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Future

Has A 20-Year-Old Found A Cheap Way To Clean The Planet's Oceans?

Dutch aerospace student Boyan Slat, 20, has an idea that could conceivably remove millions of tons of toxic trash from the world's waters. It even has a revenue model. But will it work?

Boyan Slat next to a drawing of his Ocean Cleanup project
Boyan Slat next to a drawing of his Ocean Cleanup project
Josephine Pabst

BERLIN — Twenty-year-old Boyan Slat studies aerospace engineering in the Netherlands, enjoys diving, doesn't bother much with haircuts, and prefers to spend his vacations in Greece. A fairly normal profile for a European student.

But in one crucial respect, Slat differs from thousands of his peers: He has an idea that 100 scientists worldwide find convincing — indeed some of them regard it as groundbreaking — and that could save billions, if it works.

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Geopolitics

Fall Of The Empire? Ethnic Separatism On The Rise In Russia

Far from being a unified state, Russia is full of federal subjects — many of which have spawned separatist movements. Moscow, far from Siberia or the Caucasus and focused on Ukraine, is finding it harder to contain them.

Kalmyks attend the unveiling ceremony of a Buddha statue in Kalmykia, Russia

Pavel Lysyansky

They began to show up more and more in 2019: people were displaying symbols of separatism at protests in different regions of Russia. One example that marked this movement were the flags of the Ural People's Republic at protests during the spring of 2019 against the construction of a temple in Yekaterinburg, the industrial city in the Ural mountains 1,100 miles east of Moscow.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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