Daily Digest 9/10 – Good News Friday: How Human Brains Extract Meaning From The World, Wind And Solar 50% Cheaper Than Thought

This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header “Good News Friday.” We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!


Life’s purpose comes from our minds’ amazing ability to extract meaning from the world (jdargis)

The drive of humans to understand is not limited to just language, however. Our species appears to be guided by this profound and inexorable impulse to understand the world in every aspect of our lives. In other words, the goal of our existence ultimately seems to be achieving a full understanding of this same existence, a kind of kaleidoscopic infinity loop in which our mind is trapped, from the emergence of proto-consciousness in the womb, all the way to our deathbed.

Insect Flight | Capturing Takeoff & Flying at 3,200 FPS (JK)

Takeoff and flight sequences of insects spanning 8 different taxonomic orders captured at 3,200 fps!

The New Reconstruction (RS)

The post–Civil War years were a moment of great peril for the emancipated, but also great promise. A stubborn coterie of Republican Radicals—longtime abolitionists and their allies—were not content to have simply saved the Union. They wanted to transform it: to make a nation where “all men are created equal” did not just mean white men.

The Kids Are All Right (RS)

This year’s contest was — like everything in 2020 — a little different. Even though some students had to record and edit while distance learning, the competition got over 2,000 entries from middle-schoolers and high-schoolers in 46 states and Washington, D.C. Both grand-prize winners and a large chunk of the finalists are students of color, and race and identity were at the forefront of hundreds of entries. Here are some of our favorites.

Newborn giant panda cub at National Zoo in D.C. is ‘packing on grams’ (TourGuideDC)

In its update, the zoo said, “We can see that its eyes are still sealed when we zoom in with the Panda Cam.” Zoo officials also said that viewers have noticed that the newborn’s tail seems “smaller as it grows.” Here’s why: When a giant panda is born, its tail measures about five centimeters long — roughly a quarter of its body size. “In time, cubs grow into their tails,” Laurie Thompson, an assistant curator of giant pandas at the zoo, said in an online post.

Wind and solar are 30-50% cheaper than thought, admits UK government (Bill M.)

The BEIS report also presents new estimates of the “enhanced levelised cost” of different technologies, which reflects any wider system benefits and their “system integration costs”.

These alternative figures, which have been under development for several years, put gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) in a particularly favourable light, with costs comparable to wind or solar. CCS is expected to feature in the upcoming energy white paper, due this autumn.

World Added More Solar, Wind Than Anything Else Last Year (Bill M.)

“That is a big deal,” said Luiza Demoro, a Brazil-based BNEF analyst. “It shows that we are going in a good direction. It’s good for the climate.”

In terms of total power produced, renewables technologies including hydro last year accounted for 27% last year, up from 20% in 2010, according to the report.

Gardening in time of crisis has brought me closer to my mother (jdargis)

I reached out because when there’s a global pandemic, you call your mom, even if you’re estranged. That week I brought her groceries, and we started video-chatting every day. When I shared that I was planning a garden, she told me stories about gardening in her native Honduras. When I visited her, I didn’t go into her apartment; she kept her mask on and spoke to me from a distance. It didn’t feel odd because social distancing is the norm with her. My mother’s not affectionate. One day she passed me a gallon-sized storage bag filled with medicine bottles, most empty, some with a few pills that clinked when they collided. That’s how my mother told me that she’d had Covid and braved it alone.

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Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the “3 Es.”

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