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The World as I see it (Mein Weltbild, Albert Einstein, 1934)

The World as I see it is a book by Albert Einstein translated from the German by Alan Harris and published in 1935 by John Lane The Bodley Head (London). The original German book is Mein Weltbild by Albert Einstein, first published in 1934 by Rudolf Kayser, with an essential extended edition published by Carl Seelig in 1954. Composed of assorted articles, addresses, letters, interviews and pronouncements, it includes Einstein's opinions on the meaning of life, ethics, science, society, religion, and politics. ( ... ) The World as I see it (Mein Weltbild, Albert Einstein, 1934) Only individuals have a sense of responsibility. —  Nietzsche Preface to the original edition This book does not represent a complete collection of the articles, addresses, and pronouncements of Albert Einstein; it is a selection made with a definite object—namely, to give a picture of a man. To-day this man is being drawn, contrary to his own intention, into the whirlpool of political passions and contempora
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Tropical diseases — A field test for malaria resistance

It will help to save lives, and may slow resistance’s spread. An arms race between pharmacologists and malaria parasites has been going on since the mid-19th century, when widespread use of quinine began. Few better illustrations of natural selection exist than the repeated emergence of resistance to such drugs. Even artemisinin, the most recent addition to the arsenal, has already provoked an evolutionary pushback. At the moment, working out which drugs, if any, a particular case of malaria is resistant to means sending a sample to a laboratory for a pcr test. But malaria is most often a problem in poor countries, where such laboratories are scarce, and so is money to pay for tests and to maintain the machines needed to conduct them. A better way for doctors and paramedics in the field to be able to tell, for a particular patient, which drugs the infection is resistant to would thus be welcome. And that may soon be possible, thanks to work by Ron Dzikowski and Eylon Yavin of the Hebre

Nutrition — Why kids should not eat added sugar before they turn two?

I remember a decade ago sitting in front of my 9-month-old daughter, who was in her high chair, and trying to spoon-feed her a pureed green vegetable. It didn’t matter if it was peas, green beans or something else, because the outcome was the same: I spooned it into her mouth, and it came right back out. Compare this with feeding her applesauce, for which she would open her mouth after each bite and almost bounce in her chair with pleasure. I nearly danced along with her. This was easier! Let’s just keep doing this! But as a nutritional epidemiologist, I knew that solely satisfying her desire for sweetness would not benefit her health in the long run. At the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, I study the consequences of poor nutrition on the health of mothers and children. I recently served on a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine committee that summarized guidelines on feeding infants and children up to age 2. As part of the committee, I h

Halal — The science behind the first successful pig-to-human heart transplant

It may lead to a new approach to organ transplantation. On january 7th, David Bennett became the first person to have a heart transplanted successfully into him from a pig. In press material issued three days after the operation, the University of Maryland confirmed Mr Bennett was doing well, and was capable of breathing on his own. While he continues to rely on artificial support to pump blood around his body, the team behind the surgery, led by Bartley Griffith, plan gradually to reduce its use. This operation is a milestone for xenotransplantation—the transfer of organs from other species to human patients. It comes hot on the heels of another, in October, when a pig’s kidney was successfully attached for three days to a brain-dead patient in a hospital in New York. On that occasion, mere surgical success was the goal. But Dr Griffith’s team hope to save a life. The operation itself received exceptional authorisation from America’s Food and Drug Administration under a provision whic

Chile — Gabriel Boric, the new president, promises to bury neoliberalism

Will Gabriel Boric, a millennial socialist, be as good as his word? A decade ago Gabriel Boric was a student leader rallying together one of Chile’s biggest protest movements. He will now become, at 35, the country’s youngest head of state. Rather than win the presidential election by a small margin, as the polls predicted, he got a whopping 56% of votes while his rival, the far-right candidate José Antonio Kast, picked up 44%. Mr Kast, who ran on a law-and-order platform that identified migrants, terrorists and narco-traffickers as the source of many of the country’s ills, had won the first round of the competition in November. A big increase in participation appears to have reversed the right-winger’s fortunes. More than a million extra voters showed up, bringing turnout to 56%, the highest since voting was made voluntary in 2012. The result suggests just how much Chile, once considered one of the more stable countries in Latin America, has changed after years of protests and the c

Libya — Elections delayed amid a climate of repression

The postponement of first-ever Libyan presidential elections originally scheduled for 24 December should be used as an opportunity by the internationally recognized Government of National Unity (GNU) and those with de facto control of Libyan territory to urgently address barriers to the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs, Amnesty International said. In the run up to the now postponed elections, militias and armed groups across the country ramped up their repression on dissenting voices, restricted civic space and attacked elections officials and infrastructure, amid the failure of the GNU and those with de facto control of territory to guarantee the right to participation in public affairs and protect all those involved in elections from violence, coercion and threats. In March 2021, the GNU was sworn in with the mandate of preparing for elections. These preparations have been taking place against the back

Climate — We should ban all new oil and gas fields

As a professor of geophysics, I have spent 36 years training young geologists destined to work in the fossil fuel industry how to look for oil and gas. But now I believe it’s time to stop fossil-fuel exploration and halt the development of all new oil and gas fields. We cannot safely set fire to all the fuel we’ve already found, so why look for more? BP’s annual energy review for 2021 estimates that the world has discovered 1.7 trillion barrels of oil, 188 trillion cubic metres of gas and nearly three trillion tonnes of coal that are commercially extractable – but that has not yet been actually extracted. My calculations, based on the typical carbon contents of these fuels and the expected effects of emissions on temperatures, suggest that emissions from using those barrels of oil alone would raise global temperatures by almost 0.6°C. Using the natural gas would add another 0.2°C. And as for the coal, burning it all would raise temperatures by a further 2°C. The conclusion seems clear:

How water arrived on Earth? Look in outer space!

Tiny grains from an asteroid provide clues to the details. Earth—the quintessential blue planet—has not always been covered by water. Around 4.6bn years ago, in the solar system’s early years, the energetic young sun’s radiation meant the zone immediately surrounding it was hot and dry. Earth, then coalescing from dust and gas in this region, thus began as a desiccated rock. How it subsequently acquired its oceans has long puzzled planetary scientists. One possible source of Earth’s water is carbonaceous (c-type) asteroids, the most common variety. But it cannot be the sole source, because water in chunks of these that have landed as meteorites does not match the isotopic fingerprint of terrestrial water. This fingerprint is the ratio of normal water (H2O, made from hydrogen and oxygen) to heavy water (D2O and HDO, which both include deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that has a neutron in its nucleus alongside the proton characteristic of every hydrogen atom). Water from c-type asteroi

Rif — Protesters punished with wave of mass arrests

The Moroccan authorities have carried out a chilling wave of arrests rounding up scores of protesters, activists and bloggers in the Rif, northern Morocco, over the past week following months of protests demanding an end to marginalization of communities and better access to services in the region, said Amnesty International. Some of those detained have been denied prompt access to their lawyers in police custody. In some cases lawyers who were able to see their clients in court in Al Hoceima said they bore visible injuries and reported being beaten upon arrest. There are also fears that peaceful protesters and bloggers covering the protests on social media could be among those facing trial and potential state security-related charges. “We fear this wave of arrests may be a deliberate attempt to punish protesters in the Rif for months of peaceful dissent. It is essential that the Moroccan authorities respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly. Those charged with a legally

Universe — Gravitational waves have been detected for the first time

Signs of black holes merging arrive a century after Albert Einstein predicted them. TWO black holes circle one another. Both are about 100km across. One contains 36 times as much mass as the sun; the other, 29. They are locked in an orbital dance, a kilometre or so apart, that is accelerating rapidly to within a whisker of the speed of light. Their event horizons—the spheres defining their points-of-no-return—touch. There is a violent wobble as, for an instant, quintillions upon quintillions of kilograms redistribute themselves. Then there is calm. In under a second, a larger black hole has been born. It is, however, a hole that is less than the sum of its parts. Three suns’ worth of mass has been turned into energy, in the form of gravitational waves: travelling ripples that stretch and compress space, and thereby all in their path. During the merger’s final fifth of a second, envisaged in an artist’s impression above, the coalescing holes pumped 50 times more energy into space this w

Universe — Without Albert Einstein it would have taken decades longer to understand gravity

It’s possible that had Einstein not conceived of general relativity, then we’d still be at a loss to explain gravity to this day. It was 1905, and Albert Einstein had just turned theoretical physics on its head by publishing a paper on what later became known as special relativity . This showed that space and time could not be considered in absolute terms: time could speed up or slow down; standard lengths could contract; and masses could increase. And, most famously, energy was equivalent to mass, proportional to each other based on the famous equation E = MC². Although there is no doubting Einstein’s genius in formulating special relativity, it is generally accepted that had Einstein not published the theory in 1905, some other physicist would have done so shortly thereafter. It was not until 1915 that Einstein’s unparalleled genius was demonstrated when he published his general theory of relativity. This theory made the claim that space–time curvature is proportional to, and is caus