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Welcome back to another edition of This Week in Ideas, AKA the Cool Stuff Roundup, AKA the best stuff Freethinkers shared with each other on Slack. Here’s what’s got us all agoggle this week:

Blue Origins just moved us one step closer to space tourism. One of the things that makes flying on an airplane a relatively casual activity is that airlines have contingency plans in the event things go south. To create a space tourism market, rocket makers will need the same. And it appears Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the team at Blue Origins have that part of space flight covered. Earlier this week, the company publicly demonstrated its passenger escape capsule. You can see everything go exactly according to plan here.

“The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 114 million from 2012 to 2013,” reports Dylan Matthews at Vox. That data comes from a new report from the World Bank, which finds that global poverty continues to decline at an astonishing rate. And while the year-to-year drop is pretty stunning, it’s nothing compared to the decrease we’ve seen since 1990: Back then, more than one third of the human population lived on less than $1.90 a day. As of this year, less than 10 percent of the human population has to get by on that amount.(Check out the chart below.) If the trend continues--and forecasters think it will--we’ll see the end of extreme poverty in our lifetime.

via World Bank
via World Bank

Can meditation help troubled kids? Yep, and it works better than conventional discipline methods, according to a small sample size at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School, where students who act out are encouraged to meditate. As a result, attendance rates are up, suspensions are down, and kids are learning some great techniques for staying cool, calm, and collected for the rest of their lives.

Learn from the kids: Don’t let politics crush your mood. “When historians look back on our era, the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump campaign probably will be a modest footnote to broader and mostly uninterrupted positive trends,” economist Tyler Cowen writes at Bloomberg.

“When historians look back on our era, the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump campaign probably will be a modest footnote to broader and mostly uninterrupted positive trends.”

“Driverless vehicles still have hitches, but they are in use in San Francisco and Pittsburgh and are progressing more rapidly than had been expected. They will ease commutes, save lives and help the elderly become more mobile. There is serious talk that stem cell technologies may extend human lives. The drone revolution may revolutionize the transport of goods and services. Software is being embedded into just about everything, and American business remains the envy of the world.”

How to explain an unexplainable world: For the last 30 years, David Macaulay has been publishing illustrated guides to the technology we use every day. But as we move into an era of technology that can’t be explained with simple illustrations, his goal for The Way Things Work Now has changed as well. “The idea behind the books is not necessarily to teach the reader each and every aspect of technologies like the radio transmitter or e-reader,” writes Rebecca Onion in Slate . “Rather, Macaulay hopes the experience of browsing the book will leave you with a sense of the way things relate to each other and a curiosity to know more.”

Are blue M&Ms about to become a thing of the past? Turns out, it’s really hard to make a blue M&M. Earlier this year, candymaker Mars announced it would phase out artificial colors in its products and replace them with natural colors. Now the company’s chemists are struggling to make a naturally blue M&M that’s actually, well, blue.

Up Next

Crossing Borders
Chico MacMurtrie's Art Transcends the Southern Border
Chico MacMurtrie's Art Transcends the Southern Border
Crossing Borders
Chico MacMurtrie's Art Transcends the Southern Border
If all goes to plan, six robotic sculptures will arc across the border dividing El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in the fall of 2020.

If all goes to plan, six robotic sculptures will arc across the border dividing El Paso and Ciudad Juárez in the fall of 2020.

Superhuman
Prosthetics as Fashion: Designers Transform Prosthetic Leg Covers into Wearable Art
prosthetic leg covers
Superhuman
Prosthetics as Fashion: Designers Transform Prosthetic Leg Covers into Wearable Art
Alleles is a premier boutique where amputees can be fitted for fashionable limb covers that make their prosthetic limbs stylish and eye-catching. These designers hope their fashions will help reduce the stigma that comes with prosthetics.

McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda’s design studio, Alleles, began as an unorthodox college thesis project. It is now a premier boutique where amputees can be fitted for fashionable limb covers that make their prosthetic limbs stylish and eye-catching. These designers hope their fashions will help reduce the stigma that comes with prosthetics.

Thinking Differently
The Joy of Being Wrong
The Joy of Being Wrong
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Thinking Differently
The Joy of Being Wrong
Can practicing intellectual humility make us smarter and happier? Science says yes.
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Arguments on social media are notorious. People often naturally form an echo chamber of people with similar beliefs, and when people outside it start arguments, the discussion often becomes antagonistic. Is there a better way? Science suggests that a good starting point is by practicing intellectual humility. By admitting the possibility that we ourselves could be wrong, we’re able to better evaluate arguments and construct...

#fixingjustice - Prosecution
Exclusive Interview: How Miriam Krinsky is Leading Us to a Smarter & More...
Miriam Krinsky
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Exclusive Interview: How Miriam Krinsky is Leading Us to a Smarter & More...
Her organization is bringing together a new generation of prosecutors with a shared vision of fair, compassionate,...

Her organization is bringing together a new generation of prosecutors with a shared vision of fair, compassionate, and responsible criminal justice reform.

Relentless
This Fearless Principal Used UFC & Skateboards to Save a Failing School
This Fearless Principal Used UFC & Skateboards to Save a Failing School
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Relentless
This Fearless Principal Used UFC & Skateboards to Save a Failing School
How one relentless, unconventional principal rallied an underdog school.
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Hamish Brewer, the unconventional principal of Fred Lynn Middle School, went viral and won praise for his work turning the school around. But can he rally the school to the next huge milestone - regaining accreditation? Since moving from New Zealand to the United States, tattooed, skateboarding principal Hamish Brewer has helped inspire teachers and students at lower-income schools to smash people’s expectations. After his...

What We Get Wrong About Love
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What We Get Wrong About Love
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Love is important to all of us - so why aren’t we better at it? Nate Bagley, host of the Loveumentary podcast, interviewed hundreds of successful couples. He found many traditional ideas of love are wrong. In this interview, he explains how to have better relationships and reveals key insights about love that aren’t taught in school. He hopes that by improving our love lives, we can learn to foster better relationships...

Dispatches
Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine
Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine
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Why We Need a Universal Flu Vaccine
Two scientists explain why the flu is still such a problem, a century after it killed 50 million people — and what...
By Ian Setliff and Amyn Murji

Two scientists explain why the flu is still such a problem, a century after it killed 50 million people — and what we can do stop it.

Dispatches
Unlike Smoking, Vaping Won't Mess With Your Microbiome
Unlike Smoking, Vaping Won't Mess With Your Microbiome
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Unlike Smoking, Vaping Won't Mess With Your Microbiome
Smoking kills off good bacteria and upsets the balance of power your gut.

Smoking kills off good bacteria and upsets the balance of power your gut.

Crossing The Divide
LGBT Rights: The Power of a Single Conversation
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LGBT Rights: The Power of a Single Conversation
Why a gay rights activist started a movement to talk to thousands who voted against gay marriage.
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After Californians voted against gay marriage in 2008, Dave Fleischer, head of the Leadership LAB at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, knew he had to do something different to reach people. Dave and his team embarked on an ambitious task to talk to as many people who who disagreed with them as they could. They used a technique called “deep canvassing” where activists connect with people using personal stories to a make deeper...