The Hanging Gardens of Singapore

The Hanging Gardens of Ancient Babylon was known for it’s amazing vertical garden and to this day it’s not clear how the gardens functioned (or how it was built). That hasn’t stopped enterprising architects in Singapore from creating a modern version of the hanging gardens in skyscraper form!

Designed by WOHA, the block-long “hotel and office in a garden” sits on a narrow plot that opens onto Singapore’s central business core and is situated across from a verdant parkland and near the riverbank. Slab-like towers, which echo those rising in downtown just in the distance, are suspended above a green zone of tangled flora and palm trees that thrive in the tropical climate. The vegetation is rooted to curved terraces that are themselves fixed to the towers’ glass facades. “The project is a study of how we can not only conserve our greenery in a built-up high-rise city centre but multiply it in a manner that is architecturally striking, integrated and sustainable,” the architects say.

Read more here.

Nifty Looking Glow in the Dark Paths

Saving energy is always a good thing, and sometimes that means turning out the streetlights. As a result, pathways go unlit and this can be problematic for cyclists and pedestrians. Enter a new surface treatment that glows in the dark for free night time illumination known as Starpath.

Seeing that local city councils were increasingly shutting off park lights at night to save money, Pro-Teq developed Starpath to maintain public safety without the financial and environmental costs of overhead lighting. It’s a common problem; in the U.S. for instance, cities generally count streetlights as their first or second biggest energy drains.

But the glow-in-the-dark spray also comes with additional benefits: Its non-reflective surface doesn’t seem to contribute to light pollution, which not only inhibits views of the nighttime sky, but can have dire consequences for local wildlife due to the constant illumination.

Overhead street lighting does provide one important benefit to urban parks, however, and that’s the deterrence of crime. It’s not yet known if Starpath would provide enough light to do the same.

Read more here.

Thanks to Fraser

Changing Car-Based Infrastructure for Walkable Communities

The suburbs are designed for cars as opposed to people and this is a problem that has surprising side effects from personal health issues to an increase in violent deaths. So how do we modify the suburbs to stop these side effects? In this TED talk, Jeff Speck explores what can be done.

How do we solve the problem of the suburbs? Urbanist Jeff Speck shows how we can free ourselves from dependence on the car — which he calls “a gas-belching, time-wasting, life-threatening prosthetic device” — by making our cities more walkable and more pleasant for more people.

Mediterranean-Style Diet Contributes to Longer Life

For people of all ages, it’s been proven that a diet similar to what’s popular around the Mediterranean helps with fending off negative health issues. Now, new research points out that even people in they “mid-life” can benefit greatly by eating a more Mediterranean-stlye diet.

“In summary, we found that greater quality of diet at midlife was strongly associated with increased odds of good health and well-being among individuals surviving to older ages,” epidemiologist Cécilia Samieri of the French National Institute of Health and her co-authors concluded in Monday’s online Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Maintaining physical, cognitive, and mental health with aging may provide a more powerful incentive for dietary change than simply prolonging life or avoiding any single chronic disease.”

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Studying Positive Emotions

How do we study emotion and how do we even think about positive emotions? Why do we even have positive emotions? These questions and more are being investigated by June Gruber, and here she is talking about them:

I thought I’d first start briefly with a tale of positive emotion. It’s a really interesting state because in many ways it’s one of the most powerful things that evolution has built for us. If we look at early writings of Charles Darwin, he prominently features these feelings of love, admiration, laughter. So early on we see observations of them, and have some sense that they’re really critical for our survival, but when you look at the subsequent scientific study of emotion, it lagged far behind. Indeed, most of the research in human emotion really began with studying negative emotions, trying to build taxonomies, understand cognitive appraisals, physiological signatures, and things like anger, and fear, and disgust. For good reason, we wanted to understand human suffering and hopefully try to ameliorate it.
June Gruber is Assistant Professor of Psychology, Director, Positive Emotion & Psychopatology Lab, Yale University. 


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