If You’re Not Natural In A Skill You Can Learn It

Learning a new skill is on everyone’s agenda. Whether it’s becoming fluent in a foreign language or simply having something as an asset, skills are undeniably valuable. While being able to teach yourself something instantly is the Facebook community’s most desired superpower, it isn’t all that easy. However, it’s definitely possible.

Firstly, find a skill you are passionate about. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? Forget difficulty levels for now, and go beyond a “just for fun” mindset. Consider the skill as something that will be vital to your life (and anyway, it may be).

Things may be easier if you consider your own skills. Some activities require good memory retention or an ability to accurately follow instructions. If you can already check certain “pre-requisites” off a list, your chances at becoming an expert at your new skill are significantly higher.

Once you’ve picked your skill, set realistic goals. Figure out what your primary motivation is. Do you want to learn to draw because a university elective requires it? Or do you want to impress a colleague? Whatever the case, make these goals meaningful to you, however shallow they may seem. Your bar should be at a defined level of expertise. If you want to become knowledgeable in a language, are you seeking full comprehension or get-by conversation? Gauge your own strengths and weaknesses in regards to this particular skill.

If you’re training yourself to become proficient in something you’ve never done before, chances are, you want to learn fast. If you can’t, don’t let your pace discourage you. On the ground, sloths move 2 meters a minute. It’s a stretch, but they get the job done. Manage your expectations and also set a deadline. When will this skill be most useful to you? Figure things out far in advance. If your chosen skill is writing fiction and you’re keen on entering a short story contest, don’t hesitate. Dive in!

Break down the skill. If you’re into photography, you’re going to have to learn the ropes of using cameras and editing tools. Skills can be two or even three-fold — making a list of what you have to tackle will come in handy. It’s kind of like throwing together a deconstructed meal. Be visual about it. Build graphs and brain maps (they may sound pretty juvenile, but they are useful — I promise!).

Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it your mantra and remember: consistency is your friend. You can learn a perfect Pachelbel Canon on the piano but fail to retain certain strokes because you don’t practice enough. On that note, don’t overwork yourself. It’s the same principle as studying too hard for an exam. While it’s great for your short-term memory, the stress will tire your mind.

Every now and then, you’ll feel like giving up. “It’s too difficult,” is a phrase that nobody is alien to. Identify your pain points. What do you know you’ll struggle with? If it’s hand-eye coordination or remembering sequences, figure out the best way to overcome these struggles. Most importantly, remember your motivation.

Maybe there is a charm that comes with being a natural at something. However, it doesn’t mean making the effort is any less attractive!

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Disney Commits $100 Million To Kids’ Hospitals

When it comes to health, hospitals are necessary but hardly ever enjoyable. Despite the rise of surgical robots, many prefer to self-diagnose. Still, Google remains a breeding ground for hypochondriacs, in spite of Apple’s efforts to create health-centered mobiles. To make pediatric wards a little less daunting, Disney is donating $100 million to institutes around the globe.

“Disney’s timeless stories have touched hearts and lifted spirits for generations, and we believe they can bring comfort to children and families going through a very difficult time,” [said] Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.

Disney will be bringing games, entertainment, and movie magic into infirmaries. Familiar characters will likely put children at greater ease and perhaps even pull some laughs. Patient rooms will be laden with murals (Disney-themed, of course), and staff will undergo extra training.

“The renowned Disney Institute, a part of The Walt Disney Company that provides professional development training focused on leadership, employee engagement and high quality service, will create a customized program for healthcare professionals designed to foster a less stressful, patient and family-centric hospital experience,”

Truth be told, I’d be slightly less nervous getting my blood drawn by Mickey Mouse. Or, if not, who doesn’t love Pluto?

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London Crossrail To Generate Energy From Wind

Wind energy is nothing new, but it’s definitely improving. In fact, it’s powering homes in Australia and Denmark at pleasantly surprising rates. Now that other nations are catching onto its sheer efficiency, they’re brewing up other ways to utilize it. For Moya Power in London, it’s all about being creative. The pilot project will collect energy from tunnel drafts caused by speeding trains using simple plastic sheets.

“If we all live in cities that need electricity, we need to look for new, creative ways to generate it,” says [mastermind Charlotte] Slingsby… “I wanted to create something that works in different situations and that can be flexibly adapted, whether you live in an urban hut or a high-rise.”

Considering the constant movement of  countryside families into cities, urban landscapes are demanding greater volumes of energy. As the war against fossil fuels continues to be precarious, alternative energy is very much welcome anywhere.

The yield is low compared to traditional wind power plants and is not able to power whole cities, but Slingsby sees Moya Power as just a single element in a mixture of urban energy sources.

Realizing that subway tunnels might be the windiest parts of an otherwise gloomy city now makes a lot of sense. Who knew?

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Green Chandelier Acts As Air Purifier

In a salad, algae may not seem too appetizing, but it sure is a fashion statement. Clarks recently released a shoe made from biomass algae, which seems to have tipped off a trend. Designers now want in on the action, specifically Julian Melchiorri, who built a green chandelier that purifies air.

The green lighting piece is composed of 70 glass leaves filled with green algae, which absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The transparent liquid filters through light, giving off a warm glow.

The display, called Exhale, is functional indoors and outdoors. It can also take on various forms depending on necessity. How, then, does the algae work its magic? Simple — photosynthesis. Melchiorri is all about function and the environment, and it’s not going unnoticed.

For his efforts, Melchiorri was awarded the Emerging Talent Award during London Design Week, which is given out to individuals who have made an impact within five years of graduation.

It may still be a prototype, but Exhale has surely left its mark on the design industry. With more people like Melchiorri, we may be able to restore the environment — one leaf at a time.

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MIT Designs Dome Forest Habitat To Win Mars Contest

Preparing for life on Mars has become increasingly tedious, especially after discoveries of snow on the planet. Nevertheless, places like the UAE are eager to push forward the limits of space study, building a massive Mars metropolis. You know — just in case. But clearly, it’s MIT engineers who are coming out on top after snatching the top prize at the Mars City Design contest for their dome habitats.

MIT’s winning design, which the team calls Redwood Forest, is a collection of “tree habitats” connected through a system of tunnels called “roots.” The roots would provide safe access to other tree habitats, private spaces and “shirt-sleeve transportation,”

If the designs make it to Mars, each dome would house up to 50 inhabitants. Realistically, the ambitious tech team hopes to build 200, which guarantees 10,000 hopefuls a spot on life beyond Earth.

“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life,” MIT postdoctoral researcher Valentina Sumini said.

It’s a daunting prospect, if it does happen. Hopefully MIT’s “forest” will make future residents feel right at home.

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Portable Tents For Homeless Are Just Cardboard

For street-dwellers, a single blanket or free meal often goes a long way. What often makes the greatest impact is an occasional resting place, be it in a shelter or elsewhere. Still, this remains unlikely for most, but do-gooder Xavier Van der Stappen is revising that statistic. With the help of local factories, Van der Stappen designed portable origami tents for the homeless in Brussels.

“There are homeless people everywhere. When I saw them, it made me remember refugee camps in Africa,” said Van der Stappen, the man behind the ORIG-AMI project.

“It is a shame that in the 21st century there are still people living in streets in a very rich country like Belgium.”

The cardboard creations (ORIG-AMI), easy to dismantle, combat a ban against canvas tents and city camping. They will also provide temporary shelter to those rejected by overbooked hostels. Despite their early success, Van der Stappen continues to vie for a long-term solution to homelessness.

“I‘m not the person who is trying to solve it. I just try to find a solution for today, not for tomorrow,” he said.

For those not quite anticipating a tomorrow, ORIG-AMI makes a good contender for an interim home.

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Japanese Train “Barks” To Prevent Deer Accidents

When it comes to cutting-edge technology, leave it to Japan to be ahead of the game. China may hold the record for the world’s fastest railway, but Japan is priding itself on a far more unique type of train. To prevent deer accidents, the Railway Technical Research Institute is installing an unusual barking system.

A three-second blast of the sound of a deer snorting attracts the animals’ attention, and 20 seconds of dog barking is enough to make them take flight.

So far, late-night tests have proved to reduce flockings by half. In 2016 alone, the transport ministry has seen 613 collisions. Hits can delay the punctual Japanese liners by up to 30 minutes. Still, engineers have put forward other possible solutions.

Another plan, which earned a railway employee Japan’s Good Design Award in December, is for deer crossings policed by ultrasonic waves, which allow animals access to the tracks at times when trains aren’t running.

Strangely enough, deer often approach railways due to their dietary needs for iron. Perhaps now they are realizing that licking tracks isn’t the safest way to snack.

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Concrete Structure Can Harness Solar Energy

Running on solar may seem simple enough, but it isn’t always the most affordable option. Some institutions, such as the famed solar high school in Copenhagen, can afford to maintain thousands of panels. But for those on a budget, alternatives such as solar blocks may be a more suitable option. Either way, engineers continue to develop more efficient methods for going solar. Designed in Zurich, this concrete roof prototype can generate solar power.

The self-supporting, doubly curved shell roof has multiple layers: the heating and cooling coils and the insulation are installed over the inner concrete layer. A second, exterior layer of the concrete sandwich structure encloses the roof, onto which builders install thin-film photovoltaic cells.

The fully-developed prototype will create more energy than it consumes. The structure’s components are reusable and the concrete itself is highly robust. The team considers its success a milestone — and rightfully so.

“We’ve shown that it’s possible to build an exciting, thin concrete shell structure using a lightweight, flexible formwork, thus demonstrating that complex concrete structures can be formed without wasting large amounts of material for their construction.”

There isn’t yet word on recreating the roof commercially, but after four years of research, the wait shouldn’t be much longer.

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Eco Car Is Made With Only 580 Parts

It’s 2017 and electric vehicles are all the rage. Because owning one can be pricey, groups such as Michelin are creating sustainable parts. However, the new XYT is an eco mini car made with only 580 parts.

XYT figures that its EV is so uncomplicated that a small, trained crew could assemble vehicles wherever they’re in demand. Its straightforward, highly modular design also makes it easy to customize.

The XYT may not be suitable for long-haul road trips, but for everyday use, it’s pretty darn impressive. Comparatively, most family cars boast up to 30,000 individual parts. The best part about the XYT? Consumers can revamp its features to suit their needs.

The company also doesn’t think you should have to trade your old vehicle in just so you can enjoy a few new features on a new model. XYT plans to offer upgrades to extend the lifespan of its vehicles.

The car, which passed all crash tests, is more than just quirky to look at. Affordable and eco-friendly, the XYT is a big win for the automobile industry.

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Sustainable Shoe Box Packaging Is Saving The Planet

Only halfway through the year, we’ve consumed more resources than the planet can regenerate. It’s an unspoken tragedy most refuse to acknowledge. However, big industry names are stepping up to the plate by creating products using sustainable resources. We’re now seeing the rise of shoes made with algae and cosmetics made with fish waste. For the first time, this sustainable shoe box has also made an appearance.

Viupax [uses] 20-57% less cardboard and 20-50% less volume. The packaging system is designed to be cost efficient in matters of production and transportation, and above all, it’s designed to improve productivity and user experience.

The boxes are not only funky in design — they are easy to stack and carry. Because Viupax sports a handle, there is no need for paper shopping bags. The packaging can even be recycled into toys.

Like the saying goes, if the shoe fits… well, hopefully it’s eco-friendly.

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