We're back for TIT #021, and this week we've got a fun one for you. But before we get into the light stuff, let's get into the controversial, serious content: Peter Singer on mandatory vaccines, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Yasmine Mohammed on escaping Islamic fundamentalism, and a question of whether our days of working together have come to an end.

Then easing up with a new job opening at NASA, a very charming tetraquark discovery, and Dr Karl bringing fun science news to the masses.

As always, let us know about any interesting news you come across – we love to hear from you.

Warm regards,


(trigger warning) A very controversial but well-reasoned opinion is about to be presented to you: mandatory vaccination.

Yes, the idea is bound to make some people angry, and we understand that. But anyone familiar with the work of Peter Singer knows he doesn't really care about how palatable his opinions are – he's more concerned with utility.

For him, mass vaccination is the utilitarian choice. Yes, it overlooks individual liberties, but that results in a better outcome for the majority of people. Less sickness, less death and fewer lockdowns. Regardless of how you feel about the subject, you've got to agree that his reasoning is sound.

Peter put forward this idea in his most recent Project Syndicate article by likening mandatory COVID vaccinations to mandatory seatbelts. When seatbelt use was enforced by law in 1970s Australia, citizens complained that their freedoms were under attack; but today we don't think twice about strapping in, and there's little debate that it's a necessary law to abide by. 

We're impressed that Andrew Bolt, who definitely doesn't agree with Peter on this issue, interviewed him on Sky News. Watch it to see a good example of two people respectfully disagreeing- it might be the only time you see such a thing this week!


In response to our last newsletter, Dr Edward Spence, Honorary Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney and teacher for our upcoming Think Inc. Academy course How to Be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for a Happier Life, sent us in a very interesting opinion piece published in the New York Times. 

Titled “What if Humans Just Can’t Get Along Anymore?”, author Farhad Manjoo considers whether the Internet has eroded our ability to work together in facing some of today's biggest problems, such as COVID and climate change. He discusses the “tragedy of the commons” theory, in which people maximise individual utility at the expense of collective good, and the theories put forward by Elinor Ostrom, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics in 2009. In her prize lecture, she said that humans are more complex than the “tragedy of the commons” theory suggests, but that we need the correct institutions to help us work together.

Is that possible today when trust in previously well-regarded institutions such as the WHO and CDC is slipping? While not the catalyst, it's clear that the Internet, and in particular, social media, is allowing us to become further fragmented.

This also touches on some of the topics students are learning about in our Think Inc. Academy course The Great Awokening, regarding the divides between Right and Left, and the religious pull of political parties and conspiracy theories.


Here's some news from our previous guest Yasmine Mohammed, who spoke at our Outside the Box event last year, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who we planned on touring in 2017 but regrettably had to cancel.

If you didn’t already know, Ayaan has an amazing podcast, and she recently posted a two-part chat with Yasmine where they talk about their experiences growing up under strict Islamic fundamentalism, and how Yasmine escaped her marriage to an Al-Qaeda terrorist. Crazy stuff.

If you’re a big fan of Yasmine like we are, you can watch our Outside The Box event with her for free on our YouTube Channel – check it out! We’ve also got some signed copies of her groundbreaking book: Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam on our Think Inc. shop


NASA wants you! (to populate Mars). Ok, not quite, but they’re looking for “highly motivated” individuals to participate in virtual reality simulations of life on Mars, as they ramp up their preparation for interplanetary travel. 

It all starts with a hi-tech 3D printed Mars habitat, dubbed Mars Dune Alpha, where applicants have to live and adapt to habitats they will encounter on the Red Planet. It will simulate challenges such as resource limitations, equipment failure, communication delays and other environmental stressors. Crew may be required to simulate spacewalks, do scientific research, use virtual reality and robotic controls, all to provide important data to develop solutions for future expeditions.

If you’re interested, don’t get your hopes up unless you’ve got a master’s degree in STEM with at least two years of professional experience, or a minimum 1,000 hours piloting an aircraft… You also have to be a healthy US citizen or resident between 30 and 55 years old, and not a smoker, as the conditions on Mars are pretty rough on the lungs. Fit the build? Apply below.


Ok, let’s talk about quark. No, not the delicious German cheese, but the delicious elementary particles. Physicists at CERN have recently discovered a new kind of tetraquark!

What is a tetraquark you may ask? Well, quarks are the most fundamental building blocks of matter and come in different “flavours” each with their own masses and charge: up, down, top, bottom, strange, charm, and tetraquarks. In recent years physicists have discovered many tetraquarks, but this latest one is the first "doubly charmed" one, meaning it contains two charm quarks without any charm antiquarks to balance them out.

This new tetraquark has been named Tcc+ and was discovered by analyzing particle decays in the Large Hadron Collider. Researchers noticed that Tcc+ lives longer than other quarks… yes this Tcc+ lasts a massive one-QUINTILLIONTH of a second before decaying into lighter particles. Geeze, these little things don’t muck around, do they?

If you’re a physics nerd, go read the article that Jennifer Oullette wrote on this charming tetraquark. Jennifer happens to be the wife of our mate Sean Carroll– what a power couple!


We've recently discovered the treasure trove that is Dr Karl’s Tik Tok page!

For all those poor non-Australians out there, Dr Karl is Australia’s favourite scientist. Many young Aussies grew up watching and listening to Dr Karl on the ABC, but did you know he was born in Sweden? and that his full name is Karl Sven Woytek Sas Konkovitch Matthew Kruszelnicki AM. The man is full of surprises.

Being such an eccentric character, there's no surprise he's doing so well on Tik Tok. You should definitely go check out his account. He’s got hilarious and informative videos on all types of topics such as the Galileo Thermometer, meat allergies, Foreign Accent Syndrome and black holes!

While you’re there check out our Tik Tok, which we definitely need to improve after looking at Dr Karl’s quality content.


Reading next


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.