OPod Tube Housing system

Posted: January 18, 2018 in Uncategorized
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A Hong Kong architect has invented what he believed to be the solution of overcrowded cities by turning concrete water pipes into tiny homes.

The OPod Tube Housing system aims to re-purpose concrete tubes measuring just over eight feet in diameter, and turn them into ‘micro-homes’ with 100 square feet of living space.

It is the brainchild of architect James Law of James Law Cybertecture who designed the build as a possible solution to the lack of both space and affordable housing in Hong Kong.

The tubes are designed to accommodate one or two people and are equipped with the standard amenities, including a living room with a bench that converts into a bed, a mini-fridge, a bathroom, a shower and plenty of storage space for clothes and personal items.

According to Mr Law, the inspiration behind the tiny tube homes is practical, both for young people looking for homes as well as city governments trying to provide affordable options.

Although the structures are far from being lightweight at 22 tons a-piece, they require little in terms of installation and can be easily secured to one another, which reduces installation costs.

James Law Cybertecture envisions the OPod being installed in urban areas unsuitable for standard construction, such as narrow alleyways between buildings, for example. Multiple units could be stacked atop each other, with simple metal stairways providing access.

The pods are still at a prototype stage, but The South China Morning Post reported that if the plans come to fruition, each OPod will cost around $15,000 (£10,885).

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5271411/8ft-concrete-tubes-solution-housing-crisis.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

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By Joshua Rapp Learn

Nobody ever told Gilligan the dolphin not to bite off more than he could chew. The male Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin is the first known cetacean to die from asphyxiation by octopus, a new study says.

He “seems to have been extremely greedy and thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to swallow it whole,'” says study leader Nahiid Stephens, a pathologist at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

When the young male, found on a beach about two hours south of Perth, was brought to Stephens’ lab for a post-mortem in August 2015, bits of a Maori octopus were still hanging out of his mouth.

Other dolphins have been observed killing and eating octopi before, so Stephens conducted a post-mortem to figure out what went wrong—particularly because the animal, nicknamed Gilligan, was in amazing condition. First, she had to remove the octopus.

“It really was a huge octopus, I just kept pulling and pulling and thought, ‘My god! It’s still coming,'” Stephens says, adding that it had a tentacle span of 4.2 feet.

The autopsy, described in a recent study in the journal Marine Mammal Science, revealed that the problem arose when Gilligan was swallowing what would be his last meal

Dolphins can disengage their epiglottis—a flap of tissue that connects the larynx to the blowhole—to open up their throats and swallow larger pieces of food

Stephens says that the 4.6-pound cephalopod appeared to have grabbed onto Gilligan’s larynx with a tentacle, preventing it from reconnecting to the dolphin’s breathing apparatus and effectively suffocating him to death.

“That octopus might have been, in theory, dead, but the sucker was still functional,” Stephens says, adding that while nobody wins in a situation like this, “the octopus gets a bit of a last hurrah.”

Playing With Their Food

Kate Sprogis, a research fellow at Murdoch University, says an octopus is “not easy prey to just swallow.”

While studying the dolphin population near Bunbury, where Gilligan died, Sprogis has observed dolphins tossing octopi in the air in an attempt to tenderize the invertebrates—breaking them up into smaller, more digestible pieces.

A cetacean will often breach the surface and send the octopus flying through the air—quite the spectacle, according to Sprogis, who wasn’t involved in the new study.

“It’s quite energetically demanding for the dolphins,” she says, adding the unhappy cephalopods will try to cling to the dolphins’ heads. The sheer effort required is “why we think the octopus is highly nutritious.”

After throwing their prey around, the dolphin usually bites off the octopus’ head—though the battle is far from over, since its arms can remain active for some time. (Related: “Why These Dolphins Behead Their Prey.”)

As for Gilligan, “he obviously didn’t toss it enough, and got a bit cocky and swallowed it,” Sprogis says.

Learning From Tragedy

While Gilligan’s unique death may have been a first as far as scientists are concerned, it likely happens more frequently in nature.

Historic seafarers told stories of sperm whales battling krakens—likely just misunderstood fights between giant octopi and sperm whales, Stephens says.

Gilligan’s situation is “an interesting way of highlighting the things that happen in our backyard all the time that we’re not really aware of,” she says.

Not only that, but the dolphin’s unfortunate end helps scientists learn more about the animals and their biology. As a young healthy male, Gilligan is also an important counterpoint to many of the sick, old biological samples that pathologists often encounter.

“These opportunities don’t come up that often,” Stephens says, “so the more we can visualize these individuals after the unfortunate, tragic event of their death, the better it is.”

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/animals-octopi-dolphins-death-oceans/


The entrance to the West Valley of the Valley of the Kings is seen here. in the West Valley, archaeologists are excavating what may be the tomb of Tut’s wife. The house of Theodore Davis (1838-1915), a wealthy man who explored the Valley of the Kings, can be seen in this image.

Excavations have begun in an area of the Valley of the Kings where the tomb of Tutankhamun’s wife may be located, archaeologist Zahi Hawass announced January 16.

Archaeologists are digging in a spot called the West Valley, or the Valley of the Monkeys, near the tomb of the pharaoh Ay (reign: 1327 to 1323 B.C.), the successor to King Tut (reign: 1336 to 1327 B.C.). Though a few royal tombs have been found in the West Valley, the bulk of them have turned up in the East Valley of the Valley of the Kings.

During previous excavations, the researchers identified something intriguing in this area near Ay’s tomb — four foundation deposits and radar images of what seemed to be the entranceway of a tomb that may exist about 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface.[See Photos of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings]

Hawass, who is leading the excavations, told Live Science in July 2017 that he believes a tomb is there. “We are sure there is a tomb there, but we do not know for sure to whom it belongs,” he told Live Science in an email at the time. He later cautioned that until excavations were conducted, archaeologists couldn’t be certain of the tomb’s existence. “It is all possibilities until we excavate,” he wrote that month in a follow-up email.

If the tomb exists, it could belong to Ankhesenamun, Hawass said. She was the wife of Tutankhamun but married Ay not long after Tut’s death. Due to the location of the evidence, Hawass and his team think that any undiscovered tomb may belong to her.

After Ankhesenamun’s marriage to Ay, mentions of her don’t appear again in surviving historical records. It’s not known when Ankhesenamun died, how she died or where she was buried. Egyptian pharaohs sometimes had multiple wives and Ay’s tomb only mentions another wife who was a woman named Tey.

Excavations, which are being funded by the Discovery Channel, have just started, according to a statement on Hawass’ website. Several photos of the excavation are shown on Hawass’ website, and the statement said that more photos of the ongoing excavations will be posted soon.

https://www.livescience.com/61441-search-for-king-tut-wife.html

By Tereza Pultarova

Being creative is all about making connections — in your brain, that is.

In a new study, scientists found that the brains of highly creative people have more connections among three specific regions compared to the brains of less creative thinkers. Plus, the more-creative brains were better able to fire up these regions in coordinated way compared with other brains.

The three brain regions are ones that scientists understand well, said lead study author Roger Beaty, a postdoctoral fellow studying cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University. They include the default network, which is involved in spontaneous thinking and imagination; the salience network, which picks up on important information from the environment; and the executive control network, which is involved in cognitive control functions and evaluation.

And though the default network seems like it should be the key source of creativity, people need the salience and the executive control networks to act as a sort of inner critic that judges whether ideas are any good or useful for the given task, Beaty told Live Science.

“You have these three different systems that are all located in different parts of the brain, but they are all co-activated at once,” Beaty said. “People who are better able to co-activate them [came] up with more-creative responses.”

To measure creativity and brain connections, the researchers scanned the brains of about 160 participants using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a tool that monitors brain activity by measuring changes in blood flow in various areas the brain. With their heads inside the scanner, the participants were asked to perform a creative-thinking task called divergent thinking. This involves coming up with creative ways to use common objects, such as a knife, a cup or a brick.

“Just thinking about new and unusual ways to use these [objects] has been shown to be a valid way of [measuring] creative thinking,” Beaty said.

The researchers found that performing the divergent-thinking task simultaneously activated the three different networks in the brain. And the greater the interconnectedness and synchronization of these three networks, the better the performance in the divergent-thinking task. In other words, the more connected and in-sync the brain is, the better it does on a creative task.

After establishing what distinguishes creative people’s brains from those of their less creative peers, the researchers wanted to see whether they could reverse the process and use brain activity as a predictor of creative performance.

“We had data sets of previously published studies were people were doing similar creative thinking tasks, and we wanted to see whether someone with weak connectivity in [these networks] has less-creative ideas than someone with stronger connectivity,” Beaty said. “And that’s what we found across three data sets.”

The researchers are now planning to look for similar patterns of brain activity in specific areas of creativity such as writing or music, Beaty said. In addition, the scientists want to find out if the brain activity can in fact change as people become more proficient at certain skills, he said.

The study was published today (Jan. 15) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

https://www.livescience.com/61428-brain-connections-creativity.html

by PETER DOCKRILL

It’s pretty hot in Australia right now. A brutal heatwave that’s incinerated temperature records threatens devastating bushfires – and to make matters worse, authorities have to contend with an ancient breed of flying arsonists that may as well be miniature dragons.

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called ‘firehawk raptors’ – birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks.

These flying firestarters are spread across at least three known species – the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), and Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) – but while their hell-raising may be observed in Indigenous knowledge, that’s not so elsewhere.

“Though Aboriginal rangers and others who deal with bushfires take into account the risks posed by raptors that cause controlled burns to jump across firebreaks, official skepticism about the reality of avian fire-spreading hampers effective planning for landscape management and restoration,” the international team explains in their paper.

While news of aerial arsonists fire-bombing the landscape may seem surprising or even shocking, the researchers are eager to emphasise that this destructive phenomenon has actually been witnessed for untold millennia.

“We’re not discovering anything,” one of the team, geographer Mark Bonta from Penn State Altoona, told National Geographic.

“Most of the data that we’ve worked with is collaborative with Aboriginal peoples… They’ve known this for probably 40,000 years or more.”

According to the team, firehawk raptors congregate in hundreds along burning fire fronts, where they will fly into active fires to pick up smouldering sticks, transporting them up to a kilometre (0.6 miles) away to regions the flames have not yet scorched.

“The imputed intent of raptors is to spread fire to unburned locations – for example, the far side of a watercourse, road, or artificial break created by firefighters – to flush out prey via flames or smoke,” the researchers write.

This behaviour, documented in interviews with the team and observed first-hand by some of the researchers, sees prey driven toward the raptors by a wall of flame, enabling them to engage in a feeding frenzy upon fleeing or scorched land animals.

The inspiration for the study came from a passage in the 1964 autobiography of Indigenous doctor and activist, Phillip Waipuldanya Roberts.

“I have seen a hawk pick up a smouldering stick in its claws and drop it in a fresh patch of dry grass half a mile away,” he said, “then wait with its mates for the mad exodus of scorched and frightened rodents and reptiles.”

Of course, as any law student knows, crimes not only entail a physical component, but a mental one.

In this case, do the birds really know what they’re doing, or are they only accidentally clutching at (burning) straws?

The researchers think the former is the case, saying accounts of multiple witnesses suggest this behaviour is not a fluke – and even more scary, it looks to be coordinated like a pack hunt.

“It’s not gratuitous,” one of the team, Australian ethnobiologist and ornithologist Bob Gosford, told The Washington Post in 2016.

“There’s a purpose. There’s an intent to say, okay, there are several hundred of us there, we can all get a meal.”

If the hypothesis is correct, it means we finally have confirmation of a new force in nature that can spread devastating wildfires – and local Indigenous people knew it all along.

“The birds aren’t starting fires from scratch, but it’s the next best thing,” Bonta told The Washington Post.

“Fire is supposedly so uniquely human.”

The findings are reported in the Journal of Ethnobiology.

https://www.sciencealert.com/birds-intentionally-set-prey-ablaze-rewriting-history-fire-use-firehawk-raptors

Thanks to Mike Lutter for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

lzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that causes the decline of cognitive function and the inability to carry out daily life activities. Past studies have suggested depression and other neuropsychiatric symptoms may be predictors of AD’s progression during its “preclinical” phase, during which time brain deposits of fibrillar amyloid and pathological tau accumulate in a patient’s brain. This phase can occur more than a decade before a patient’s onset of mild cognitive impairment. Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the association of brain amyloid beta and longitudinal measures of depression and depressive symptoms in cognitively normal, older adults. Their findings, published today by The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggest that higher levels of amyloid beta may be associated with increasing symptoms of anxiety in these individuals. These results support the theory that neuropsychiatric symptoms could be an early indicator of AD.

“Rather than just looking at depression as a total score, we looked at specific symptoms such as anxiety. When compared to other symptoms of depression such as sadness or loss of interest, anxiety symptoms increased over time in those with higher amyloid beta levels in the brain,” said first author Nancy Donovan, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This suggests that anxiety symptoms could be a manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease prior to the onset of cognitive impairment. If further research substantiates anxiety as an early indicator, it would be important for not only identifying people early on with the disease, but also, treating it and potentially slowing or preventing the disease process early on.” As anxiety is common in older people, rising anxiety symptoms may prove to be most useful as a risk marker in older adults with other genetic, biological or clinical indicators of high AD risk.

Researchers derived data from the Harvard Aging Brain Study, an observational study of older adult volunteers aimed at defining neurobiological and clinical changes in early Alzheimer’s disease. The participants included 270 community dwelling, cognitively normal men and women, between 62 and 90 years old, with no active psychiatric disorders. Individuals also underwent baseline imaging scans commonly used in studies of Alzheimer’s disease, and annual assessments with the 30-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), an assessment used to detect depression in older adults.

The team calculated total GDS scores as well as scores for three clusters symptoms of depression: apathy-anhedonia, dysphoria, and anxiety. These scores were looked at over a span of five years.

From their research, the team found that higher brain amyloid beta burden was associated with increasing anxiety symptoms over time in cognitively normal older adults. The results suggest that worsening anxious-depressive symptoms may be an early predictor of elevated amyloid beta levels – and, in turn AD — and provide support for the hypothesis that emerging neuropsychiatric symptoms represent an early manifestation of preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.

Donovan notes further longitudinal follow-up is needed to determine whether these escalating depressive symptoms give rise to clinical depression and dementia stages of Alzheimer’s disease over time.

Paper cited: Donovan et al. “Longitudinal Association of Amyloid Beta and Anxious-Depressive Symptoms in Cognitively Normal Older Adults” The American Journal of Psychiatry DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17040442

Surfers are known to brave bad weather, dangerously sized waves, and even sharks, for the perfect ride. But, it seems another danger of surfing has been lying in plain sight all along: ocean waters are full of drug-resistant bacteria — and surfers are most at risk.

In a study published this weekend in the journal Environmental International, a team of researchers from the University of Exeter found that regular surfers and bodyboarders are four times as likely as normal beach-goers to harbor bacteria with high likelihoods of antibiotic resistance. This is because surfers typically swallow ten times more seawater during a surf session than sea swimmers.

The cheekily named Beach Bums study, carried out with the help of UK charity Surfers Against Sewage compared rectal swabs from 300 participants and found that 9 percent of the surfers and bodyboarders (13 of 143) harbored drug-resistant E. coli in their systems, compared to just 3 percent of non-surfers (four of 130).

The World Health Organization has warned that widespread drug resistance may render antibiotics useless in the face of otherwise easily treatable bacterial infections, meaning that just as in the age before Penicillin, diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, food- and water-born illnesses as well as routine medical procedures that can lead to infection, including joint replacements and chemotherapy, could once again be fatal.

Indeed, a 2016 report commissioned by the British government estimated that, by 2050, infections stemming from antimicrobial resistance could kill one person every three seconds.

Solutions to an impending drug resistance epidemic have largely focused on prescriptions and use, but there is an increasing focus on the role of the environment in transmitting drug-resistant bacteria strains. The Beach Bums study adds important insight into how sewage, run-off, and pollution that makes its way into the oceans spread the drug-resistant bacteria.

“We are not seeking to discourage people from spending time in the sea,” says Dr. Will Gaze of the University of Exeter Medical School, who supervised the research. “We now hope that our results will help policy-makers, beach managers, and water companies to make evidence-based decisions to improve water quality even further for the benefit of public health.”

Though the study’s purpose is not to alarm beachgoers — or surfers — Dr. Anne Leonard, who led the research, tells Inverse that the risk for anti-drug resistance may actually be lower in the United Kingdom, which “has invested a great deal of money in improving water quality at beaches, and 98 percent of English beaches are compliant with the European Bathing Water Directive. The risk of exposure to and colonization by antibiotic resistant bacteria in seawater might be greater in other countries which have fewer resources to spend on treating wastewater to improve water quality.”

For surfers on this side of the pond, check out the free app available for Apple and iOS, Swim Guide, for updated water quality information on 7,000 beaches in Canada and the U.S.

https://www.inverse.com/article/40178-surfer-butts-drug-resistant-bacteria

Thanks to Michael Moore for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.