Chimera, Cruise, Nuclear, Chorus, India
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Julian Savulescu & Julian Koplin | Practical Ethics | 20th April 2021
Scientists report promising results from experiments to combine human stem-cells with monkey embryos. The immediate aim is to grow organs in animals suitable for transplanting into humans. But the ultimate product could be a living chimera, part-human and part-monkey. Horrific in a way, but also salutary if this forces us to recognise that humans are on a continuum with other animals (1,200 words)
A Kind Of Packaged Ageing Process
Jan Morris | Paris Review | 23rd April 2021
Short postcard from the late writer Jan Morris about a Mediterranean cruise that she took for "convalescent reasons". Initially sceptical about the pressure on the elderly passengers to "face up to decay", she is ultimately won over. "The sprightly enthusiasm of it all had seduced me: the fertile mix of Carnival and Palm Court, and the determination to make the most of everything" (977 words)
The Failure Of Nuclear Power
Jason Crawford | Roots Of Progress | 16th April 2021
Nuclear power could substitute fully and more cheaply for fossil fuels, but it has been priced out of America's energy market by a piling-on of misconceived health and safety regulations treating any risk of radiation as dangerous. We know enough now to design disaster-proof reactors; but the taboos are too strong. Bolder, and probably poorer, countries will have to lead the way (4,600 words)
Audio of the Week: Dawn Chorus
Episode: "Beautiful Swamp" | Podcast: Science Talk | 36m 01s
Combination of a soundscape and a nature walk. The host, an ecologist and field recordist, sets out to capture the sound of wildlife at dawn in a nature reserve in northeastern Louisiana, USA. The habitat includes flooded forest and is home to grey tree frogs, crickets and many species of bird. Their calls are enhanced by the inclusion of gentle explanatory interjections from the expert (36m 01s)
Book of the Week: Malevolent Republic
by K.S. Komireddi | Courtesy of Five Books
An Indian essayist embarks on a scathing history of his country since independence, explaining the various forces and personalities that got India to its current point, as "a brutally exclusionary Hindu-supremacist state" being "run by bigots dedicated to destroying all that made it." Modi’s path to power seems almost incidental given the missteps of the preceding prime ministers—from Indira Gandhi, a ruthless leader “devoured by the ogre she fostered”, to Manmohan Singh, politically “the least qualified candidate for the job” (210 pages)
"Genius is only a greater aptitude for patience"
— Georges-Louis Leclerc
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