Habitats: The Destruction Of Paraguay’s Rainforests

Paraguay might be one of the world’s first countries to lose its rainforest because of a confluence of factors including inequality, corruption, drug trafficking, and climate change. The South American nation offers a stark warning for what the planet stands to lose if it doesn’t act to protect its natural resources.

Paraguay is a landlocked country between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, home to large swaths of swampland, subtropical forest and chaco, wildernesses comprising savanna and scrubland. The capital, Asunción, on the banks of the Paraguay River, is home to the grand Government Palace and the Museo del Barro, displaying pre-Columbian ceramics and ñandutí lacework, the latter available in many shops. 

Science: Brain Cells Wired To The Matrix, DeepMind Search Engine, Omicron

In a step towards creating intelligent cyborg brains, Cortical Labs in Melbourne have trained lab-grown brain organoids to play a classic 1970s video game. The team explains how the brain cells live in a Matrix-like, simulated world, where all they know is Pong. 

And there’s more AI news, as the team digs into DeepMind’s invention of a ‘search engine’ style supercomputer, one much smaller than its competitors. The team discusses sleep, and how manipulating the hypnagogic phase of sleep can lead to bursts of creativity. As the holiday season approaches, Omicron shows no signs of letting up, so the team brings you up to speed on what we know so far. And they bring two bird related stories, one about the superpowers of zebra finches and the other about the link between personality types and feather colours in turkeys. On the pod are Rowan Hooper, Penny Sarchet, Michael Le Page, Clare Wilson and Matt Sparkes. To read about these stories and much more, subscribe at newscientist.com/podcasts.

Views: The Eden Project – World’s Largest Indoor Rainforest, Cornwall, UK

There’s a rainforest in Europe? Apparently, yes – and it’s called the Eden Project! It houses the world’s largest covered rainforest, beneath a giant dome.

But it’s not an amusement park, but rather an educational centre and environmental organisation. The concept: Only those who experience and engage with the beauty of nature can also protect it. That’s why 100,000 plants from all over the world have been brought here, where they cover an area of some 50 hectares.

Not only the sheer number of plants is impressive, the building itself is, too: Two geodesic domes span the site as greenhouses – like massive soap bubbles sticking together. Our Euromaxx reporter Hendrik Welling visits the record-breaking Eden Project and to explore its biotopes and rainforest.

Winter Walks: Wengen In Central Switzerland (4K)

Wengen is a Swiss Alpine village in the Bernese Oberland region. It’s known for its timber chalets and belle époque hotels. The Jungfraubahn railway climbs to Jungfrau summit, with views of the Aletsch Glacier from the Sphinx observation deck. A cable car reaches Männlichen’s slopes and trails, with views of Eiger and Mönch peaks. South of Wengen are the Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls, accessed via underground paths.

Art Views: ‘Uncluttered Sobriety’ – A Visualization

Twins

Walking Tour: Piazza San Marco In Venice, Italy (4K)

Venice, the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.