Welcome. This is another edition of my newsletter offering a round-up of the week’s causes for optimism, as noticed in the media. Plus links to discussion of optimism and pessimism.
* Rolls-Royce plans to energise post-Brexit UK, with a £250bn fleet of safe mini nuclear power-stations.
* In the UK’s lockdown, many metal detectorists have had time to get out and about. The result is that “Treasure Finds Reach Record Levels Across The UK”. There will probably also now be extensive local council archaeology in the UK, as one good way to soak up the long-term unemployed.
* Will the virus spur the ability to build a house in three days, via robo-workers and 3D printing? Not quite yet, but there are many boots-on-the-ground experiments, and an industry now far more interested in reliable semi-automation.
* There’s been a major advance in nuking mosquitoes with drones. Instead of painstakingly hand-releasing a few sterile male mosquitoes, a new successfully-tested drone instead releases 50,000 sterile females. It can cover 25 acres in ten minutes. “The IAEA and its partners are now working to develop a smaller version of the drone that can carry around 30,000 mosquitoes”, to conform with urban drone regulations.
* An 11-year study of the effect of elevated CO2 and ozone in the wooded uplands of Wisconsin has now reported. They found that “CO2 ‘mitigation of water stress’ may not have a major effect on species composition or biomass accumulation”, and the “species diversity” was actually “somewhat increased by [ozone], contrary to expectations”. They conclude that “spatial pattern of the landscape was minimally affected”.
* “U.S. Senate passes major conservation package”. $900 million annually will help pay for nature conservation projects on public lands, and a further $1.9 billion over five years will clear a backlog of repairs that built up under Obama. The prospect of the package now arriving on President Trump’s desk for his final signature is said to be looking good.
* “World-first coronavirus treatment approved by UK government for NHS use”. Not quite as new as the media make it sound, apparently, but its official approval and potential mass-use in September is new.
* The UK has extended its “‘free school meals’ scheme over the long summer holidays”.
* Airy and untested vendor claims about telehealth are now being tested. The virus has at last spurred a wave of new research into improving the quality and usability of telehealth, comparing outcomes from a virtual healthcare visit and an in-person visit, and also how quality telehealth can allow doctors to offer consultations to those who would otherwise not bother.
* “Facebook has made available a new robo-code converter”… “to take the pain out of shifting between C++, Java, and Python”.
* And finally, Quillette celebrates The Libertarian History of Science Fiction with a substantial and well-informed article.
Enjoyed this post? There’s more at the ‘Something for the Weekend’ newsletter archive.