This week in comments: February 26th—March 4th, 2018

Truly a negative week in terms of the comments on our Facebook. Maybe have some fruit and some sunshine next week?

15,000 Scientists Issue a “Warning to Humanity”

Michael Hennessey: Earth will survive, humans won't, all the plastic we created will be our monument to the universe.


Benjamin Phillips: Look, this is highly alarmist. Sure on the surface, things look pretty dire, but we have the technology to solve each and every one of these problems...or at least close to having the tech to solve all these problems. For example, there are claims that scientists have solved the fusion containment issue. If so...limitless clean power. Meaning we can phase out cars that run on fossil fuels. I find the meat claim to be very dubious because if you take meat out of the diet, you have to eat more plants...meaning more land is needed for farming. But even here we have a techno solution - scientists can grow meat in a lab. The real issue is, not the end is nigh...but we as a species are ungovernable. This is, even though in theory there is just enough for everybody. Until we stop living or governing as we have done for the last 10,000 years...humankind will not step out of the darkness. Up until 10,000 years ago, humankind were nomads, then we discovered agriculture and from there human beings grew exponentially. This form of governing worked, until now because we're almost an advanced technological society...almost. Now that we're all connected or most of us, the old enmities of the past - where we fought over resources and cultural dominance need to be put aside. Then we need to find a new way to divide everything up, and make decisions. Decision making by consensus is also a problem. We need to figure this out too. But this new form of governing and indeed making decisions cannot be like anything we've had in the past. It cannot be socialism mk2. We have to find a way for the individual to take responsibility for themselves and the world around them, and come together that way. And until we do...then screaming the sky is falling won't solve the problem...it will make it worse.

Survey Predicts Huge Amount of Non-Religious Americans by 2035

Brandon Hiraeth: What exactly is there to believe in? A God that allows the atrocities in our world to go unchecked? A God that allows a majority of the world to live in poverty? The more aware of the world I am the less I believe any God was involved.

Is it even possible to oppose capitalism anymore?

Wendy Irving: Socialist welfare states such as in Northern Europe work best. Democracy, looking after their people and managing the economy. It means high taxes, but you get what you pay for. In general, they have high standards of living and life satisfaction.

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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