#13 World news digest about Tech, Science, Social and Culture

Every week ELK team picks the most captivating, forward-looking and inspiring articles from the best media around the globe to share with you in our digest. Learn what the world is talking about today! Please vote for your favorite article in the comments (and also share articles that inspired you).

Digest curated by our teacher Svyatoslav Tugeev



The ability to utilise and repurpose the objects around you, creating useful tools, is one of the marks of intelligence – when we see that an animal uses improvised tools. We instinctively consider it smarter and more aware of its surroundings than the ones that do not. Which is why the fact that a robot has been taught to create basic tools from the objects around it is so interesting. Still in its infancy, this development may one day lead to an AI looking at the world around it with purpose. And considering how its surroundings can be used to achieve what it needs. 

Photo credit: Georgia Tech

An all seeing eye of a first responder

In critical situations, when someone needs to be rescued, situational awareness is of vital importance. First responders need to know where everyone is before they can help them. And it is often difficult to just go door to door amidst the fire or smoke. Which is where the new 3D printed device comes in – it allows the responders to not just detect people through walls, but see how actively they are breathing. It is not the first such device, but it is the smallest and most portable one so far, which is pretty important in a situation where every moment counts.

A new step towards smart clothing

As with every other object around us, we try to make our clothing smarter, and not just in a way it looks. However, out of all smart objects this is the closest one to our bodies, so its role will be different, as it might be able to track things other devices can’t. Problem with trackers used to be that they could not really work with surfaces that are constantly moving and deforming, such as our skin. However, this newest development allows the sensors to bend, stretch and contort, tracking every single detail to an unprecedented degree. New sensors can track the movement of muscles, blood flow, temperature, sweat secretion. And could one day be used in medicine and sport, before, quite possibly, jumping into other industries.



Ebola is not cured. But this news is no less amazing

Ebola is a disease everyone has heard about, and curing it is one of the serious challenges facing humanity today. And while doctors and scientists are cautiously optimistic in their statements, newspapers are running with headlines “Ebola has been cured”. While it is not entirely true, new treatments have cut the mortality rates down from 67% to just 10%, which is something so significant. Apart from all the lives that has and will be saved, this development is also significant because it represents a new approach in developing drugs and conducting drug trials in the middle of an epidemic. And that could mean even more for the future. 

Photo credit: WHO/S. Hawkey

Of climate, elephants and monkeys

Nature is an incredibly complicated system, where every element is part of a bigger whole, and moving one causes a chain reaction. Continuing the topic of climate change from the last digest, this article talks about the way two animals in particular “fight”, or, it would be better to say, dampen it: elephants and mustached monkeys 

Future of architecture? (video)

Architecture is a very interesting discipline, often defining our everyday interactions and behavior. With the conditions of our world changing architecture changes as well, adapting to them and making our existence more comfortable. And, still on the topic of climate change, one of the conditions the architecture might need to adapt to is the lack of trees that turn CO2 into breathable air. One possible solution? Algae curtains. if you are curious what those look like and how they function – this video is for you. 

Watching the leaves turn red

Autumn arrives in less than two weeks, and with it we will eventually begin to see the leaves slowly turn shades of yellow and red, a sight of somber beauty. But did you know that nobody can actually tell why leaves turn red in the first place? And that the mechanisms behind red and yellow colours are completely different? If you want to learn more and see how the colour change happen right in front of your eyes – check this article out.



Looking at the stars

There is occasionally an article that is not talking about recent news, but pausing and looking around us, trying to contextualize something we experience now or have been experiencing for some time. These articles are equally as important in my opinion, even if they tend to be longer and more abstract by their very nature. This is one of them, and it examines the connection between our knowledge of outer space and our fear of extinction. What role they play in a greater whole, and what the thought process of us, globally, as humanity, actually is.

Image credit: NASA


Refugees in museums

One of the issues that museums face is their disconnect from the populous. And one of the issues that refugees face is their disconnect from the culture of the country they find themselves in. Following the example of the German colleagues, Oxford museums have started taking refugees on as tour guides and museum workers, perhaps solving those two problems at the same time.

Beauty of math is for everyone to behold

Beauty of mathematics is an oft discussed subject. It has been proclaimed and defended, proven and promoted, yet still many of us maintain a feeling that it is something only few can understand or experience. According to a recent study, we could not be further from the truth. While the study included only Americans, there is little reason to believe that the result would be different for other countries as well. Average people can comprehend the beauty of mathematics as well as the beauty of a painting or a piece of music.

Image credit: Yale



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