A few days ago the Red Bull Stratos mission was canceled due to weather conditions. The mission has now launched! Felix Baumgartner is on his way up to the edge of space!
The Red Bull Stratos is a mission to the edge of space that will try to surpass human limits that have existed for more than 50 years. Supported by a team of experts, Felix Baumgartner will undertake a stratospheric balloon flight to more than 120,000 feet / 36,576 meters and make a record-breaking freefall jump in the attempt to become the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall (an estimated 690 miles / 1,110 kilometers per hour), while delivering valuable data for medical and scientific advancement.
Live Updates at The Huffington Post.
Why Poverty? uses film to get people talking about poverty.
The organization has commissioned award-winning filmmakers to produce eight documentaries each looking at a different aspect of poverty. The films tackle big issues and pose difficult questions, but they’re also moving, subtle and thought-provoking stories.
Link to more clips at whypovery.net. The full-length films will be broadcast on television around the world in November 2012, then available online.
From Talking Philosophy:
Bertrand Russell married his first love, Alys Pearsall Smith, on 13 December 1894. In the autumn of 1901, he had a revelation:
I went out bicycling one afternoon, and suddenly, as I was riding along a country road, I realised that I no longer loved Alys. I had had no idea until this moment that my love for her was even lessening. The problem presented by this discovery was very grave. We had lived ever since our marriage in the closest possible intimacy. We always shared a bed, and neither of us ever had a separate dressing-room. We talked over together everything that ever happened to us… I knew that she was still devoted to me. I had no wish to be unkind, but I believed in those days…that in intimate relations one should speak the truth.
Russell justifies his change of feelings by levelling a number of criticisms against Alys.
Have you ever wondered about whether the “ancient aliens” theory, and the meme-tastic History Channel show of the same name, holds any water?
Spoiler: It doesn’t.
But we don’t like unsupported claims around here. So here’s some support: Chris White, a former believer of the alien theory, put together this hours-long film that investigates and disproves each alien claim one-by-one. Instead, scientific explanations are offered for everything from Puma Punku to Giza.
We do no favor to the advanced cultures of the past by diminishing their accomplishments via the introduction of alien technologies. The human race is an ingenious one, and modern society is not the birthplace of technology. I prefer the view that humans have been making huge scientific gains for millennia, because it enriches our history instead of cheapens it.
Ancient cultures being awesome? Is such a thing even possible? You bet it is.
(Sphere representing all of Earth’s water)
(Spheres representing all of Earth’s water, Earth’s liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers)
From Talking Philosophy:
While people normally think of water in terms of something we drink, 92% of our water usage as a species is due to agriculture. Plants and animals need water directly, but water is also used for other purposes in the industry. For example, the feed given to animals requires water. In addition to the direct use of water, water is also “consumed” (that is, removed from being useful to humans) by contamination from agriculture. The chemicals and waste of agriculture often ends up in rivers and other bodies of water, rendering it unusable or at least harmful.
One obvious practical concern is working out how to efficiently handle water resources as the population increases. Adding to the difficulty of this matter is the fact that economic improvements in developing countries will most likely lead to a significant increase in the desire for meat, especially beef. Given the water cost of meat the agriculture industry will be hard pressed to meet such increased demand especially if the water supply is under even greater strain.
As might be imagined, there are various practical solutions to the technical problems of water. For example, more efficient agriculture would enable more food to be grown using less water. As another example, the development of cheaper means of purifying water of salt or pollutants would help. Obviously enough if the world eschewed meat in favor of plants, then that would have a significant impact on water usage.
The main moral concern is one of distribution. That is, using moral values to determine how the available water will be used and who will benefit from its use.The main moral concern is one of distribution. That is, using moral values to determine how the available water will be used and who will benefit from its use. As noted above, the growing of meat and other animal products is water intensive relative to growing plants. While there are practical grounds to moving away from animal agriculture, the decision to do so (or not do so) is a matter of ethics. After all, decisions about who is entitled to the water resources and how these resources should be distributed are moral decisions. If, for example, it is decided that water resources will be allocated to the beef industry, then this means that less water will be available to grow more water efficient foods, thus potentially reducing the food supply while also creating food that is relatively expensive for the consumer.
As the population grows, the moral concerns will become even more serious. After all, it is certainly worth considering that the demand on water resources will eventually be high enough that choosing between growing beef and raising more water efficient crops will be a choice between providing the more affluent few with a luxury food and providing the less affluent many with the food they need to survive.
An obvious counter to this is that we have always managed to find a solution to such problems in the past and hence we will surely find one (or more) in the future. After all, the population doomsdays predicted in the past all turned out to be in error.
While this response has considerable appeal, it is worth noting that there must be a point at which our ability to solve the water problem reaches its limit. After all, the supply of water on the earth is finite and even if we were to use the water with incredible efficiency there would be a point at which the available fresh water could not support a population of a certain size. Naturally, this can be countered by reducing population size—but determining whether we should do this or not and the details of the reduction would involve moral choices.
Link to the rest at Talking Philosophy.
Our brains love playing tricks on us, and the results can be detrimental. Because of how we remember certain events, even a good experience can be recalled as an awful one because of one little problem. Dr. Peter Noel Murray, writing for Psychology Today, explains:
[A] consumer could have a great experience with a product or service, but only have bad memories when thinking about it later. Here’s how. Let’s say you are on vacation and have dinner at the best restaurant recommended to you. Perfect table. Food is exquisitely prepared. Wonderful wine. The experience is fantastic. However, when clearing the table the waiter spills coffee into your lap. Odds are that the coffee spill will degrade your memory of the food and wine, no matter how exceptional you otherwise would have remembered them. And if the hot coffee burned a leg or damaged an expensive dress or suit, the wonderful dining experience may not be remembered at all.
Link to the original article at Psychology Today
From Science Daily:
Ask adults from the industrialized world what number is halfway between 1 and 9, and most will say 5. But pose the same question to small children, or people living in some traditional societies, and they’re likely to answer 3.
Cognitive scientists theorize that that’s because it’s actually more natural for humans to think logarithmically than linearly.
Link to the rest at Science Daily.