It’s been a year of firsts for the railway system — from going solar to launching its fastest model. Pushing its limits even further, China is test-driving its Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit system, which is fully electric and trackless.
ART bears the physical appearance of a train but it doesn’t rely on following a track. Instead, it follows a virtual route using an electric powertrain and tires. It’s expected to function much like an urban train or a tram, but since there’s no investment cost in laying down rails, it should be much cheaper to implement.
The train can only travel 15 kilometers at a time, but can fully recharge in just 10 minutes. Environmentalists will likely tip their hats off to the new system — it’s entirely emissions free! Smoggy China could surely use more sustainable public transport alternatives. Thankfully, its government has been taking other measures to ensure that its locals don’t further experience pollution-caused health issues.
40 percent of China’s factories have been shut down, and authorities are reportedly working on a timetable to end the sale of gas- and diesel-powered cars.
A round of applause for China — sounds fresh!
China may be home to one of the world’s great wonders, but it’s also housing something far more dangerous — air pollution. It may be cracking down on carbon emissions with air-purifying bicycles and solar farms, but it seems efforts are lacking. A blessing in disguise, damaging factory activity has forced the country to shut down industrial regions to reevaluate environmental laws.
“After all, factories will be better, more sustainable, and more socially responsible after being inspected,” says [Archie Liu of MKT & Associates]. “It’s better for our supply chain. Then we can tell Walmart, Costco, and other retailers of ours that we’re qualified and that everything we make for Americans are environmentally friendly.”
With 40% of Chinese factories at a standstill, economic impact will be harsh — but totally worth it. Chinese tax bureaus will be taking over environmental groups, meaning greater consequences for law-breakers.
“It’s a huge event. It’s a serious event. I think many of us here believe it will become the new normal,” says Michael Crotty, president of MKT & Associates.
Criminal enforcement may sound overbearing, but in a deteriorating planet, may be just what we need.
Since developing a surgical robot, engineers across the globe have been pushing the limits of machines in medicine. This Chinese dental robot can perform implant surgery without any human assistance.
The implants were fitted to within a margin of error of 0.2-0.3mm, reaching the required standard for this kind of operation.
The robot addresses the shortage of dental technicians as well as frequent surgical errors. China imports roughly 1 million implants annually, which hardly satisfies the 400 million patients needing new teeth. The Fourth Military Medical University’s hospital takes care of 3D printing dentures.
[Dental staff] programmed the robot to move into the correct position to carry out the operation, and determined the movements, angle and depth needed to fit the new teeth inside a cavity in the patient’s mouth.
The robot adjusts to patients’ movement, which is definitely a plus. It also makes the experience a lot less intimidating, knowing your gums won’t be in for a prickly surprise. It seems surgeons are in for some serious competition.
If not the Great Wall, it seems China’s main attraction is its everlasting devotion to the giant panda. The home of the Forbidden City has even built a solar farm inspired by the peaceful bamboo-munchers. Now hoping to increase populations, China is funding a national park dedicated to the slow-reproducing bears.
Plans for the park – which would cover 27,134 sq km – were first put forward early last year by the ruling Communist Party and the State Council, China’s cabinet.
If the 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) proves enough, the Giant Panda National Park will dwarf Yellowstone by three times. With over 80% of the world’s pandas situated in Sichuan, 2018 is the perfect year for a get-together. Getting them to breed? We’ll leave it up to luck.
Giant pandas have a notoriously low reproductive rate, a key factor – along with habitat loss – in their status as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
We get it, guys. Dating around can be unsettling — but perhaps not for the greater good.
As we all know, the joys of tree-planting exist beyond activist groups. Anyone can join in on the fun — from entire villages to drones. Even your not-so-usual suspects can be pretty eager to give back. Such is the case with 60,000 Chinese troops, all of whom are reforesting 84,000 square kilometers of land.
The armed police force has a specially designated forestry branch to patrol and exercise jurisdiction in forested areas such as the northeastern Greater Khingan mountain range – dubbed ‘China’s green lungs’ – in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia provinces.
China’s current forest coverage lies at a measly 21%, which the People’s Liberation Army hopes to bump up to 23 by 2020. In this year alone, the Chinese government aims to overlay an ambitious 6.66 million hectares of land.
Heavily polluted Hebei province, which encircles Beijing, has pledged to raise its total forest coverage to 35% by the end of 2020, and the bulk of the troops pulled back from the frontlines will be dispatched there.
China is notorious for its dense amounts of smog and futile efforts to combat them with jars of air. Perhaps this route, along with other air purification methods, may be the best one to take.
Implants are becoming a thing of the past, now that it’s possible to 3D-print anything from brain tissue to teeth. While some remain dubious about the technology, Chinese scientists may convince them to think on the contrary. A Chinese lab has successfully incorporated 3D-printing methods to regrow underdeveloped ears using the patients’ own cells.
The researchers created a 3D-printed replica of each child’s normal ear… but … reversed. This replica was then used to create a mold littered with tiny holes and made out of biodegradable material. The mold was filled in with precursor cartilage cells taken from the children’s deformed ear that were further grown in the lab.
The ears grow over a 12-week process and are more restorative than cosmetic. Chinese researchers haven’t yet trialled the use of stem cells, but progress incredibly fast, which means its potential shouldn’t be far off. Five children have since undergone the experimental procedure.
“It’s a very exciting approach,” [said] Tessa Hadlock, a reconstructive plastic surgeon…“They’ve shown that it is possible to get close to restoring the ear structure.”
We’ve come a long way with reconstructive surgeries, and might I say — it’s music to my ears.
If robots have become capable of performing complex surgeries, surely they can begin to replace traditional doctors. Such is the case with Xiaoyi, a machine that recently passed China’s medical licensing exam.
“Since 2013, more than half of the questions in the test are about [patient] cases,” [said engineer] Wu [Ji]… “So it’s impossible to purely rely on memorising and searches.”
To earn a score of 456 out of a perfect 600, developers programmed Xiaoyi to link words and phrases. In doing so, the “Little Doctor” learned to reason — an impressive but also intimidating feat.
“What it can do most at present is make suggestions to doctors, to help them identify problems quicker and avoid some risks,” Wu said.
Still, Xiaoyi won’t be flying solo anytime soon. After all, there’s nothing like the reassurance you get from a human being — especially when they’re holding a needle!
In its last-ditch effort to combat smog with air-purifying bicycles, China has moved onto greater endeavors. Ensuing a promise to plant an Ireland-sized forest, Shaanxi province is tackling air pollution head-on with a giant air purifier.
The system works through greenhouses covering about half the size of a soccer field around the base of the tower.
Polluted air is sucked into the glasshouses and heated up by solar energy. The hot air then rises through the tower and passes through multiple layers of cleaning filters.
Since its recent launch, the 100-meter edifice has produced over 10 million cubic meters of clean air. As one of the most heavily-polluted regions in China, Xian is the perfect guinea pig for purifying technology. The gargantuan spire is still experimental, but may soon swarm the nation.
“It barely requires any power input throughout daylight hours. The idea has worked very well in the test run,” [said head of research Cao Junji.]
Cao’s full-size tower will span 500 meters. If its dwarfed prototype remains as promising as it seems, sunset-gazing in China may just become a popular weekend activity.
Succeeding its “wall of trees” stint, China is finally shifting its anti-climate change efforts into third gear. It may not compare to New Zealand’s tree-planting endeavors, but the ambitious eco-warrior is coming close. Hoping to up its environmental ante, the country is reforesting an area roughly the size of Ireland. That’s 6.6 million hectares!
“Companies, organisations and talent that specialise in greening work are all welcome to join in the country’s massive greening campaign,” [head of the State Forestry Administration Zhang Jianlong] said. “Cooperation between government and social capital will be put on the priority list.”
With 21.7 percent of China covered in forest, its environmental sector hopes to expand to 23 percent by 2020. Dubbed the world’s most polluted nation, China is hoping to alleviate the need for “clean air” jars with amore eco-conscious inclinations. Tree planting? It’s a good start.
This year the new forest areas will be built in the northeast Hebei province, Qinghai province in the Tibetan Plateau, and in the Hunshandake Desert in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in the north.
So far, the government has shelled out $61 billion on reforesting efforts. Considering trees can save a single city $500 million a year, the forbidden land may just break even.
Solar power exists everywhere — in highways and even infrastructure. It can withstand extreme conditions, or at least as far as we know. Now, two Chinese companies are testing that theory, setting out to build a solar farm on the remains of Chernobyl.
“It is cheap land, and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,” says Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources.
After years of battling radiation, Chernobyl has apparently become a breeding ground for new possibilities. Golden Concord Holdings and Sinomach will be spearheading the formidable project, which will cover 2,500 hectares.
“There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once-damaged area with green and renewable energy,” says Shu Hua, chairman of the GLC subsidiary.
As it welcomes hundreds of tourists a year, Chernobyl’s progress is slow but steady. Home to dozens of animal species, the once-toxic ghost town is finally making its comeback.