Salman Rushdie: "We Should Drop Nintendos on Iran"

We should think about terrorism not as a battle between Islam and the West but as a battle within Islam, says author Salman Rushdie. And video games might just be the way to resolve this conflict. "I often think that the best way to liberate Iran is just to drop Nintendo consoles from the air. And Big Macs," he tells us.

In his Big Think interview, the literary giant tells us about how video games influenced his newest novel "Luka and the Fire of Life." As he proves in this and previous novels, fantasy can be a vehicle for writing about truth. That is after all the whole premise of fiction. "We don’t need to know that Anna Karenina really existed; we need to know who she is and what moves her and what her story tells us about our own lives," he says. "Once you accept that stories are not true, then you understand that a flying carpet and Madam Bovary are untrue in the same way, and as a result both of them are ways of arriving at the truth by the road of untruth and so then they can both do it the same way."

Rushdie says there is a double standard for immigrant writers. Western writers have always given themselves the freedom to write about any topic: "If John Updike wants to write a novel set in Africa he does. If Saul Bellow wants to write a novel set in Africa he feels free to do so, whereas sometimes if the reverse happens, if a third-world writer wishes to set a novel in Illinois, he might be asked what he thinks he is doing." This, he believes, is a hangover of a kind of cultural colonialism.

Looking back on his career, Rushdie says his first successful novel, "Midnight's Children," was one of the high points. Many of his friends, like Martin Amis and Ian McEwan, had already found success, but he struggled for a decade as an advertising copywriter, working on novels on the side. "There is nothing like the first moment when you realize that you’re going to be able to have the life that you want to have," he says. Three decades later, Rushdie no longer has to fret about finding success, but one of the problems of growing older is that you start losing people, he says. And when a loved one dies, you also lose a version of yourself. "You lose yourself as that person saw you and responded to you." One friend, Christopher Hitchens, is currently battling cancer but has done so in the public eye. Rushdie says his friend's insistence on being himself in the face of death is "heroic."  

Finally, Rushdie, known to be quite the ladies man, offers some dating tips. The fact that he survived a death fatwa is not his key to success, he tells us. Women like men who do interesting things, he says. "We’re lucky as men that women are able to look beyond the physical towards something else."

How to make a black hole

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.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
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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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