Peter Temin: Economic Mobility Requires the Nearly Impossible – The Atlantic

A lot of factors have contributed to American inequality: slavery, economic policy, technological change, the power of lobbying, globalization, and so on. In their wake, what’s left?

That’s the question at the heart of a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, by Peter Temin, an economist from MIT. Temin argues that, following decades of growing inequality, America is now left with what is more or less a two-class system: One small, predominantly white upper class that wields a disproportionate share of money, power, and political influence and a much larger, minority-heavy (but still mostly white) lower class that is all too frequently subject to the first group’s whims.

The Cheap Energy Revolution Is Here, and Coal Won’t Cut It – Bloomberg

Fifteen charts about how Trump is building a dangerous “age of plenty on steroids.”

2017 M04 26 16:00 GMT+10

Wind and solar are about to become unstoppable, natural gas and oil production are approaching their peak, and electric cars and batteries for the grid are waiting to take over. This is the world Donald Trump inherited as U.S. president. And yet his energy plan is to cut regulations to resuscitate the one sector that’s never coming back: coal.

Neuroscientists have accidentally discovered a whole new role for the cerebellum – ScienceAlert

One of the best-known regions of the brain, the cerebellum accounts for just 10 percent of the organ’s total volume, but contains more than 50 percent of its neurons.

Despite all that processing power, it’s been assumed that the cerebellum functions largely outside the realm of conscious awareness, instead coordinating physical activities like standing and breathing. But now neuroscientists have discovered that it plays an important role in the reward response – one of the main drives that motivate and shape human behaviour.

When Pluto Changed from a Fuzzy Dot into a Full-Fledged World – Scientific American Blog Network

Two years ago this coming July, the long journey of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to Pluto was approaching its end. Years earlier we had used New Horizons’ long-range camera to spot Pluto as a faint point of light off the bow of the spacecraft, but it took until April of 2015 for Pluto to begin to slowly, slowly reveal itself as an incredible new world. The best images would come on the day of closest approach, July 14, 2015, but three months out we cranked up our cameras to document our steady approach. And so we watched as, week by week, and then day by day, New Horizons beamed back ever more detailed images of Pluto from the edge of the solar system.

An Old Rock Could Lead to Next-Generation Solar Cells – Scientific American

After a 170-year delay, the discovery of a strange, metallic-looking rock found in the Ural Mountains in Russia in 1839 has ignited a global technology race for a cheaper, more efficient solar cell. It could seriously disrupt the world’s solar market, currently dominated by China.

The features of the rock led to the understanding that there was not a particular mineral involved, but a class of minerals that share a common crystalline structure of cubes and diamondlike shapes. The structure was named for Lev Perovski, a Russian mineral expert who first studied it. He died in 1856. Later, researchers found that mineral deposits containing perovskite structures were cheap and abundant throughout the world.

How a Professional Climate Change Denier Discovered the Lies and Decided to Fight for Science

THE HARDEST PART of reversing the warming of the planet may be convincing climate change skeptics of the need to do so. Although scientists who study the issue overwhelming agree that the earth is undergoing rapid and profound climate changes due to the burning of fossil fuels, a minority of the public remains stubbornly resistant to that fact. With temperatures rising and ice caps melting — and that small minority in control of both Congress and the White House — there seems no project more urgent than persuading climate deniers to reconsider their views. So we reached out to Jerry Taylor, whose job as president of the Niskanen Center involves turning climate skeptics into climate activists.