E4: Far Side Samples Return

E4: Far Side Samples Return
The Chang’e-6 capsule lands safely in Mongolia. Midjourney

Lunar regolith samples return from the far side of the Moon, 'quantum compass' breakthrough, 'Bridge Editing' could supersede CRISPR, and much more

Tony Morley, July 2nd, 2024

Welcome to The Up Wing, Edition 4, the best in progress and optimistic news, collated, curated, and delivered weekly. We report on the past, present, and future of human progress, progress studies, and optimistic news. We're pro-growth, free markets, classical liberalism, Enlightenment, science, technology, and a better future for all humanity. We're still in beta; hang in there.

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The first lunar samples from the far side of the Moon

After a successful mission there and back, China's Chang’e-6 has landed safely back on earth in the remote grasslands of Mongolia. The mission has delivered roughly 2 kg [4.4 pounds] of lunar regolith and rock samples from the far side of the Moon, the first mission to return samples from the far side.

"China is now developing its Chang’e-7 and Chang’e-8 missions, which are more complex and are scheduled to launch in 2026 and 2028, respectively. They will hunt for water ice near the lunar south pole and conduct other surveys and experiments."
First ever rocks from the Moon’s far side have landed on Earth
Scientists are eager to work on Chang’e-6 rock samples, which touched down in the Chinese autonomous region Inner Mongolia today.

Root Source: Nature doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-02101-5

LGBT+ rights and protections have improved globally

The number of countries that provide and protect rights for LGBT+ have improved; however, much progress remains to be made globally. Between 1980 and 2024, the number of countries where same-sex sexual acts are legal has increased from just 77 to 133.

"LGBT+ people don’t just want to live free from fear of being prosecuted for their same-sex relationships. Many also want to marry, adopt children with their partner, and some want their government to recognize their transgender or non-binary identity."
LGBT+ rights have become more protected in dozens of countries, but are not recognized across most of the world
Despite progress, same-sex marriage, adoption, gender marker changes, and third genders remain unrecognized in many countries. Some have even imposed more regressive policies.
Our World In Data: By: Bastian Herre June 24, 2024

The Untapped Potential of Geothermal Energy: Perhaps we've only scratched the surface

The technology behind geothermal energy has been quietly and steadily evolving and improving against the backdrop of the big renewable players, wind, solar, and hydro. New technology and perfected existing technologies may soon be better poised to transition geothermal from small-scale operations to a major energy contributor.

"Harnessing just 0.1% of the Earth’s heat could supply the world’s total energy needs for two million years."
The Untapped Potential of Geothermal Energy | Contrary
A deep dive into why geothermal may be the key to energy abundance.

'Bridge editing' could be even better at altering DNA than CRISPR

The CRISPR gene-editing technique that has transformed civilizations' capacity to alter biology from medicine to agriculture may soon get a 2.0 update that could prove a game changer for genetic engineering.

"A powerful form of DNA-editing machinery discovered in bacteria might allow us to make much bigger changes to genomes than is currently possible with CRISPR-based techniques."
‘Bridge editing’ could be even better at altering DNA than CRISPR
The CRISPR gene-editing technique has revolutionised biology, but now an even more powerful system called bridge editing could let us completely reshape genomes

A new 'quantum compass' being tested in the London underground could hold the key to geolocation in hard-to-reach places

Researchers are experimenting in the London underground with a new subatomic quantum compass. The proof-of-concept system may soon allow for accurate geolocation calculation underground, underwater, or out of reach of the Global Positioning System (GPS) network.

‘It’s the perfect place’: London Underground hosts tests for ‘quantum compass’ that could replace GPS
Subatomic instrument will be able to accurately pinpoint locations under ground and under water where satellite signals cannot reach

Solar energy is poised to grow dramatically through 2060

From 2024 through 2060, installed solar capacity is expected to grow dramatically as construction and operating costs continue to fall, indeed faster than anyone expected.

"In 2023 there were single days which saw a gigawatt of installation worldwide."
"Over the course of 2023 the world’s solar cells, their panels currently covering less than 10,000 square kilometres, produced about 1,600 terawatt-hours of energy (a terawatt, or 1tw, is a trillion watts). That represented about 6% of the electricity generated world wide, and just over 1% of the world’s primary-energy use."
Sun Machines
Solar, an energy source that gets cheaper and cheaper, is going to be huge

Archive Paywall Jump: http://archive.today/mnjtH

This is the world’s best investment
A new study finds that combating malaria, TB, and HIV pays for itself 405 times over.

Humanity has made incredible progress in the fight against communicable diseases over the last hundred years; however, many “neglected diseases” remain costly in human life, living standards, and economic growth. Largely winning the fight against neglected diseases over the next century could be one of the best investments civilization can make. It could result in a return on investment of $49.7 trillion and avert 40 million deaths, with vaccines saving 370 million life-years alone.

"This is an immensely hopeful report. But it’s a report that also serves as a call to arms. Rich countries need to get their act together, fast, or this opportunity will slip through our fingers, with poor children in Africa and South Asia paying the price."
This is the world’s best investment
A new study finds that combating malaria, TB, and HIV pays for itself 405 times over.

Neurological conditions claim the lives of thousands of children every year. New treatments in the womb may save them

A new generation of cutting-edge therapies hold the promise of treating neurological defects in-utero. Such treatments could save thousands of lives and improve the living standards of surviving babies.

"If the child – a boy to be named Tobias – had remained untreated, he would have been born with paralysis from the hips down. On 1 February 2022, he was born via caesarian-section at 7lbs 13oz (3.5kg), legs kicking, toes wriggling. "It just feels like we won the lottery," says Johnson."
Neurological conditions claim the lives of thousands of children every year. New treatments in the womb may save them
Cutting-edge therapies delivering treatment to foetuses diagnosed with neurological defects have the potential to change natal care as we know it.

Faster, more accurate, and without animal testing. Welcome to organ-on-a-chip technology

Organ-on-a-chip technology could supplement and perhaps supersede the requirement for animal testing in the development of drugs used in human and animal medicine. "Animal studies are notoriously bad at identifying human treatments. Around 95% of the drugs developed through animal research fail in people."

Employing human cells in testing on a chip could provide faster and more accurate feedback results, with the additional benefit of requiring less or no animal testing. The technology remains toward the bottom of the innovation s-curve, but the potential is enormous.

Is this the end of animal testing?
Researchers are increasingly turning to organ-on-a-chip technology for drug testing and other applications.

Progress Media:

How humanity doubled life expectancy in a century

The enormous gains in global life expectancy have been perhaps the greatest triumph of human civilization; however, few among us fully understand just how far we've come over the last century.

"Doubling human life expectancy in a century is our greatest achievement, says author Steven Johnson. How did we make it happen – and can we keep it going? Backed by fascinating historical anecdotes, he shares some life-lengthening innovations and reminds us of three key things needed to make sure all of humanity enjoys these advancements in health."

Steven Johnson | TEDMonterey, August 2021

Root Source: Life Expectancy, Our World In Data https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy

10 Reasons to Look Forward to the Future | Johan Norberg | Google Zeitgeist

From dramatically improved life expectancy and reductions in child mortality to soaring economic growth, the reduction in global extreme poverty, and the upward trend in global living standards, this 2017 talk from Johan Norberg is as relevant today as it was seven years ago.

Here are, Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, based on Johan's 2017 book Progress.

Progress Imprint:

Extra Life: A short history of living longer, Steven Johnson

Between 1770 and 2024, global life expectancy climbed from just 28.5 years to 73 years and continues to improve. In Steven's book Extra Life, he explores why it took so long to start making progress and how we turned the tide on global life expectancy.

Extra Life by Steven Johnson: 9780525538868 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
“Offers a useful reminder of the role of modern science in fundamentally transforming all of our lives.” —President Barack Obama (on Twitter) “An important book.” —Steven…

A Good Time to Be Born, Perri Klass

“There is no doubt that children once died in great numbers and that parents had to adjust their expectations accordingly. The world before the modern era was overwhelmingly a place of tiny coffins.” — Bill Bryson, At Home, A Short History of Private Life

In just 200 years, civilization pushed child mortality down from a heartbreaking 40% to just 3.7%, a truly remarkable accomplishment and one that would, in 2018, also save the life of my own eldest son, Odin. Perri Klass explores how science, technology, innovation, and economic growth saved millions of children in the last 200 years and helped transform our world.

A Good Time to Be Born by Perri Klass | Penguin Random House Canada
The fight against child mortality that transformed parenting, doctoring, and the way we live.


Progress Conference 2024: Toward Abundant Futures: A two-day event to connect people & ideas in the progress movement

The Roots of Progress Institute and Jason Crawford are hosting a conference on October 18–19, 2024, at Berkeley, California, and it's going to be truly amazing. If you're interested in progress, this is a conference to attend or at least to follow from afar. The guest and speaker list is a collection of some of the most brilliant minds in the progress movement, and the conference is a first of its kind.

Progress Conference 2024
A two-day event to connect people & ideas in the progress movement. October 18–19, 2024 in Berkeley, California


Selected excerpts from the Progress Dashboard

The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it
Very few think the world is making progress. In this article I am looking at the data to challenge the widespread negative sentiments.

This map will change how you see globalization forever: You can't unsee this.

This interactive shipping map from the team at Kiln shows the remarkable scale of global shipping logistics and trade. It's a visualization of one of the most fundamental forces driving economic growth, human prosperity, and improved living standards over the last half-century. Welcome to the Ship Map 📦

An incredible visualisation of global shipping traffic, created by Kiln.digital and the UCL Energy Institute.

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