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A fortnightly coterie of science, technology, human towers and good news. Not necessarily in that order. 
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The Crunch # 68 

It's all about the grid, baby. Plus, atmospheric water harvesters, paper planes, ocean cleanups and good news on crime in NY, diversity in Ethiopia, & population growth in India.

Our latest addition to The Trillion Dollar Time Trial is a section on electricity grids... a subject which somehow manages to be the most boring AND the most exciting part of the whole story. 

In other good news, The Crunch # 69 will be our final wrap up of the energy deep dive (thank god). It's been a journey. Not far to go now, we are so close.

For all you non-energy nerds, hello! Don't click on that link or read any of that stuff, seriously. And whatever you do, don't ever, ever let your newsletter subscribers lure you into carrying out an in-depth investigation into the global clean energy transition. 

Good news you probably didn't hear about 


India installed 4.9GW of solar in the first half of this year, meaning it is now the second largest installer in the world for 2018 (first place is China). #MEGA. The Hindu

New York City, home to 8.6 million people, just went a whole weekend without any shootings for the first time in more than a decade. #MAGA? Time

Thanks to tougher anti gun laws, between 1990 and 2016, the rate of deaths from firearms in Australia went from 3.4 deaths per 100,000 people to 1 per 100,000. JCU

Malaysia has abolished the death penalty for all crimes and has halted all pending executions, a move hailed by human rights groups in Asia as a major victory. SMH

This one goes out to all our Malthusian fans. The United Nations says India’s fertility rate has halved since 1980, thanks to better family planning and fewer unwanted pregnancies. 

Abiy Ahmed strikes again. Ethiopia now has the most diverse government in the country's history, with women ministers making up 50% of the new cabinet. Face2FaceAfrica

Marijuana is now legal in Canada. A major crack in the grass ceiling, and a wonderful moment for fans of evidence-based decision making everywhere. BBC

Thanks to stricter catch limits and better monitoring, the population of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna has increased from 300,000 tons in 2005 to 530,000 tons today. NatGeo

Indistinguishable from magic


Thanks to the dream of a Dutch teenager, there is now a giant boom called System 001 in the Pacific that uses oceanic forces to clean up plastic, and you can track it over here

The largest ever facade of organic photovoltaic, a super light, thin and flexible solar film with self-adhesive backing, has just been installed in DuisburgGermany. Heliatek

NASA engineers are using augmented reality headsets to help them work on Orion, the spacecraft intended for human exploration of the moon, asteroids and Mars. MIT

The latest XPrize has been awarded to an atmospheric water harvester that pulls moisture from the air, and filters it to produce 2,000 litres of fresh water per day. FastCo

Scientists have made a major breakthrough in chemistry, with a new imaging technique that can determine the shape of molecules. This one's a big deal. Science Mag

The FDA just approved the first ever app for atrial fibrillation. To detect medical grade changes in your pulse, all you need to do is put your finger on the camera. Medgadget

Remember when the hottest thing in microbiome therapy was a fecal transplant? We've come a long way - say hi to an entire new class of medicines for microbial systems. STAT

The information superhighway is still awesome


You know what you should do right now? Stop reading this, pick up some paper, tie a scarf around your head, and challenge your kids/colleagues/boss/nurse to a paper plane Olympics. Here are all the designs you'll need. Tip: do not use the Sea Glider.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when we realised we definitely live in a world with two superpowers, but this might be it. The Chinese Army's new recruitment video.

Have you read Jamal Khashoggi's final column yet? If not you should. It's an extraordinary example of one person's commitment to freedom of expression - a freedom he died for.

There's a big fight going on in tech, as employees at AmazonMicrosoft and Google mount internal resistance to put ethics before profit. Move slowly and don't break things.

One bench, and a team of grandmothers. Zimbabwe is pioneering a grassroots mental health programme with stunning results, and the rest of the world is taking note. BBC

Long time FC crush, and perhaps the most important journalist holding the tech industry to account right now, Kara Swisher, on her worst and best bosses during her career. Slate

Epic. Check out the 'Castellers' of Catalonia, competing in a tradition that dates back to the 18th century to see who can build the tallest, most complex human tower. Guardian

Another day, another dollar. That's it for this edition, we'll see you next time for The Crunch # 69, and the final wrap up of the clean energy adventure. 

Much love,

Gus and Tane
Thank you for reading. You can support us on Patreon (we do our best to give your money away better than you can). If it's your first time, you can subscribe over here. There's an archive of all the back issues over here. Find us on Twitter as @future_crunch and on Facebook as futurecrunch.
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