Who is leading the private space race?
The space station sector has exciting potential as more private companies enter the conversation.
PETER WARD: When we think about the International Space Station we think of it rightly as the most expensive public project ever built in the entire history of humanity, but it's not just public anymore. There are a lot of private companies involved in it and in the future we could see a lot more private companies either on the International Space Station operating it or competing with it. The great thing about SpaceX and Blue Origin and other private companies making launch prices less costly means there's been a group of entrepreneurs that have come in behind them and they've been enabled in their mission. The transparency of the launch costs means that you can build a business plan now before you even go anywhere. And then you can get funding and then you can go. So there's a lot of smaller companies that are coming in behind SpaceX and Blue Origin which maybe you don't hear so much of, but doing fantastic things.
For example, NanoRacks is a company which is on the International Space Station right now. It has a really cool history of the company. Their CEO, a guy called Jeffrey Manber, he was actually in the negotiations between America and the Soviet Union over the International Space Station when it was first built. He was actually on the Russian side though because he saw Russia was going to get private space economy before America at that time. So, a really interesting character. He essentially what he does is he provides a service to anyone that wants it where they can launch a satellite or they can conduct experiments or use the International Space Station for research and they go through him rather than through NASA. So he owns a section of the International Space Station he essentially rents out and then any academic organization or country or anyone can go to NanoRacks and say we want to use this bit of space to do this research or we want to launch a satellite straight from the International Space Station. So that's a really cool company.
And there are several others in the space station. The space station sector is really fascinating because you have the International Space Station which is no one knows when it's going to happen but at some point it's going to be decommissioned or handed over to a private entity. So there are various companies that are either competing to become that private company that will take over the International Space Station or to launch their own International Space Station. And Jeffrey Manber at NanoRacks is one of those guys who wants to have a private space station. He wants to take the disused parts of rockets which go up and put them together and create a space station that way. There's Bigelow who has his inflatable modules who wants to make a space station that way possibly. And there's a few others. Axiom is a really serious organization. It's run by people who used to be in charge of the International Space Station for NASA so it's got some great expertise, it's got some great leaders.
I would say that the head of the race to – if a company were to take over the International Space Station it would probably be Axiom at this point. They're super serious. They know what they're doing and either they will take over the access or they'll launch their own. I think the one thing that they are doing is they've taken a kind of a – they're not going the inflatable route. They're going the way of building the entire space station on the ground and then sending it up which is quite expensive and not the most efficient. A lot of people would do it differently these days. There's more I guess innovative ways of doing it such as the inflatable modules and taking spent rocket parts and building it that way. But yes, they're the guys who know what they're doing. And then you have Orion Span which is a curious company. When I spoke to other people from the space station sector they didn't have the nicest things to say about Orion Span. I think they enjoy that there are more companies in the space. They enjoy the competition but what they don't want is people that aren't serious about it and don't have a serious business plan.
Orion Span says they're going to build a space station and they're going to take people to the space station on vacations. They're going to charge them I think it's $12 million. That is not possible to do and make a profit. It's completely impossible. Just to get people up there is going to cost millions. So that's not – when I spoke to people at the other companies they say it's great that have other companies involved but we don't want people who aren't serious and who don't have a serious business plan that are going to attract the headlines and also are going to attract money as well. Orion Span has gotten some alternative ways to get funding. They've gone the crowdfunding route. They've also got a cryptocurrency issue I think. I think you can donate to them in cryptocurrency. And it all comes across as this little not so serious to the guys who are already say on the ISS or who have worked on the ISS. Those guys don't see them as a serious competitor and I think what they are worried about is that it will be damaging overall to the mission. They will lose credibility because other companies are not as serious as they could be.
- The International Space Station is the most expensive public project ever built in the history of humanity.
- Companies like NanoRacks, SpaceX, and Blue Origin have already entered the conversation of what the future will look like for the ISS.
- Now, it's important to entertain only the serious contenders in the space race.
- Make space great again: Why the International Space Station still ... ›
- Space hotel with artificial gravity will be in orbit by 2025 - Big Think ›
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The COVID-19 pandemic is making health disparities in the United States crystal clear. It is a clarion call for health care systems to double their efforts in vulnerable communities.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated America's health disparities, widening the divide between the haves and have nots.
- Studies show disparities in wealth, race, and online access have disproportionately harmed underserved U.S. communities during the pandemic.
- To begin curing this social aliment, health systems like Northwell Health are establishing relationships of trust in these communities so that the post-COVID world looks different than the pre-COVID one.
COVID-19 deepens U.S. health disparities<p>Communities on the pernicious side of America's health disparities have their unique histories, environments, and social structures. They are spread across the United States, but they all have one thing in common.</p><p>"There is one common divide in American communities, and that is poverty," said <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/about/leadership/debbie-salas-lopez" target="_blank">Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, MPH</a>, senior vice president of community and population health at Northwell Health. "That is the undercurrent that manifests poor health, poor health outcomes, or poor health prognoses for future wellbeing."</p><p>Social determinants have far-reaching effects on health, and poor communities have unfavorable social determinants. To pick one of many examples, <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/09/27/913612554/a-crisis-within-a-crisis-food-insecurity-and-covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">food insecurity</a> reduces access to quality food, leading to poor health and communal endemics of chronic medical conditions. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified some of these conditions, such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as increasing the risk of developing a severe case of coronavirus.</p><p>The pandemic didn't create poverty or food insecurity, but it exacerbated both, and the results have been catastrophic. A study published this summer in the <em><a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05971-3" target="_blank">Journal of General Internal Medicine</a></em> suggested that "social factors such as income inequality may explain why some parts of the USA are hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than others."</p><p>That's not to say better-off families in the U.S. weren't harmed. A <a href="https://voxeu.org/article/poverty-inequality-and-covid-19-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">paper from the Centre for Economic Policy Research</a> noted that families in counties with a higher median income experienced adjustment costs associated with the pandemic—for example, lowering income-earning interactions to align with social distancing policies. However, the paper found that the costs of social distancing were much greater for poorer families, who cannot easily alter their living circumstances, which often include more individuals living in one home and a reliance on mass transit to reach work and grocery stores. They are also disproportionately represented in essential jobs, such as retail, transportation, and health care, where maintaining physical distance can be all but impossible.</p><p>The paper also cited a positive correlation between higher income inequality and higher rates of coronavirus infection. "Our interpretation is that poorer people are less able to protect themselves, which leads them to different choices—they face a steeper trade-off between their health and their economic welfare in the context of the threats posed by COVID-19," the authors wrote.</p><p>"There are so many pandemics that this pandemic has exacerbated," Dr. Salas-Lopez noted.</p><p>One example is the health-wealth gap. The mental stressors of maintaining a low socioeconomic status, especially in the face of extreme affluence, can have a physically degrading impact on health. <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/index.cfm/_api/render/file/?method=inline&fileID=123ECD96-EF81-46F6-983D2AE9A45FA354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Writing on this gap</a>, Robert Sapolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, notes that socioeconomic stressors can increase blood pressure, reduce insulin response, increase chronic inflammation, and impair the prefrontal cortex and other brain functions through anxiety, depression, and cognitive load. </p><p>"Thus, from the macro level of entire body systems to the micro level of individual chromosomes, poverty finds a way to produce wear and tear," Sapolsky writes. "It is outrageous that if children are born into the wrong family, they will be predisposed toward poor health by the time they start to learn the alphabet."</p>Research on the economic and mental health fallout of COVID-19 is showing two things: That unemployment is hitting <a href="https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/09/24/economic-fallout-from-covid-19-continues-to-hit-lower-income-americans-the-hardest/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">low-income and young Americans</a> most during the pandemic, potentially widening the health-wealth gap further; and that the pandemic not only exacerbates mental health stressors, but is doing so at clinically relevant levels. As <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7413844/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors of one review</a> wrote, the pandemic's effects on mental health is itself an international public health priority.
Working to close the health gap<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDc5MDk1MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTYyMzQzMn0.KSFpXH7yHYrfVPtfgcxZqAHHYzCnC2bFxwSrJqBbH4I/img.jpg?width=980" id="b40e2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1b9035370ab7b02a0dc00758e494412b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Northwell Health coronavirus testing center at Greater Springfield Community Church.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>Novel coronavirus may spread and infect indiscriminately, but pre-existing conditions, environmental stressors, and a lack of access to care and resources increase the risk of infection. These social determinants make the pandemic more dangerous, and erode communities' and families' abilities to heal from health crises that pre-date the pandemic.</p><p>How do we eliminate these divides? Dr. Salas-Lopez says the first step is recognition. "We have to open our eyes to see the suffering around us," she said. "Northwell has not shied away from that."</p><p>"We are steadfast in improving health outcomes for our vulnerable and underrepresented communities that have suffered because of the prevalence of chronic disease, a problem that led to the disproportionately higher death rate among African-Americans and Latinos during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Dowling, Northwell's president and CEO. "We are committed to using every tool at our disposal—as a provider of health care, employer, purchaser and investor—to combat disparities and ensure the <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/education-and-resources/community-engagement/center-for-equity-of-care" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">equity of care</a> that everyone deserves." </p><p>With the need recognized, Dr. Salas-Lopez calls for health care systems to travel upstream and be proactive in those hard-hit communities. This requires health care systems to play a strong role, but not a unilateral one. They must build <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/faith-based-leaders-are-the-key-to-improving-community-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">partnerships with leaders in those communities</a> and utilize those to ensure relationships last beyond the current crisis. </p><p>"We must meet with community leaders and talk to them to get their perspective on what they believe the community needs are and should be for the future. Together, we can co-create a plan to measurably improve [community] health and also to be ready for whatever comes next," she said.</p><p>Northwell has built relationships with local faith-based and community organizations in underserved communities of color. Those partnerships enabled Northwell to test more than 65,000 people across the metro New York region. The health system also offered education on coronavirus and precautions to curb its spread.</p><p>These initiatives began the process of building trust—trust that Northwell has counted on to return to these communities to administer flu vaccines to prepare for what experts fear may be a difficult flu season.</p><p>While Northwell has begun building bridges across the divides of the New York area, much will still need to be done to cure U.S. health care overall. There is hope that the COVID pandemic will awaken us to the deep disparities in the US.</p><p>"COVID has changed our world. We have to seize this opportunity, this pandemic, this crisis to do better," Dr. Salas-Lopez said. "Provide better care. Provide better health. Be better partners. Be better community citizens. And treat each other with respect and dignity.</p><p>"We need to find ways to unify this country because we're all human beings. We're all created equal, and we believe that health is one of those important rights."</p>
The rites we give to the dead help us understand what it takes to go on living.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit New York in March, the death toll quickly went up with few chances for families and communities to perform traditional rites for their loved ones.
Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
- One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
Philosopher Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" predicts the future of human societies.
- Nick Bostrom's "singleton hypothesis" says that intelligent life on Earth will eventually form a "singleton".
- The "singleton" could be a single government or an artificial intelligence that runs everything.
- Whether the singleton will be positive or negative depends on numerous factors and is not certain.
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How to deal with "epistemic exhaustion."