Today brings many fresh starts: It’s the first day of school here in Boston, and kids celebrated a new year with freshly sharpened pencils and three-ring binders, ready to be filled.
In India, the high court struck down a 150-year-old law that criminalized same-sex relationships, specifically citing the need for laws that include everyone. (Our Africa correspondent, Ryan Lenora Brown, has written about similar efforts by LGBTQ activists to strike down colonial laws in Kenya.)
“The ideals and objectives enshrined in our benevolent Constitution can be achieved only when each and every individual is empowered and enabled to participate in the social mainstream and in the journey towards achieving equality in all spheres...,” the Supreme Court of India wrote. “All human beings possess the equal right to be themselves....”
In another vote for inclusion, British astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was awarded the Breakthrough Prize for her work on the discovery of pulsars. Professor Bell Burnell says she first spotted them because she was grappling with “imposter syndrome” – the idea that she didn’t belong – as a student at Cambridge University in 1974, and as a result was working as hard as she could not to get expelled. Her male professor initially dismissed her findings as radio waves. He was awarded the Nobel Prize; Bell Burnell’s name was left off.
She’s giving the $3 million away to help minorities, women, and other underrepresented groups in the field of physics break through themselves.
“So I have this hunch that minority folks bring a fresh angle on a lot of things and that is often a very productive thing,” Bell Burnell told the BBC. “In general, a lot of breakthroughs come from left field.”
Now for our five stories of the day.