Audio tweets 🎤 Soap bubble pollination 🧼 Emma Watson joins Kering 👚!

Technology News

Twitter starts rolling out audio tweets on iOS

Twitter is rolling out the ability to record audio snippets and attach them to your tweets. The new feature is available first on iOS and launching for “a limited group of people.” We’re testing a new feature that will add a more human touch to the way we use Twitter — your very own voice. “Sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation.” Audio can only be added to original tweets so you can’t include them in replies or retweets with a comment. Another minor thing to note is that whatever your profile picture is when you record an audio clip will always be attached to that audio tweet.

‘DeepFaceDrawing’ AI can turn simple sketches into detailed photo portraits

Researchers have found a way to turn simple line drawings into photo-realistic facial images. Developed by a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, DeepFaceDrawing uses artificial intelligence to help “users with little training in drawing to produce high-quality images from rough or even incomplete freehand sketches.” The software refers to a database of faces and facial components, and considers how each facial element works with each other. Eyes, nose, mouth, face shape and hair type are all considered separately, and then assembled into a single image.

Science News

Soap bubbles covered in pollen could help fertilise flowers

Miyako and his team mixed pear pollen grains with a soap solution containing nutrients and loaded the mixture into a bubble gun. They then used the gun to release bubbles into a pear orchard, with about two to 10 bubbles hitting each flower, and later measured their success rate by counting the flowers that bore fruit. They found that pollination using their soap bubbles had a similar success rate to pollination of the plants by hand, with approximately 95 per cent of the flowers bearing fruit in both cases. Using soap bubbles is much less labour intensive than manually pollinating every flower.

Diluting blood plasma rejuvenates tissue, reverses aging in mice

A team found that replacing half of the blood plasma of old mice with a mixture of saline and albumin — where the albumin simply replaces protein that was lost when the original blood plasma was removed — has the same or stronger rejuvenation effects on the brain, liver and muscle than pairing with young mice or young blood exchange. Performing the same procedure on young mice had no detrimental effects on their health. This discovery shifts the dominant model of rejuvenation away from young blood and toward the benefits of removing age-elevated, and potentially harmful, factors in old blood.

Business News

Emma Watson joins board of Gucci owner Kering

British actor and activist Emma Watson has joined the board of French fashion giant Kering, owner of the Gucci label. Ms. Watson, a well-known supporter of eco-friendly fashion, is the face of the Good On You app, which rates fashion brands on their ethical and sustainability credentials. Kering has faced criticism over its sustainability record. The app has been less than complimentary about top Kering brands such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, rating them only “Not good enough” or “It’s a start”. Former Credit Suisse boss Tidjane Thiam and the head of Chinese ride hailing giant Didi Chuxing, Jean Liu, were also made board members.

Uncle Ben’s follows Aunt Jemima in move to phase out racial stereotypes in logos

Uncle Ben’s owner Mars is planning to change the rice maker’s “brand identity.” Mars wrote that “now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.” Quaker Oats announced it’s retiring the 130-year-old Aunt Jemima brand and logo. “As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers’ expectations,” the Pepsi (PEP)-owned company said. The moves are an acknowledgment of the brands’ origins in racist stereotype.

Miscellaneous News

Architects are planning a beautiful Martian city in the Dubai desert

A group of architects in Dubai has been commissioned to design an experimental Martian city, and to actually take their plans from the drawing board into the desert outside the largest city of the United Arab Emirates. The inhabitable living space is aptly named Mars Science City, is planned to cover 176,000 square meters (almost 1.9 million square feet) of the desert. $135 million has been earmarked by the United Arab Emirates government with the potential to understand how we can best mitigate the risks associated with actually living on Mars.

Spanish opera house reopens with concert for plants

The Concert for the Biocene is intended to help us ponder the current state of the human condition and how, in lockdown, we have become “an audience deprived of the possibility of being an audience”. The Catalan venue has announced a concert for 2,292 plants when it reopens. Non-vegetable music fans will also be able to enjoy the performance as it will be livestreamed. “At a time when an important part of humankind has shut itself up in enclosed spaces and been obliged to relinquish movement, nature has crept forward to occupy the spaces we have ceded.”

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