US

Air pollution is killing more people than smoking

US
By SG
Fri, 03, 20

The results reveal that, globally, 2.9 years of life expectancy on average are lost because of outdoor air pollution...

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The results reveal that, globally, 2.9 years of life expectancy on average are lost because of outdoor air pollution - a bigger toll than tobacco smoking (2.2 years lost), violence (0.3 years lost), HIV/Aids (0.7 years lost) and diseases spread by parasites and other vectors (0.6 years lost).

Outdoor air pollutants causes about 8.8 million early deaths a year worldwide. However, a global study published in the Cardivascular Research Journal has revealed that life expectancy can improve:

  • If all controllable air pollution is cut, global life expectancy could rise by more than 20 months.
  • If fossil fuel emissions are cut to zero, more than a year of life expectancy could be clawed back.

Should avoidable outdoor air pollution be cut, the team adds, more than 5.5m early deaths globally could be avoided every year.

Robot that moves like a snake

A robot snake has been recently developed by scientists in the race to advance the abilities of search and rescue machines. It is hoped that the robots may help to explore inaccessible terrain, such as rubble after an earthquake.

Scientists observed how snakes moved and used this information to make a robot that can climb large steps in a nimble and stable fashion.

Previous studies had mainly looked at snake movements on flat surfaces, but rarely in 3D terrain, except for on trees. These did not necessarily account for real-life large obstacles such as pieces of rubble and debris that search and rescue robots would have to scale.

The team created the robot to mimic the snakes’ movements. They say that compared to robot snakes from other studies, their creation is more stable than all but one, and came close to matching a real snake’s speed.

Building with trash

In South Africa, only 10 percent of waste is recycled, while 90 percent ends up in landfills. So, the Kenya-born architect and social entrepreneur, KevinKimwelle collects recycled and discarded materials from informal recyclers and local businesses, and uses it to construct his buildings, which so far include a school, recycling depots, rainwater tanks and even solar panels.

His most high-profile project so far is the Silindokuhle creche in Joe Slovo township, north of the city. With the help of the community, Kimwelle designed and built a structure made entirely of recycled materials - including 2,500 wine bottles. The glass bottle walls create an illuminated, rather magical atmosphere inside the building, which was nominated at Cape Town’s Design Indaba as one of 2017’s most beautiful objects in South Africa.

Kimwelle sourced most of the bottles from restaurants in the affluent suburbs of Port Elizabeth, connecting the most privileged members of the city with the most marginalised.

Here’s why the contraction for “Will Not” is not “Willn’t”

Like many grammar rules in the English language, using “won’t” as the contraction for “will not” doesn’t make a lot of sense. If we formed it like most other contractions, the result would be “willn’t.” Admittedly, that is a bit more difficult to say than “willn’t,” but come on, English language. What’s the deal?

Blame our European ancestors. Centuries ago, the Ye Olde English verb willan (which meant “to wish or will”) had two forms: wil- for the present tense and wold- for the past tense.

But as time went on, the pronunciation of these verbs kept changing, from “wool” to “wel” to “woll” to “ool.” Even though apostrophes and contractions can get confusing, we need them.

By the 16th century, there was finally some consensus on the preferred versions of this pesky word. Wil- became the familiar “will,” and wold- became our “would.” But the most popular form of the negative verb became “woll not,” which was contracted to “wonnot,” which modern English turned into “won’t.”

So contracting “will not” the logical way may not be so logical after all.

Compiled by SG