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Swiss program plots post-COVID future for science, diplomacy

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Swiss program plots post-COVID future for science, diplomacy

GENEVA — With COVID-19, space exploration and climate change high on many minds, a so-called “do tank” in Geneva, bankrolled by Switzerland’s government, is gearing up to develop long-term scientific projects, ranging from a global court for scientific disputes to a Manhattan Project-style effort to rid excess carbon from the atmosphere.

Backers of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator want to bridge the Swiss city’s image as a hub for conflict resolution with visionary scientific ambitions on big-picture issues, including the future of humanity.

First created in late 2019, GESDA presented its first activity report Tuesday and announced plans for a summit in October bringing together hundreds of United Nations officials, Nobel laureates, academics, diplomats, advocacy group representatives and members of the public.

The initiative’s backers include the heads of top Swiss universities and of the world’s largest atom smasher, located at European nuclear research organization CERN. They say the coronavirus pandemic has given science a platform unseen for several decades and want to leverage the attention from a public health crisis that has taken nearly 3 million lives and quashed economies to encourage thinking about the interplay among science, politics and society.

Peter Brabeck, a former chairman and CEO of Nestle who was tapped by the Swiss government to lead GESDA, used COVID-19 as an example of how advance planning could help head off future health crises, noting that the mRNA vaccine technology being used now to fight the pandemic has been around a decade.

“We could have perhaps been more prepared for the pandemic than we were today,” Brabeck said from GESDA headquarters at Geneva’s Campus Biotech. “Only a scientific breakthrough is not enough. It has to be embedded in a diplomatic framework so that it can be implemented” by governments and companies.

“Technology is advancing at an incredible speed. But the framework around it — diplomacy — is slower than ever, so we have to find a way that we can accelerate the diplomacy also,” he said.

The pandemic has featured vaccine nationalism, political squabbles and mutual recriminations between China — where the coronavirus first emerged — and the United States, which is experiencing the world’s most deadly outbreak. The reputation of the World Health Organization also has suffered.

“I would not pretend that GESDA could avoid such a confrontation as happened in the World Health Organization,” Brabeck said. “What GESDA can do is basically to call attention before this thing escalates… (and) if diplomacy would come in before the fact, a lot of these conflicts might be resolved.”

Brabeck said the initiative aims to be a “catalyst” and not an operator of any of the projects it looks to develop. While seed money came from the Swiss government, GESDA counts academics from places like South Africa and a top health ministry official in Singapore among board members and is seeking outside funding and has been talking with charitable foundations.

The goal of the summit planned for October is to help map the relationship between scientific breakthroughs and their impacts on society and the world. GESDA wants to assess the feasibility of structures such as an international organization to ensure safe access to quantum infrastructure and to lay a foundation for an agreement on use of artificial intelligence.

It said a global court could help resolve scientific disputes and a Manhattan Project-style research and development effort could help industry “accelerate the decarbonization of industrial processes in the next decades” — an allusion to the secret atomic bomb project in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during World War II.

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Harry Winston’s 2021 floral jewelry collection wows

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Harry Winston's 2021 floral jewelry collection wows

Give the gift of forever love with blossoms of baubles.

Harry Winston’s perennial Forget-Me-Not collection now radiates with its first-ever marriage of diamonds and rubies.

While the jeweler has previously offered its signature florals in a dazzling array
of gemstones, ranging from diamonds to blue sapphires, this new pairing leaves us
blushing.

Adorned with round brilliant, pear-shaped and marquise diamonds, it’s offered in five silhouettes: earrings, a pendant, a bracelet, a ring and a lariat necklace.

The feeling you’ll have upon plucking one of these beauties?

Unforgettable.


Photographer: Chris Coppola; Stylist: Anahita Moussavian; Prop Stylist: Trina Ong.

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Boy’s botched Amazon order leaves him with $2,620 worth of Spongebob Squarepants popsicles

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Boy's botched Amazon order leaves him with $2,620 worth of Spongebob Squarepants popsicles

That’s one way to freeze a bank account.

A 4-year-old cartoon fanatic from Brooklyn went a little overboard by buying nearly $3,000 worth of nonrefundable SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicles on Amazon.

However, an understanding Samaritan has set up a GoFundMe page Monday to help cover the chilling cost.

According to the crowdfunding page, the “truly adorable” SpongeBob diehard named Noah “managed to purchase $2,618.85 worth” of the pop-pelgangers from Amazon and “had them sent to his Auntie’s house.”

“In case you are wondering, that’s 51 cases, containing 918 popsicles,” Katie Schloss, a New York University student and social-work intern, wrote of the tot’s frozen-treat fiasco.

The predicament may seem adorable on its face. However, as Amazon will not refund the Popsicles, Noah’s mom Jennifer Bryant was feeling the (freezer) burn and thought she’d have to foot the bill herself.

This presented a major SpongeBob-stacle for the mother of three, who studies social work at NYU, and didn’t know how she was “going to be able to pay this off, in addition to student loans and all of her family’s other expenses,” Schloss wrote.

The Post reached out to Bryant and will update this post if we hear back.

However, it seems that Noah’s Popsicle debt has already been more than paid off. As of Wednesday morning, kind-hearted donors have already contributed a whopping $3,675, eclipsing the fundraising goal of $2,619.

“Thank you so much for your mind-blowing generosity,” wrote Noah’s grateful mother on the page. She added that the surplus donations will go towards education and additional supports for her son, who reportedly suffers from autism.

This isn’t the first time an opportunistic tyke has gone on a surreptitious spending spree. A Connecticut woman was apoplectic after her 6-year-old amassed over $16,000 in credit card charges for the video game, “Sonic Forces.”

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Giant moth so chunky it struggles to fly discovered

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Giant moth so chunky it struggles to fly discovered

Mothra surfaces in Australia.

An Australian worker realized every entomophobe’s worst nightmare after encountering a moth so huge that it struggled to fly.

The Mount Cotton State School in Queensland, where Mothra was discovered, shared a Facebook photo Sunday of the behemoth bug on the end of a saw blade.

It was reportedly the “size of two fists put together” according to the school’s principal, Meagan Steward, who said the mondo moth was released into the woods unharmed.

Queensland Museum entomologist Dr. Christine Lambkin has since identified the animatronic-evoking creature as a “wood moth,” a species that reportedly resides all along the Eastern coast of Australia. While not exceedingly rare, this chonky critter is not commonly sighted in the country, Lambkin told the Independent.

And it’s certainly not because it’s too small to spot. With a maximum weight of just over an ounce, the female wood moth frequently struggles to achieve liftoff — despite boasting a whopping 9-inch wingspan.

“They fly very, very poorly,” said Lambkin. “In most cases, when the females emerge, they just crawl up a tree or stump of a fence post and wait for the males to find them.”

Needless to say, fans on the Mount Cotton State School Facebook page were awestruck by the colossal creepy-crawly.

“Love it! Never leaving the windows open ever again though,” wrote one aghast gawker.

“We’ll just add it to the list of wildlife….wallabies, owls, snakes, echidnas, giant moth,” wrote another of Australia’s infamous plethora of unusual creatures. “Life is never dull at MCSS!”

One jokester quipped, “How cool. Gotta say if it flew near me while I was gardening I would probably do a karate freakout!”

Thankfully, wood moths don’t pose a threat to humans. Perhaps it could even help relieve this extra-shaggy Australian sheep of its 77 pounds of matted wool.

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