"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
05/10/19
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.


Comfortable Discomfort (Greg Powell)

What makes a comfort zone so comfortable and why is it so hard, but important, to step out of it? Greg explores the in’s and out’s of comfort zones to look for answers. He finds them in some surprising places, including on top of a surf board. Read more... 


AI for Good — How Artificial Intelligence can Help Sustainable Development (Medium)

This week, scientists published a major report outlining how climate change and pollution are endangering natural species, and by extension human populations. Across the world, we can see the effects of taking our natural environment for granted, from the shocking decline of insect populations to the huge “garbage patches” in our oceans. Fortunately, emerging AI technology may be able to help us turn the tide. From tracking fishing vessels to beehives to the energy usage in individual homes, an ongoing revolution in data technology promises to give human beings the tools to make impactful decisions relating to sustainability. “While surely technology is also among the culprits of many of our problems, it is clear that technological development and innovation will be at the heart of moving towards a sustainable future.” Read more…

 

US Population Growth Hits 80-Year Low, Capping Off a Year of Demographic Stagnation (Brookings)

Historically, leaders and news media in the United States have sounded alarms over increasing population, leading many to perceive that overpopulation will reach a crisis point in the future. But could the real threat to the US economy actually come from depopulation? According to these census numbers from July 2018, “the national rate of population growth is at its lowest since 1937, a result of declines in the number of births, gains in the number of deaths, and that the nation’s under age 18 population has declined since the 2010 census.” The population problem is exacerbated by the baby boom generation entering retirement age as younger generations are choosing to have fewer children, which could put pressure on tax reserves and increase national debt levels. “As natural increase dwindles, all states will rely more heavily on in-migration from the rest of the U.S. and abroad to fuel growth or stave off declines.” Read more…

 

This Tibetan Bone Discovery Rewrites Ancient History (Popular Mechanics)

160,000 years ago, an ancient species of hominid called Denisovans lived in central Asia, interbreeding with homo sapiens, as did their cousins the Neanderthals. A recently-analyzed jaw bone from a Denisovan was found in a cave Tibet, indicating that the species was more widespread than previously known. The discovery also sheds light on the ability of the Sherpa people of the Himalayan regions to survive in high-altitude environments, a genetic ability that they share with Denisovans through a special gene called EPAS1. Scientists still don’t know how a member of the species might have made its way to the remote mountain cave, “…but Denisovans are such a mysterious group that anything we learn is exciting.” Read more…

 

Why You Feel the Urge to Jump (Nautilus)

It’s a strange and unnerving feeling, that urge to jump from a high place even though you know what will happen if you do. Why do we get the impulse in the first place? The question has been studied at least as far back as Jean-Paul Sartre, who examined “L’Appel du Vide,” or “the call of the void” in his book Being and Nothingness. According to modern science, an aspect of the fear has to do with a natural impulse to overestimate vertical distance as opposed to horizontal distance, probably as a safety precaution. But the urge to fall off probably has to do with human curiosity, the beckoning of the realm of possibilities. How else could we explain BASE-jumpers, or even the Greek myth of Icarus? Read more…

 

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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