This year’s election comes at a pivotal time in US history. In fact, it’s so important, one citizen is casting her ballot all the way from space. On election day, astronaut Kate Rubins will cast her ballot from the International Space Station 200 miles above the Earth.
“We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space,” Rubins told the Associated Press. She was the first person to sequence DNA in space and will be completing a six-month mission on the International Space Station in November. After casting her vote, Rubins’ ballot will be forwarded electronically from Mission Control in Houston with her address listed as “low-Earth orbit.”
The first American ballot was cast from space by John Blaha in 1996 who was serving on Russia’s Mir Space Station. Since the construction of the International Space Station, astronauts have been spending more extended periods of time in space, making offering voting abilities above the atmosphere more critical.
The final date to register to vote in most US states is in October. If Rubins can cast her ballot from space, you can sure do it from Earth!
Image Source: NASA
In a world where seemingly everything is trying to grab your attention, it’s not uncommon to feel tired and out of focus during the day.
If this sounds relatable, we have seven lifestyle strategies that can help you regain your energy and mental clarity. These strategies come from two integrative health experts: Harvard-trained physician Robert E. Graham and Chicago-based dietician Taylor Wolfram.
Plantify your diet: A plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds will give you sustained energy all day. And since 80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut, you want to give your gut what it thrives on, namely fiber, which you can only find in plants.
Water your body: Dehydration can impair cognitive functioning and even cause fatigue. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Rethink your meals: Instead of having the usual three meals a day, Graham believes it’s better to eat “large snacks” every few hours to help you sustain energy throughout the day.
Get active outdoors: When you exercise, you increased the flow of oxygen in your body, which energizes you. And while you’re at it, take your workout outdoors and connect to nature.
Power up with a nap: While you shouldn’t take a long nap, Graham says a nap between 10 and 15 minutes can help you recharge during the day. Just make sure not to nap after 4 pm as it might disturb your chances of good sleep.
Set up a stress plan: You can’t completely escape stress, which is why it’s good to have a stress plan to curb how it affects you. Wolfram suggests making a list of your stressors and categorizing them as “unavoidable” or “avoidable.” Focus on the “avoidable” list and see where you can cut back. Now look at the ones you deemed unavoidable and determine if they really are such, examining where you might be able to decrease stress in those areas, too. Then get a daily self-care routine in place, which might mean yoga, journaling, or taking a walk with a friend.
Build your happiness muscle: The left frontal lobe is known for being the place where “happiness sits”, but it’s also the same area that controls focus and energy. That’s why Graham believes it’s so important to find things that make you happy: When you feel happy, it can give you a boost of energy.
While we may not be able to get rid of the foul smell coming from garbage trucks, we can get rid of the smelly exhaust fumes coming out of their tailpipes. And that’s exactly what New York City is trying to do by testing its first all-electric garbage truck on the streets of Brooklyn.
“This is an environmental justice issue and a quality-of-life issue,” says Joshua Goodman, a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Sanitation, explaining that electrifying heavy equipment is key to reaching the city’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, as well as reducing air pollution that’s linked to thousands of premature deaths in the city every year.
For the pilot, the city is testing the new LR Electric refuse truck from Mack, seeing how it performs on a typical 12-hour route through 20-25 miles of busy streets. As Fast Company reports, electrifying garbage collection actually makes a lot of sense: Not only they work particularly well at low speeds, thus conserving energy, but they can also charge their batteries from their constant starts and stops — a process called regenerative braking.
For now, the vehicles may cost more than their diesel-powered counterparts, but they’re cheaper to operate, with the electricity required to run the vehicle being cheaper than the equivalent amount of diesel fuel, and maintenance costs are also lower.
Electric garbage trucks have been in development for several years, but as cities step up climate commitments and battery costs continue to drop, our garbage collection systems may undergo the electric revolution sooner than previously thought.
From boosting morale to reducing levels of stress, sharing a home with an animal friend can go a long way in improving your overall mental health — especially during times of lockdown.
At least, that’s what a recent survey from the University of York has found, after researching the relationship between pet ownership and psychological wellbeing during COVID-19 lockdowns. The results showed that owning a pet was associated with an improved state of mental health and decreased levels of loneliness, no matter the animal’s species.
For the study, the researchers surveyed almost 6,000 people in the UK and found that owning a pet appeared to act as a buffer against psychological stress during the pandemic lockdown.
“We also discovered in this study that, the strength of the emotional bond with pets did not statistically differ by animal species, meaning that people in our sample felt on average as emotionally close to, for example, their guinea pig as they felt to their dog,” said Elena Ratschen, the study’s lead author.
Initially, animals such as horses, dogs, and cats scored slightly higher on the survey’s Comfort from Companion Animals Scale (CCA), after adjusting for other factors, the strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly. This means that whether it’s the loyal companionship of a reptile, a guinea pig, a dog, or a cat, sharing a home with a pet can do wonders for you in difficult times.
In true Shakespearean style, two Italians began a romantic story this year from their respective balconies during the coronavirus lockdown. And it all took place in Verona — the same city where “Romeo and Juliet” took place. But unlike Shakespeare’s classic tale, this pandemic love story doesn’t have a sad ending as the Covid-19 sweethearts are now engaged to be married.
The story starts in mid-March when Michele D’Alpaos, 38, first saw Paola Agnelli from his window. Agnelli stood directly across from him on her sixth-floor balcony while her sister performed a violin rendition of “We Are The Champions” as part of a nightly musical performance, intended to uplift the quarantined neighborhood.
D’Alpaos wanted to talk to her, but he didn’t have a way to contact her. Fortunately for him, his sister had met Agnelli at the gym before the lockdown and gave him Agnelli’s name. When he found her on Instagram, he made himself an account and reached out to her.
“When he contacted me, I was happy, but I didn’t want to deceive myself,” said Agnelli. But to her surprise, the conversation stretched past 3 AM, which led them to have daily contact via the phone for the following 10 weeks. At one point, D’Alpaos even hung an old bedsheet with “Paola” emblazoned in big, bold bubble letters from his balcony to put his love on full display.
Then, in early May, the two finally got to meet in a local park where, at long last, they removed their masks to share a kiss. After a powerful start to their relationship and meeting each other’s families, the couple has decided they want to spend the rest of their lives together.
Lockdowns across the world led to difficult living situations, especially in cities, but at the very least it’s beautiful to see a rather unique love story come out of it.
Namatjira’s piece was chosen from 1,068 entries and depicts retired Australian footballer Adam Goodes. Namatjira’s work frequently takes on political and social issue themes and in addition to his athleticism, Goodes is well known for his anti-racism activism.
The two met in 2018 and Namatjira was inspired to paint him after being moved by his 2019 documentary, The Final Quarter, detailing his experiences of racism on and off the field. “We share some similar stories and experiences—of disconnection from culture, language and country, and the constant pressures of being an Aboriginal man in this country,” said Namatjira.
As the first indigenous person to win this prestigious prize, Namatjira has broken down barriers in the world of fine art where artists of color are often underrepresented and under-acknowledged for their work. In his acceptance speech, he said, “It only took 99 years. I’m so proud to be the first but I also have to acknowledge all the Indigenous finalists and Indigenous sitters for this year and past years.”
The pandemic has fueled a rise in takeout orders from restaurants. Ordering to-go is a great way to safely support your favorite local businesses during shutdowns, but the rise in single-use takeout containers is increasing pollution across the globe. A new startup, Dispatch Goods, aims to loop takeout into the circular economy with zero-waste to-go containers.
Started last year in San Francisco, Dispatch Goods started by partnering with tech companies and local businesses to form a circular relationship. Dispatch Goods provided the reusable metal containers, restaurants served food in them to participating offices, and employees left the containers in a designated drop off bin in their building for collection and reuse.
Now, the company is expanding and working with food delivery companies to provide their circular service to homes and apartments. In their pilot program with DoorDash and Square Pie Guys, a local pizza restaurant, customers simply select the reusable container option at checkout, pay a small fee, and leave the empty containers out for recollection by DoorDash once they’re done eating.
Founder Lindsey Hoell came up with the idea for the startup when visiting a beach in Hawaii littered with microplastics. She believes that the company can become profitable with just 1000 orders per month in any given San Francisco neighborhood. So far, participation rates in the pilot program are exceeding expectations.
Customers and chefs alike are loving the program not only because it reduces waste, but also because it presents food in a more appealing container. Compostable to-go containers are more expensive than washing a dish, so restaurants are lining up to join Dispatch Goods for the financial benefits too.
When it comes to circularity, implementing reusable practices in restaurants is highly effective because the predominant customer base is within a given small radius of any local restaurant. The close connection between restaurants and their customers makes it easy to bring circular practices into the community. We are excited to see Dispatch Goods expand their services to more cities and hopefully order pizza in a reusable box in the near future!
Image Source: Dispatch Goods
The cement used to construct concrete sewerage systems around the world does a mighty job of helping wash away our waste but does have its shortcomings.
Scientists in Australia have developed a new cement-free solution they say is better equipped to handle the corrosive nature of these environments, while also helping avoid the buildup of troublesome and costly fatbergs. The new cement-free concrete was developed by scientists at Australia’s RMIT University, where we have seen a number of innovative approaches to producing enhanced forms of concrete. These include re-using steel slag as a concrete aggregate and working building rubble into new types of road materials, and now RMIT scientists are turning their attention to the free lime.
Free lime is a chemical compound used in large amounts in the production of common Portland cement but also makes it vulnerable to corrosion in the highly acidic environments of sewerage systems. Furthermore, residual lime can bleed out of the concrete and contribute to fatbergs, the greasy masses of oil, fat and non-biodegradable matter that can grow to weigh several tonnes and clog up pipes.
The RMIT researchers went a different way to produce cement-free concrete by largely using by-products of the manufacturing industry, combining nano-silica with fly ash, slag, and hydrated lime. In testing, the team found its concrete surpassed the strength standards required of sewage pipes, with the unique blend significantly improving longevity.
“Our zero-cement concrete achieves multiple benefits: it’s environmentally friendly, reduces concrete corrosion by 96 percent, and totally eliminates residual lime that is instrumental in the formation of fatbergs,” said Dr. Rajeev Roychand, who led the research.
At the moment, doctors can only diagnose Parkinson’s disease after symptoms occur. That’s a problem considering the damage has already been done by the time symptoms show up.
But there is good news: University of Pennsylvania scientists have discovered a new way to identify alpha-synuclein, the hallmark protein of Parkinson’s. By uncovering a technique for identifying these proteins within the body, it could allow scientists to diagnose Parkinson’s before symptoms arise.
In the study, scientists used an imaging technique called Positron emission tomography (PET) to see inside the body. PET works by using radioactive molecules as tracers for imaging different tissues. After years of working with the technique and testing nearly 7 million potential compounds that could indicate alpha-synuclein, the researchers have found two that have a high binding rate to the protein.
With this knowledge, scientists could design ways to diagnose Parkinson’s in patients before symptoms occur. Additionally, the new process could also allow them to quickly design and discover molecules for other neurodegenerative disorders, too.
Tel Aviv is on its way to becoming home to the first electric road in the world that would enable electric vehicles to charge while on the go.
The initiative is the result of a partnership between the municipality of Tel Aviv and a company called ElectReon, which has launched a pilot project to install wireless electric roads for charging public transportation in the city. The aim is to install an underground electric system that can charge electric vehicles while they are moving.
As part of the pilot, ElectReon installed a set of copper coils underneath the road, while outfitting the vehicles with receivers that connect them to energy flowing beneath the road. “Energy is transferred from the electricity grid to the road infrastructure and manages communication with the approaching vehicles,” the company explains on its website.
The first-of-its-kind pilot will be carried out on roads that span from Tel Aviv University Railway station to Klatzkin Terminal in Ramat Aviv, a route of about 1.2 miles, including the electric road itself that’s little less than half a mile.
According to the city’s mayor Ron Huldai, if the pilot is successful, the city will consider expanding and using the electric roads to more sections in the city. “Our strategic action plan to prepare for climate change has placed the fight against pollution at the top of the municipality’s environmental agenda.”
The technology’s testing and integration are expected to take about two months, after which an electric bus will commence regular journeys on the route, serving passengers traveling to and from Tel Aviv University.