Happy Thursday! We hope you're having a great week, and we want to make it a little bit greater by updating you on what Michael Shellenberger, Anil Seth and Peter Singer are up to. We've also got some exciting news about Australia's role in a future moon mission, a vaccine for koala chlamydia (yes, you read that correctly), and photos from the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.
Don't forget that we're running November classes of How To Be Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for a Happier Life – click here to sign up!.
As always, let us know if you come across any interesting news – we love hearing from you.
Have a great week,
Anil Seth has written a fascinating article in Nautilus about his revolutionary theory of consciousness: that consciousness is a ‘beast machine’, and that all our experiences are very closely tied to our nature as living and breathing creatures.
Consciousness is one of the biggest remaining scientific questions we have. What is it? Where does it come from? Why does it exist? Some people think that consciousness is way too difficult to understand and that these questions can never be answered- but Anil doesn’t agree.
If you watched our Outside the Box event with Anil last year, you’ll already know that he believes consciousness is a creation of our own imagination, and is essentially a controlled hallucination. Contrary to the naysayers, Anil believes that with our current understanding of philosophy, neuroscience, physics, and psychology, we CAN explain how our brain gives us consciousness. This is the topic of his latest book: Being You: a New Science of Consciousness
AUSTRALIA GOES TO THE MOON
Possibly the most exciting science news from this week is that Australia is going to the moon!
The Australian Space Agency has signed a deal with NASA to be part of a future Moon mission around 2026.
Our role will be to create a semi-autonomous moon rover to collect oxygen-rich moon rock. That rover will take the samples back to a NASA lander that will extract the oxygen from the rock, which astronauts could eventually use for rocket fuel or other consumables while in space.
Later this year, the government will provide 50 million dollars to Australian businesses and research organisations who want to take part in developing the rover, which will need to weigh less than twenty kilograms.
Our mate Alan Duffy and his team at Swinburne University are already studying how to extract oxygen from regolith – so safe to say they are very excited about this news!
VACCINE FOR KOALA CHLAMYDIA
Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you didn’t already know, koalas get chlamydia! And a lot of it – in fact Australia's koalas are in the grip of a chlamydia epidemic, with up to 100% of some populations testing positive.
Koalas with chlamydia get red, swollen eyes, urinary tract issues, and the worst of all: reduced fertility. This is bad news for an animal whose populations are already dwindling due to habitat loss and other environmental threats.
The good news is that scientists from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland have been working on a vaccine for over a decade, and now they’re running the biggest trial ever, with a koala called Shano getting the first jab last week. Onya, Shano!
A RETURN TO NUCLEAR?
Last year we had the pleasure of working with Michael Shellenberger during our Free Thought Live event with Quillette, which you can watch here.
Michael has written extensively on climate policy, and his book Apocalypse Never, which you can buy from our shop, was ground-breaking in the sense that it pushed back against climate alarmism, and advocated for a rational and objective approach to environmental policy.
Michael puts forward the case for nuclear power as a safe and reliable form of energy while we transition away from fossil fuels. He's not alone in his pro-nuclear stance. Just recently a number of nations such as France and the UK announced big plans for a return to nuclear energy. This is partly because the cost of natural gas, coal, and petroleum are skyrocketing, and weather-dependent renewables are not yet able to fill the energy void.
According to Michael, fear-mongering has made many people have the wrong idea about nuclear, but things are starting to change and public support of nuclear, from both the Left and Right, has been rising. As he explains in a recent Substack article, many countries in the European Union are even lobbying to have nuclear categorised as sustainable.
Lucky for us, Michael has announced a new book, set to be released next year called The War on Nuclear: Why It Hurts Us All.
In the meantime, Michael’s new book San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities, published only a few weeks ago, is making waves.
It’s a critique of how purportedly progressive drug policies backfire and make homelessness, drug addiction, and crime worse. You can listen to Michael talk about his book on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.
INSIGHTFUL BANTS WITH PETER SINGER
On Tuesday renowned philosopher Peter Singer went on ABC Radio Sydney to talk about topics such as the pandemic, vaccine ethics, the human desire to grow and accumulate things, past controversies over his ideas, and his tour with us, which will be happening in March and April 2022.
Peter also spoke on the Crosscut podcast with Michelle Nijhuis about what animals can tell us about humanity. Peter and Michelle discuss questions such as what right do human beings have to interrupt or manipulate the lives of other beings? What is the interruption doing to them? And what is it doing to humanity?
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Check out the incredible winning images of the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, organised by London's Natural History Museum. The competition is recognised as the world's longest-running and most prestigious nature photography competition. In announcing the winners on Tuesday, the museum said it had received more than 50,000 submissions from 95 countries.
Above you'll see one of our favourites by winning photographer Gil Wizen, showing a venomous Brazilian wandering spider hiding under his bed in Canada. Move over Australia, Canada is the true spider capital.