Category Archives: News


This ‘tree’ has the environmental benefits of a forest 

The "CityTree" has the same environmental impact of up to 275 normal urban trees. Using moss cultures that have large surface leaf areas, it captures and filters toxic pollutants from the air.

Story highlights

  • Urban installation uses moss to remove pollutants from air
  • It offers the environmental benefit of 275 trees, its makers say

(CNN)Air pollution is one of the world’s invisible killers.

It causes seven million premature deaths a year, making it the largest single environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization.
In urban areas, air quality is particularly problematic. More than 80% of people living in areas where pollution is monitored are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. And given that by 2050 two thirds of the global population will be urban, cleaning up our cities’ air is a matter of urgency.
One well-established way to reduce air pollutants is to plant trees, as their leaves catch and absorb harmful particulates.
But planting new trees is not always a viable option.
That’s why the “CityTree”, a mobile installation which removes pollutants from the air, has been popping up in cities around the world, including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong.
A CityTree in Paris, France.

Moss is in the air

Each CityTree is just under 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep, available in two versions: with or without a bench. A display is included for information or advertising.
Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees.
But the CityTree isn’t, in fact, a tree at all — it’s a moss culture.
“Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants,” said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.
The CityTree includes Wi-fi enabled sensors that measure the local air quality.

The huge surfaces of moss installed in each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. The installation is autonomous and requires very little maintenance: solar panels provide electricity, while rainwater is collected into a reservoir and then pumped into the soil.
To monitor the health of the moss, the CityTree has sensors which measure soil humidity, temperature and water quality.
“We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” Wu said.
Its creators say that each CityTree is able to absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter a day and contributes to the capture of greenhouse gases by removing 240 metric tons of CO2 a year.

A tale of four friends

The story of the CityTree dates back 11 years.
While studying at Dresden University of Technology, Wu met Victor Splittgerber, a mechanical engineer, and Dénes Honus, an architect. After graduating, they ran a workshop at the university on sustainable urban design focusing on new ways to tackle environmental problems in cities.
Four years ago, the trio met Peter Sänger, a graduate in production management for horticulture, and the idea for the CityTree project was born.
A CityTree in Brussels, Belgium.

Today, bureaucratic obstacles are the main challenge.
“We were installing them (the CityTrees) in Modena, Italy, and everything was planned and arranged, but now the city is hesitant about the places we can install because of security reasons,” Wu said.
The team also has plans to introduce the “CityTree” to cities in lower-income countries such as India, which tend to have elevated levels of pollutants.
So far, around 20 CityTrees have been successfully installed, with each costing about $25,000.
The CityTree can be configured to display information or adversiting.

Can this really fight pollution?

Gary Fuller, an expert on air pollution at King’s College London, thinks that the concept of an urban air purifier might be too ambitious.
“Even if you had a perfect air cleaner, getting the ambient air in contact with it is really hard,” he told CNN. Pollution from a car exhaust, for example, gets dispersed vertically a few kilometers into the air.
“Efforts would be better put into stopping the pollution from forming in the first place, maybe cleaning up a city’s bus fleet,” he added.
The CityTree inventors say that they are aware of this and choose the location of each CityTree carefully.
“We intentionally pick spots where pollution is heavy due to traffic and air flow is limited. We are also testing a ventilation system to create our own air flow that gets the pollution to the tree.”
Wu also argued that the CityTree is just one piece of a larger puzzle.
“Our ultimate goal is to incorporate technology from the CityTree into existing buildings,” he said.
“We dream of creating a climate infrastructure so we can regulate what kind of air and also what kind of temperature we have in a city.”

Via: This ‘tree’ has the environmental benefits of a forest 

World’s largest airplane is rolled out 

By Phil Gast

Even if you had been allowed to kick the tires as the world’s largest airplane was rolled out for the first time Wednesday, it might have taken you a while.

Stratolaunch — which is designed to release rockets that will carry satellites into space — has a 385-foot wingspan, features six engines used by the Boeing 747, stands 50 feet tall and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload.
And it has those 28 wheels.
The twin-fuselage aircraft, the baby of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, was pulled out of its Mojave Air and Space Port hangar in California to begin fueling tests — the first of many ground tests.
Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch’s chief executive officer, said the goal is to have a launch demonstration as early as 2019.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be actively conducting ground and flight line testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port,” Floyd said in a statement. “This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff.”At the time it was built, the H-4 was the world's largest airplane. It had to be moved in sections from its construction site on Los Angeles' west side, south to its Long Beach hangar.
While the Stratolaunch has the biggest wingspan, the six-engine Antonov An-225 cargo jet — which was originally designed to carry a Soviet version of the space shuttle — is longer. Stratolaunch is 238 feet long while the length of the An-225 is about 275 feet.
Also, aviation mogul Howard Hughes’ legendary H-4 “Spruce Goose,” which flew only once in 1947, has an enormous wingspan of 320 feet — not as wide as the Stratolaunch.
 The Ukrainian-built Antonov An-225 is longer than the Stratolaunch.

Allen, owner of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, has written about his desire to see more use of low Earth orbit without breaking the bank.
“With aircraft-like operations, our reusable launch platform will significantly reduce the long wait times traditionally experienced between the construction of a satellite and the opportunity to launch it into space,” he wrote last year.
Stratolaunch will take off from a runway. It will fly to the approximate cruising altitude of a commercial airliner before launching a launch vehicle. “As the launch vehicle rockets into orbit, Stratolaunch will fly back to a runway landing for reloading, refueling and reuse,” Allen says.

Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace has worked with aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, on the ambitious project.
The duo collaborated on the launch of SpaceShipOne in 2004.
Allen isn’t the only US billionaire with the dreams and pockets big enough to take on space.
Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO, and Elon Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, have distinguished themselves as the must-watch innovators pushing hardest to bring the future to us today.
In late March, SpaceX made history by successfully launching a used rocket into space. And the company plans to fly two customers around the moon in 2018. It’s already delivered satellites and has made resupply trips to the International Space Station.
Like Musk, Bezos wants to reuse rockets to drive down the cost of space travel. But for the time being, Blue Origin is mostly interested in conducting suborbital flights for tourists.

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What makes you attractive? Voice and smell, too –

By Jacqueline Howard

Think your good looks are what make you attractive? Guess again.

Along with what meets the eye, your voice and body odor are important in determining attractiveness, according to a small review paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology on Thursday.
The paper’s authors reviewed 73 studies on attractiveness, published between 1977 and this year, to examine the relative importance of visual, auditory and olfactory cues, said Agata Groyecka, researcher at the University of Wroclaw in Poland, who led the research.
The researchers found that the perception of attractiveness indeed is multimodal, meaning it’s not reliant on just one factor, such as physical appearance, but rather multiple factors, including body odor and voice.
“Some odors are not only rated as more pleasant but also sexier, and therefore, they are likely to make people eager to flirt or date. Similarly, unpleasant odors can be discouraging to engaging in a relationship,” Groyecka said.
As for voice, the researchers wrote in the paper that vocal cues help others make judgments about another person’s sex, age, dominance, cooperativeness, emotional state, physical strength and possibly fertility.
Groyecka’s team further found, however, that while many previous studies have focused on visual factors that influence attractiveness, few have investigated the influence of scent and voice.
“Although the literature about human’s voice and olfaction has grown rapidly in past decades, we were not surprised to find that the biggest share of papers regarding attractiveness focuses on physical appearance,” Groyecka said. “Olfaction and audition are largely neglected in reviews about attractiveness.”
Here’s a look at what we do know about how your odor and voice may influence your attractiveness.

‘The nose knows; the same thing applies to sound’

When it comes to smell, your body odor can influence how attractive you are to someone, especially since it holds clues to your health, said Gordon Gallup, an evolutionary psychologist at the University at Albany in New York, who was not involved in the review paper.
Several diseases, such as diabetes, yellow fever, typhoid fever and the glandular disease scrofula, can be associated with certain scents. A trademark odor that has been tied to diabetes, for instance, has been described as similar to that of rotten apples.
Some research suggests that odor might also hold clues to your molecular makeup, an idea that stems from the controversial smelly T-shirt experiment. The experiment, originally conducted by Swiss researcher Claus Wedekind and published in the Proceedings of Biological Sciences in 1995 (PDF), was not included in the new review paper.
“Olfactory cues are very important. In other words, the nose knows,” Gallup said.
The experiment involved 49 female college students and 44 male students. The men were asked to wear the same T-shirt during a Sunday and Monday night, in order for the fabric to collect their natural body odors.
Then, the women were asked to smell the shirts and rank the odors based on intensity, pleasantness and sexiness. The pleasantness ranking of the men’s body odors was associated with being higher if a woman was not taking birth control and carrying dissimilar genes than the man. The idea is that this genetic diversity might benefit their offspring.
Since then, a few studieshave conducted similar experiments, but more research is needed to determine whether the findings in such studies are statistically significant when it comes to influencing mate choice.
More research is also needed to determine the role voice may play in attractiveness, a role that dates back to our cave-dwelling ancestors, Gallup said.
“When the sun went down, if you interacted with somebody, it would be based largely on the sound of their voice. You wouldn’t be able to see their face,” Gallup said.
“It turns out that the sound of a person’s voice is related to their health, their fertility,” he said. “It’s just an incredibly rich array of information that bears on the viability of that person as a potential mate.”
Previous studies that Gallup has co-authored have suggested that the attractiveness of a woman’s voice can vary based on her menstrual cycle — which was included in the new review paper — and that the attractiveness of any person’s voice can be associated with their body configuration, which was not included in the new paper.
For the study about body configuration, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior in 2004, Gallup and his colleagues recorded the voices of 149 undergraduate students. The students counted from one to 10 in the recordings. Then they were asked to rate the attractiveness of the voices in others’ recordings.
The researchers found that the higher rating of voice attractiveness for women correlated with having a smaller waist-to-hip ratio, a body type that is commonly found to be more attractive in women.
For men, the researchers found that the higher rating of voice attractiveness correlated with having a larger shoulder-to-hip ratio, or broad shoulders, which are commonly found to be more attractive in men.
A more “attractive” voice tended to be higher in pitch for women and lower for men, among other characteristics, Gallup said.
“I said ‘the nose knows’; the same thing applies to sound,” Gallup said. “If you’re going to agree to a blind date, it might be prudent to have a telephone conversation with that person first, because the voice is a medium that conveys a tremendous amount of basic biological information.”
Out of all of the senses — sight, sound or smell — which has the largest influence on attractiveness? That remains to be debated.

Your looks, voice and smell all work together

On a biological level, Gallup said, olfactory cues might be the most important for attractiveness, but more research is needed.
Laura Germine, a social neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the new review paper, said all of our senses combined work together to help us gauge the attractiveness of others.
Such sensory information can guide you in making a first impression about someone in mere milliseconds, said Germine, who also serves as director of the Laboratory for Brain and Cognitive Health Technology and assistant director of the Institute for Technology in Psychiatry at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.
However, that first impression can shift with additional factors.
“Many have had the experience of where someone who is very attractive initially rapidly becomes unattractive after interacting with them in five to 10 minutes, because now you’re integrating all of this other social information, and you’ve gone from saying, ‘OK, this is someone that I might want to have a relationship with’ … to someone you really don’t want to have any kind of relationship with,” she said.
Studying how factors, outside of visual cues, play a role in attractiveness can help us not only to understand but to appreciate how all of us are attractive in distinctive ways.
Join the conversation
“You open a magazine and you look at an attractive person. Or you watch TV where attractiveness is exclusively visual, but in the world, it’s not,” Germine said.
“This is where misconceptions about what makes a person attractive potentially become quite damaging and quite far off the mark,” she said. “It’s a very complicated interplay, which is good, because it means we make nuanced decisions.”

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Here’s Your First Look At The 2017-2018 Pilot Trailers 

While networks are still deciding which television shows will live to see another season, executives are gathering in New York this week for upfronts.

Big presentations are made, celebrities are trotted out and network execs try to dazzle advertisers with their programing slate for the upcoming year in hopes of convincing them to spend their ad dollars on the commercial breaks between what is ― fingers crossed ― the next hit show.

Here’s your first look at some of the trailers for the new shows that will air in the 2017-2018 television season.

(This post will be updated as more networks confirm their programing schedules and release trailers.)

“The Brave”  ― NBC

Defense Intelligence and Special Ops squads team up to save innocent lives around the world in the new drama The Brave, coming Mondays this fall to NBC.

”Law and Order: True Crime” ― NBC

From Executive Producer Dick Wolf comes a new chapter in the franchise — “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders,” starring Edie Falco as defense attorney Leslie Abramson. Coming Thursdays this fall to NBC.

“Will & Grace” ― NBC

An encore 11 years in the making. It’ll take Will, Jack and Karen to convince Grace it’s a good idea. Will & Grace is back Thursdays this fall on NBC.

“The Gifted” ― FOX

“The Gifted” tells the emotional story of a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family seeks help from an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.

“The Crossing” ― ABC

Refugees from a war-torn country seek asylum in a small American fishing town, only the country these people are from is America… and the war they are fleeing hasn’t happened yet. As the government tries to uncover the truth behind this mysterious migration only one thing is certain: The lives of the people here — both the townspeople and these newcomers — will never be the same. Writers Dan Dworkin & Jay Beattie executive produce with Jason Reed.

“Marvel’s The Inhumans” ― ABC

After the Royal Family of Inhumans is splintered by a military coup, they barely escape to Hawaii where their surprising interactions with the lush world and humanity around them may prove to not only save them, but Earth itself.

”The Good Doctor” ― ABC

Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore, “Bates Motel”), a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, relocates from a quiet country life to join a prestigious hospital’s surgical unit. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, Shaun uses his extraordinary medical gifts to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues. The series is from David Shore (“House”) and “Lost” and “Hawaii Five-O” star Daniel Dae Kim.

”The Mayor” ― ABC

Young rapper Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) needs his big break. For years, he’s toiled away in a small inner-city apartment, making music in his junk-filled bedroom closet. Tired of waiting for opportunity, Courtney cooks up the publicity stunt of the century: Running for mayor of his hometown in California to generate buzz for his music career. Unfortunately for Courtney, his master plan goes wildly awry, ending in the most terrifying of outcomes: An election victory. With the help of his mother (Yvette Nicole Brown, “Community”) and friends, including Valentina (“Glee’s” Lea Michele), Courtney will have to overcome his hubris if he wants to transform the struggling city he loves.

”Ten Days in the Valley” ― ABC 

“Ten Days in the Valley” stars Kyra Sedgwick as Jane Sadler, an overworked television producer and single mother in the middle of a separation whose life is turned upside down when her young daughter goes missing in the middle of the night. Just like her controversial police TV show, everything is a mystery, everyone has a secret, and no one can be trusted.

”For The People” ― ABC 

Set in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, aka “The Mother Court,” this new Shondaland drama follows brand-new lawyers working for both the defense and the prosecution handling the most high-profile and high-stakes federal cases in the country — all as their lives intersect in and out of the courtroom. The series is created by Shondaland’s Paul William Davies and is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.

”Deception” ― ABC

When his career is ruined by scandal, superstar magician Cameron Black has only one place to turn to practice his art of deception, influence and illusion — the FBI. Using every trick in the book and inventing new ones, he will help the government catch the world’s most elusive criminals while staging the biggest illusions of his career. The series is from writer/executive producer Chris Fedak (“Chuck”) and executive producers Greg Berlanti, Martin Gero and Sarah Schechter. Illusionist David Kwong (“Now You See Me”) will co-produce.

”Splitting Up Together” ― ABC

Based on the Danish series, “Splitting Up Together” is the story of a couple whose marriage is reignited by their divorce. Emily Kapnek (“Suburgatory”) writes and serves as executive producer of this new comedy, along with Ellen DeGeneres.

“The Gospel of Kevin” ― ABC

Kevin Finn (Jason Ritter, “Parenthood”), a cluelessly self-serving person, is on a dangerous path to despair. In a downward spiral, Kevin returns home to stay with his widowed twin sister (JoAnna Garcia Swisher, “Once Upon a Time”) and niece. On his first night there, an unlikely celestial being named Yvette (Cristela Alonzo, “Cristela”) appears to him and presents him with a mission: to find and recruit the 35 righteous humans who can restore a sacred balance that will ultimately save the world. A light drama from executive producers Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters (“Marvel’s Agent Carter,” “Resurrection,” “Reaper”).

“Ghosted” ― FOX

A cynical skeptic and a genius ‘true believer’ in the paranormal are recruited by The Bureau Underground to look into the rampant ‘unexplained’ activity in Los Angeles — all while uncovering a larger mystery that could threaten the existence of the human race.

 “LA To Vegas” ― FOX

”LA To Vegas” is a single-camera ensemble comedy about an airline crew and the eccentric passengers who, every weekend, take the roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas with one goal in mind – to come back a winner.

“The Orville” ― FOX

“The Orville” is a one-hour science fiction series set 400 years in the future that follows the adventures of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level exploratory vessel. Its crew, both human and alien, faces the wonders and dangers of outer space, while also dealing with the familiar, often humorous problems of regular people in a workplace…even though some of those people are from other planets, and the workplace is a faster-than-light spaceship.

 “The Resident” ― FOX

Focusing on three doctors at different stages of their careers and a dedicated young nurse, “The Resident” is a provocative new medical drama that rips back the curtain to reveal the truth of what really happens, both good and bad, in hospitals across the country.

Via: Here’s Your First Look At The 2017-2018 Pilot Trailers | 

Facebook’s goals: Typing with your brain, ‘hearing’ with your skin 

Chief of ‘audacious science’ unit teases ambitious future technology
Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering of Building 8 at Facebook, speaks Wednesday in San Jose.

Facebook Inc. wants to read your mind.

“What if you could type directly from your brain?” asked Regina Dugan, who runs Facebook’s FB, +0.93%  secretive hardware division, Building 8, during a keynote address at the company’s F8 developer conference Wednesday.

Building 8, which was created at last year’s F8, has been working on a “brain-computer interface” for several months, Dugan said. Recent job postings for Building 8 show the unit is hiring engineers for a two-year project “focused on developing advanced (brain-computer interface) technologies.”

Ultimately, the mind-reading technology could help people type 100 words a minute from their minds — about five times faster than we type from our smartphones, Dugan told developers at the conference in San Jose, Calif. Separately, Building 8 also is working on technology that could help people “hear” with their skin, Dugan said. Facebook hired Dugan from Alphabet Inc.’sGOOG, +0.17%GOOGL, +0.30%   Google last year with a mandate to develop what she called “audacious science.”

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Former NFL Star Aaron Hernandez Dead In Apparent Suicide 

former Patriots player was serving a life sentence in prison for murder.

Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star imprisoned for homicide, died in an apparent suicide, the Massachusetts Department of Corrections said.

Hernandez, 27, was serving a life sentence for murder when corrections officers discovered his body early Wednesday.

Born in Bristol, Connecticut, Hernandez left college at the University of Florida to join the 2010 NFL Draft, where he was picked up by the New England Patriots. He spent three seasons with them, where he broke several NFL records. During that time, he became engaged to Shayanna Jenkins, who gave birth to their daughter, Avielle, in November 2012. Though the couple never married, Jenkins later took Hernandez’ last name.

In June 2013, Hernandez was arrested and charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd. Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, was dating Jenkins’ sister when he was shot and killed in a Massachusetts industrial park. Days after his arrest, the Patriots released Hernandez.

In 2014, Hernandez was also charged in connection with a 2012 Boston double murder. He was was found guilty of Lloyd’s murder in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Last week, he was acquitted of the 2012 murders, but was convicted on an illegal weapons charge and given more prison time.

The Patriots were scheduled to make an appearance at the White House on Wednesday, two months after winning the Super Bowl in a historic comeback. The team did not immediately comment on Hernandez’s death.

In a statement released by his attorney, Hernandez’s family members said they were “shocked” and “heartbroken.”

Statement from defense attorney Jose Baez about his overnight suicide inside prison

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free,
24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please
visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database
of resources.

Via: Former NFL Star Aaron Hernandez Dead In Apparent Suicide