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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The twin goals of decarbonizing energy while expanding global access warrant a new academic discipline to create a "common umbrella" for work scattered across multiple fields, a new Stanford-led paper argues.

Why it matters: The commentary published in the journal Joule is a recognition of the immensity and complexity of the challenges and the "considerable uncertainty about the best way to undertake them."

  • The researchers are trying to launch the unified field and have started planning a workshop on the topic.

The big picture: They propose a discipline called "macro-energy systems" that focuses on the "large-scale, systems-level, long-term aspects of sustainable energy planning."

  • "Co-analysis of economic, engineering, environmental, and social factors is often critical for answering societal-scale questions," the commentary states.
  • "As a result, this discipline combines methods from many fields spanning the natural, social, and engineering sciences."

What they found: The paper says pulling together this scattered work, much of which began decades ago, would have several benefits under the "macro energy systems" umbrella, such as avoiding redundant efforts and establishing accepted methodologies.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
10 mins ago - Health

America’s biggest hospitals vs. their patients

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

More than a quarter of the 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest revenue sued patients over unpaid medical bills between 2018 and mid-2020, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report suggests that, rather than being an anomaly, patient lawsuits are relatively common across the country and among the largest providers.

11 mins ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The next big social network: Nextdoor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nextdoor, the neighborhood social network, has seen explosive growth over the past two years as homebound users became more fixated on what was happening on a hyper-local level.

Why it matters: Such rapid growth comes with challenges. What was once a niche social network is now so popular that it's grappling with some of the same thorny problems plaguing Facebook and Twitter, such as content moderation.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

American men plead guilty to helping former Nissan chair escape Japan

Carlos Ghosn, former Nissan chair, during a news conference in Jounieh, Lebanon, last September. Photo: Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans Michael Taylor and Peter Taylor pleaded guilty in a Tokyo court Monday to helping former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn escape Japan in a box aboard a plane in 2019, per the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: Ghosn was awaiting trial in Tokyo on financial misconduct charges following his 2018 arrest when he fled to Lebanon. He denies any wrongdoing.