June 29, 2024

Things I learned these past few months

Below, a quick roundup of a few of the things I learned over the past few months.

A quarter of Paris residents live in government housing—an aggressive effort to keep middle- and lower-income residents and small-business owners [in the heart of the city.” (NYTimes)

In 2023, humans launched a record-breaking 2,664 objects into space, with American companies and government agencies being responsible for 81% of them. (chartr)

As of December 2019, OverDrive controlled digital lending for more than 95% of public libraries in the US and Canada. (Nine Lives)

Researchers have identified a link between car exhaust and signs and symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s disease. (University of Technology Sydney)

The amount of American adults who’ve had coffee in the past day has increased by 37% since 2004, a 20-year high. (Sprudge)

A newly sequenced genome suggests that Coffea arabica developed more than 600,000 years ago in the forests of Ethiopia via natural mating between two other coffee species. (Phys.org)

Scientists at UC Riverside have demonstrated a new, RNA-based vaccine strategy that is effective against any strain of a virus and can be used safely even by babies or the immunocompromised. (UCR)

H5N1 has now been detected in raw milk from infected animals. (Barron’s)

Global defense spending grew 7% to a record $2.4 trillion in 2023, the fastest annual rise since 2009. (Reuters)

Costa Rica consistently gets more than 99 percent of its electricity from renewables (Verge)

Yale researchers say that nasal application of neomycin shows promise in the prevention and treatment of respiratory viral infections including COVID-19 and influenza. (Yale)

A team of British palaeontologists discovered the remains of a giant Ichthyosaur with a jawbone measuring 2.3 meters, potentially making it the largest marine reptile ever, at 22-26 meters long. (Ars Technica)

Nearly half a million hectares of Crown land, including more than 200 islands of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, has been returned to the Haida Nation. It’s the first time in Canadian history that the government has recognised Indigenous title across an entire terrestrial territory inclusive of land area as well as surrounding airspace, seabed, and marine waters. (Hakai)

A new report estimates that since the 1970s, global immunisation efforts have saved_ an estimated 154 million lives–_the equivalent of six lives every minute of every year. Vaccination against 14 diseases, including diphtheria, measles, polio, rubella, and tuberculosis, has helped reduced infant deaths by 40% globally and by more than 50% in Africa. (Vox)

Japan’s Kansai International Airport hasn’t lost a single piece of luggage since it opened 30 years ago. (Nikkei)

A Sumatran orangutan has become the first wild animal seen self-medicating with a plant to heal a wound. (ABC)

From 1912 to 1952, the Olympics gave out medals for the arts in events like graphic works, compositions for orchestra, epic works (literature), statues, and drawings & watercolors. (NYTimes)

In 1987, countries around the world signed the Montreal Protocol to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances — such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and halon gases. Since the Montreal agreement entered into force in 1989, global emissions of ozone-depleting substances have fallen by more than 99% as manufacturers have substituted them for less harmful alternatives. (Our World in Data)

Thanks to a newly deciphered Herculaneum scroll, researchers have pinpointed the location of Plato’s grave in Athens and know what he did on his final day. (Guardian)

According to the US Department of Agriculture, consumption of avocados in the United States has tripled since 2001, climbing to more than eight pounds per person each year. (USDA)

Renewables produced just over 30% of the world’s electricity in 2023. This growth was mostly driven by the rapid rollout of solar and wind technologies. (Our World in Data)

Once a mainstay of the Billboard charts, a cover song hasn’t entered the top 100 in nearly 20 years. (Reddit)

Although about 300,000 women still lose their lives to pregnancy-related causes every year, the global community has made significant strides in reducing this number. According to recently published WHO data, maternal mortality has decreased by 50% since 1985, thanks to improvements in access to care. (Our World in Data)

Vaccines have saved 150 million children over the last 50 years. Vaccination against measles has had the biggest impact, saving 94 million lives over the last 50 years. (Our World in Data)

Late bedtimes are linked to higher rates of mental health disorders, regardless of chronotype—both morning and night types benefit from going to bed earlier. (NeuroscienceNews)

Movie titles are getting longer each decade—especially for adventure and fantasy films. The number of films with a colon in the title has increased more than tenfold during the last fifty years. (Stat Significant)

Scientists find that 50,000-year-old Neanderthal bones have remains of human viruses. The preliminary analysis is a first step in testing the theory that infectious diseases played a role in Neanderthals’ extinction. (Smithsonian)

Flamingos have been largely missing from Florida since the early 20th century. Now at least 100 are back, possibly carried there last year by Hurricane Idalia. (Smithsonian)

The world’s first entirely 3D-printed neighborhood is currently being built in Mexico, providing affordable housing solutions for families living on $3 a day. (CNN)

Paris has closed more than 100 streets to motor vehicles, tripled parking fees for SUVs, removed roughly 50,000 parking spots, and constructed more than 1,300 kilometers of bike lanes since Mayor Anne Hidalgo took office in 2014. Those changes have contributed to a 40% decline in air pollution, according to city officials. (NBC)

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