Parents of successful kids don’t worry about screen time, expert says—they teach these 3 skills instead

Is excessive screen time actually a main cause of negative outcomes in children?

One of the most comprehensive studies on the subject found that in more than 350,000 adolescents, technology use was associated with only 0.4% of the overall differences in adolescent mental well-being.

And as much as we wish we could, we can’t completely shield our kids from screens.

While researching for my parenting book, I found that the most successful parents don’t spend time worrying about how much time their kids spend on digital devices.

Instead, they teach these three skills to help their kids become “screen smart”:

1. How to evaluate media

Research and explore apps, games and websites with your kids. Read the user agreement and reviews together, and share any values and concerns you have with each other.

If an app or website looks like a scam, or like it teaches bad values, discuss why you feel that way and how that would impact your decision to spend time on it.

These conversations will educate them on what responsible media use looks like.

2. How to draw screen boundaries

If you feel you have too little control over your kids’ screen use, or you want to establish some rules and expectations, consider sitting down for a family meeting to create a digital road map.

You can come up with guidelines that create a balance, teach your kids how to use their screens constructively, and help avoid some of the unhealthy effects that can crop up.

You might want to discuss things like:

  • To minimize sleep loss: Will you have a “media curfew” after which all portable devices have to be downstairs in a central location?
  • To minimize safety concerns: Where will kids be allowed to use their devices? Will parental locks be installed on devices?
  • To minimize fights: Will your kids need to ask you permission before they use screens?

Allow your kids to include their input and share how your technology use will fit into the roadmap, too.

3. How to use screens for good

I talked to 70 parents of highly successful adults: 4 phrases they never used while raising them

What it takes to earn $70K as a water operator in California

The promise of job security and work-life balance drew Fernando Gonzalez to become a water operator. Now that he’s worked as one for a few years, he sees his job as much more than fining people for using too much water.

On a given day, he’s patrolling neighborhoods spanning from farmland to Malibu mansions, looking for evidence that residents are wasting water. He hands out notices of leaky sprinklers or when residents run sprinklers right after a rainstorm, sure, but the most rewarding part of his job is interacting with customers about how they can save water, and why it’s so important.

“We’re more of a teaching tool than we are a kind of enforcement,” Gonzalez, 43, tells CNBC Make It. “We’d rather spend more time with customers and actually give them pointers on how they can conserve, rather than just hand out blank fines and collect the money and run.”

The stakes have never been higher as Southern California and the rest of the southwestern U.S. continues its 20-plus years in a megadrought. It’s the driest period for the region in over 1,200 years, according to Nature Climate Change.

“Climate change has made a big difference to to how our hydrological cycle is being affected,” Gonzalez says. “You see the lakes running low. You see the the wildlife being affected. You can see that animals are coming down out of the mountains into urban areas to eat because their food sources are being affected up where they normally live.”

Fernando Gonzalez, 43, makes $70,000 a year as a water operator based in Calabasas, Calif.

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Make It

Gonzalez sees the direct line between the work he does and affecting behavior change that can help conserve California’s precious water resources, even though talking to residents and news teams about climate change isn’t what he signed up for at all: “I never thought I’d be using my voice as a tool,” he says. But this is the reality of what we have to do in order to conserve water.”

Here’s how Gonzalez earns $70,000 a year, or nearly $100,000 with overtime, as a water operator in Calabasas, Calif.

Getting the job

Gonzalez was born and raised in California and helped run his dad’s pool cleaning business until age 25. During that time, he learned a lot about water chemistry and that he loved working outdoors. In his 20s, he changed careers to work as a plant manager in industrial sales and distribution, but realized he didn’t like working a desk job and wanted something different.

When Gonzalez noticed his clients who worked for a water agency were always in a good mood, could spend a lot of time with their families and even had energy for hobbies, he wanted in.

In 2017, Gonzalez enrolled in community college, took six courses and got certified by the California State Water Resource Control Board to work as a water operator.

Fernando Gonzalez is on the frontlines of combatting the historic “megadrought” in the southwestern U.S., and works with customers across parts of Los Angeles County to conserve water in the desert.

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Make It

The biggest surprise during his studies was learning about the legal regulation of how water moves throughout the state of California to Los Angeles County. “It really brought to light the scarcity of the water here in Southern California,” he says. “I found out the water comes from Northern California, and we don’t actually store any water here in the south. So that made it real on the water conservation effort.”

Learning about the chemistry of water treatment — how acid, chlorine and different chemicals affect water — was a challenge, but Gonzalez learned to like it. “If you have a passion for something, you always find a way,” he says. “And I found that I had a passion for this, and it really did hit home for me.”

Water operators are required to hold either a water distribution license or a treatment license. Gonzalez currently holds both. He was hired at Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which serves about 75,000 residents in western Los Angeles County, in January 2020.

A day on the job

Fernando Gonzalez says job security, work-life balance and the ability to work outdoors drew him to becoming a water operator. He also enjoys interacting with customers and teaching them how to conserve water.

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Make It

The typical neighborhoods he works in can range from traditional single-family lots to farms with horses, as well as celebrity mansions owned by the likes of Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Hart — many of whom have been issued notices of excess water usage.

Fines range from $50 to $100, which are often “not enough of a deterrent for people who have the means and the money to just pay their way out of it,” he says.

And violations can bring up uncomfortable conversations with homeowners who worry that if they don’t water their lawns, their plants will die, and their property value could drop.

But Gonzalez reminds them that if the California drought gets worse, water use could be restricted to only human consumption. The consequences could be much worse than dull lawns. “It’s unfortunate, but there is going to be a casualty to the drought, and we prefer the casualty be the lawn over the people,” he says.

If a customer exceeds their water budget too many times, the district installs a flow restrictor — a washer with a 1/16-inch hole in the center that allows just under two gallons of water per minute to go to the house.

Properties that go over their water allotment too many times have a flow restrictor installed, which is a washer with a 1/16-inch hole in the center that allows just under two gallons of water to flow per minute.

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Make It

The restrictors make customers re-prioritize their water use: “You’ll have to actually start making kind of decisions on what’s more important — watering your lawn or taking a shower — because you can’t do both at the same time with the restrictor in,” Gonzalez says.

Gonzalez approaches his work with empathy: People aren’t wasting water to be malicious. Usually, customers just pay their water bill and don’t think twice about it. It isn’t until someone like him visits their property, finds a leak and works with them to get it repaired that they realize they’re wasting water.

“It’s a win for everybody,” Gonzalez says. “Conservation-wise, it’s less wasted water, and the customer wins because their water bill will go down.”

Overall, “one of the biggest rewards for me is still the customer service aspect of it, of helping the community with what I do,” he says.

The future of water

Gonzalez also works on the Pure Water Project, an initiative that uses emerging technologies to treat recycled water for irrigation. The ultimate goal is to bring the treated water up to safe drinking standards one day.

In the mornings, Gonzalez will work in a lab to monitor the facility’s three-step filtration process, make adjustments to the system, and measure the impact of how pure the water comes out.

“Climate change has made a big difference to to how our hydrological cycle is being affected,” says Fernando Gonzalez. “You can see that animals are coming down out of the mountains into urban areas to eat because their food sources are being affected up where they normally live.”

Tristan Pelletier | CNBC Make It

Bringing in $144,000 a year as a female truck driver

Why pronouncing names correctly matters, what you can do about it

My name feels like three awkward syllables that will never quite roll off your tongue. It’s Annika, and you pronounce it by saying the name “Ann,” followed by the name “Nick” and a moment of realization: “Ah.”

Not Aw-nih-kah, Aw-nee-kah or any other iteration you might be thinking of.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to explain that to other people, only for them to butcher my name the next time we meet.

Remembering any name is hard, and it’s harder when they’re uncommon like mine, so I don’t always blame them. But I still can’t ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach I get when people I’ve corrected multiple times before get it wrong, or when someone doesn’t seem to care enough to ask me.

My name is closely tied to my identity, and mispronunciations weigh more heavily on me than most people think. There’s also the sheer embarrassment and anxiety of interrupting a conversation, work meeting or 250-person class just to correct someone — if I can gather the courage.

It’s something I wish more people could understand, or at least consider. So I decided to find out: How common is my experience with an uncommon name?

Turns out, I’m not alone in feeling this way.

It’s a shared experience full of stress and embarrassment

Before writing this, I posted on my Instagram story hoping to find one or two other people who would be comfortable talking to me about their uncommon name.

Twenty-five people reached out to share their experiences with me, and 21 of them said mispronunciations have been detrimental to them in some shape or form.

“[It] always feels embarrassing and dehumanizing, as if my name is an inconvenience for others and not important to my selfhood and identity,” Johan Alvarado, a San Francisco-based editorial assistant for HarperCollins Publishers, told me.

Sixteen people, including Alvarado, told me their name was sometimes a source of stress or anxiety. Fourteen of them specifically pointed to workplace or classroom situations.

That’s common, says Myles Durkee, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

People often perceive mispronunciations as subtle insults, put-downs or invalidations, Durkee says. And whether intentional or completely accidental, those types of microaggressions can affect a person’s mental health.

“They are stressors. Cumulatively, they have a much larger effect on individuals that can lead to negative correlations with mental health over time,” Durkee says.

Studies over the past decade point to the mental health consequences of microaggressions, including low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression.

That’s partly why some people opt for alternative ways to say their names.  

Mispronunciations can push people to opt for alternatives — with mixed results

In fourth grade, I let my class call me Aw-nee-kah for the entire school year. My teacher pronounced it that way during roll call on the first day, and I panicked internally about whether I should correct her. Instead, I sheepishly raised my hand to indicate I was there.

I decided not to correct anyone after that day. I was scared that I’d confuse them, make their day-to-day interactions with me difficult or have to correct them a dozen times more. In retrospect, I wish I’d spoken up about it.

Five people I spoke to described opting for nicknames. Shefali Raghavan, a risk audit associate in New York, sometimes shortens her name to “Shef.” It’s an easy alternative that doesn’t prompt uncomfortable questions, she says — but whenever she hears the nickname, she can’t help but feel disappointment and regret.

“I feel like I’m lowering my standards for who I am,” Raghavan says.

Some people intentionally adopt more white-sounding names, which can affect their relationship with their cultural identity. Xuenan Lily Hu, a product manager in New York, says she often chooses to go by “Lily” instead of “Xuenan,” but she doesn’t always like it.

“My Chinese name, Xuenan, is not just a label of who I am. It’s also a recognition of the culture that I come from,” Hu says. “When I choose to go by Lily instead, it makes me feel like I let go of that part of my identity to settle comfortably in conformity.”

So why do it? Convenience, both for others and yourself — saving the energy it takes to repeatedly correct the people around you.

What you can do to help the people around you

Why you should stop overthinking and start taking risks, according to this CEO

NASA launches Artemis 1 moon mission

It’s launch day for NASA, again.

The space agency is aiming to launch its Artemis I moon mission in the early hours of Wednesday morning, after technical issues delayed previous attempts over the last three months.

The agency’s towering Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule are scheduled to lift off during a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:04 a.m. ET. If successful, the Artemis I mission would last 26 days in total before Orion returns to Earth.

The uncrewed launch marks the debut of the most powerful rocket ever assembled and kicks off NASA’s long-awaited return to the moon’s surface. It’s the first mission in NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which the agency hopes will lead to landing astronauts on the moon by its third mission in 2025.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule stand in preparation to launch at LC-39B of Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on Nov. 13, 2022.

While Artemis I will not carry astronauts, nor land on the moon, the mission is critical to demonstrating that NASA’s monster rocket and deep space capsule can deliver on their promised abilities.

Artemis I is five years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. More than $40 billion has already been spent on the program, much of that toward SLS and Orion’s development. The system comes with a per-launch price tag of $4.1 billion.

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NASA first tried to launch Artemis I in August but has called off multiple attempts since then after discovering technical problems with the rocket’s engines.

In September the agency rolled the rocket back into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for protection from Hurricane Ian, returning the vehicle to the LC-39B launchpad on Nov. 3.

NASA last week left SLS and Orion out on the launchpad to weather the winds of Hurricane Nicole.

NASA said it checked the rocket and spacecraft after the storm passed and found no major damage to the vehicle. It said a 10-foot section of insulation near the Orion capsule had pulled away due to the high winds – but NASA decided to proceed with Wednesday’s launch attempt after an analysis showed it is not expected to cause any significant damage if the insulation falls off during the launch.

If needed, NASA has a back-up launch date scheduled for Nov. 19.

NASA rolls out its most powerful rocket ever

The top 10 most-regretted college majors

This is the best job market for new college grads this century, says Purdue University president

Even with college application season in full swing, many families are questioning whether a four-year degree is still worth it. 

Some experts say the value of a bachelor’s degree is fading and more emphasis should be directed toward career training. A growing number of companies, including many in tech, are also dropping degree requirements for many middle-skill and even higher-skill roles.

However, earning a degree is almost always worthwhile, according to “The College Payoff,” a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

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Bachelor’s degree holders generally earn 84% more than those with just a high school diploma, the report said — and the higher the level of educational attainment, the larger the payoff.

When broken down by areas of study, however, the difference is striking. Students who pursue a major specifically in science, technology, engineering and math — collectively known as STEM disciplines — are projected to earn the most overall.

In addition to STEM, health and business majors are among the highest-paying, leading to average annual wages that are higher at the entry level and significantly greater over the course of a career compared with liberal arts and humanities majors, the Georgetown Center found.

10 most-regretted majors: After graduation, ‘reality hits’

Still, 44% of all job seekers with college degrees regret their field of study.

Journalism, sociology, communications and education all topped the list of most-regretted college majors, according to ZipRecruiter’s survey of more than 1,500 college graduates who were looking for a job.

Although students may be drawn to those fields while they’re in school for reasons beyond salary and job security, “when we graduate, reality hits,” said Sinem Buber, ZipRecruiter’s lead economist.

“When you are barely managing to pay your bills, your paycheck might become more important.”

Of graduates who regretted their major, most said that, if they could go back, they would now choose computer science or business administration instead.

Good prospects, higher pay means less regret

Computer science majors, with an average annual starting salary of almost $100,000, were the happiest overall, according to ZipRecruiter.

Students who majored in criminology, engineering, nursing, business and finance also felt very good about their choices.

Career outcome sets the tone, said Buber. “Pay is still most important,” she said, but “job security is now becoming more important. That happens whenever we have the fear of a recession.”

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Record revenue, added contract wins

An Electron rocket launches from the company’s New Zealand facility on Nov. 4, 2022.

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab delivered quarterly results on Wednesday that boasted record revenue, with the space company tacking on additional contract wins across its business.

“The quarter ended strongly for Rocket Lab,” CEO Peter Beck said on the company’s conference call with investors.

The company reported third-quarter revenue of $63.1 million, up 14% from the second quarter, with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $6.9 million – which was 62% lower than the third quarter a year ago. It had $333.3 million in cash on hand at the quarter’s end.

Rocket Lab stock is down 61% this year as of Wednesday’s close of $4.74 a share.

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The space venture conducted three successful Electron rocket missions from its New Zealand facility during the quarter, bringing in $23 million in revenue. Rocket Lab has completed a company record of nine launches so far this year.

It expects to complete the first Electron launch from the U.S., a long-awaited mission from NASA’s Wallops facility in Virginia, in December after receiving a key certification from the space agency. That flight will launch satellites for HawkEye 360, the first of three launches contracted through Rocket Lab to deliver 15 satellites to orbit.

The company also expects to conduct a second Electron launch from Virginia within “weeks” of the first, for “an undisclosed satellite constellation operator.”

Rocket Lab’s broader Space Systems division brought in $40.1 million in revenue during the period. The spacecraft and components business won a number of contracts during the third quarter as well.

The company expanded on an existing contract with space company MDA, to support the Globalstar constellation that is being heavily utilized by Apple for iPhone satellite connectivity – with Rocket Lab building spacecraft, solar panels and radios. It will also operate a spacecraft control center as part of the agreement.

The company also won a pair of contracts worth $14 million to provide satellite separation systems for satellites being built by two companies for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, as well as a U.S. Space Force contract to supply solar power for three missile-warning satellites.

Additionally, Rocket Lab signed a research agreement with the Pentagon’s United States Transport Command to “explore cargo transport use” with its rockets.

Rocket Lab has begun production of the hardware for its forthcoming, larger Neutron rocket. Given needed research and development spending, Rocket Lab CFO Adam Spice said that “achieving and sustaining profitability can really only happen once we’ve gotten the majority” of work on Neutron completed. The rocket is expected to debut in 2024.

Beck emphasized on the call how work to reuse its existing Electron rockets will help make the next-generation vehicle successful.

“I wouldn’t be wanting to develop a reusable rocket without having all of this knowledge and experience of reentering launch vehicles,” Beck said.

The company forecast lower revenue for the fourth quarter, guiding to a range of $51 million to $54 million, citing an unspecified customer launch that was delayed to 2023.

Spice noted that Rocket Lab expects to conduct about 14 Electron launches next year.

Aerospace talent is a massive problem unless we do something, says Rocket Labs CEO

Experts weigh in on omicron Covid booster protection against variants

If you’ve received a new omicron-specific Covid booster, you’re the most protected you possibly can be against the virus.

But there’s a new batch of so-called “Scrabble” variants circulating globally. While omicron’s BA.5 subvariant still accounts for nearly 40% of U.S. Covid cases, strains like BQ.1, BQ.1.1 and BA.4.6 are rising each week, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The new strains present an uncomfortable question: Are the new bivalent boosters still worth getting, or has the virus already outmaneuvered them?

“A booster is a booster,” Dr. Roy Gulick, chief of the division of infectious disease at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, tells CNBC Make It. “What about all these new Scrabble variants? The message remains the same: Get boosted, provoke your immune system to make a good response to the virus.”

The emerging strains are new enough that booster-shot-protection data doesn’t yet exist for them. But experts still expect the shots to ramp up your immunity against all Covid variants, to some degree.

Here’s why, and what else you need to know.

The Scrabble variants are descendants of omicron

Previous boosters appear to provide some protection still

Why you should stop overthinking and start taking risks, according to this CEO

Visiting Helion Energy when the Seattle region was cloaked in smoke

Cat Clifford, CNBC climate tech and innovation reporter, at Helion Energy on October 20.

Photo taken by Jessie Barton, communications for Helion Energy, with Cat Clifford’s camera.

On Thursday, October 20, I took a reporting trip to Everett, Wash., to visit Helion Energy, a fusion startup that has raised raised nearly $600 million from a slew of relatively well known Silicon Valley investors, including Peter Thiel and Sam Altman. It’s got another $1.7 billion in commitments if it hits certain performance targets.

Because nuclear fusion has the potential to make limitless quantities of clean energy without generating any long-lasting nuclear waste, it’s often called the “holy grail” of clean energy. The holy grail remains elusive, however, because recreating fusion on earth in a way that generates more energy that is required to ignite the reaction and can be sustained for an extended period of time has so far remained unattainable. If we could only manage to commercialize fusion here on earth and at scale, all our energy woes would be solved, fusion proponents say. 

Fusion has also been on the horizon for decades, just out of reach, seemingly firmly entrenched in a techno-utopia that exists only in science fiction fantasy novels.

David Kirtley (left), a co-founder and the CEO at Helion, and Chris Pihl, a co-founder and the chief technology officer at Helion.

Photo courtesy Cat Clifford, CNBC.

But visiting Helion Energy’s enormous workspace and lab pulled the idea of fusion out of the completely fantastical and into the potentially real for me. Of course, “potentially real” doesn’t mean that fusion will be a commercially viable energy source powering your home and my computer next year. But it no longer feels like flying a spaceship to Pluto.

As I walked through the massive Helion Energy buildings in Everett, one fully operational and one still under construction, I was struck by how workaday everything looked. Construction equipment, machinery, power cords, workbenches, and countless spaceship-looking component parts are everywhere. Plans are being executed. Wildly foreign-looking machines are being constructed and tested.

The Helion Energy building under construction to house their next generation fusion machine. The smokey atmosphere is visible.

Photo courtesy Cat Clifford, CNBC.

For the employees of Helion Energy, building a fusion device is their job. Going to the office every day means putting part A into Part B and into part C, fiddling with those parts, testing them, and then putting them with more parts, testing those, taking those parts apart maybe when something doesn’t work right, and then putting it back together again until it does. And then moving to Part D and Part E.

The date of my visit is relevant to this story, too, because it added a second layer of strange-becomes-real to my reporting trip. 

On October 20, the Seattle Everett region was blanketed in dangerous levels of wildfire smoke. The air quality index for Everett was 254, making it the worst air quality in the world at that time, according to IQAir.

Helion Energy’s building under construction to house the seventh generation fusion machine on a day when wildfire smoke was not restricting visibility.

Photo courtesy Helion Energy

“Several wildfires burning in the north Cascades were fueled by warm, dry, and windy weather conditions. Easterly winds flared the fires as well as drove the resulting smoke westwards towards Everett and the Seattle region,” Christi Chester Schroeder, the Air Quality Science Manager at IQAir North America, told me.

Global warming is helping to fuel those fires, Denise L. Mauzerall, a professor of environmental engineering and international affairs at Princeton, told me.

“Climate change has contributed to the high temperatures and dry conditions that have prevailed in the Pacific Northwest this year,” Mauzerall said. “These weather conditions, exacerbated by climate change, have increased the likelihood and severity of the fires which are responsible for the extremely poor air quality.”

It was so bad that Helion had told all of its employees to stay home for the first time ever. Management deemed it too dangerous to ask them to leave their houses.

The circumstances of my visit set up an uncomfortable battle. On the one hand, I had a newfound sense of hope about the possibility of fusion energy. At same time, I was wrestling internally with a deep sense of dread about the state of the world.

I wasn’t alone in feeling the weight of the moment. “It is very unusual,” Chris Pihl, a co-founder and the chief technology officer at Helion, said about the smoke.

Pihl has worked on fusion for nearly two decades now. He’s seen it evolve from the realm of physicist academics to a field followed closely by reporters and collecting billions in investments. People working on fusion have become the cool kids, the underdog heroes. As we collectively blow past any realistic hope of staying within the targeted 1.5 degrees of warming and as global energy demand continues to rise, fusion is the home run that sometimes feels like the only solution.

“It’s less of a academic pursuit, an  altruistic pursuit, and it’s turning into more of a survival game at this point I think, with the way things are going,” Pihl told me, as we sat in the empty Helion offices looking out at a wall of gray smoke. “So it’s necessary. And I am glad it is getting attention.”

How Helion’s technology works

Cat Clifford, CNBC climate tech and innovation reporter, at Helion Energy on October 20. Polaris, Helion’s seventh prototype, will be housed here.

Photo taken by Jessie Barton, communications for Helion Energy, with Cat Clifford’s camera.

Some of the feasibility of getting fusion energy to the electricity grid in the United States depends on factors Helion can’t control — establishing regulatory processes with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and licensing processes to get required grid interconnect approvals, a process which Kirtley has been told can range from a few years to as much as ten years. Because there are so many regulatory hurdles necessary to get fusion hooked into the grid, Kirtley said he expects their first paying customers are likely to be private customers, like technology companies that have power hungry data centers, for example. Working with utility companies will take longer.

One part of the Polaris system that looks perhaps the most otherworldly for a non fusion expert (like me) the Polaris Injector Test, which is how the fuel for the fusion reactor will get into the device.

Arguably the best-known fusion method involves a tokamak, a donut-shaped device that uses super powerful magnets to hold the plasma where the fusion reaction can occur. An international collaborative fusion project, called ITER (“the way” in Latin), is building a massive tokamak in Southern France to prove the viability of fusion.

Helion is not building a tokamak. It is building a long narrow device called a Field Reversed Configuration, or FRC, and the next version will be about 60 feet long.

The fuel is injected in short tiny bursts at both ends of the device and an electric current flowing in a loop confines the plasma. The magnets fire sequentially in pulses, sending the plasmas at both ends shooting towards each other at a velocity greater than one million miles per hour. The plasmas smash into each other in the central fusion chamber where they merge to become a superhot dense plasma that reaches 100 million degrees Celsius. This is where fusion occurs, generating new energy. The magnetic coils that facilitate the plasma compression also recover the energy that is generated. Some of that energy is recycled and used to recharge the capacitors that originally powered the reaction. The additional extra energy is electricity that can be used.  

This is the Polaris Injector Test, where Helion Energy is building a component piece of the seventh generation fusion machine. There will be one of these on each side of the fusion device and this is where the fuel will get into the machine.

Photo courtesy Cat Clifford, CNBC.

Kirtley compares the pulsing of their fusion machine to a piston.

“You compress your fuel, it burns very hot and very intensely, but only for a little bit. And the amount of heat released in that little pulse is more than a large bonfire that’s on all the time,” he told me. “And because it’s a pulse, because it’s just one little high intensity pulse, you can make those engines much more compact, much smaller,” which is important for keeping costs down.

The idea is actually not new. It was theorized in the 1950s and 60s, Kirtley said. But it was not possible to execute until modern transistors and semiconductors were developed. Both Pihl and Kirtley looked at fusion earlier in their careers and weren’t convinced it was economically viable until they came to this FRC design. 

Another moat to cross: This design does use a fuel that is very rare. The fuel for Helion’s approach is deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen that is fairly easy to find, and helium three, which is a very rare type of helium with one extra neutron.

“We used to have to say that you had to go into outer space to get helium three because it was so rare,” Kritley said. To enable their fusion machine to be scaled up, Helion is also developing a way to make helium three with fusion.

A dose of hope

There is no question that Helion has a lot of steps and processes and regulatory hurdles before it can bring unlimited clean energy to the world, as it aims to do. But the way it feels to walk around an enormous wide-open lab facility — with some of the largest ceiling fans I have ever seen — it seems possible in a way that I hadn’t ever felt before. Walking back out into the smoke that day, I was so grateful to have that dose of hope.

But most people were not touring the Helion Energy lab on that day. Most people were sitting stuck inside, or putting themselves at risk outside, unable to see the horizon, unable to see a future where building a fusion machine is a job that is being executed like a mechanic working in a garage. I asked Kirtley about the battling feeling I had of despair at the smoke and hope at the fusion parts being assembled.

“The cognitive dissonance of sometimes what we see out in the world, and what we get to build here is pretty extreme,” Kirtley said.

“Twenty years ago, we were less optimistic about fusion.” But now, his eyes glow as he walks me around the lab. “I get very excited. I get very — you can tell — I get very energized.”

Other young scientists are also excited about fusion too. At the beginning of the week when I visited, Kirtley was at the American Physics Society Department of Plasma Physics conference giving a talk.

“At the end of my talk, I walked out and there were 30 or 40 people that came with me, and in the hallway, we just talked for an hour and a half about the industry,” he said. “The excitement was huge. And a lot of it was with younger engineers and scientists that are either grad students or postdocs, or in the first 10 years of their career, that are really excited about what private industry is doing.”

The race is on to replicate the power of the sun with fusion energy

Magic mushroom compound psilocybin can help treat depression, study finds

The naturally occurring psychedelic compound psilocybin can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, according to data from the largest trial of its type ever conducted.

David Buzzard – / Getty Images

LONDON — The naturally occurring psychedelic compound psilocybin can significantly reduce symptoms of depression, according to data from the largest trial of its type ever conducted.

Psilocybin was given to 233 patients who had already tried at least two antidepressants in the past with little success, suggesting the compound could have huge benefits for those suffering with hard-to-treat depression.

After receiving the psilocybin, patients entered a “walking dream-like” state for between four and six hours and then left the clinic once they had returned to their normal state.

The trial found that a 25mg dose of psilocybin, given alongside psychological support, triggered a reduction in levels of depression three weeks after treatment.

Magic mushrooms may help cure addiction

The study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was carried out internationally by London-based COMPASS Pathways.

Around 100 million people worldwide suffer with depression that is resistant to treatment, and so the findings of the study are a step in the right direction, according to James Rucker, consultant psychiatrist and senior clinical lecturer at King’s College London, who was involved in the study.

“Our task now is to investigate psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression in larger trials with more participants, comparing it both to placebo and to established treatments,” Rucker said, according to a King’s College London press release. 

The drugs were trialed in doses of 1mg, 10mg and 25mg and adverse effects recorded across all groups included headaches, nausea and thoughts around suicide.

There was not, however, an equal number of “severely depressed” participants in each dosage group, according to Ravi Das, an associate professor at the University College London Institute of Mental Health, which “does not appear to be acknowledged in the paper,” as reported by Reuters.

Critics have also expressed concern that this could lead to a rise in usage of magic mushrooms in non-pharmaceutical settings.

There are 8 types of ‘difficult’ people—and the ‘passive-aggressive’ is the worst of all: Harvard expert

Having to work with frustrating people is simply part of life. You can’t escape them. But you also don’t have to grin and bear the stress as if you have no choice.

While researching for my new book, “Getting Along,” I identified eight types of difficult people. The first step to effectively handling these frustrating colleagues is to know exactly what kind of person you’re dealing with.

The 8 types of difficult people

The Passive-Aggressive

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2. The Insecure Boss might be a micromanager who drives you up a wall with incessant nitpicking. Or they might be a paranoid meddler who makes you question your every move. They may even intentionally hurt your career if they perceive you as a threat.

The Insecure Boss

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3. The Pessimist constantly points out all the ways something can fail. It sometimes seems like they can never find anything positive to say.

The Pessimist

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4. The Victim is a type of pessimist who feels like everyone is out to get them. They don’t take accountability for their actions, and they’ll quickly point their fingers at other people when things go wrong. 

The Victim

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5. The Know-It-All is convinced that they’re the smartest person in the room, hogs airtime, and has no qualms about interrupting others. They gleefully inform you of what’s right, even if they’re clearly wrong. 

The Know-It-All

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6. The Tormentor is someone who has earned their way to the top, typically making sacrifices along the path — only to mistreat others below them. They might be a senior colleague who you expect to be a mentor, but who ends up making your life miserable instead.

The Tormentor

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7. The Biased knowingly or unknowingly commits microaggressions. No matter what they think their intention is with these comments, their behavior is inappropriate and harmful.

The Biased

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8. The Political Operator is laser focused on advancing their own career — but at your expense. Of course, engaging in office politics is often unavoidable, but this person is fixated on getting ahead and has a take-no-prisoners approach to doing so.

The Political Operator

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How to handle passive-aggressive behavior at work

Passive aggression is one of the most frustrating behaviors I see in offices because it can be so hard to pin down and ultimately fix.

But there are some tips you can use to nudge your colleague to interact with you in a more productive, straightforward way.

1. Don’t label them as “passive-aggressive.”

Don’t label them as “passive-aggressive.”

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“Stop being so passive aggressive!” is a loaded phrase that will only make things worse. I’d be shocked if your colleague said, “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll stop.”

It’s more likely that this request would make them even more angry and defensive, which will stop any sort of positive communication in its tracks.

2. Focus on the content, not the delivery.

Focus on the real concern or question hidden behind the snarky comments.

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Before reacting to a passive aggressive comment, ask yourself: What is the underlying idea they’re attempting to convey? Do they think that the way you’re running a project isn’t working? Or do they disagree with the team’s goals?

If you can focus on the real concern or question hidden beneath that snarky comment, you can find a way address the actual problem in a way that works for everyone.

3. Figure out what the other person cares about.

Do some “hypothesis testing.”

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Call attention to what’s happening.

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