Lego Collection Pays Tribute To Female Space Heroes

Lego’s transition into bio-plastics is probably one of their greatest achievements to date. Having said that, the company has inspired children (and adults!) to think big for decades. Its most recent collection honors the women of NASA, validating that success doesn’t rely on gender.

“In all realms of science, engineering, and technology, pioneering women have historically been underappreciated for their often groundbreaking work,”[MIT News Deputy Editor and Lecturer Maia Weinstock who proposed the idea] said in a statement.

This is truly a big move, considering how the usual Lego collection depicts fantastical universes like Star Wars or Minecraft. Not only is the company pandering to the interests of young girls now, they are doing so with an inspirational agenda.

The set’s figures include Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space, and Margaret Hamilton, who developed software for the Apollo spacecraft. It will also come with miniatures of the Hubble Telescope and Space Shuttle, among other tools. Lego hopes to encourage more girls to explore various branches of science.

[Weinstock added,] “We have also seen that when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas.”

Remember, girls — science is, of course, also for you. And forget “nerdy.” Microscopes and bunsen burners are the new “cool.”

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Let Swedish Concept “Lagom” Bring Balance to Your Life

Mindfulness is a pretty trendy lifestyle choice that truly appears to be effective, though of course different people have different takes on it. Some professionals say that living in a fast-paced world where everything is instant exhausts us, and therefore we must sometimes slow things down a bit. For a person with a mental health condition, acceptance and awareness are necessary tools in order to find ways to live with it—though again, what worked for me might not necessarily be as successful for someone else.

There are many opinions on how to find a healthy and functional lifestyle that is most suited to one’s well-being. But if there’s another word to describe this world other than “fast-paced,” I think it would be “excessive.” We work so hard to buy so much stuff, eat so much food to do so many things, take in so much information in order to survive and then so much media to keep ourselves entertained. We need so much and want so much. This is why I find myself rather invested in the balance of one’s life as described by the Swedish concept of “lagom”.

“Lagom” [celebrates] the idea of “just enough.” It’s the space between minimalism and living in excess . . . With lagom, less is more, and instead of buying things we do not need, it is about finding pleasure and fulfillment in moderation. It is the belief that extremes on the spectrum are bad. For instance, exercise is good, but none at all is just as detrimental as too much.

The idea seems exciting, though a bit lofty. So the question now would be: how does one embrace “lagom”? Well, to answer this, you would constantly have to ask another question: is this good enough? Because good enough is the way to go for “lagom”. When it comes to housekeeping, one should learn to keep what’s valuable — don’t hoard every single souvenir, but don’t toss everything out so quickly either.

[B]efore adding anything else to your space, ask yourself if things are good enough already. The point is to find a simpler life that still has room for the things that make you happy.

As for work, you have to know your limits. Decide when enough is enough. Don’t demand too much, but don’t let your employer demand too much from you either.

Accept that work is an important part of life, but find the balance between letting it be the main focus of your life and an unpleasant task you charge through as quickly as possible.

Another compartment of life that “lagom” works wonders with is your diet. This is because the idea of balance and moderation is best when it comes to nutrition.

[T]here is a time for indulging in all the delicious goodies that make a celebration great, but there is also a time to moderate. The first step to eating lagom-style is to eliminate waste.

Not every good meal has to be indulgent and expensive. Buy local. Grow your own produce. As long as it doesn’t take too big a space in your schedule, make time for things that will balance your life.

Like I said, you may read a lot of opinions about the real way to achieve a healthy lifestyle. You may hear from your momma or Aunt Carol about their own take. Then again, every person’s life is so specific, and what you end up doing with mindfulness, slowness, or even “lagom” depends entirely on how you want to live yours. “Lagom’s” only reminder is as simple as this: simple is best.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

AI Can Distinguish Abusive Language Online

So far, we’ve used artificial intelligence much to our advantage in whatever way possible. We’ve built devices as trivial as visual emotion masks, but overall, people feel mostly optimistic. But now that we know AI can serve purposes of various degrees of impact, developers from McGill University are developing an AI that can recognize hate speech on social media.

Instead of focusing on isolated words and phrases, they taught machine learning software to spot hate speech by learning how members of hateful communities speak… They focused on three groups who are often the target of abuse: African Americans, overweight people and women.

Previous softwares detecting abusive language have proven unsuccessful due to the misleading nature of online slang. That and the fact that machines aren’t well-versed in sarcasm. The system, however, was able to identify racist slurs and avoided false positives. And I believe this first step in compiling data about sites that condone and even encourage abusive language can lead to finding solutions in the future. Perhaps hopefully, not just online. After all, our material reality reflects our online visual reality, and vice versa.

“Comparing hateful and non-hateful communities to find the language that distinguishes them is a clever solution… [But] ultimately, hate speech is a subjective phenomenon that requires human judgment to identify,”

While it won’t eliminate every online bully, it’s a commendable attempt at making the Internet a safer environment.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Paralyzed Woman Writes Book Using Only Her Eyes

Locked-in syndrome is a condition where the person loses all muscle control or becomes entirely paralyzed, while maintaining most cognitive functions. In simple terms, this means they can still think and feel, but cannot move or speak. Some people, however, have found technological leads on how to help locked-in patients communicate, such as this nanoscience professor who created a computer interface that helps them identify letters and words using only their eyes.

Using a similar device, a woman diagnosed with the syndrome wrote an entire book about her experience. Mia Austin was only 21 years old when she suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed, but now at 29, she finished her book In the Blink of an Eye using only eye movement, a spelling chart at first, and eventually the specialized computer.

Her mother Carole, 62, recalls: “She [Austin] was in the hospital for around 14 months and writing poems and stories kept her alert and occupied. I think the idea [for the book] stemmed from there really.”

According to her father Rick, the book took about a year to write. Meanwhile, Mia’s siblings also helped in her process, especially with the spelling chart, which took a lot of energy and made Mia exhausted. Despite this, Mia just doesn’t seem to run out of achievements.

The book is by no means Austin’s only incredible feat of determination. She completed a criminology course at Wirral Metropolitan College in 2017 before signing up for a forensics course with the Open University. And this year she will begin another course in criminal justice.

Aside from academics, Mia is also incredibly engaged in charity work. She launched a campaign for disabled travellers. She participated in awareness projects for homelessness. She has been on aid missions to orphanages even outside the country.

In an interview with The Mirror, Austin explained her desire to give back to the charities that have supported her. She said: “I love to take part in new challenges to prove I can succeed despite my condition. I also want to support various charities because I have received help myself in the past.”

Mia’s story sort of robs us of any excuse to waste our energy today, doesn’t it? It could just as well inspire us to push our minds and bodies to the limit from here on out.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Play with Cuddly Cats All Day in Hawaii

If you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of the Internet for pet lovers — pun intended — you would know that designations as dog persons or cat persons are usual. Or even seemingly necessary. Dog person versus cat person debates even brew up sometimes, but all in good fun. For me, though, there’s no battle between species. And I hope you agree, dogs working at museums and cats surprising old ladies are equally adorbs.

I was just at the rabbit hole cooing endlessly at cute pictures — a rabbit hole which needs more bunny people, to be honest, because they’re also super cute — when I came upon this piece of exciting news for cat people and pet-neutral people like me. You can now spend your Hawaiian vacation on something other than getting a tan and sipping pina coladas. Why not hang out with the island’s lovable felines?

The Lanai Cat Sanctuary, only a “tail’s wag” from the Lanai Airport, hosts nearly 600 former street cats on a gorgeous property that attracts more than 10,000 visitors a year. The open-air space — where the cats can run, play, nap and generally do whatever they like all day — is a feline paradise.

Visitors may come to the sanctuary from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. everyday. And the best part? Admission is free! The place, however, accepts donations to be used for maintaining paradise and helping the kitties do the activities they like.

The other best part? If spending the day with cuddly cats isn’t enough, you may choose to adopt one. Many of the felines are adult, and all of them are up for adoption through the sanctuary. But those who won’t be adopted may live their whole lives at the place.

The organization started as a project to sterilize Lanai’s street cats to control overpopulation. In 2009, the group moved the cats to its current site and established itself as a nonprofit.

If work is taking over your year, however, and you need to put off your vacay for a while, you may opt to visit the Lanai Cat Sanctuary’s website in the meantime. Though I hope it inspires you to plan ahead for when you can finally slip away into holiday mode. After all, what other vacation could beat hugging cuddly cats while sipping pina coladas and getting a tan on a gorgeous island?

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Smart Pedestrian Crossing Makes Roads Safer

Road accidents are among the leading causes of death worldwide and many are looking to change this statistic. With the ability to phone emergency services, an Apple Watch makes a great driving companion. So does Steer, a wearable that monitors your drowsiness. On the other side of drunk and lazy drivers are distracted pedestrians. This high-tech zebra crossing in south London is tackling the issue, making roads safer for everyone.

Dubbed the “Starling Crossing” by designers from UK technology company Umbrellium, it aims to update the traditional British zebra crossing with the help of a neural network and tracking cameras, which can calculate the trajectory of anyone walking across its surface.

Here’s the thing — looking down at our iPhones while crossing the street? We’ve all done it. To avoid accidents, Starling Crossing alerts walkers when a car is nearby the pedestrian crossing using LED lights.

“We’re trying to update it for the 21st century with a crossing that deals with the fact that people are on mobile phones and they might not be looking up, vehicles might be coming more often, there might be pedestrians suddenly coming out at the end of a film . . . This is trying to perform very much like a traditional crossing with the difference that it responds in real time.” [says Umbrellium founder Usman Haque.]

In the midst of a tech savvy society, this may be what we need. Of course, people can decide looking both ways at a pedestrian crossing is a much simpler solution, but we cannot take enough precautionary measures to ensure road safety. Plus, well, tech is always here to help.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Artist Creates Dolls With Vitiligo To Inspire Young Girls

More and more, people are becoming comfortable in their own skin. Plus-size model Natalie Hage shut down a fat-shamer who ridiculed her on an airplane. While the confrontation was awkward, it needed to happen. And anyway, who isn’t in love with their own curves? It’s 2018. Then again, it’s safe to say body positivity still isn’t present everywhere, especially for younger girls.

To combat this, Artist Kay Black is inspiring vitiligo sufferers, specifically, by creating dolls with rare skin conditions.

[Kay Black] began making the dolls as a hobby alongside her “normal” job. She said, “I’m motivated by everyday people I see walking up and down the streets.”

The dolls with vitiligo are made special for each customer and have been praised by a number of celebrities. But Black isn’t after fame — she just wants her buyers to feel appreciated.

“People are literally in tears when they get their dolls. I want to create dolls everyone can relate to.”

She also creates a plethora of other dolls that break the rather dangerous standards set by certain world-renowned toy companies. Other than the dolls with vitiligo, Black customizes ones with realistic features such as freckles or curly hair. This makes them super relatable for young girls.

In line with Black’s advocacy, a model with the skin condition even spoke up regarding her own life. Attached to a selfie showing Winnie Harlow’s whole body is her inspiring message.

“The real difference isn’t my skin. It’s the fact that I don’t find my beauty in the opinions of others. I’m beautiful because I know it. Celebrate Your unique beauty today (& everyday)!”

Making friends with your flaws isn’t the easiest — but it certainly is a step in the right direction. Thanks to people like Black and Harlow, young girls may be motivated to discover how to sincerely love themselves.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

The U.K. Ban on Ivory Sales And Exports

Time and again, elephants have proven that they are worth more than just their tusks. Back in August, they rescued hundreds of tourists from a flood in Nepal. And while some, like war veteran Col. Faye Cuevas, are doing their best to protect them, it seems the efforts are not enough. Last year, the U.K. has taken a favorable — albeit small — step towards banning almost all sales and exports of ivory products.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages — previous attempts at a ban would have excluded antique ivory produced before 1947.

The government says there will be some exemptions, for musical instruments and items of cultural importance.

A lack of clear restrictions is corroborating the fears of environmentalist groups, who are unsatisfied by the ban. They argue that the UK still leads in exporting legal pre-1947 ivory antiques even in the past few years, and though the transactions are technically not punishable by law, the high amount of sales stimulates demand and encourages poaching in Africa.

Nonetheless, pressures from conservationists and Prince William himself — a long-time campaigner against the trade — are pushing the government to impose a total ban. If I were being encouraged by English royalty to head towards a certain direction, I’d probably start walking.

At a wildlife conference in Vietnam, [Prince William] said: “Ivory is not something to be desired and when removed from an elephant it is not beautiful.

“So, the question is: why are we still trading it? We need governments to send a clear signal that trading in ivory is abhorrent.”

Well said, Prince William. I toot my horn (or tusk?) in your favor. While waiting for further updates this 2018 from the government of the UK, perhaps we could share a toast to the greatness of elephants.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Farm Can Grow Vegetables In Freezing Temperatures

As a trend, home gardening is explosive. TerraFarms are a space-efficient choice that use no pesticides and 97% less water. The Ogarden system is completely hassle-free and can grow up to 100 herbs and vegetables a month. However, home gardening isn’t practical everywhere — especially in colder countries. Engineers at the German Aerospace Center are now helping snowed-in communities garden, with an Antarctic farm that can grow veggies below zero.

Called the Eden-ISS, the farm exists inside a climate-controlled shipping container. The greenhouse relies on  a technique called vertical farming, in which food grows on trays or hanging modules under LEDs instead of natural sunlight.

The farm is only 135 square feet and can grow vegetables in huge amounts. Amazing, considering the only means of transportation for produce deliveries is by ship or plane. Researchers plan to grow some 30 to 50 different plant species. In short, the new technology is beating the odds.

Over the past 100 years, Arctic temperatures have increased at nearly twice the global average, making it possible to grow crops in once-desolate places like Yellowknife in Canada and Greenland.

On a more impressive note, temperatures in the area can plunge as low as -100 degrees Fahrenheit. I didn’t even know it was humanly possible to exist under such conditions. Lesson learned: never underestimate the power of innovation.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends:

Deaf Dog Rescues Lost 3-Year-Old

We all know dogs are capable of achieving amazing feats — that is just completely irrefutable. They rescue their owners from gas leaks, help calm veterans with PTSD, plant trees to restore burnt forests, track survivors of an earthquake, and even comfort anxious cheetahs.

Dogs do these awe-inspiring acts, sometimes in spite of their own disability. A partially blind and deaf dog recently became an honorary member of the police as he rescued a three-year-old girl who was lost in the Australian bush in Queensland.

Seventeen-year-old blue heeler Max stayed with the girl, named locally as Aurora, overnight and then helped lead her grandmother directly to her location after a huge search and rescue operation . . . Aurora wandered off alone on Friday afternoon and was found safe in bushland 2 kilometres from her house at around 7.30am local time on Saturday, according to ABC News.

100 volunteers were involved in the emergency search, but it was the deaf dog that eventually led to Aurora after camping with her the whole night. Queensland Police showered Max, the deaf dog, with praises and tweeted that he is now an honorary member of the police force.

[Aurora’s grandmother Leisa Marie Bennett] told ABC News: “I think [Aurora] was a bit overwhelmed by the tears and the howling, but I explained to her how happy those tears were. It could have gone any of 100 ways, but she’s here, she’s alive, she’s well and it’s a great outcome for our family.”

I swear, dogs just never run out of life-saving surprises for their human friends. And for rescuing a 3-year-old girl, Max truly deserves his yummy one-of-a-kind treat from the Queensland police.

--> Help make the world a better place by sharing this story with your friends: