V.R. Is Helping Doctors Treat Cancerous Tumors

Things are looking up for cancer patients — from gene editing to the humble avocado, various forms of treatment are manifesting all over the world. Now, virtual reality systems are making it easier for doctors to treat cancerous tumors.

Once wearing the Oculus VR headset, the wearer can clearly see how the drug combats certain DNA strands inside the cell of a cancerous growth.

The wearer can then look around 360 degrees inside the tumor to see how the drug attaches itself to DNA strands to help dismantle the cancer.

The Oculus VR can eliminate the need of replica training, which is less practical and more expensive. It also provides users with feedback, allowing surgeons to perform more accurately.

“It is helpful in engaging the brain through interacting with a personalized animation someone is familiar with, so it feels real.”

I suppose this means virtual reality can escape its video game bubble and transition into the education industry. After all, there is always value in new technology.

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Plastic Bottle Air Conditioner Is Electricity-Free

It seems we’ve been underestimating the power of plastic. After the material was repurposed into makeshift lamps in the Philippines, it’s proving there is little it can’t do. Grey Dhaka in Bangladesh is taking plastic to new limits with a plastic bottle air conditioner that is completely electricity-free.

Repurposed plastic bottles are cut in half and mounted on a board or a grid in accordance with the window size with the bottlenecks facing the inside of the house. The board is then installed on the window… Hot air enters the open end of the bottle and is compressed at the neck of the bottle, turning the air cooler before it is released inside the house.

The device, called the Eco-Cooler, can reduce indoor temperatures by up to 5 degrees Celsius. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think regular-running electric air conditioners may now be facing a promising contender.

Today, more than 25,000 households have an Eco-Cooler in their homes. It has been installed in places such as Nilphamari, Daulatdia, Paturia, Modonhati and Khaleya.

Inventor Ashis Paul claims his daughter’s physics tutor inspired the Eco-Cooler. If simple DIY projects can combat climate change at no cost, maybe kids should reconsider paying attention in class.

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Cosmetic Brand Lush Is Funding Permaculture Farms

Cosmetic brand Lush, known for its scrumptious bath bombs, is on a roll with its eco-initiatives. Since turning trash into packaging, it is also now funding permaculture farms at £1 million a year.

“For us, the work we focus on is often regenerative, as opposed to sustainable – we want to give back more than we take,”

The said permaculture farms provide the beauty brand with organic ingredients such as aloe and shea butter. While Lush can count on a stable supply of materials, it is also helping communities thrive.

“We started the fund in 2010, with the idea that there can be a different, more supportive way of doing business,” [says creative buyer Gabbi Loedolff.]

The initiative, called the SLush Fund, has reached out to groups in Ghana and Peru. It is creating jobs and providing new technologies while being mindful of the environment. On that note, I think a relaxing soak in the tub would be doing myself and Lush some good.

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Algae Structure Produces Crucial Superfood

Algae has been making rounds in the fashion world as part of a running shoe. But beyond a sustainable footwear material, it’s also a crucial superfood — and this algae structure produces it.

The Algae Dome is a four-meter-high… pavilion that houses a photo-bioreactor, a closed system primed to produce microalgae at high quantities.

In just three days, the dome is capable of producing 450 liters of algae. It’s ultimate goal is to call attention to the product’s high nutritional value and unique characteristics.

Not only is algae rich in nutrients, containing twice as much protein as meat, it’s also packed with vitamins and minerals like iron.

Hear that, filet mignon? You’ve got competition. Being the fastest-growing plant species, various industries ought to pay more attention to the green gem. It can even grow in polluted water, which is practical in this day and age. Looks like a brighter future could be in store for us, thanks to this unexpected savior.

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Spread The Charitable Holiday Cheer On A Budget

Rolling into the “ber” months has many of us anticipating the upcoming holidays. While December usually means plastic pine trees from Home Depot and the return of Starbucks’ secret menu, it is also a time of giving. Though it’s the simplest and most practical way to help others in need, we aren’t all equipped to donate money. (That is, of course, unless you’re Bill Gates) However, there are a plethora of different ways to spread the charitable holiday cheer on a budget — and it may be more rewarding than you think.

Making a physical donation is easily the most viable option for holiday busybodies. If money isn’t exactly on your side, choose to donate in kind. Considering that the Christmas season rakes in a lot of presents, there are probably household items you can choose to live without. You can pledge clothing to shelters and toys to children’s groups. Books can go to your local library and appliances or electronics can end up in Goodwill. Of course, it is best to ensure that the items in your “give” box are in good condition.

If you can spare a day being proactive, you can opt to give your time. Charities don’t only seek checks and boxes — they need people. Volunteer at a home, whether for the elderly, ill, or four-legged. Chances are, there will be a lot for you to do. A rise in nonprofit groups may leave you with a copious amount of options. If you’re unsure of where to start, figure out where your interests lie and what skills you have to offer. This is where making a list and checking it twice may come in handy. (Scoot over, Santa)

If you are keen on raising funds, plan something income-generating like a garage sale or auction. If you’re without a charity of choice, research a group that could use the money. Remember that you will make the greatest impact by sticking to one organization. A few hundred dollars will go a long way for a single cause as opposed to dividing costs between various groups.

Some people love experiencing the immediate effects of giving back. If you’re handy in the kitchen, consider running a food drive. Get your neighborhood in on the action. Decide what meals are easiest to throw together, and are most cost-efficient. Not only will you satisfy a handful of hungry tummies — you’ll bring the community together.

Needing a change? Or are you simply not so squeamish? Make a medical donation. Blood drives are common during the holidays and a perfectly suitable option for those who have managed to stay in shape. (Perhaps skip the fruit cake?) If you’re not too hot for needles, donate your hair! You’ll be surprised how many people are affected by hair loss due to medical conditions. Moms can also donate breast milk to milk banks.

Giving back can be rewarding, especially if you have the money to do so. But you can choose to be charitable every single day. The time you take to change someone’s life will likely be more meaningful than just a dollar bill.

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AI Alerts Cars When You’re Texting And Driving

Distracted driving survivors have Apple Watches and shock bracelets to thank for sparing their lives. However, car accidents remain abundant — but not if researchers at the University of Waterloo have anything to say about it. A new artificial intelligence software can now alert cars when you’re texting and driving, which can prevent oncoming disasters.

This system can detect signs of distraction, which could be caused by texting or talking on the phone, reaching into the backseat, or anything else that causes a change in head and face position.

With the rise of self-driving vehicles comes the simultaneous ascent of new safety features. In other words, you can count on your car to pick up the slack.

“The car could actually take over driving if there was imminent danger, even for a short while, in order to avoid crashes.”

Majority of crashes are caused by human error. Researchers claim that autonomous vehicles can save tens of thousands of lives every year. Of course, this isn’t to hand over free passes to reckless drivers. Staying focused remains a number one priority for anyone behind the wheel.

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Yale Students Build Affordable Housing for the Homeless

Design and advocacy go hand in hand. There are many ways that design proves itself to be beyond aesthetics; it targets sustainability, promotes awareness, juggles being eco-friendly and multi-functional, and generally allows for an explosion of ideas. And sometimes, it doesn’t just save the planet. It saves the people in it, too. Witnessing to that are some great projects such as these portable origami tents or this efficient flooring system, especially built for refugees and the homeless.

Architecture students from Yale have worked on the same advocacy as they designed and built an affordable shelter for homeless people. The affordable housing project is part of an ongoing university tradition.

The 1,000-square-foot house for the homeless is a handsome prefabricated structure clad in cedar and topped with a standing-seam metal gable roof. According to the project statement, students were “challenged to develop a cost-efficient, flexible design that tackles replicability in material, means, and method of construction.” The house comprises two separate dwellings: one is a studio, while the other is a two-bedroom apartment with built-in storage.

Every year, the university tasks first-year architecture students to design and build structures that will benefit the community. The tradition has apparently been going on since 1967. For the project’s 50th iteration in 2017, some students that participated in the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project chose to explore cost-efficient and flexible design in giving affordable housing to those who need it the most. They executed their plans and successfully constructed the building at New Haven’s Upper Hill neighborhood.

The project also marked the first partnership between the Yale School of Architecture and the non-profit Columbus House, an organization that has been providing solutions to homelessness in the New Haven area since 1982.

If all school projects had this much impact and advocated this strongly for the betterment of the community, I probably would’ve been more motivated to get that A.

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Dutch City Creates First Habitable 3D Printed Houses

These days, it’s as if my childhood fantasies are all coming true — surprisingly enough, through architecture. I’ve always wanted to go to a school straight out of a fairytale: sprawling woods, fireflies, and all. I also remember being so captivated by paper dolls, wishing I was one so I could wear their printed dresses and pet their printed puppies and live in their colorful printed houses. Certainly that, too, doesn’t seem far-fetched anymore as a construction company launches an important project that will create 3D printed houses that are actually habitable.

Dutch company Van Wijnen calls the endeavor Project Milestone and it is being executed in an area near the city of Eindhoven.

Currently, there are five houses in total, each with a unique shape and size that shows off the flexibility of the cutting-edge tech. Since the printer is essentially a giant concrete nozzle that moves along a two-dimensional track high up in the air, architects are able to design homes in pretty much any shape they like.

How is the construction done, you ask? First, the pieces of the house are printed off-site then brought to the area for assembly. That’s pretty much it. The team, however, hopes they will be able to bring the printer on-site soon for more convenient adjustments. This entire process results in a far smaller timeframe than the usual building structure, which takes months and months.

The simplified assembly isn’t the only advantage 3D printing has to offer over conventional building methods. The process requires less workers, keeping costs down and accidents to a minimum. Further, the amount of cement, and transportation required are kept to a bare minimum, reducing the environmental impact.

Of course, improvements on structural integrity and environmental impact are continuously being researched. With the 3D technology behind printed houses still developing, we can’t really expect new villages or cities to suddenly sprout up from the ground (or the printer). But one thing is for sure, this is a game-changer for architecture.

And well, maybe, another: let’s just say kids like me who grew up on paper dolls and other kids who grew up playing The Sims will be very elated.

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Pediatric Cancer Drug Displays 93% Success Rate

Breakthroughs in cancer research such as gene-altering treatments and the discovery of nanomachines have made waves in the past few years, persistently leading humanity through not-so-tiny victory after not-so-tiny victory in a battle between human and disease that has spanned decades. Just this month, a drug specifically targeting a fused gene found in several cancer types resulted in a 93% response rate among children.

“In some cancers, a part of the TRK [tropomyosin receptor kinase] gene has become attached to another gene, which is called a fusion. When this occurs, it leads to the TRK gene being turned on when it’s not supposed to be and that causes the cells to grow uncontrollably. What’s unique about the drug is it is very selective; it only blocks TRK receptors,” said lead author Dr. Ted Laetsch, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

Most drugs that are already known and used to cure cancer usually target a particular location or organ in the body. According to the researchers at UT Southwestern’s Simmons Cancer Center, Larotrectinib is the first cancer drug designated for people with TRK fusions, or the fusion of two genes in the cancer cell, regardless of whether their cancer is in the lung, colon, or other areas.

“…none of the patients with TRK fusions had to quit the study because of a drug-induced side effect. Equally important, the response was long-lasting for most patients.”

The TRK fusions tend to occur mostly in certain types of pediatric cancer. This implies that, despite also being 75% effective in adult cancers, Larotrectinib is a bigger breakthrough in pediatric cancer research. This is a hopeful and life-giving discovery for children, or the people most capable of giving us hope in our own lives.

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Bee Saving Paper — You Guessed It! — Saves Bees Globally

Unable to resist our sweet stripey friends — and of course, the danger to our food resource brought about by the dwindling of their populations — different sectors have already been participating in bee saving initiatives. There is the UK’s ban on harmful pesticides. There is the transformation of empty lots into bee farms by a group of Detroit locals. Recently, there is free ice cream from food company Häagen-Dazs to promote the bee saving advocacy.

The latest to join the hive is a Polish startup company that created a biodegradable paper from energy-rich glucose that may feed bees. Not only is it definitely usable for us humans because the material isn’t sticky at all, Bee Saving Paper is very nutritious and delicious for our pollinator friends.

The material is made by dissolving a special kind of sugar into water, making a paste that beekeepers use to nourish their hives during the winter. According to the paper startup’s website, only 0.5 kilograms of the substance is enough to feed several thousand bees.

The paper is also made with honey plant seeds, which means that once the bee eats up all the glucose, the paper’s biodegradation will grow another “rest stop” for bees in its place.

Now you might ask: why would any creature want to eat paper? What could make it seem sumptuous? Well, the designers have also come up with a solution to make the Bee Saving Paper look yummy.

Since bees see fields of flowers as circles of colored light on the ultraviolet spectrum, the engineers used water-based UV paint to cover the paper with colored circles that are only visible — and attractive — to bees.

Since last year, the startup has already successfully executed its first field test. They helped out a Polish beekeeper whose bee farm populations were rapidly decreasing. Now, the company aims to promote their bee saving products to large brands and businesses that need paper. Which could be every business out there, really.

[A]ny business or manufacturing company using paper can start making their products out of materials that are environmentally friendly and nourishing to pollinators — from paper bags to parking tickets and picnic plates.

I can’t imagine how exciting it would be to do everyday chores. Shop with a paper bag, read food labels printed on paper, drink from a paper cup, write love letters on paper… do pretty much everything as a bee saving hero!

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