Plastic waste 🧋 Brain rhythms 🧠 Crypto push 🪙!

Technology News

Breakthrough in separating plastic waste: Machines can distinguish 12 different types of plastic

Researchers have now developed a new camera technology that can see the difference between 12 different types of plastics. The technology makes it possible to separate plastics based on a purer chemical composition than is possible today, and this opens up completely new opportunities to recycle plastics. “We use a hyperspectral camera in the infrared area, and machine learning to analyse and categorise the type of plastic directly on the conveyor belt. The plastic can then be separated into different types.” The technology has already been tested at a pilot scale and it will be implemented at an industrial scale in spring 2022.

Google, Ford announce ‘Ripple’ open standard to put Soli-like radar in more devices

Google is now working with several partners on the Ripple open API standard to “accelerate the growth of applications for general-purpose consumer radar.” Ripple allows for interoperable software libraries that can “work across various radar hardware implementations, ensuring reusability and easier firmware upgrades.” Ripple will enable developers to create specialized extensions so that they can build on the standard to support their own differentiated use cases. Four key radar applications are mentioned: Non-invasive wellness monitoring, Human activity recognition, Touchless gesture controls, and Occupancy detection.

Science News

Novel brainstem circuit gives rise to the rhythms of vocalization

Researchers have discovered that a small cluster of neurons in the brain stem not only regulates tempo but also coordinates vocalization with breathing. The team studied the cries of baby mice and found that they had a recognizable pattern associated with specific muscle movements. The researchers then determined which cells in the brain stem were responsible for this rhythm, which turned out to be a previously unknown circuit that appears to control the breath and coordinate the muscles needed to produce the vocal sounds. “It could be that when we’re learning to speak, we’re learning to either bypass this system or to directly control it.”

School Closures Led to More Sleep and Better Quality of Life for Adolescents

A study has shown that the homeschooling phase of the Covid-19 pandemic had a positive effect on the health and well-being of many teenagers. The results showed that during the three months in which the schools were closed, the adolescents got up around 90 minutes later on school days, but went to bed only 15 minutes later on average. The students in the lockdown group also rated their health-related quality of life higher, and the amount of alcohol and caffeine they reported consuming was less than the pre-pandemic group. “Our findings clearly indicate the benefit of starting school later in the morning so that youngsters can get more sleep.”

Business News

PayPal Explores Launch of Own Stablecoin in Crypto Push

PayPal is exploring the launch of its own stablecoin as part of its cryptocurrency push. The images and code inside of the PayPal app stemmed from a recent internal hackathon meaning that the logo, name and features could change in its public product form. Hidden code and images show work on what is dubbed a “PayPal Coin.” The code indicates such a coin would be backed by the U.S. dollar. For PayPal’s use, a stablecoin would need to support payments at scale and have security. “There would have to be clarity on the regulation, the regulatory frameworks, and the type of licenses that are needed in this space.”

Citigroup to fire unvaccinated employees this month

Citigroup staff in the United States who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 by Jan. 14 will be placed on unpaid leave and fired at the end of the month unless they are granted an exemption. The US bank becomes the first major Wall Street institution to follow through with a strict vaccine mandate. More than 90% of Citigroup employees have complied with the mandate so far and that figure is rising rapidly. The timing of the vaccination mandate would be different for branch staff. Citigroup also said it would assess exemptions on religious or medical grounds, or any other accommodation by state or local law, on a case-by-case basis.

Miscellaneous News

Turkmenistan plans to extinguish vast gas crater fire dubbed ‘Gateway to hell’

Turkmenistan’s strongman leader has ordered experts to find a way to finally extinguish a massive five-decade-old fire in a giant natural gas crater, labelled the “gateway to hell”. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, president of the central Asian country, said the human-made crater “negatively affects both the environment and the health of the people living nearby.” The crater was created in 1971 during a Soviet drilling accident that hit a gas cavern, causing the drilling rig to fall in and the earth to collapse underneath it. To prevent the dangerous fumes from spreading, the Soviets decided to burn off the gas by setting it on fire.

Pets’ welfare will be considered in divorce battles in Spain

Spain will consider a pet’s welfare when couples divorce or break-up in a legal shift that strengthens the case for couples obtaining shared custody of their animals. “Animals are part of the family and when a family decides to separate, the fate of the animal must be regulated with the same importance as the fate of other family members.” A partner that can demonstrate financial solvency or who has been granted custody of their children has a better chance of securing custody of any pets too, as there is a special affective link between children and animals. “This will help in the reduction of animals being abandoned or badly treated.”

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