SU Faculty Finds: What to Read in February

At SU, our faculty members are always discovering great content that sparks fascinating discussions among ourselves and with those of you who attend our programs. Here are a few of the items that had us buzzing this month!

Marshmello’s Fortnite Performance Hints at the Mindblowing Potential for Huge Shared Virtual Environments

Let me get this right out in the open: I’m not cool. I misspelled both Marshmello and Fortnite while writing this post (my son would be horrified). So I’m excited to point you to my colleague Aaron Frank’s article on Singularity Hub about a new social space that’s opening up in VR. Yes, Fortnite is a shooter game, but it’s also becoming a place to go to hang out with your friends, celebrate, and dance along with 10 million of your new besties. We’re not quite at Ready Player One levels of awesomeness yet, but we just took a big step into the virtual future.

5 Questions: Gardner on the Intersection of Meat, Protein, and the Environment

Somewhere in your heart, you know that eating meat is damaging to the environment, may be negatively impacting your health, and dooms billions of living things to short and miserable lives. But did you know that you actually need a lot less protein than you’ve been led to believe—especially if you’re American? In this interview, Stanford professor Dr. Christopher Gardner blows up the comfortable myths that we’re living with every day. That’s right: 50g of protein is less than half a pound of meat or fish. So next time you pick up your fork, focus on those gorgeous green vegetables. The planet and your body will love you for it.

Salad bowls on a table.

What You Believe About Science Denial May Be All Wrong

What shall we argue about today? Climate change? Vaccination? Evolution? GMOs? As a science communicator and educator, this opinion piece in The Scientist really caught my attention. Here, Dr. Kari Fischer reports her often surprising insights from her recent efforts to understand science denialism (insight 1: “it’s not ‘science denial’”). I was so intrigued by the hints about what to change in my own teaching that I’m hosting a journal club at SU to investigate the moral foundations of hesitancy toward and opposition to technology and science—and what we can do about it. What do you recognize from your own life?

Saving the Paris Agreement

As always, Rolling Stone pulls no punches. We know that climate change is an existential threat to humanity, right? So why does it still feel like we’re not getting anywhere? No matter your political orientation (prepare yourself, Rolling Stone is deeply political), this inside look at how the sausage was made during the UN climate negotiations in Poland in December is illuminating and deeply disturbing. I was particularly struck by the discussion of transparency, trust, and the divides between rich and poor countries—because technology alone isn’t going to be enough to steer humanity and our planet back on course.