Plants appear to lose consciousness when sedated

February 14, 2018 by  
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Are plants conscious? Based on a new study, our anesthetics work on flora – but just what are they working on? University of Bonn plant cell biologist Frantisek Baluska told The New York Times , “Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices. They’re living organisms which have their own problems, maybe something like humans feeling pain or joy. In order to navigate this complex life, they must have some compass.” Plants can be frozen with anesthetics, researchers discovered, including the medicines used on humans during surgery. The researchers’ findings could help us learn more about anesthesia – and plants. A team of scientists from institutions in Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Italy exposed several different plants to substances like ether and lidocaine. They found, for example, that pea plants exposed to diethyl ether vapor stop moving and their tendrils curl. A Venus flytrap didn’t respond to stimulus similar to an insect that moved across it – its cells actually stopped firing, according to The New York Times. Related: German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities The plants seemed to return to life when the anesthesia wore off – almost as if they had regained consciousness. Baluska told The New York Times, “How organisms are perceiving the environment or responding or adapting are based on some very similar principles.” Cell membranes change under anesthesia, growing more flexible. Membranes of some of the plant root cells under anesthesia had difficulty performing tasks they normally would. Membranes are also key for transferring messages from one cell to another via electricity , and some scientists think electrical activity across neurons contributes to consciousness in humans. But when asked if plants are indeed conscious or not, Baluska said, “No one can answer this because you cannot ask them.” The journal Annals of Botany published the research in December. Via The New York Times Images via Sushobhan Badhai on Unsplash and Jeffery Wong on Unsplash

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Plants appear to lose consciousness when sedated

Why GM and Ford face a long road ahead in the race to low-carbon transportation

January 23, 2018 by  
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As electrification charges ahead, today’s leaders come from Germany and Japan.

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Tokyo capsule hotel gets a Finnish-inspired refresh and sauna

January 22, 2018 by  
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Capsule hotels are commonplace in Tokyo, but the recently renovated ºC (Do-C) Ebisu hopes to stand out from the pack with its contemporary Finnish-inspired refresh. Designed by Tokyo-based practice Schemata Architects , the renovated hotel is one of the newest offerings by capsule hotel chain 9h (nine hours). Though guests won’t have much room in their tiny capsule units, they do have access to a roomy Finnish-inspired sauna. 9h hotels typically redesign and build their capsule hotels from scratch, but decided to take the renovation route with ºC (Do-C) Ebisu. Schemata Architects was asked to preserve the existing capsule units but otherwise gut the interior and overhaul the exterior. The building was also retrofitted with new saunas . “In Japan, people often stereotypically associate capsule hotels with saunas due to the conventional style of capsule hotels in the past,” wrote the architects. “The existing building was actually not equipped with saunas, but we intentionally recreated the stereotypical image by adding saunas there, while eradicating the conventional impression, to establish a powerful combination of capsules and saunas representing the identity of ºC.” Related: Kyoto’s Futuristic Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Offers a First Class Sleeping Experience in Tiny Pods The eight-floor capsule hotel’s narrow building facade was repainted in a rusty red hue, matching the color of the anti-corrosive paint applied to the structural steel members. Natural timber is used throughout the interior, while clear fiber-reinforced plastic, chosen for waterproofing purposes, can be seen in the space connecting the shower room and sauna. The project was completed December 2017 and is located a one-minute walk away from Ebisu Station. You can make bookings online ; the capsule hotel is open to both men and women. Per the name, each stay at the minimalist hotel is only nine hours: one hour to get ready for bed, seven hours of sleep, and one hour before checkout. + Schemata Architects Images by Nacasa & Partners

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Huge factory turned into a cozy residence with plenty of room leftover for the residents’ hobbies

January 16, 2018 by  
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This former factory in Nobeoka, Japan, now functions as a modern home for a couple who wanted to preserve the industrial legacy of the building. Considering the fact that the building was large enough to house production and manufacturing facilities, Schemata Architects reorganized the layout to include several voids that will serve as areas where the owners can enjoy their future hobbies. The building occupies a corner lot in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan . It grew over time to reach its current total area of 4736 square feet (440 square meters) distributed across two floors. The project started as an initiative organized by a Japanese magazine BRUTUS, which invited readers who wanted to renovate their houses as well as several selected architects, and matched each reader to their favorite architect. Related: Tokyo factory is transformed into an industrial-chic Blue Bottle Coffee cafe Schemata Architects renovated the building working in close collaboration with the client and his wife, who wanted the project to preserve the history of the building. In discussing the design, the team reached the conclusion that the optimal size of the residential part would be as small as 1829 square feet (170 square meters). This meant that there was a large unused floor area that had to somehow be incorporated into the concept. They decided to keep these spaces as voids that will accommodate the clients’ future passions and hobbies. “Such voids, created somewhere between the interior and the building envelope , generate a dynamic space that raises expectations for something to happen,” said the architects. + Schemata Architects Photos by Takumi Ota

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Huge factory turned into a cozy residence with plenty of room leftover for the residents’ hobbies

Cape Town’s water pipes could run dry by April

January 16, 2018 by  
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Cape Town in South Africa is battling its worst drought in a century – and the city’s water supply is in trouble. Authorities are scrambling to drill boreholes and construct desalination plants, but Day Zero – when water taps run dry – is now predicted to take place on April 21st. Reuters quoted councilor Xanthea Limberg as saying, “At the current rate the city is likely to reach Day Zero on 22 April. There is a real risk that residents will have to queue.” Mayor Patricia de Lille recently moved the date up to April 21. Related: 16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels Dam levels fell under 30 percent in the first week of 2018, according to city officials – but only around 19.7 percent of that water is deemed usable. When the dams hit 13.5 percent, locals will have to start lining up for water. Locals would receive up to 25 liters, or around 6.6 gallons, of water per person per day. Reuters painted a picture of a current test water collection site, where people wait between metal fences to fill containers up via standpipes. The city could introduce around 200 more of these areas. According to Limberg, the situation has grown worse as some people have not limited themselves to 87 liters, around 23 gallons, a day. Reuters said there are many wealthy residents with sprinkler systems and swimming pools. The goal of the authorities is to cut Cape Town’s consumption to 500 million liters, or around 132 million gallons, per day – that’s half the amount the city consumed two years ago, per Reuters. Via Reuters and Agence France-Presse Images via Depositphotos and Marcelo Novais on Unsplash

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Cape Town’s water pipes could run dry by April

New giant octopus species discovered near Alaska

December 29, 2017 by  
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You wouldn’t expect humans to have missed a whole species of giant octopus – but researchers recently revealed that’s exactly what we did. Per Earther , the giant Pacific octopus (GPO), which is the biggest octopus we know about on the planet, averaging 110 pounds and 16 feet across , is in reality two species. Alaska Pacific University (APU) undergraduate student Nathan Hollenbeck led the effort to discover what the team is calling the frilled giant Pacific octopus . Scientists had wondered if GPO was an umbrella name, referring to more than one species, for decades, according to Earther. In 2012, APU and United States Geological Survey scientists discovered a genetically distinct group of the giant octopus, but only gathered small samples of arm tissue before sending the creatures back to the ocean , so weren’t sure if the groups were also visually distinct. Hollenbeck hoped to unravel the enigma for his senior thesis. Related: Octopuses are taking over the oceans, and no one knows why He found some answers in shrimp trawling bycatch, where octopuses sometimes show up. It didn’t take him long to realize he could identify two types simply by looking at the cephalopods . One was a regular GPO; the other had a frill running along its body, raised skin eyelashes, and two white spots on its head instead of the one of regular GPOs. “Presumably, people have been catching these octopuses for years and no one ever noticed,” David Scheel, Hollenbeck’s advisor and APU professor, told Earther. Hollenbeck snipped off small arm pieces – and to see if in the future researchers could avoid that invasive technique, collected DNA with a cotton swab. He was the first to try the less invasive method on an octopus. And both samples confirmed the frilled one is a species distinct from the GPO. GPOs can be found from Alaska to California to Japan, but the researchers gathered reliable reports of the frilled giant octopus only from Juneau to the Bering Sea, according to Earther. But the new species could be common in the deeper water habitats they appear to prefer. Frilled giants comprised one third of the octopus bycatch Hollenbeck scrutinized. The American Malacological Bulletin published the research earlier this year here and here ; scientists from the United States Geological Survey and Alaska Resource Education contributed to the second paper. + Frilled giant Pacific octopus Via Earther Images courtesy of D. Scheel and via and Depositphotos

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Beautiful Japanese cat tree for design-conscious pet owners costs 1 million yen

December 27, 2017 by  
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Beautiful architecture isn’t limited to humans— architects and designers are creating stunning structures for animals too , including this sculptural piece for the design-conscious cat owner. Designer Yoh Komiyama collaborated with Japanese cat product company RINN to craft the Neko Cat Tree, a beautiful tubular cat tree that’s a far cry from the ugly cat furnishings most are familiar with. Made with quality materials sourced from around the globe, the stylish and functional Neko Cat Tree makes for a beautiful addition to any home, but as Spoon Tamago reports, it isn’t cheap—pricing for the high-end cat playground starts at 1 million yen, approximately $8,830 USD. The presumed goal of the sculptural Neko Cat Tree is to offer a private play space for cats without offending the owners’ design sensibilities. Its minimalist shape and earthy materials palette of timber, hemp , and marble help the object blend into almost any surrounding. Circular rods made of timber sourced from Japan’s Hida region clad the tree and are evenly spaced to allow for light and glimpses of the cat. Related: Architects design incredible cat shelters to raise money for LA’s strays “The spaces in between each cylindrical post provide glimpses, and thus convey the mutual presence, of both cat and human, maintaining a furtive connection between the two for a greater intimacy,” says a statement on Yoh Komiyama’s website. “As the axis of rotation is built in the outer structure, it can be opened like a door for easy maintenance.” Functionality was also built into the tree. The designer says the Greek marble base not only stabilizes the structure, but can also help regulate the cat’s body temperature. The tightly wound hemp at the base of the tree serves as a scratching post. + Yoh Komiyama Via Spoon Tamago Images by Tomooki Kengaku

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Beautiful Japanese cat tree for design-conscious pet owners costs 1 million yen

American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

October 27, 2017 by  
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Two women from Honolulu, Hawaii , are basking in sweet relief as they and their dogs were rescued after spent five months stranded at sea in shark-infested waters. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set a course for Tahiti on May 3rd but suffered engine failure and a broken mast when a storm battered their boat. Fortunately, they had water purifiers, a year’s worth of dog food, and rice, pasta, and oatmeal. The basic supplies kept them alive long enough to be spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan . On Wednesday morning, the day after Appel and Fuiava were discovered, the USS Ashland (a 610-foot Navy ship) rescued them from the boat. Said Appel in a statement, “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.” Less than a month after the women set sail for Tahiti , they hit a patch of bad weather. Calling for help was impossible, as their only phone went scuba diving on the first day. For five long months, they drifted in the Pacific Ocean , sending out distress calls and waiting for help. “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.” Believe it or not, lack of food wasn’t the greatest concern – the boat was constantly surrounded by sharks .“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.” After Fuiava and Appel were brought aboard the USS Ashland, they received medical assistance. They will remain aboard until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call. Related: US Navy Will Recover the Bombs it Dropped in the Great Barrier Reef On Thursday, footage of the rescue (above) was released. Their reaction to being saved is both exciting and touching. Said Commander Steven Watson, Ashland commanding officer, in a statement: “The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.” Via Gizmodo U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

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American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

October 27, 2017 by  
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Two women from Honolulu, Hawaii , are basking in sweet relief as they and their dogs were rescued after spent five months stranded at sea in shark-infested waters. Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava set a course for Tahiti on May 3rd but suffered engine failure and a broken mast when a storm battered their boat. Fortunately, they had water purifiers, a year’s worth of dog food, and rice, pasta, and oatmeal. The basic supplies kept them alive long enough to be spotted by a Taiwanese fishing vessel roughly 900 miles southeast of Japan . On Wednesday morning, the day after Appel and Fuiava were discovered, the USS Ashland (a 610-foot Navy ship) rescued them from the boat. Said Appel in a statement, “I’m grateful for their service to our country. They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [U.S. Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.” Less than a month after the women set sail for Tahiti , they hit a patch of bad weather. Calling for help was impossible, as their only phone went scuba diving on the first day. For five long months, they drifted in the Pacific Ocean , sending out distress calls and waiting for help. “It was very depressing, and it was very hopeless,” Appel said. “The only thing you can do, you use what you can and what you have. You have no other choice.” Believe it or not, lack of food wasn’t the greatest concern – the boat was constantly surrounded by sharks .“We were slowly maneuvering through their living room. They came by to slap their tails and tell us we needed to move along,” Appel said. “They decided to use our vessel to teach their children how to hunt. They attacked at night.” After Fuiava and Appel were brought aboard the USS Ashland, they received medical assistance. They will remain aboard until the Ashland’s next scheduled port of call. Related: US Navy Will Recover the Bombs it Dropped in the Great Barrier Reef On Thursday, footage of the rescue (above) was released. Their reaction to being saved is both exciting and touching. Said Commander Steven Watson, Ashland commanding officer, in a statement: “The US Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation.” Via Gizmodo U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Clay

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American women and their dogs rescued after surviving five months at sea in shark-infested waters

IKEA is offering furniture for pets – and it’s adorable

October 10, 2017 by  
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It’s here – the modern, inexpensive pet furniture of your dreams. IKEA is now selling furniture and accessories for dogs and cats , and they’re just as well-designed and affordable as the company’s furniture for humans. From a cute cat house to a cozy dog bed, you’ll drool over the Swedish giant’s pet collection . Pets are members of the family to many people, and IKEA said they were inspired by that sentiment to create the LURVIG – Swedish for ‘hairy’ – line of pet furniture. They got a little input from veterinarians to design their pet collection “so you and your pet can enjoy your home together.” LURVIG “covers all the bases of our shared life with pets indoors and out.” Related: Light-filled home for book lovers and their cute cats is built of recycled materials Pets can snuggle in on IKEA’s $49.99 pet bed , which looks like a mini couch for a cat or dog. There’s a $19.99 pet blanket , to minimize fur on the couch or car seat. The most expensive item in the new collection is a $54.98 cat house on legs that comes with a pad inside. A cheaper $5.99 cat house can even be incorporated with human furniture – it fits inside the open squares of a KALLAX shelf unit. There are also several inexpensive accessories that would be ideal for someone getting their first pet, including food and water bowls ranging from $0.79 to $4.99 and a $7.99 water dispenser. There’s a $4.99 litter tray, and $3.99 brush. IKEA is also offering several different dog leashes, with reflective, retractable, and anti-shock options – and even a cat leash if you have aspirations of grandeur. An IKEA spokesperson told Mashable the LURVIG collection had its pilot launch the beginning of October in five countries: the United States, Canada, France, Japan, and Portugal. You can check out the entire collection here . + IKEA Pets Via Mashable Images via IKEA

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