Paul Farmer | London Review Of Books | 15 October 2014
“Weak health systems, not unprecedented virulence, are to blame for Ebola’s rapid spread. An Ebola diagnosis need not be a death sentence. Here’s my assertion as an infectious disease specialist: if patients are promptly diagnosed and receive aggressive supportive care – including fluid resuscitation, electrolyte replacement and blood products – the great majority, as many as 90%, should survive.”
Skunk works reveals compact fusion reactor details
Guy Norris | Aviation Week | 15 October 2014
An extreme case of “interesting if true”. Lockheed Martin says it is developing a nuclear-fusion reactor using superconducting magnets which will meet world energy needs cleanly and cheaply. Lockheed thinks it can have a prototype working in five years’ time, and a production model five years after that. The priority is for small 100MW reactors that can be moved on trucks and plugged into existing grids.
Don’t read this on public wi-fi
Maurits Martijn | Matter | 15 October 2014
Dutch hacker shows how to eavesdrop on other computers using public wi-fi. “You need 70 Euros, an average IQ, and a little patience”. Go into a café, connect to the wi-fi, create your own wi-fi hotspot, attach the name of the café to your bogus network, and wait for others to connect to you. “Already, 20 smartphones and laptops are ours. If he wanted to, Slotboom is now able to ruin the lives of the people connected”.
The two-hour marathon
Alex Hutchinson | Runner's World | 13 October 2014
The world marathon record stands at 2:02:57, and we can model with some confidence how the two-hour barrier will eventually be broken by the right runner in the right circumstances. It will probably happen on a cold day in Berlin. The record-breaker will be a short man with long legs, paced by at least six team-mates.
The genetics epidemic
Jamie Metzl | Foreign Affairs | 12 October 2014
What if China finds an effective way of making people smarter? What if cults genetically re-engineer their followers on the high seas? We have “five years to get serious” before scenarios like this become real policy questions. Competition between countries will drive genetics forward whether the science is safe or not. But how will a public so suspicious of genetically-modified crops respond to genetically-modified humans?
Blessed are the wastrels
Stuart Armstrong | The Conversation | 8 October 2014
The virtues of waste. It’s bad that Western shoppers throw away half the food they buy; but it’s good that there is so much slack in food supply. Luxury goods sustain a manufacturing base that can be repurposed in time of crisis. It might be better in theory if the economy operated more efficiently and governments stockpiled reserves, but that would be politically and practically hard to do.
Questions for a philosophy of cosmology
Sean Carroll | Preposterous Universe | 3 October 2014
If the metaphysics of the world in which we live and die is not enough to keep you awake at night, give some thought to the rest of the Universe. Are space and time emergent or fundamental? What part should unobservable realms play in cosmological models? How is the arrow of time related to the special state of the early Universe? What is the quantum state of the Universe? With a guest appearance by Stephen Hawking.
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