Bill Gates on Optimism

Pessimism is often wrong because people assume a world where there is no change or innovation. They fail to recognize insights that might alter current trends, says Bill Gates.

Pessimism is often wrong because people assume a world where there is no change or innovation. They simply extrapolate from what is going on today, failing to recognize the new developments and insights that might alter current trends. For too long, for instance, population forecasts have ignored the possibility that population growth would ease as the world became better off, because people who are wealthier and healthier do not feel the need to have so many children. A lot of the rhetoric about sustainability implicitly assumes that we will exhaust our natural resources, as though there will never be any substitution of one commodity for another in the future.

Plants have awareness and intelligence, argue scientists

Research in plant neurobiology shows that plants have senses, intelligence and emotions.

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Surprising Science
  • The field of plant neurobiology studies the complex behavior of plants.
  • Plants were found to have 15-20 senses, including many like humans.
  • Some argue that plants may have awareness and intelligence, while detractors persist.
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Vaping changes blood vessels after one use, even without nicotine

E-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, but they come with their own risks.


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Surprising Science
  • A new study used an MRI machine to examine how vaping e-cigarettes affects users' cardiovascular systems immediately after inhalation.
  • The results showed that vaping causes impaired circulation, stiffer arteries and less oxygen in their blood.
  • The new study adds to a growing body of research showing that e-cigarettes – while likely safer than traditional cigarettes – are far from harmless.
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Space is dead: A challenge to the standard model of quantum mechanics

Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.

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  • Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
  • In nature, properties of Particle B may be depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
  • In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.
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