Using Bacteria to Make Buildings Healthier

A new field of research, that doesn’t even have a proper name yet, is looking into ways we can incorporate biology into our built environment. It turns out the bacteria and germs found in our indoor worlds are vastly different than those found in natural environments. It makes me wonder what are we inadvertently breeding in our workplaces and homes.

Bacteria can be used to cure our “sick building syndrome” issues while improving our individual health too!

As evidence continues to mount against ultrasterilization, scientists are looking for alternatives that nurture, rather than eradicate, microbial communities.

One way is through “bio-active” surfaces, permeable nanostructures with “good” bacteria stitched inside. Built into walls, chairs, carpets, and other indoor fixtures, these living surfaces would continuously secrete beneficial microbes into the indoor environment. In laboratory tests with mice and rats, these bio-active structures have been found to reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions and asthma attacks. “Instead of building new buildings per se, we could just refurbish all the existing buildings in Manhattan or downtown Chicago with bio-active walls or bio-active carpets,” Gilbert says.

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Commute by Bike to Decrease Your Stress

bike

Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab has found evidence to support what most commuter cyclists already know: riding a bike to work instead of driving a car lowers one’s stress. Not only are you improving your own mental health you’ll be consuming less gas and save a lot of money while getting physically fit.

There is no better day than today to start riding your bike to work.

“It’s particularly interesting to see that many people don’t transition back into the home after a long day of work very well. By biking to work we know that the physical nature of cycling and physical exertion will engender a more calm and focused state of mind. So while being good for us physically, we also see lots of psychological and emotional benefits.”

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Beer as Medicine

Beer is delicious and it can be healthy to drink on its own. Apparently, back in the day, beer was used to deliver medicine. It turns out that this isn’t a crazy idea and can be a good way to deliver need medicinal ingredients to patients.

Another option was to add the herbs during the brewing process, either when boiling the malt, or just slightly heating them in the beer after the boiling has taken place. Van Lis mentioned over fifty kinds of herbs to prepare medicinal beer, ranging from ginger, lavender, cardamom, hyssop, cinnamon, aniseed, rosemary, nutmeg, gentian, juniper and lemon grass to plants such as absinth leaves, sweet flag, germander sage, and eye worth. He does not advise which kind of herb-infused beer should be used for particular ailments; this was after all supposed to be at the discretion of physicians. However, Van Lis does advice that ‘Joopen beer’ (which he says literally means ‘juicy beer’ in old Dutch) heats, moistens, and nourishes the body, but causes infected blood, bad digestion, sore eyes, fevers, and gout when drunken in excess.[1]

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Curiosity (and art) is Addictive

A new theory based on some old research is that our drive to figure things out can be as addictive as doing drugs. If you’ve ever had to deal with a complex problem and found the solution you know that particular feeling of success.

it turns out that our brains react to learning new things (which solve a problem we have) in a similar way we react to opiates.

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence. In other words, addictions and cravings might stem from this need for knowledge. Even more interesting is the relationship Biederman believes exists between this same mechanism and art.

Biederman’s theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing. Viewing art and understanding the beauty behind actually activates the same areas in the brain as a drug-induced high.

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Cuba Creates Great Doctors

Cuba is a beautiful country filled with nice people. Many of those people are educated doctors who go around the world saving lives for free, and they do the same at home. Al Jazeera has a nice long piece looking into the quality and motivations behind these great Cuban doctors. Spoiler: it’s not about money, it’s about helping people.

Cuba has sent about 185,000 health workers to more than 100 countries since the 1960s. Medical staff have been deployed to some of the world’s worst natural disasters, such as the catastrophic 2004 tsunami in Asia and the deadly earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.

Last year as Ebola ravaged West Africa, Cuba sent hundreds of doctors and nursesto hot zones in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea – more than any other country.

“They are always the first to arrive and the last to leave,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said of Cuban medical deployments. “They remain in place after the crises. Cuba can be proud of its healthcare system, a model for many countries.”

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