A fortnightly mélange of science, technology, mycorrhizal fungi and good news. Not necessarily in that order. This email looks prettier on the information superhighway.

The Crunch No. 84

3D-printed medical kit for Gaza. Plus, robot astronauts, brains in a dish, and good news on Ebola, tree planting and a massive new marine reserve in the Arctic.

We first heard about Tarek Loubani "a character straight out of a Cory Doctorow novel," via one of our new favourite newsletters, Sentiers. He runs something called The Glia Project, which provides high-quality, low-cost, open-source medical devices for doctors in Gaza. It's a clever way to get around the blockade - in the same way that drug manufacturers copy branded drugs and sell them for less as generics, the Glia Project makes generics of medical hardware. They also distribute the means of producing that hardware (3D printers) and train medical students and regular Gazans to print medical equipment themselves.

We're sending them AUD$8,000 to be used on two projects. The funds will help them distribute stethoscopes to incoming medical students in Gaza's two medical schools. As Tarek told us, "These young doctors will start on the right foot with a high quality stethoscope, the ears of every doctor, and high quality ones so early in their careers will help fine tune their skills." The money will also provide tourniquets for ambulances and training for paramedics on how to properly use them. These tourniquets will be used on accident and war trauma victims.

Thank you to all the Patreons who made this possible. Your donations are going to save lives. Seriously. Here's a video that Tarek put together especially for you, to express his gratitude.

Thank you, Future Crunch!

Good news you probably didn't hear about 

Refugees are integrating into Germany's job market far quicker than expected. Around 400,000 people of working age are now employed. The Local

Five months after the 'ghost battalion' overthrew the dictatorship, Sudan's leaders have signed a landmark deal for transition to civilian government. Al Jazeera

Speaking of Sudan, a campaign begun in April 2019 has managed to provide 13 million children with vaccines against measles and polio. ReliefWeb

The World Health Organisation has announced that Sri Lanka has eliminated measles, the fourth country in south east Asia to reach this milestone. 

Dementia is declining in Australia. The hospitalisation rate has dropped by almost a quarter – from 408 per 100,000 people in 2007 to 313 in 2017. AAA

A new cure for tuberculosis (the world's leading infectious cause of death) has been approved by the US FDA, clearing the path for global distribution. NYT

The new Ebola vaccine is working miracles. Over 200,000 people have been innoculated, and the mortality rate has dropped from 70% to as low as 6%. The Brink
(Looking forward to seeing this story on the front cover of Bloomberg)

Since 1990, thanks to better protections and a decline in farming, France’s forested areas have increased by nearly 7%, and now cover 31% of the country. Economist

Canada's government has partnered with Inuit custodians to create its largest marine reserve ever. The country now protects 14% of its oceans. National Observer

On the 29th July 2019, Ethiopia smashed the world record for tree planting, with 350 million trees in 12 hours. Two weeks later the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh almost surpassed them, planting 220 million trees in 24 hours. 

In the first half of 2019, Beijing reported its lowest level of air pollutants since the city first started monitoring air quality 35 years ago. CX Tech

169 countries at the UN have just agreed to significant new protections for elephants, giraffes, sharks and rays and dozens of other species. New Scientist

More than 100 seal pups have been born on the shores of the Thames, 60 years after the river was declared 'biologically dead.' Telegraph

NASA says that the number of fires around the world is decreasing. Between 2003 and 2019, the area of land being burned has fallen by around 25%. 

Indistinguishable from magic

Archaeologists have discovered a 3.8-million-year-old hominin skull in Ethiopia that rewrites a big chunk of what we know about the human family tree. Nature

A company from Finland is now offering the first commercially available sub-one meter resolution photos of the planet taken via small satellites. Ars Technica

Australian researchers have developed a new vaccine that's believed to be the first human drug designed entirely by artificial intelligence. BI

In a major computing milestone, MIT researchers have built the first chip with transistors made from carbon nanotubes instead of silicon. Science News

Chinese technologists have teamed up with German scientists to use drones to fight crop-devouring armyworms, achieving a mortality rate of 98%. Bloomberg

Biotechnologists used stem cells to grow 'mini brains in a dish' and have now detected brain waves comparable to those of a human fetus. CNet

A Russian robot astronaut named Fedor, 180cm tall and weighing 160kg, has just taken a ride on a rocket to the International Space Station. BBC

Off the beaten track in the dark forest

Ever wondered how China feeds a population of 1.4 billion people? Excellent explainer here from Quora, complete with mind-boggling satellite pictures.

Uncomfortable. This article might have just changed our minds about one of the environmental movement's core articles of faith: recycling. Medium

Next time you walk through a forest, look down. A city lies under your feet.” An extraordinary piece that will totally change the way you look at forests. Emergence

Marianne Bellotti with some well placed advice about managing engineers and other technical people. It's all lessons she learned from non-technical people. 

Like all great ideas, 'wellness' has been inevitably swallowed up by the machine and spat out for mass consumption. Most of it is nonsense. Here's what actually works.

Ever wondered why they don't provide toothpaste in hotels? Yep, us too. We're eternally grateful to Daniel Engber for finally giving us the answer. 

An insider's look at the protests in Hong Kong, from a blogger on the ground. More informative than a hundred news reports. Idle Words

Meanwhile, back at FC HQ...

A warm welcome to all of our new subscribers, more than 2,000 of you found us through the "Need A Little Good News? This Newsletter Is A Positive Must" article on Ozy. To our regular readers, we know we've been missing in action for a while, thanks for hanging in there while we were gone. Turns out you need a break from the digital firehose every now and again. Regular programming has resumed. 

Melbourne, we are speaking at a breakfast event next Wednesday, the 11th September, called The New Age of Optimism. Should be a good one, the proceeds go to a great cause, and there are some really fantastic speakers. Not the worst way to kick off your day. 

That's a wrap for this edition. 

Much love,

Gus and Tane

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