The climate talks in Paris are all set to begin tomorrow, with leaders from 150 countries around the world participating. COP21 — technically the 21st yearly “Conference of the Parties” to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) — is being billed as the great white hope for the future of our planet, with optimistic parties aiming to set in place policies to limit warming to 1.5°-2°C by 2100, where the current policies seem on track to take us to 2.7°-3°C. In the wake of the Paris attacks, French authorities have taken the rather undemocratic stand of banning all public protests (and arresting those threatening to break the ban — because free speech isn’t secure speech) so if you’re hoping to see something like the photo above, you’ll have to look in London (or other, non-Paris cities) where tens of thousands of people have gathered today as part of the Global People’s Climate March Day of Action. Here’s hoping the talking heads get the message, even if it’s a little long-distance.
No “Jab,” No Pay
In a move that’s sure to anger the irrational and please the scientifically-minded, Australia’s parliament has passed what’s being billed as a “no jab, no pay” law this week. Under the new order, three kinds of government child support, the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate, and the Family Tax Benefit Part A will be withheld from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children without medical grounds. The head of a chain of daycare centers across the country is on the record as claiming that the new law will force their locations to close, though it’s hoped it will merely force anti-vaccine parents to get their children vaccinated. Under the new laws, “catch-up” immunizations will be available for free to any child under ten as well as any child aged eleven to nineteen of current benefit recipients for the next two years. There’s literally no good non-medical reason not to get children vaccinated, so here’s hoping it helps. You can read more about it at the Australian Government Department of Health.
JWST’s First Mirror
The James Webb Space Telescope has had its first mirror installed, according to a press release by NASA. The first of 18 “lightweight” and ultra-smooth beryllium mirrors to be attached to the Hubble successor’s frame, it’s over four feet across and weighs nearly ninety pounds. Aiming for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in October 2018, the mid-infrared observatory will (if successful) sit at the L2 point in the Earth’s shadow, behind a five-layer, tennis-court-sized sunscreen, to keep it all as cold and dark as possible. If and when it’s up and running, we’ll be using it to watch distant galaxy and planet formation, and maybe to get a better look at the dark and cold objects in the kuiper belt. For just a massive amount of information on the telescope, the very well-maintained wikipedia article should be your first stop. After that, you can check out nasa.gov/webb and jwst.nasa.gov for interesting and interactive information on the next big thing in space telescopes. I can’t wait for this thing to launch.
Room Temperature Entanglement
Researchers at the University of Chicago have announced this week that they’ve been able to achieve quantum entanglement in silicon wafers at room temperature. Until now, very cold temperatures were required to perform the feat, which would have proved a limiting factor to the size and practicality of quantum computers. With each new advance, real, usable quantum computers get closer to reality, making cryptographers nervous and futurists excited. You can read more about the development at Gizmodo and Science Advances.
Here are the week’s top stories here at This Week In Tomorrow in case you missed any of them:
- On Monday, reddit user u/salimfadhley showed us an all-new kind of crazy
- On Tuesday, I had to explain the difference between “to orbit” and “to orbital height”
- On Wednesday, I explained that free speech doesn’t extend to advertising
- On Thursday, we had a moving guest post by Emerson Storm Richards on a certain Syrian refugee in Paris, and
- On Friday, weekly Feminist Friday correspondent Lindsey Hanlon talked up Marvel’s new Jessica Jones
If you missed any of that, check it out!
Best of the Rest
As usual, there’s too much to cover for one guy on a Sunday morning, so without further ado, here’s your weekly linkspam:
- Scientists have predicted dark matter “hairs” surrounding the Earth
- Other scientists have grown a rose with circuits in it
- Discovery Channel is “breaking up” with bad science
- The NYT did a great piece on Denisse Aranda, a NASA engineer
- Netflix is set to bring back Lost in Space (danger, Will Robinson), and
- Chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken