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DAILY DOSE: Electric vehicles’ dirty little secrets; the symbolism of William Shatner’s BlueOrigin flight.

Electric vehicles are the way forward. There’s no secret there, even if a good portion of the world have yet to completely convert. That said, one of the things that are seldom brought up is the unforeseen problems that may arise from the shift to electric. An article in Nature looks at how EVs are heavier than fuel engine cars and how the source of electricity can sometimes negate any benefits. Per Nature, “Major investments in electric vehicles are welcome news. The sector has come a long way, but many challenges lie ahead. One issue that has received too little attention, in our view, is the increasing weight of vehicles. Pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) now account for 57% of US sales, compared with 30% in 1990. The mass of a new vehicle sold in the United States has also risen — cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks have gained 12% (173 kilograms), 7% (136 kg) and 32% (573 kg), respectively, since 1990. That’s equivalent to hauling around a grand piano and pianist. Similar trends are seen elsewhere in the world.”

Speaking of sustainable — or in this case non-sustainable — energy sources, the energy shortage around the world keeps inching further down a disturbing path. This time, another Asian powerhouse is teetering on major power outages. Per CNBC, “China is not the only Asian giant grappling with an energy crunch — India is also teetering on the edge of a power crisis. Most of India’s coal-fired power plants have critically low levels of coal inventory at a time when the economy is picking up and fueling electricity demand. Coal accounts for around 70% of India’s electricity generation. A potential power crisis would likely have an immediate impact on India’s nascent economic recovery which is being led by industrial activity instead of services, according to Kunal Kundu, India economist at Societe Generale.”

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The last thing the world needs is another outbreak of a deadly and potentially devastating disease. Yet, here it is. Another Ebola outbreak in Africa. Per The Scientist, “The Democratic Republic of Congo has recorded a new case of Ebola, according to an October 8 news release from the World Health Organization. The confirmation came from the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research, which tested samples from a three-year-old child who died after showing symptoms of infection with the virus. This case, which occurred in Butsili in the North Kivu province of eastern DRC, follows an outbreak of the virus in the same province earlier this year that killed six people, according to the WHO. There have been 12 recorded Ebola outbreaks in the country.”

It’s not everyday that you get philosophical discussions about the nature of space exploration in the mainstream press, but news that William Shatner will be launched into space in a BlueOrigin rocket has made that possible. Per the Associated Press, “More than a half-century later, the performer who breathed life into the fabled Enterprise captain is, at age 90, making that kind of risk his own business and heading toward the stars under dramatically different circumstances than his fictional counterpart. And in doing so, William Shatner is causing worlds to collide, or at least permitting parallel universes to coexist — the utopian spacefaring vision of “Star Trek” and the evolving, increasingly commercial spot that “space” holds in the American psyche. When Shatner boards Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin NS-18 in Texas at around dawn Wednesday, his one small step into the craft creates one of the ultimate crossover stories of our era.” Interesting times we live in.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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