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The Mur de la Paix
The Mur de la Paix
Tori Otten

PARIS Le masculin l'emporte. In the French language, this is the idea that "the masculine form takes precedence" over the feminine form when matching an adjective or pronoun to a plural noun. If there is a group of women, adding just one man to the mix means that all words used to describe that group are accorded as masculine.

This has not always been the case. Until the 17th century, adjectives were matched to whichever noun was closest in the sentence structure, regardless of gender. But as the French High Council for Equality Between Men and Women (HCE) points out, in a piece by French daily Le Monde, language is always bound to be loaded. "It's precisely because language is political that the French language has for centuries been deliberately turned towards the masculine by groups who oppose gender equality," the HCE wrote in its 2015 guide to "communicating without gender stereotypes."

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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