5 for Friday: New solutions to age-old problems

It's been another wild and wacky week on my favorite dramedy, The White House, where we saw a hard right-turn into March Sweeps with (spoilers!) Hope Hicks' resignation, JKush's security downgrade, and fun tidbits like Gen. Kelly saying it's purgatory to serve in the administration (don't worry, it was just jokes and anything to the contrary is FAKE NEWS). Juicy! Set your DVRs now if you haven't already.

Back in the land of normalcy, there was some cool stuff going on with technology, science, and actual progress this week so let's focus ourselves there, shall we?

Arizona is trying to woo self driving car tech makers
  1. From the Star Tribune - In very proud news, Minnesota now boasts renewable energy as its second most used source of power in the state. While coal is still the top producer, wind energy is now cheaper than natural gas and nuclear energy (yes, without subsidies). Wind power is expected to grow in 2018, surpassing 2016's record year. In fact, the first floating wind farm has achieved 65% capacity in its first three months...wind is the future and the future is now.

  2. From Inhabitant - Speaking of the power of renewables, this article succinctly summarizes some of the ways island nations can rethink their traditional reliance on fossil fuels when it comes to the unique challenges they face in powering their water-locked countries. This also led me to a couple of articles about Puerto Rico, where blackouts hit again this week as the island continues to struggle post Hurricane Maria which struck six months ago. If you are not enraged by our government's treatment of fellow citizens, you're not paying enough attention.

  3. From NPR - Uber is trying out a new service that will transport patients to their doctors' offices for non-emergency medical services (although that's happening, too). What's smart about this for Uber is that riders won't need a smartphone/the Uber app to use the service, so they've found an innovative way to tap into a larger market for themselves without exact replication. What's smart about this for patients is, hopefully, the ability to get to doctor appointments safely and regularly.

  4. From The Verge - Did you know that Arizona and California are in an exciting real-life duel to woo self-driving car companies to their states?! 'Tis true! This week, Arizona announced that driverless cars were free to roam the streets of AZ, seemingly in response to CA announcing the same thing just days before (prior to this, California required a 'safety driver' to also be in the vehicle; Arizona didn't have anything on the books officially, although driverless cars were on the roads already). As the article points out, most self-driving car companies are based in CA...but AZ is positioning itself as the more permissive, er, innovation-friendly, state.

  5. From the NYT - In a reminder of our eternal insignificance, astronomers this week have detected evidence of our universe's first stars, back when it was "just" 180 million years old. Beyond the excitement of discovering stars' baby photos, this may also lead to new discoveries around dark matter and its power. If this week's episode of The White House left you down in the dumps, consider our teeny tiny lives (and some leaders' hands...) in comparison to all that surrounds us and maybe it's not so bad for a moment.

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