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Culture & Society Nature

Oxygen in the house: Barcelona opera house reopens with performance to over 2,000 plants

No, this is not an article from The Onion.

To mark Spain’s lifting of lockdown restrictions, Barcelona’s Liceu Opera House reopened for the first time in three months with a performance to 2,292 potted plants.

The three classical musicians performed Puccini’s “Crisantemi” to “reaffirm the value of art, music and nature” after Covid-19 lockdowns.

Even more, the plants will be donated to the city’s healthcare workers.

You love to see it! Watch the full performance below.

Categories
Culture & Society Health Nature

Natural light prevents myopia

A report issued in Nature reveals that staying inside is the leading cause of myopia.

The finding refutes the myth that nearsightedness is the result of intense reading sessions and screen activity.

Myopia is prevalent in East Asian countries, where the focus on studying means staying indoors rather than benefiting from the outside environment.

According to another study in journal Lancet, 90% of young adults in China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea are nearsighted compared to 30% in Britain.

Outdoor light is beneficial to the eyes because it triggers the release of dopamine in the retina.

One myopia researcher recommends spending at least three hours a day in natural light, even if means sitting under a tree.

But what scientists really needed was a mechanism: something to explain how bright light could prevent myopia. The leading hypothesis is that light stimulates the release of dopamine in the retina, and this neurotransmitter in turn blocks the elongation of the eye during development. The best evidence for the ‘light–dopamine’ hypothesis comes — again — from chicks. In 2010, Ashby and Schaeffel showed that injecting a dopamine-inhibiting drug called spiperone into chicks’ eyes could abolish the protective effect of bright light 11 .

Categories
Animals Culture & Society Nature

Neanderthals were great hunters but poor artists

Neanderthals were great hunters but poor artists.

According to a study done by UC Davis psychology professor Richard Coss, Neanderthals used basic spear hunting techniques to capture tame prey.

Meanwhile, Homo Sapiens developed the ability to throw spears as a result of chasing more elusive game in the open grasslands of Africa.

Homo Sapiens were also careful planners, sharpening their hand-eye coordination by drawing out hunting scenes on cave walls.

43,900-year-old hunting scene found on island cave of Sulawesi, Indonesia (Science News)

Such artistry not only made modern humans better visualizers and hunters, but it also helped them develop smarter brains.

Historian and author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind Yuval Noah Harari also argued that while Neanderthals might have had larger brains and finer tools than their fellow Homo Sapiens, they lacked the cognitive abilities for language.

Homo Sapiens developed rounder skulls and bigger parietal cortexes that allowed them not only to translate visual images but share stories through word of mouth.

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Architecture & Design Culture & Society

Time travel back to New York City, 1911

In 1911, Swedish film company Svenska Biografteatern recorded its trip to New York.

Fortunately, the footage survived and most recently was speed-corrected (slowed down) and reproduced with the ambient audio of street sounds of car horns, horses, and police whistles to give us a sense of the environment back then.

There’s also a color version of the 8-minute long video restored via neural networks, featuring 60 frames per second and 4k image resolution.

Some observations:

  • Notice all the people wearing hats
  • The streets look a bit empty compared to today’s zoo
  • Cable powered trolleys
  • The kids go nuts when the camera is on them. Nothing’s changed!

This might be the closest we get to time travel.

Categories
Architecture & Design Culture & Society Health

The treadmill was originally a torture device

Treadmills were originally torture devices, meant to break the mind, body, and spirit of English prisoners.

Two hundred years ago, the treadmill was invented in England as a prison rehabilitation device. It was meant to cause the incarcerated to suffer and learn from their sweat.

Groups of prisoners were forced to walk 6 hours a day, pumping out water, milling corn powering the mills, thus the term “tread-mill.”

Treadmills evolved into a mechanism for punishment to prevent poor people from committing crimes to take advantage of the necessities in jail.

The treadmill was originally a torture device
via twitter
The treadmill was originally a torture device
via twitter

Britain banned treadmills in 1989, seeing their punishment no longer useful.

An 1885 British Medical Journal article called “Death on the Treadmill,” chastized Durham Prison for the treadmill-induced death of a prisoner with heart disease. Its overall high death rate—one fatality a week—prompted the conclusion that “[t]he ‘mill’ is not useful, and has proved itself occasionally injurious.”

Having banned treadmills in 1828 to adopt a “collective industry” where prisoners became factory workers, America revamped the treadmill as an exercise machine.

It resurfaced in 1913 with a U.S. patent for a “training-machine.” In the 1960s, the American mechanical engineer William Staub created a home fitness machine called the PaceMaster 600. He began manufacturing home treadmills in New Jersey. (He used it often himself, right up until the months before his death at the age of 96.)

As this article points out, treadmills are the top-selling training equipment in the US but still come with all the baggage (injuries and boredom) that prisoners endured in England.