How is diversity being weaponized?

Striving for diversity is honorable — but the focus should settle on something much deeper than phenotypic traits.

HEATHER HEYING: The concept of diversity is honorable and is being weaponized by people who are not, I think, actually interested in true diversity across all demographics. Diversity could be understood merely at a "we can count this by what you look like and how you identify - your ethnicity, your sex, your sexual orientation, your able-bodiedness," these sorts of things. And these are all real ways that humans differ, and the more varied the life histories and the demographics there are in any particular organization, the more likely there are to be unique solutions to problems that emerge because of the different ways that people with diverse backgrounds will approach questions.

However, socioeconomic diversity, which is not often talked about by many of the people who are currently talking about diversity, is in some ways a better predictor of having things like viewpoint diversity and experience with the real world and being able to actually solve problems on the fly, either the physical or the social sort because they've had to. Because people who are emerging not from the elite and the upper middle class have actually often had to solve problems in a way that those of us who grew up with greater economic privilege didn't have to. We may have chosen to put ourselves in these situations, but even so when it's a choice it's different.

So diversity is a good, but we are not hearing nearly enough about socioeconomic diversity and we are also not hearing nearly enough about viewpoint diversity, which is hidden, which you can't wear on your sleeve: I mean you could you could wear a T-shirt that proclaims some things, but the only thing you can proclaim on a T-shirt is an ideology. You cannot proclaim a nuanced worldview except through extended conversation. Most people who have arrived at their beliefs and their values and their worldview through, first, principles as opposed to through accepting something by rote that was handed to them pre-scripted actually don't fall entirely into a particular ideology. Most of us have views that would sound pretty Democratic and also have views that would sound maybe a bit Republican and some views that are moderate and probably most of us have some extreme views on some topics, and it's not going to be the same mix for anyone. And we find that through talking with one another.

That diversity, which is diversity at the individual level for people who are not ideologues, who have actually arrived at their positions through careful nuanced intellectual but compassionate thought about the world - that's the kind of person that you want in a boardroom. And if those people all look the same in terms of their sex or the color of their skin I would say there's probably some diversity that you're missing that you could stand to gain. But the idea that you can't have diversity of life experience and diversity of opinion and diversity of what people actually come to offer in a room of people who appear to look the same by the metric that we are currently being told to use seems far off base to me, that diversity for the countable phenotypic characteristics should not be the highest goal.

  • In efforts to achieve diversity, whether within workplace teams or elsewhere, leaders often focus on variation of identities regarding race, gender, sexual orientation, and physicality.
  • Evolutionary biologist Heather Heying urges that these efforts be taken a step further to focus on diversity of viewpoints and socioeconomic status — two forms of identity that are less apparent without thoughtful conversation.
  • Achieving diversity in these ways adds varying life experiences and opinions that enrich office or team culture and provide more innovative solutions.


China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

The science of sex, love, attraction, and obsession

The symbol for love is the heart, but the brain may be more accurate.

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  • How love makes us feel can only be defined on an individual basis, but what it does to the body, specifically the brain, is now less abstract thanks to science.
  • One of the problems with early-stage attraction, according to anthropologist Helen Fisher, is that it activates parts of the brain that are linked to drive, craving, obsession, and motivation, while other regions that deal with decision-making shut down.
  • Dr. Fisher, professor Ted Fischer, and psychiatrist Gail Saltz explain the different types of love, explore the neuroscience of love and attraction, and share tips for sustaining relationships that are healthy and mutually beneficial.

Golden blood: The rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
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There never was a male fertility crisis

A new study suggests that reports of the impending infertility of the human male are greatly exaggerated.

Sex & Relationships
  • A new review of a famous study on declining sperm counts finds several flaws.
  • The old report makes unfounded assumptions, has faulty data, and tends toward panic.
  • The new report does not rule out that sperm counts are going down, only that this could be quite normal.
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