its 86 billion neurons, the human brain is the most complex thing we know of. And it does not give up its secrets without a fight. That makes achievements like Thursday’s important. Liam Mannix The Sydney Morning Herald Australian scientists have just announced the discovery of an until-now-unknown region of the brain: an unexplored land, living just under our skulls. The newly-charted region, which so far has not been seen in other animals, may be responsible for extremely fine ... Read More »

Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020

China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for… Bloomberg * The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal… Those with better so-called social ... Read More »

Why bigotry is a public health problem

Over a decade ago, I wrote a piece for a psychiatric journal entitled “Is Bigotry a Mental Illness?” Ronald W. Pies The Conversation At the time, some psychiatrists were advocating making “pathological bigotry” or pathological bias – essentially, bias so extreme it interferes with daily function and reaches near-delusional proportions – an official psychiatric diagnosis. For a variety of medical and scientific reasons, I wound up opposing that position. In brief, my reasoning was this: Some bigots suffer from mental illness, and ... Read More »

Super-powerful interstellar ‘ticking time bomb’ found not far from Earth

Australian astronomers say they have spotted a super-powerful star that could explode at any moment in one of the most-powerful detonations since the Big Bang. Liam Mannix The Sydney Morning Herald And this ticking time bomb is not far from Earth. In a part of the Milky Way 8000-odd light-years away, two stars, each about 30 times bigger than our sun, are circling around each other. Their combined gravity is making each star spin on its axis at incredible speeds. ... Read More »

China uses the cloud to step up spying on Australian business

China’s peak security agency has directed a surge in cyber attacks on Australian companies over the past year, breaching an agreement struck between Premier Li Keqiang and former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to not steal each other’s commercial secrets. Nick McKenzie, Angus Grigg & Chris Uhlmann The Age A Fairfax Media/Nine News investigation has confirmed that China’s Ministry of State Security is responsible for what is known in cyber circles as “Operation Cloud Hopper”, a wave of attacks detected by ... Read More »