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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do  (อ่าน 132 ครั้ง)

anyaha

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เมื่อ: เมษายน 23, 2020, 12:35:57 AM
The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do
In December 2019 the Chinese authorities notified the world that a virus was spreading through their communities. In the following months, it spread to other countries, with cases doubling within days. This virus is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus 2 that causes the disease called Covid-19 and that everyone simply calls coronavirus. What actually happens when it infects a human and what should we all do?

A virus is really just a hull around genetic material and a few proteins, arguably not even a living thing. It can only make more of itself by entering a living cell. Corona may spread via surfaces, but it's still uncertain how long it can survive on them. Its main way of spreading seems to be droplet infection when people cough, or if you touch someone who's ill and then your face, say rubbing your eyes or nose. The virus starts its journey here, and then hitches a ride as a stowaway deeper into the body Its destinations are the intestines, the spleen or the lungs, where it can have the most dramatic effect.

Even just a few corona viruses can cause quite a dramatic situation. The lungs are lined with billions of epithelial cells. These are the border cells of your body, lining your organs and mucosa waiting to be infected. Corona connects to a specific receptor on its victim's membranes to inject its genetic material. The cell, ignorant of what's happening, executes the new instructions, which are pretty simple: copy and reassemble. It fills up with more and more copies of the original virus until it reaches a critical point and receives one final order, self-destruct.

The cell sort of melts away, releasing new corona particles ready to attack more cells. The number of infected cells grows exponentially After about 10 days, millions of body cells are infected, and billions of viruses swarmed the lungs. The virus has not caused too much damage yet, but corona is now going to release a real beast on you, your own immune system. The immune system, while there to protect you, can actually be pretty dangerous to yourself and needs tight regulation.

And as immune cells pour into the lungs to fight the virus, Corona infects some of them and creates confusion. Cells have neither ears nor eyes. They communicate mostly via tiny information proteins called cytokines. Nearly every important immune reaction is controlled by them. Corona causes infected immune cells to overreact and yell bloody murder. In a sense, it puts the immune system into a fighting frenzy and sends way more soldiers than it should, wasting its resources and causing damage.

Two kinds of cells in particular wreak havoc. First, neutrophils, which are great at killing stuff, including our cells. As they arrive in their thousands, they start pumping out enzymes that destroy as many friends as enemies. The other important type of cells that go into a frenzy are killer T-cells, which usually order infected cells to commit controlled suicide. Confused as they are, they start ordering healthy cells to kill themselves too. The more and more immune cells arrive, the more damage they do, and the more healthy lung tissue they kill.

This might get so bad that it can cause permanent irreversible damage, that leads to lifelong disabilities. In most cases, the immune system slowly regains control. It kills the infected cells, intercepts the viruses trying to infect new ones and cleans up the battlefield. Recovery begins. The majority of people infected by Corona will get through it with relatively mild symptoms. But many cases become severe or even critical.

We don't know the percentage because not all cases have been identified, but it's safe to say that there is a lot more than with the flu. In more severe cases, Millions of epithelial cells have died and with them, the lungs' protective lining is gone. That means that the alveoli - tiny air sacs via which breathing occurs - can be infected by bacteria that aren't usually a big problem. Patients get pneumonia. Respiration becomes hard or even fails, and patients need ventilators to survive. The immune system has fought at full capacity for weeks and made millions of antiviral weapons.

And as thousands of bacteria rapidly multiply, it is overwhelmed. They enter the blood and overrun the body; if this happens, death is very likely. The Corona virus is often compared to the flu, but actually, it's much more dangerous. While the exact death rate is hard to pin down during an ongoing pandemic, we know for sure that it's much more contagious and spreads faster than the flu.

There are two futures for a pandemic like Corona: fast and slow. Which future we will see depends on how we all react to it in the early days of the outbreak. A fast pandemic will be horrible and cost many lives; a slow pandemic will not be remembered by the history books. The worst case scenario for a fast pandemic begins with a very rapid rate of infection because there are no counter measures in place to slow it down.

Why is this so bad?
In a fast pandemic, many people get sick at the same time. If the numbers get too large, health care systems become unable to handle it. There aren't enough resources, like medical staff or equipment like ventilators, left to help everybody. People will die untreated. And as more health care workers get sick themselves, the capacity of health care systems falls even further. If this becomes the case, then horrible decisions will have to be made about who gets to live and who doesn't. The number of deaths rises significantly in such a scenario. To avoid this, the world - that means all of us - needs to do what it can to turn this into a slow pandemic.

A pandemic is slowed down by the right responses. Especially in the early phase, so that everyone who gets sick can get treatment and there's no crunch point with overwhelmed hospitals. Since we don't have a vaccine for Corona, we have to socially engineer our behaviour, to act like a social vaccine. This simply means two things:
1. Not getting infected.
2. Not infecting others.

Although it sounds trivial, the very best thing you can do is to wash your hands. The soap is actually a powerful tool. The corona virus is encased in what is basically a layer of fat; soap breaks that fat apart and leaves it unable to infect you. It also makes your hands slippery, and with the mechanical motions of washing, viruses are ripped away.

To do it properly, wash your hands as if you've just cut up some jalape?os and want to put in your contact lenses next. The next thing is social distancing, which is not a nice experience, but a nice thing to do. This means: no hugging, no handshakes. If you can stay at home, stay at home to protect those who need to be out for society to function: from doctors to cashiers, or police officers;. You depend on all of them; they all depend on you to not get sick. On a larger level, there are quarantines, which can mean different things, from travel restrictions or actual orders to stay at home. Quarantines are not great to experience and certainly not popular. But they buy us - and specially the researchers working on medication and vaccinations - crucial time.

So if you are put under quarantine, you should understand why, and respect it. None of this is fun. But looking at the big picture, it is a really small price to pay. The question of how pandemics end, depends on how they start; if they start fast with a steep slope, they end badly. If they start slow, with a not-so-steep slope, they end okay-ish. And, in this day and age, it really is in all of our hands. Literally, and figuratively. A huge thanks to the experts who helped us on short notice with this, specially Our World In Data, the online publication for research and data on the world's largest problems and how to make progress solving them. Check out their site. It also includes a constantly updated page on the Corona pandemic.




anyaha

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ตอบกลับ #1 เมื่อ: กันยายน 23, 2020, 01:01:24 PM
Trump administration may rush vaccine

The U.S. surpassed 6 million confirmed Covid-19 cases and 185,000 deaths this week as new outbreaks erupted on college campuses and the virus moved further into rural areas. Some states are making progress against the disease: The country registered 34,000 new cases on Monday, the lowest single-day total in over two months, and coronavirus hospitalizations have dropped by 45 to 78 percent in California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona from their July peaks. But cases climbed in 32 states, particularly the Dakotas, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa, which—despite having the higher number of cases per capita—will allow 25,000 football fans to attend Iowa State’s opening game next week. The start of college may be sparking new hot spots, with the University of Alabama reporting more than 1,300 Covid-19 cases since classes started in mid-August. The virus is like a “rolling fire,” said Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins University, “with certain flare-ups that occur in different parts of the country.”

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said he was prepared to grant fast-track authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as October—even before mass clinical trials were complete, so long as the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks. Hahn said President Trump had not pressured him to approve a vaccine before the Nov. 3 election. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control told state public health officials to prepare to distribute a vaccine to high-risk groups by Nov. 1. The CDC drew criticism from health professionals last week after it abruptly reversed its Covid-19 testing guidelines to say that people who had been in close contact with an infected person “do not necessarily need” a test if they show no symptoms.

Trump has a “new pandemic adviser,” said the Los Angeles Times, and he’s offering some dangerous advice. Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no background in infectious diseases, was spotted by Trump on Fox News and is now helping steer White House policy. Atlas wants the U.S. to adopt Sweden’s “morally reprehensible” herd immunity strategy. Never mind that letting 65 percent of the population get infected to reach herd immunity may result in millions of deaths.

“We hate to be the bearer of good news,” said The Wall Street Journal, but the U.S. is doing well in the fight against the pandemic. Although cases are rising in the Midwest, “the flare-ups so far are well below the spring Northeast debacle or the surge in the South and West.” States are getting better at protecting the elderly, and treatments are improving. Our goal now should be to “mitigate the virus’ damage” while reopening businesses and schools, “allowing Americans to return to some semblance of normalcy.”

The CDC’s new testing guidelines make no sense, said Faye Flam in Bloomberg.com. Some 40 percent of people infected with Covid-19 are asymptomatic, but they can still spread the disease to others. Rather than discouraging testing, the government should be advocating for mass testing so “the small fraction of people who actually have an active infection” can be quarantined while the rest of us regain our freedom. Discouraging testing only makes sense if your goal is to undercount cases. Who might that benefit?

Multiple news outlets reported last week that the CDC changed its testing guidelines “under pressure from the administration,” said Megan McArdle in The Washington Post. But political interference won’t stop the growing availability of fast, reliable Covid-19 tests. Abbott Labs has won approval for a test that “costs $5, returns an answer in 15 minutes, requires no specialized equipment, and can be produced in bulk.” You might soon be able to “stop at a drivethrough testing center,” get a result in under half an hour, then arrive at a dinner party with a “negative” certificate in hand.

As eager as Americans are for a vaccine, history shows why fasttracking one could be catastrophic, said Jen Christensen in CNN.com. In 1955, the government gave the first polio vaccine to 200,000 children; 40,000 kids contracted polio and some 10 died. An unsafe Covid-19 vaccine would light a fire under the anti-vaxxer movement. “All it takes is one bad side effect to basically botch a vaccine program that we desperately need,” said University of Michigan professor Howard Markel. “It’s a prescription for disaster.”



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« แก้ไขครั้งสุดท้าย: กันยายน 23, 2020, 01:04:42 PM โดย anyaha »




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ตอบกลับ #3 เมื่อ: ตุลาคม 21, 2020, 12:22:34 AM
5 best North American skiing: From major resorts to quirky diversions
1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia


Though it’s enormous and known by skiers the world over, Whistler Blackcomb somehow still feels “intensely spiritual,” said Susan Reifer in Ski magazine. The resort’s two main mountains are surrounded by glaciers and “alpine lakes so vivid they look like something from a dream.” By many measures, Whistler is North America’s largest mountain resort, sprawling over 8,171 snow-covered acres. Whistler Village meets the demands of its diverse visitors with spas, restaurants, and hotels that appeal to “yogic meditators and hedonists alike.” Of course, the slopes are the main draw here, and some of the best snow is found away from the most wellcarved runs. Somehow, developing a familiarity with the terrain here “transforms a person—even one who is not naturally gifted—into the most capable of skiers.”

2. Banff National Park, Alberta
A trio of resorts in Alberta offers a pleasingly laid-back take on Canadian skiing, said Christopher Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. Unlike the far livelier scene 10 hours west at Whistler, the resorts Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, and Norquay offer stellar slope experiences without the bustle. Stunning peaks line the horizon in Banff National Park, where the three resorts feature a combined 8,000 skiable acres. About 4,200 of these are at  Lake Louise Ski Resort. While making your way up the Glacier Express chairlift to one of the more than 145 runs there, you can take in a view of the valley and spot skaters on Lake Louise, a partially frozen lake sitting under a glacier. An apr?s-ski scene in the town of Banff provides a chance to warm up, as do nearby hot springs.

3. Silverton Mountain, Colorado
The old-school, roughing-it conditions at Silverton keep “the soul of skiing” alive, said Christopher Steiner in Forbes.com. At 13,487 feet, Silverton Mountain is North America’s tallest ski peak and has no cut trails. A retired school bus pushed up against the snowpack serves as the mountain’s rental shop, and the base lodge consists of little more than a large pole tent with a wood-burning stove. Yet a range of skiers from “ski bum bros” to hedge fund managers takes advantage of the 1,819 acres of skiable terrain accessible by a single chairlift. Skiers also use the resort’s helicopter access to 22,000 more acres of raw slopes. The base lodge offers beer on tap, but more drinking options—as well as modern dining and lodging—are available only six miles away in the historic mining town of Silverton.

4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming


Jackson Hole is a resort that attracts hardcore skiers who want to “challenge and scare themselves,” said Dina Mishev in The Washington Post. It continues to offer some of the stiffest tests a skier can find in America, but the resort is also evolving to expand its appeal. New lifts added over the years have made some intermediate terrain more accessible, while existing trails have been improved and widened. Visitors may bump into celebrities in Teton Village, but the real thrills are on the 116 named ski trails and “a 3,000-acre experts-only playground of unpatrolled, ungroomed, uncontrolled terrain.” For advanced skiers, nothing matches the bowls, glades, and chutes of Rendezvous Mountain. On Rendezvous’s steep side-country couloirs, “falling is not an option.”

5. Marquette, Michigan


Many winter enthusiasts in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula enjoy snow without skis, thanks to “fat bikes,” said Melanie D.G. Kaplan in The Washington Post. “A cousin of the mountain bike,” a fat bike has tires about twice as wide as its relative, and with about one-third the air pressure. “The ride is steady and slow,” but the special gear allows for better control on snow. “Beginners and experts alike can’t help but wear a grin” when fat biking, and the fad has spread from its birthplace in Alaska all across the country. Marquette recently expanded its Noquemanon Trail Network, a hot spot for cross-country skiing, to include a 15-mile snow-bike trail that’s considered one of the best in the country. Not that you don’t have other options: “If you’re headed somewhere snowy this winter, chances are you’ll find fat-bike rentals.”

Berlin, 25 years after the Wall
A quarter century of freedom has done a number on the Berlin I once knew, said Zofia Smardz in The Washington Post. Back in the 1980s, West Berlin was “an island of freedom in a communist sea” and East Berlin “a forbidding fortress of a place, gray and lifeless.” But then the Wall that seemed as if it would last forever came tumbling down, the Cold War standoff between the Soviet Union and the West ended, and the “chic and fashionable” Berlin I loved busted loose. With the 25th anniversary of the Wall’s fall approaching, I decided to go back, landing in a Berlin that’s vigorously erasing its old dividing lines. Today, “it’s all one big, sprawling city—open and free and exhilarating.”


Of course, remnants of the Wall remain. What I find at Checkpoint Charlie shocks me: Near a replica of the guard booth where American MPs once checked the papers of people hoping to pass between West and East, tourists flood souvenir shops while actors in military garb pose for photos at $3 a shot. Boisterous street signs advertise curry sausage shops, while a couple of tiny, neon-painted cars drive by, honking. An “air of revelry” enlivens this display of “capitalism with a capital C”—and “I love it.” A Wall memorial on Bernauer Strasse offers a more sobering experience, though I spot some girls doing cartwheels nearby as I walk along a row of metal rods indicating the Wall’s route.

The spirit of giddy renewal feels especially strong in the Mitte district, “the formerly forlorn heart of Berlin.” Deluxe hotels and other towers are rising, and a “glitzy” restaurant now sits on the roof of the Reichstag, the 19th-century parliamentary building that sat largely abandoned throughout the Cold War. After dinner there, my husband and I stroll the spiraling walkway inside the building’s large glass dome and admire the Brandenburg Gate below. Berliners can now casually wander through the gate, but I’m sure the young international crowd I see rarely ponders how amazing that is. “That whole East-West thing? So 25 years ago.”

Wandering storybook Dubrovnik
The Croatian city of Dubrovnik “excels at playing versions of itself,” said Davin O’Dwyer in The Washington Post. Located on a “spectacular” stretch of the Dalmatian coast, the so-called Pearl of the Adriatic has been so fastidiously repaired since the bombardment it suffered during the 1990s’ Croatian War of Independence that you’d need a guide to spot the damage. Recently, Dubrovnik’s walled Old City has gained millions of new admirers by filling a featured role in the hit HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. “A perfect real-world substitute” for the capital of Westeros, the latemedieval city core is “a town-size living museum”—and a true architectural marvel.


The Old City’s main thoroughfare, the Stradun, struck me as “one of the most perfectly proportioned streets I’ve ever walked along.” The wall’s main gates lie at either end, and the gates’ adjoining bell towers “act as visual exclamation points book-ending the gleaming stone pavement and the cream-colored buildings in between.” Narrow lanes branch off that central spine, leading up or down flights of stairs that “keep framing the city in stunning vertical shafts”—creating postcard views of a cathedral’s dome, say, or of stacked terra-cotta rooftops. Even so, the Old City’s “most breathtaking attraction” has to be the mile-and-a-quarter-long walkway atop the wall that rings it. “The finest view of all” came where the wall meets the Minceta tower and “the collage” of bell towers and red rooftops was set against the sea beyond.

The revival of the Old City and its global embrace have pushed out many longtime residents, and that thought was playing on my mind when I returned to the Stradun on my last day. At Orlando’s Column, a monument to a Norman knight, a large group of men dressed like medieval guards surrounded a chained prisoner who seemed to have been badly beaten. But then a director yelled, “Cut!” and I was struck by the notion that Dubrovnik is particularly good at offering the illusion that past and present, reality and fiction, can coexist in one place. “It’s an illusion, in truth, that I didn’t want to end.”

A Cuban town barely touched by the 20th century
Trinidad, Cuba, is a place that time has “blessedly” passed by, said Linda Mack in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. A frequent stop on guided tours of the island nation, this town of 60,000 was built on sugar money and slave labor, but more than 1,000 of its colonial-era buildings remain intact, and its historic center feels “far from fossilized.” Walking its ankletwisting cobblestone streets recently, I was surrounded by one-story 18th- and 19th-century houses occupied by multigenerational families and spilling with life. “Doorways opened to restaurants and bars and the music that is everywhere in Cuba.” Loosened restrictions on U.S. travel to communist Cuba have slightly increased the presence of American tourists in Trinidad, but it remains a world apart. On its narrow streets, automobiles are outnumbered by horse-drawn carts.


Our group arrived shortly before sunset one day, after a long bus ride through mostly unpopulated countryside. Trinidad is set back from the sea against the Escambray Mountains, and we enjoyed mojitos on the terrace of our state-run resort before descending the dark cobblestone street into town. At Casa de la M?sica, one of three venues that offer music nightly, we joined locals spread among open-air bistro tables to listen to salsa and watch a fire-eater. Some of the town’s old villas, we later discovered house the private restaurants called paladares, which have become Cuba’s hottest attraction. A highlight of our stay was a dinner at Sol Ananda Paladar, a restored 1750s villa where chandeliers of varying styles hang from wood beams and a bongo-playing female singer and her three-guitar band played a great set while we ate.

Fourteen thousand slaves once worked in the region outside town known as the Valley of the Sugar Mills, but their owners lived luxuriously in town. Many of their villas are now museums, including one focused on archaeology and another on the decorative arts. The Municipal History Museum is “even more sumptuous.” Its many rooms enclose a large courtyard, and a three-story tower offers panoramic views across the city’s roofs toward the distant ocean and the nearby mountains.

Kerala, India—‘God’s Own Country’
In most any other corner of the world, local inhabitants couldn’t invoke a slogan like the one above without sounding “unbearably self-satisfied,” said Davin O’Dwyer in The Washington Post. But Kerala, the state that hugs the southwest coast of the Indian peninsula, is beautiful enough to wear the label comfortably, especially given the variety of religious communities that share and embrace the land. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and even some Jains peacefully coexist here, as is apparent in “the busy juxtaposition of towers, minarets, and spires that sit cheek by jowl in every city, town, and village.” Though each vista offers a new variation on lush green, the landscape of Kerala is otherwise “as diverse as its people”—encompassing stunning beaches, a lacework of backwater canals, and the “glorious” hillside tea plantations of the Western Ghats.


After a short stay in Fort Kochi, a quaint heritage city, my girlfriend and I journeyed to Eravikulam National Park to soak in an unrivaled view of the state’s rolling western countryside. Anaimudi mountain, a forbidding peak whose name means “Elephant Head,” loomed to one side as we looked out on the tea plantations arrayed below us. Near the hill-station town of Munnar, the tea bushes “cling to the hills like a soft emerald carpet,” while paths created for the pickers cut patterned grooves—“as if some god-like cartographer had inked contour lines on the mountain slopes.”

We took an overnight cruise along the Malabar Coast before enjoying “one of the quintessential Kerala experiences”—a slow voyage in a kettuvallam, or thatched houseboat, through the canals and rivers that crosshatch a vast expanse of emerald-green rice paddies. Pretty cottages and churches often lined the way, and children at play stopped their games to wave to us. Once, when we paused for lunch, we watched a duck herder in a canoe using a long stick to expertly chaperone hundreds of waterfowl toward the riverbank. The entire excursion was so serene that it wove “a kind of meditative spell, like a deep-tissue massage for the soul.”



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ตอบกลับ #6 เมื่อ: ตุลาคม 21, 2020, 12:24:30 AM
1. Our pets see things we can’t
Have you ever wondered why your cat has ‘mad moments’ where it seems to chase nothing, or your dog barks at thin air? The truth is, they may well be reacting to something out of our visual range. It’s been
known for some time that certain creatures like insects and fish see ultraviolet light, often using it as a guide to find their next meal, or to avoid becoming one. Now new research has revealed a far greater number of critters see some degree of UV, including cats and dogs, which might help explain some of their more unusual antics!

2. Chickens eye up new state of matter
As if being the closest living relative of the T-rex didn’t come with enough kudos, chicken’s eyes could host a unique state of matter. Known as ‘disordered hyperuniformity’, the phenomenon has been studied in other materials, like plasma and liquid helium, for several years, but this is the first time it has been observed in a living organism. A cross between liquid and crystal states, disordered hyperuniform materials appear to have a haphazard structure on a micro level, but on a wider scale demonstrate rigid uniformity. Birds may have evolved this ordered chaos to get optimum vision out of small eyes.

3. Earth’s forests are being watched
Using 500 million images captured by NASA’s Landsat satellites, as well as reports from the ground, the Global Forest Watch is keeping a close eye on Earth’s forests. All the raw data is fed into the Google Earth Engine, with algorithms created by the University of Maryland. The resulting maps reveal the shocking extent of deforestation in near real-time, with the images of threatened rainforest updated monthly. In the
visualisation above red areas show the estimated 2.3 million square kilometres (888,035 square miles) of forest lost between 2000 and 2012.

4. Dark Chocolate really is good for us
Chocolate might not be the first thing you’d think your doctor would prescribe, but a recent Dutch study has found a little dark chocolate can help ward off heart problems. While we’ve known for some time that
cocoa has nutritional benefi ts, we haven’t understood why. This latest research revealed that participants
eating 70 grams (2.5 ounces) of dark chocolate per day over a month experienced improvements in vascular function. Arteries were more flexible and fewer white blood cells stuck to vessel walls – both of
which reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (artery hardening) – the biggest cause of heart attacks.

5. The Moon has a new crater
Astronomers in Spain have observed the biggest-ever impact on our Moon. Predicted to have weighed in at 400 kilograms (900 pounds), the asteroid was travelling at 61,000 kilometres (40,000 miles) per hour when it struck our satellite last September, resulting in collision energy equivalent to 15 tons of TNT.

6. Phones take on tsunamis
Although mobile phones are often lauded as being ‘lifesaving’ gadgets, it is generally more figurative than
literal. Now a new mobile technology is transforming the ubiquitous device into an early-warning system, which sends text messages to those most in harm’s way during a natural disaster. Developed by RegPoint, the innovative system is being launched in India this April, in conjunction with the Indian National Centre for
Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). It will send an SMS alert to those signed up in at-risk areas immediately after a tsunami or typhoon has been detected and offer guidance of where to go and what to do.

7. Bubbles could fight urban pollution
With pollution levels in cities around the globe ever rising, we’ve seen many proposals to generate cleaner air for city dwellers. Few are as extreme as the idea pitched by architectural firm Orproject though. They think the answer lies in urban parks enclosed in huge bubble-like domes made of light, transparent material based on natural structures like leaf veins. Because the gardens within the bubble are sealed, temperature and humidity can be monitored and controlled year-round and the air can be kept free of fumes and other contaminants outside. As well as public parks, the bubbles could also be adapted to sit over school
playgrounds or apartment roof gardens.

8. Augmented reality is ready for the battlefield
Helmets have always been designed to save lives, but today’s most advanced models do far more than just deflect incoming projectiles. Indeed, the Q-Warrior helmet-mounted display can help us see in the dark, provide detailed route maps through a war zone and even identify friend from foe – all on a mini screen directly in front of our eyes. The technology is likely to be issued to commanding officers on covert operations initially to help co-ordinate a team, but could one day be a part of every soldier’s kit.

9. There is a new speed king in town
After several years of chasing the title, the Hennessey Venom GT has staked a new claim as the world’s fastest production car. It reached 435.3 kilometres (270.5 miles) per hour on a NASA runway. Boasting a V8 engine with a ground-shaking output of 1,200 brake horsepower, it has just about bumped the archrival Bugatti Veyron off the top spot, which has held the record since 2010 at 431.1 kilometres (267.8 miles) per hour.

10. Earth’s crust is 4.4 billion years old
It’s difficult to wrap your head around it, but this blue crystal is the oldest part of our world ever found. Researchers estimate it formed just 160 million years after our Solar System was born, 4.4 billion years ago. Discovered in western Australia, the staggering age has now been confirmed using two dating techniques. Having previously measured the decay of uranium particles into lead, more recently the zircon
crystal underwent atom-probe tomography that mapped out its atomic structure; both arrived at the same age. The team believe this discovery lends weight to the theory that Earth was hit by a planet-sized body in its formative years, leading to the Moon and a cooling process that resulted in our oceans.

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