Why Selfishness Is Not a Virtue
Who could disagree with self-fulfillment and self-cultivation? These values, however, which are centered on expressive individualism, leave the values of future generations up for grabs.
What's the Latest Development?
In sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s new book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, figures get in the way of assessing the value of important cultural mores, explains Benjamin Schwartz. Based on data explaining that people living alone make up 28% of US households, a historical record which makes the loner more numerous than the nuclear family, Klineberg says: "living alone is an individual choice that’s as valid as the choice to get married or live with a domestic partner. ...it’s a collective achievement—which is why it’s common in developed nations but not in poor ones.”
What's the Big Idea?
Facts and figures seem to rule our social lives: Quarterly earnings reports and monthly unemployment figures determine our assessment of our culture's worth. This misstep, which glosses over non-quantifiable values, is what allows individualism to be mistaken as a virtue. In reality, says Schwartz: "The values of expressive individualism guarantee that the values of future generations will be more or less up for grabs for the simple reason that expressive individualists have a difficult time replicating (the demographic data don’t lie) and an even more difficult time socializing a child."
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- 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.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
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.
- 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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