We hope you enjoy this week's edition, in which you'll learn about progress in fighting cancer, getting HD space footage, religious exemptions for vaccinations, a new book on genetics and success, studying social media division, and how Peter Singer plans to spend his $1 million!
As always, let us know if you come across any interesting news – we love hearing from you!
Suzi Jamil | Owner and Director of Think Inc.
MRNA SHRINKS CANCER
Scientists have shown that message RNAs can completely shrink tumours in mice, and now they’re testing it in humans!
mRNAs are now widely discussed for their use in Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Simply put, mRNAs are molecules that instruct cells to make proteins, and in this case they can produce tumour-fighting proteins (cytokines).
Let's hope that it works just as well in humans.
STREAMING FROM SPACE
Australia has installed the first space laser optical ground station in the southern hemisphere!
This massive telescope sits atop the physics building at the University of Western Australia, and it will be part of a global network receiving high-definition TV from astronauts on the moon when NASA returns there with its Artemis program in 2024.
Transmitting HD video from space is quite complicated. There's no 4G nor optic cables, and the increasing amount of satellites are causing bottlenecks in getting the data back to Earth.
That’s where laser technology comes to the rescue. Laser communication is faster than radio waves, and lasers are far lighter and smaller than radio transmitters.
Thanks to laser tech, it’s likely we’ll be able to stream high-definition footage of the first woman to walk on the Moon in 2024!
WHAT COUNTS AS RELIGIOUS?
In some states in the US, vaccines are mandatory in certain workplaces, with narrow exemptions on religious grounds.
US Federal law defines religion very broadly, meaning that you don’t have to belong to an organised religion to be protected by the exemption.
What you do have to show is a genuine religious belief, not a political or social one. But as the employers, who are receiving an influx of these exemption letters are starting to realize, there is a very fine line between a religious and a political belief.
We find this topic to be fascinating! If you're the same, you will love our Think Inc. Academy course Politics as the New Religion: Understanding the Far Left and Right.
STUDYING SOCIAL MEDIA DIVISION
New York University has just released a report which found that while social media platforms are not the cause of political polarisation, they have definitely intensified it.
The researchers say that social platforms erode trust and democratic norms in ways that have undermined America’s pandemic response and acceptance of the 2020 election results.
They recommend companies be more transparent with their algorithms, increase the size of their content moderation teams, and hide the like and share counts to stop rewarding polarising content – which is exactly what Jon Haidt has been recommending for years!
A friendly reminder that you can buy a copy of his and Greg Lukianoff's book The Coddling of the American Mind here, in which they discuss this issue in great detail.
Kathryn Paige Harden – have you heard of her?
Her name's on everyone’s lips right now because of her ground-breaking book, The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, which is set to be released next week.
Harden is a psychologist and behaviour geneticist, and her upcoming book is all about creating an anti-eugenics framework for understanding why some people achieve more than others.
Obviously, this is very dangerous territory! And for good reason, considering the history of this branch of science, and how it's been used to excuse great injustices and suffering.
But according to Harden, sweeping genetic differences under the rug does not make the genome, as a systemic force causing inequality, go away. The New Yorker (linked below) did a long and in-depth interview on her, and you can also read about her work in The Guardian and Quillette.
HOW TO SPEND $1 MILLION
Another person who’s not afraid of controversy is our mate Peter Singer, who was recently awarded the Berggruen Prize for “major achievements in advancing ideas that shape the world”.
The award came with a whopping $1 million US. A man true to his word, you won't see Peter going on a shopping spree or buying up property in the Bahamas. Instead, he is giving half to The Life You Can Save and a third to effective charities combating factory farming.
You have the opportunity to tell him where he should donate the remaining third.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Nicki Minaj was trending on Twitter a few days ago for a colourful story about her cousin's testicles, and how she believes they became swollen after the COVID vaccination… Ok, this is not exactly the type of news that we want to bring you.
But thanks to Nicki and her cousin’s bits, we have been introduced to molecular biologist Raven the Science Maven who commented on Nicki’s tweet with a link to her very catchy rap on how vaccines work.