Why Eradicating a Disease Is One Part Science, One Part Politics (VIDEO)

We’ve done it before. In 1980, the world wiped the devastating disease smallpox off the face of the earth — making it the only human disease eradicated in history. So what does it take to destroy another human disease again?

Philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates noted in their 2015 annual letter, which was published on Thursday, that the world is capable of eradicating more diseases in the next 15 years.

Check out the video above and/or read the transcript below for a two-minute explanation of just how that would work, made in a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Huffington Post.

Do you think the world can stop another human disease by 2030? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TRANSCRIPT

Why is wiping out a disease so hard?

Only one disease has been wiped off the face of the earth: Smallpox. It was officially declared eradicated in 1980, and some of what was learned is being applied today. But why haven’t we eliminated more diseases?

The hardest part isn’t always about scientific know-how. It’s often about getting that know-how to the places —> Read More Here

Could Virtual Reality Make Us Better People?

When we talk about digital media being more immersive, it’s usually not good news for social skills. We worry about the kids. So when news first started coming out that virtual reality was making its way into universities and schools, some parents and pundits were, understandably, concerned. The idea of students at any age being encouraged to spend even more time in the digital world just seemed like another step on the road toward a future society filled with self-absorbed zombies, at turns aggressive and indifferent, lacking empathy and the ability to communicate with each other.

Recent and ongoing research, however, has found that immersive virtual reality scenarios—digital media that enables people to virtually experience something that feels more or less real—could actually encourage “pro-social” behaviors. Virtual reality has been shown to engender racial sensitivity in participants, as well as greater empathy for those with disabilities, respect for the environment, and an increased willingness to help others. —> Read More Here

In the Bully Pulpit: “It’s the right thing to do.”

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama urged the Congress to take action on paid sick leave for American workers. Forty-three million workers currently have no paid sick leave, the President noted, forcing many to make “the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.” Rectify this situation, he told the lawmakers: “It’s the right thing to do.”

“It’s the right thing to do.” This is a familiar refrain by now, six years into Obama’s presidency. If not paid sick leave, it’s health care reform, or the Dream Act, or tax credits for clean energy, or tuition assistance or gay rights. On these and many more issues, the President has again and again used his bully pulpit to justify his policy positions on moral grounds.

He could have done otherwise. He could have justified many of these positions on purely practical grounds, emphasizing the economic benefits of health care reform or immigration reform. And he has made those practical appeals. But in the end, for this President, the most compelling argument is always the moral one: “It’s the right thing to do.”

Is this a good strategy for winning the hearts and minds of the American people? —> Read More Here

Stupendous Ring System Discovered Around ‘Super Saturn’ Exoplanet

saturn planet

Call it Saturn on steroids! Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet with an enormous ring system that far surpasses Saturn’s.

“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” Dr. Eric Mamajek, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester and the leader of the team of astronomers, said in a written statement. “You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn.”

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Artist’s conception of the extrasolar ring system around exoplanet J1407b. The rings are shown eclipsing the young sun-like star J1407, as they would have appeared in early 2007.

The ring system–the first ever discovered outside our solar system–is believed to be made up of 37 rings, each of which is tens of millions of miles wide. It has a diameter of approximately 75 million miles. The system is believed to contain an Earth’s-worth mass of dust particles, along with a potential exomoon.

The exoplanet at the center of the rings, dubbed J1407b, has been estimated to be at least four times as massive as Jupiter.

saturn in sky
The rings around J1407b are so large that if they —> Read More Here

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