Curious about Everything

Day: October 30, 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Austria’s €3 per day go-anywhere travel card helps fight climate change

CNN »

Fifteen years after it was first proposed, Austria’s new Klimaticket, or climate ticket, goes live on October 26. Offering seamless travel across all modes of public transport it is intended to galvanize the Alpine nation’s fight against climate change.

The annual pass, priced at USD$1,267 (€1,095), works out at just USD$24 (€21) per week or USD$3.50 a day. If all goes according to plan, it should encourage people to swap their cars for more climate-friendly forms of getting around.

The Austrian government’s 2030 Mobility Master Plan aims to reduce private car use from 70% of total annual kilometers traveled to 54% by 2040, at the same time increasing public transport’s share from 27% to 40% and doubling active travel (walking and cycling) from 3% to 6% of the total.

A passenger on an electric train requires just 55% of the energy used by a battery electric car for the same journey, according to the master plan, meaning big carbon emission cuts can be made with a relatively small percentage shift to more sustainable modes of travel.

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Brain implant gives blind woman artificial vision

Science Alert »

Unlike retinal implants, which are being explored as means of artificially using light to stimulate the nerves leaving the retina, this particular device, known as the Moran | Cortivis Prosthesis, bypasses the eye and optic nerve completely and goes straight to the source of visual perception.

After undergoing neurosurgery to implant the device in Spain, Gomez spent the next six months going into the lab every day for four hours to undergo tests and training with the new prosthesis.

The first two months were largely spent getting Gomez to differentiate between the spontaneous pinpricks of light she still occasionally sees in her mind, and the spots of light that were induced by direct stimulation of her prosthesis.

Once she could do this, researchers could start presenting her with actual visual challenges.

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California condors can have “virgin births”

Associated Press »

Researchers with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said genetic testing confirmed that two male chicks hatched in 2001 and 2009 from unfertilized eggs were related to their mothers. Neither was related to a male.

The study was published Thursday in the the Journal of Heredity. It’s the first report of asexual reproduction in California condors, although parthenogenesis can occur in other species ranging from sharks to honey bees to Komodo dragons.

But in birds, it usually only occurs when females don’t have access to males. In this case, each mother condor had previously bred with males, producing 34 chicks, and each was housed with a fertile male at the time they produced the eggs through parthenogenesis.

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Pre-industrial workers had a shorter workweek

Erik Rauch, MIT.edu »

One of capitalism’s most durable myths is that it has reduced human toil. This myth is typically defended by a comparison of the modern forty-hour week with its seventy- or eighty-hour counterpart in the nineteenth century. The implicit — but rarely articulated — assumption is that the eighty-hour standard has prevailed for centuries. The comparison conjures up the dreary life of medieval peasants, toiling steadily from dawn to dusk. We are asked to imagine the journeyman artisan in a cold, damp garret, rising even before the sun, laboring by candlelight late into the night.

These images are backward projections of modern work patterns. And they are false. Before capitalism, most people did not work very long hours at all. The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed. Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure. When capitalism raised their incomes, it also took away their time. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that working hours in the mid-nineteenth century constitute the most prodigious work effort in the entire history of humankind.

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Texas lawmakers considering ban of 850 books ranging from race to sexuality that could “make students feel discomfort”

NBC News »

A Texas Republican lawmaker has drawn up a list of 850 books on subjects ranging from racism to sexuality that could “make students feel discomfort,” and is demanding that school districts across the state report whether any are in their classrooms or libraries.

State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, also wants to know how many copies of each book the districts have and how much money they spent on them, according to a letter he sent Monday to Lily Laux, deputy commissioner of school programs at the Texas Education Agency, and several school district superintendents.

Krause, who chairs the state’s House Committee on General Investigating, also directed the districts to identify “any other books” that could cause students “guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex or convey that a student, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.”

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Elsewhere » Texas Tribune

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