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Hi again lovely friends, I'm engaged in a grim struggle with sinusitis, so feeling grateful these emails are mostly written a little ahead of time. It's the end of May already, and also the 100th anniversary of the solar eclipse that showed light bending around the sun and thereby Einstein's theory of general relativity in action. πŸŒ… That's got me...
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LOOKING UP: I've recently gotten around to reading The Man Who Made Things Out Of Trees by Rob Penn: a love-letter to the ash tree, celebrating its many uses over a long history. The author's passion and enthusiasm is infectious, but made me realise that I could no longer confidently identify an ash. Indeed, much of what I once learned about trees I'd forgotten.

Then I discovered The Hidden Life of Trees by hunter-turned-gamekeeper Peter Wohlleben, who reveals that many long-standing forestry methods are at odds with scientific research. Wohlleben presents the possibility of trees being cognisant, social and caring, with forests more like families and communities. Yet trees and plants don't often catch our attention, because they are both overfamiliar and also not like us in terms of their physical form. We tune out greenery, and yet trees make us happier and healthier. So I'm trying to relearn a little about trees, at least enough to recognise them. 🌲🌳🌲
πŸ€₯ Is a polygraph a reliable lie detector? I think we all probably know the answer to this. I am surprised, though, that the reliability of polygraph results has been so consistently poor that the technique wasn't abandoned years ago.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ’» Female-sounding voice assistants fuel gender bias according to an interesting research project by the UN. Particularly troubling given how rapidly our communication patterns are changing to include non-human interaction.

πŸ“– Anxy is a beautiful magazine about our private inner worlds: the personal struggles, the fears that fool us into believing that the rest of the world is normal and we’re not. And now a Kickstarter campaign offers all issues (and a fancy box) including those out-of-print.

πŸ‘©β€πŸ”¬ These Hidden Women Helped Invent Chaos Theory: Two women programmers played a pivotal role in the birth of chaos theory. Their previously untold story illustrates the changing status of computation in science. I also recommend following On This Day She on Twitter, for occasional doses of female historical greatness.

🌍 Downlink updates your Mac's wallpaper with beautiful near-realtime imagery of Earth: a reminder, if needed, of our home planet's majesty.
Off the ground: If you look up past the trees, it's an interesting time within the gap below conventional aircraft. Drones can be deployed for immense good, such as delivering donated organs, but they also democratise aviation with unexpected consequences, such as Nazi propaganda being dropped over an Ariana Grande concert.

German start-up Lilium just got its prototype flying taxi off the ground, and aims to make it viable within the next decade. But even at this early stage of flying cars, space is congested. Prototypes from Boeing, Ehang, Volocopter and of course the Uber & Bell Helicopters effort shown at CES are all at roughly the same development stage. Further proof, if needed, that we'll stop at nothing to fulfil the prophecy of The Jetsons.

If flying cars look a bit pokey, then the world's largest aircraft (and client of mine) Airlander 10 could go all-electric in its next iteration thanks to an R&D grant. Good for when you need to bring ten tonnes of stuff with you. 🎈
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Reaching for the stars: Many interesting things are happening up in the heavens too. We can see them like never before, such as the small bodies of the Solar System and a passing asteroid that has its own moon. The Hubble telescope continues to offer incredible imagery such as this one shot of 265,000 galaxies.

NASA has announced the Artemis programme to put the first woman on the surface of the Moon by 2024, while YouTuber Michelle Khare trained like a NASA astronaut. I'm certain I wouldn't make the cut, but those of us confined to terra firma can send our names to Mars aboard the 2020 Rover.

Commercial space exploration is charging ahead, too. As NASA and Virgin Orbit manage to 3D-print a working rocket combustion chamber, Jeff Bezos, who believes that the future of humanity is space colonies (presumably sold to humanity by Jeff Bezos), announced Blue Origin's lunar lander, named Blue MoonSpaceX has up 60 satellites to offer internet access, but all these commercial launches irks the aviation industry, who are moving to protect airspace.

The elephant in the room continues to be how any of these aspirations will be powered, without further contributing to ecological ruin. It's the challenge that most technological pursuits wilfully ignore, but a good first step would be urgent reforestation. πŸš€
Finally: Independence in the Air: this superb, evocative exhibit on African aviation in the 1960s draws from Northwestern University’s Transportation Library and the Herskovits Library of African Studies. ✈️

Stone the crows, we've reached the bottom of the email. More for you next week. Do you know someone who likes interesting things? Let them know! They can join in too at momorgan.com/blast. πŸ’Œ

Have you found something I'd like? Is there something you'd like to see more of? Or anything else; I'd love to hear from youβ€”hit reply! Meanwhile all back-issues are in the archive.

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