Richard Branson on Clean Energy Investment

"Climate change poses a serious challenge to business, and business must be part of the solution," says Branson. The business mogul says change is happening too slowly. 

What's the Latest Development?


A key step in slowing climate change will be to find fuels that burn cleaner, releasing less carbon dioxide into the air. Biofuels might help, says Branson, but they remain unjustifiable if they come at the expense of food production and contribute to rising world food prices. "Our studies found that cellulosic biomass is a better alternative, as is waste from agriculture, municipal sewage and animals. Prairie grass, willows, corn stalks and wheat straw all can be used to manufacture cellulosic ethanol." 

What's the Big Idea?

Branson's Virgin has begun investing in biofuel companies that use local resources to create fuel for local energy demands. Biofuels is not a one-size-fits-all solution, he says. Instead, a suite of solutions should be developed that work in different places. Branson emphasizes the role of the private sector in positive social change: "Given our rapidly rising population and the consequent environmental pressure, our solutions have to be technological as well as social—business must be a part of this equation as well."

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
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Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

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