Science Podcasts: Covid-19 Vaccine Ethical Issues, Upcycling Plastic Bags

First up, host Sarah Crespi talks with Staff Writer Jon Cohen about some tricky ethical questions that may arise after the first coronavirus vaccine is authorized for use in the United States. Will people continue to participate in clinical trials of other vaccines? Will it still be OK to give participants placebo vaccines? 

Next, producer Meagan Cantwell talks with Bert Weckhuysen, a professor at Utrecht University, about a process for taking low-value plastic like polyethylene (often used for packaging and grocery bags) and “upcycling” it into biodegradable materials that can be used for new purposes. 

Top Short Films: “North Country”, Story Of 100-Year Old Lahout’s Ski Shop

Director: Nick Martini
DP: Cam Riley
Producer/Executive Producer: Anthony R. Lahout
Editor: Mattias Evangelista
Sound: Alex Boll

Since 1920, America’s Oldest Ski Shop

100-year businesses don’t exist. The retail industry is dead. In the rugged White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, Lahout’s has remained open 365 days a year since 1920. While e-commerce and conglomerates have stripped the country of local, independent retailers, a family of Lebanese immigrants have prevailed for a century, beating the Great Depression, World War II, the Dot Com Crash and Great Recession.

Award-winning director Nick Martini and cinematographer Cam Riley have teamed up with executive producer Anthony Lahout to captivate a nation consumed with hashtags instead of history. This film tells a timeless short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis. After 100 years, Lahout’s is still a family business moving onto its fourth generation. Through past and present, we learn the true root of the store’s success. As the original passes on, we question and discover the backbone of its longevity. We hope to inspire immigrants, millennials, family businesses, and outdoor enthusiasts that all in America is not lost.

Learn more about Lahout’s – America’s Oldest Ski Shop:
www. lahouts.com
instagram.com/lahouts
facebook.com/lahouts

Top Artist Profile: British Watercolorist Tim Wilmot

Tim Wilmot is an artist from Bristol in the South-west of the UK, specialising in vibrant watercolours, using tone and light to bring out the best in the medium. Tim, self-taught, paints in a loose, impressionistic style and, while having dabbled with portraits and still lifes, he is inexorably drawn to landscapes.

Watercolorist Tim Wilmot

He says: “I’m an outdoor person rather than an indoor person. For many years I’ve taken a sketch book on my travels and I quickly scribble scenes in a shorthand sort of way. Then, returning home, I recreate those memories with paint and brush. Watercolour is also an ideal medium for those quick impressions when you’re limited in time.”

Website

Sustainable Architecture: ‘Woodnest Treehouses’ Above Fjord In Norway

Woodnest – Up in the air

The steep forested hillsides around the Hardangerfjord above Odda, is the location of two Woodnest treehouses. The architecture is a specific response to the topography and conditions of the site itself. Inextricably crafted from nature, each treehouse is suspended 5-6m above the forest floor and fastened with a steel collar to the individual trunk of a living pine tree.

The journey to the site begins with the 20minute walk from the town of Odda, on the edge of the fjord and up through the forest via a steep winding path. Each treehouse is accessed via a small timber bridge, leading the visitor off the ground, into the structure and up in to the tree.

At just 15m2, carefully organized inside around the central tree trunk itself are four sleeping places, a bathroom, a kitchen area and a living space. From here one can lookout and experience the vast view out through the trees, down to the fjord below and across towards the mountains beyond.

At the very core of the project is the appreciation of timber as a building material. Inspired by the Norwegian cultural traditions of vernacular timber architecture, together with a desire to experiment with the material potential of wood, the architecture is structurally supported by the tree trunk itself, and formed from a series of radial glu-laminated timber ribs. The untreated natural timber shingles encase the volume creating a protective skin around the building, which will weather over time to merge and blend with the natural patina of the surrounding forest.

Website

Food & Dining: ‘Top 100 Independent Restaurants’

2020 Rankings – October 20, 2020

RB’s Top 100 Independents ranking is a measure of the highest-grossing independent restaurants. Only restaurant concepts with no more than five locations are considered “independents” for the purpose of this list (although it’s possible a restaurant that shares a name with a chain but is owned and operated separately would qualify, such as Smith & Wollensky in New York City). Rankings are based on gross 2018 food and beverage sales. Information was gathered through surveys. When data wasn’t provided, sales were estimated based on public information, similar concepts and other factors.

Read full list

Innovations: ‘Wireless Wearable Health Sensor’ Is Human Motion Powered

Gao has developed a new way to power wireless wearable sensors: He harvests kinetic energy that is produced by a person as they move around.

“Our triboelectric generator, also called a nanogenerator, has a stator, which is fixed to the torso, and a slider, which is attached to the inside of the arm. The slider slides against the stator during human motion, and, an electrical current is generated at the same time,” Gao says. “The mechanism is quite simple. Friction results in electrical generation. This is not something new, concept-wise.”

This energy harvesting is done with a thin sandwich of materials (Teflon, copper, and polyimide) that are attached to the person’s skin. As the person moves, these sheets of material rub against a sliding layer made of copper and polyimide, and generate small amounts of electricity. The effect, known as triboelectricity, is perhaps best illustrated by the static electric shock a person might receive after walking across a carpeted floor and then touching a metal doorknob.

Read more

New Travel Videos: ‘Puglia’ In Southern Italy (2020)

Filmed and Edited – Matt Hawkins

A journey through one of Italy’s best-kept secrets- the region of Puglia.

Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. Capital Bari is a vibrant port and university town, while Lecce is known as “Florence of the South” for its baroque architecture. Alberobello and the Itria Valley are home to “trulli,” stone huts with distinctive conical roofs.

Infographic: ‘Functional Neurological Disorder’ – Signs & Symptoms (BMJ)

What you need to know

  • Functional neurological disorder (FND) is associated with considerable distress and disability. The symptoms are not faked
  • Diagnose FND positively on the basis of typical clinical features. It is not a diagnosis of exclusion
  • FND can be diagnosed and treated in presence of comorbid, pathophysiologically defined disease
  • Psychological stressors are important risk factors but are neither necessary nor sufficient for the diagnosis

Functional disorders are conditions whose origin arises primarily from a disorder of nervous system functioning rather than clearly identifiable pathophysiological disease—such as irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and functional neurological disorder (FND)—they are the second commonest reason for new neurology consultations.1 FND is common in emergency settings,2 stroke,3 and rehabilitation services.4 It causes considerable physical disability and distress, and often places an economic burden both on patients and health services.5 Many clinicians have had little formal clinical education on the assessment and management of these disorders, and patients are often not offered potentially effective treatments.

Read more

Preservation: ‘Tree Of The Year 2020’ In England, Wales & Scotland (Video)

Scotland’s #TreeOfTheYear 2020 – The Survivor Tree, Carrifran Valley.

It was once a lone rowan clinging to a stream bank in Carrifran Valley, but today that survivor tree is lonely no more! It is surrounded by a little forest of its children, and lots of suckers are coming up from its base. This was some of the first natural regeneration the Borders Forest Trust achieved in the Carrifran Valley. In addition to its own children, the rowan tree now has over half a million other native Scottish trees for company. Where once it dominated the view, it will soon be hidden from sight. The rowan tree no longer stands alone and is a symbol of the 20-year journey to revive the wild heart of Southern Scotland.

Wales’ #TreeOfTheYear 2020 – The Chapter House Tree, Margam Park, Port Talbot.

Standing in the shadows of 17th century Margam Orangery and St Mary’s Church, this historic fern-leaved beech envelopes the remains of one of the first Cistercian abbeys in Wales. Its canopy has provided shelter to visitors for many years – from Victorian tea parties taking place under its sweeping boughs to a favourite summer picnic spot for present day visitors. The tree provides an atmospheric back drop and is loved by cinematographers – featuring in TV and Film productions from Dr Who and ‘Songs of Praise’ with Sir Bryn Terfel to the recent Netflix blockbuster series ‘Sex Education’.

England’s #TreeOfTheYear 2020 – The Happy Man Tree, Hackney, London. Currently earmarked for felling, the plight of this 150 year old Plane has awakened something in a community that couldn’t bear to see it go. The dressing of the tree, and the signs behind it, are testament to the strength of feeling among the local campaigning. As an urban tree, it makes an important contribution to combating air pollution and making grey city streets green. But the community sees it as more than just the sum of it’s parts – it’s part of the estate, part of their collective history.