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A fortnightly throng of science, technology, cocaine-proof mice and good news. Not necessarily in that order.
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The Crunch # 67


Marijuana and fireworks in space, genetic editing for fertility, advice for parents, and good news on war deaths, poverty, suicide, murders, electric vehicles and elephant poaching.

For those that are still hanging in there with us on the clean energy deep dive, there's two new sections up now on batteries and electric vehicles. You're going to have to do some scrolling to get there though...

For the rest of you, welcome to the latest edition. It's a good one. 

Good news you probably didn't hear about 


Quietly and unannounced, humanity has just crossed an extraordinary milestone. For the first time in 10,000 years, more than half of the world is middle class. Brookings

The Journal of Peace Research says that global deaths from state based conflicts have declined for the third year in a row, and are now 32% lower than their peak in 2014. 

Following 30 years of public health efforts, Malaysia has become the first country in the Western Pacific to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. MalayMail

According to the WHO, teenage drinking has declined across Europe, the continent with the highest rates of drinking in the world. The country with the largest decline? Britain.

It's not just the kids. Suicides among elderly Britons have dropped so much that the country now has one of the lowest rates in the rich world. Economist

Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2012. Murders have decreased by half since then, more than any other nation. Here's how they did it. Ozy

Denmark is the latest country to announce a ban on internal combustion engines. It will stop the sale of petrol or diesel cars in 2030, and hybrids by 2035. Bloomberg

Following China's ban on ivory last year, 90% of Chinese support it, ivory demand has dropped by almost half, and poaching rates are falling in places like Kenya. WWF

Indistinguishable from magic


A company in Finland has revealed a new, crowd-sourced phone scanning technology that they say can map the entire world down to the resolution of a grain of rice. Venture Beat

Medical marijuana companies are now testing the growth of cannabis plants on the International Space Station. That's right. Weed in space is now a thing. Tech Crunch

Dutch physicists have figured out a way to make data storage thousands of time more efficient, by storing information on the smallest unit of matter, a single atom. Phys.org

Biotechnologists from our hometown, Melbourne, have invented a handheld biopen that can draw cartilage tissue directly onto patients' bones during surgery. Physics World

Geneticists in Chicago have used CRISPR to create cocaine-proof mice. The aim is to eventually help people suffering from addiction (and of course, it solves the problem of thousands of coke-crazed mice flooding the city every Saturday throwing sick shapes on tiny dance floors and talking really fast about how amazing cheese tastes). Digital Trends

Scientists in Japan have made a huge step forward in the quest to combat infertility, creating the precursor to a human egg from nothing but a woman’s blood cells. WaPo

And finally, a gentle reminder that any sufficiently advanced technology really is indistinguishable from magic. SpaceX's first ever launch from California. Space.com

The information superhighway is still awesome

(correction: in our last edition we mentioned that one of the unexpected side effects of electric vehicles is that they're making cities quiet, and then posted the wrong link. For those that wanted the correct link it's here.)

If you've got kids, and they watch stuff on Youtube, you really need to read this eye-opening article from Alexis Madrigal. Welcome to parenting in the 21st century. Atlantic

Loving Sleeping Dragon, an ambient music generator. You adjust the different sliders, and the software creates a unique, never-ending piece of music. Perfect for study and research.

Beautiful, raw and timely. Our friend Honor Eastly on her experiences with suicide and navigating the mental health system. Read it, then join her gang and listen to her podcast.

Smell is the most underrated and mysterious sense; Hellen Keller it the fallen angel. Wonderful story from Katy Kelleher about the sordid, ugly history of perfume. LongReads

Venice vs Genoa. Union Pacific vs Central Pacific. Coke vs Pepsi. The history of capitalism is littered with great rivalries, and now there's a new one in China. Tencent versus Alibaba.

We do our best to stay up to date, but if we ever miss something then TLDR, a daily, curated newsletter with links and summaries of the top stories in tech, is a lifesaver.

You know how you're sitting in your chair right now? You're doing it wrong. Fortunately NPR has a helpful guide on how to sit properly, complete with GIFs. Come on, do it right!

Give us your cash, we'll give it away better than you


The Robin Hood of science newsletters is back!

Introducing the newest recipients of our Patreon program, the awesome people at NextGen, a non-profit technology training centre in Cameroon. It's the brainchild of Janet Fofang, a scientist and teacher who aims to train the future tech innovators of her country - with a particular focus on its girls. It enables young Cameroonians to learn to write code, make robots and acquire advanced computer skills. They offer training courses for adults too, and there's an after school program for teenagers who want to come down and tinker with advanced tech. 

We're sending them AUS$2,500, no strings attached. What's not to love? Check out their Facebook page, and have a look at their website too. Big thanks to all our Patreon subscribers for making it happen. 

PS: if you'd like to take a stroll through our digital equivalent of Sherwood Forest and enjoy the experience of being robbed by us, only to watch your money given away to someone who actually needs it, then join our Patreon. It's way more fun than spending that cash on a cup of coffee.

OK we are done here.

A big welcome to all of our new subscribers, everyone from the Good Place fans, to the doctors, Territorians and all the others in between. Nice to have you all on board. 

Much love,

Gus and Tane

There are 14,398 people subscribed to this mailing list: thank you for reading. You can support us on Patreon (we give all the money away to charity). 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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