Jim Yong Kim: Superstar Pragmatist

Call me a proud alum.  If you haven't yet heard of Jim Yong Kim, the Dartmouth College president nominated by Obama today to head the World Bank, then welcome to a galactic superstar in the making.  Only three years into his tenure at Dartmouth, I am disappointed to potentially see Kim go, but his dynamic and pragmatic leadership and his interdisciplinary outlook on development and public health holds the potential to transform the World Bank into one of the 21st century's most important institutions.  I am particularly excited about the potential for the World Bank to continue to pursue programs that connect economic development, climate change, and public health.


The Washington Post editorializes that Kim is an "ideal choice," opinion page editor Fred Hiatt calls him "a groundbreaking choice," and the Post's Ezra Klein has perhaps the best overview of Kim's career arc and the unique qualities he brings to the job.

At Dartmouth, among initiatives, Kim grabbed my attention with his immediate pursuit of harm reduction related to college drinking and his intense passion for applying the science of human performance to college athletics, academic achievement, and the formation among students of lifelong habits related to mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Take a look at the video below from the Dartmouth Idol series.  Kim joins students about 2 minutes into the video with a rap and dance performance, turning popular pop and rap lyrics into a message about campus fun without alcohol.  There are few people in the country who merge Kim's experience, intellectual heft, and charisma.  I anticipate that the World Bank is just the start of his national leadership.

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

Videos
  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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