What is your outlook?

Lawrence Summers: I think I’m more optimistic than I would have been ten or twenty years ago. I’m more optimistic because I see more lives being made better, more than at any time of the history of the planet. I’m more optimistic because I see the tremendous potential of the United States. I see the resilience of a global economy that has proven more resilient to all kinds of shocks, from Russia’s default, to Mexico’s near default. It’s proven itself more resilient than many would have supposed. I see here at Harvard the tremendous commitment to transcend selfishness on the part of an extraordinarily able group of young people who we assemble. All of that together probably makes me have more optimism – though a worried optimism – than I would have had ten or twenty years ago.

Recorded On: June 13, 2007

Larry Summers sees tremendous potential in America's ability to deal with looming challenges.

Can these giant dams keep Europe from drowning?

Why a 400-mile enclosure around the North Sea is not as crazy as it sounds

Image: Groeskamp & Kjellsson
Strange Maps
  • The Northern European Enclosure Dam (NEED) would cut off the North and Baltic Seas from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • It would save 15 countries, and up to 55 million people, from sea level rise—but at a cost.
  • The idea is a warning more than a plan: NEED will be necessary if we don't stop global warming now.
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A Cave in France Changes What We Thought We Knew About Neanderthals

A cave in France contains man’s earliest-known structures that had to be built by Neanderthals who were believed to be incapable of such things.

Image source: yannvdb/Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science

In a French cave deep underground, scientists have discovered what appear to be 176,000-year-old man-made structures. That's 150,000 years earlier than any that have been discovered anywhere before. And they could only have been built by Neanderthals, people who were never before considered capable of such a thing.

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UFO sightings: Why Mount Shasta is the new Roswell

A volcano in California is a hot spot for conspiracy theorists.

Photo Credit: Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
Surprising Science
  • Unusual UFO-shaped formations were observed in the skies over Mount Shasta.
  • These were actually lenticular clouds that often look like lenses or flying saucers.
  • This volcano peak in California has long been the subject of conspiracy theories.
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