Humanity’s Impact | Studio Birthplace

Short film Humanity’s Impact explores the question:
‘How many plastic bottles do we produce globally in real time?’
And the accompanying Augmented Reality app 
invites users to interact with the data on a personal level.
Animated Series
Did you know that globally, we produce about 1 million plastic bottles per minute?
What does that number even look like? This is what you’re about to find out in Humanity’s Impact.

Set in a 1960s American suburb test site that is populated with plastic test dummies, the film unleashes 20,000 bottles per second that crash onto the unknowing cast of dummies. The bottles burst through the kitchen window, and engulf the family dog. The suburban paradise is quickly flooded, revealing the terrifying scale and rate at which we pollute our planet. Only 9% of the overwhelming pile of plastic bottles actually gets recycled, the rest is dumped or burnt, or ends up in landfills and our oceans.
Augmented Reality App
To be able to understand our own consumption behavior better, we partnered with interactive design studio Superposition to release the augmented reality app Humanity’s Impact to help users relate to consumption-related data on an even more personal level. For example, users can drop 20,000 bottles into their own kitchen or bedroom, pledge to reduce their own plastic use, track their progress, take a photo with their data and share it on social media to motivate others to take part. The app is available for free right now on the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
view more work
Before we made the highly successful film Wasteminster for Greenpeace, we made the pilot film Humanity’s Impact. With the film, we wanted to explore if we could make visible the incredible data related to humanity’s impact on our planet, putting a picture to the numbers.

Both the animated series and the accompanying augmented reality app unleash impressive data simulations, visualizing the tremendous scale in which our consumer culture operates.
The project aims to create awareness and inspire action towards a more sustainable future
— Read on www.studiobirthplace.com/humanitysimpact

Coral microbiome is key to surviving climate change, new study finds | NSF – National Science Foundation

The microbiomes of corals — which comprise bacteria, fungi and viruses — play an important role in corals’ ability to tolerate rising ocean temperatures, according to research led by Penn State scientists.

The U.S. National Science Foundation-funded team also identified several genes in certain corals and the symbiotic photosynthetic algae that live inside their tissues that may play a role in their response to heat stress. “We know how complex coral communities are at the human visual level,” said Mike Sieracki, a program director in NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences. “Now we’re learning that their microbial partners, which we can’t see, help sustain coral health.”

The findings could inform current coral reef conservation efforts, for example, by highlighting the potential benefits of amending coral reefs with microbes found to bolster heat stress responses.
— Read on www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp

UN Committee Finds Violation of Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Traditional Lands | ASIL

The community complained that the process killed their animals and plants, and had an adverse impact on the environment. The Committee found that Paraguay failed to prevent contamination in violation of the their right to traditional lands, and recommended that Paraguay complete the relevant criminal and administrative proceedings. This decision affirms that the term “home” in the context of the indigenous community should be interpreted “within the context of the special relationship between them and their territories including their livestock, crops and their way of life such as hunting, foraging and fishing.”
— Read on www.asil.org/ILIB/un-committee-finds-violation-indigenous-peoples-right-traditional-lands

NASA Turns to the Cloud for Help With Next-Generation Earth Missions | NASA

As satellites collect larger and larger amounts of data, engineers and researchers are implementing solutions to manage these huge increases.
— Read on www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-turns-to-the-cloud-for-help-with-next-generation-earth-missions

Running Machine Learning Projects: Things to know | by Prashant Mudgal | Oct, 2021 | Towards Data Science

In my experience, ML projects come in all shapes and sizes and vary greatly in their complexity. In the initial 2000/10s, the emphasis was on the model-centric approach which I always found a little bizarre as I heard umpteen times about the fancier models than the results(well, it was a different time and folks used to get awestruck when they would hear ML, AI, DS etc); slowly and steadily the focus has shifted to the result centric approach i.e. use whatever model you can but make use of the data and produce results that are directional, applicable, and coherent.
— Read on towardsdatascience.com/running-machine-learning-projects-things-to-know-316775338eab

Weird Dreams Train Our Brains to Be Better Learners – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus

Neural networks need to “dream” of weird, senseless examples to learn well. Maybe we do, too.
— Read on m.nautil.us/blog/weird-dreams-train-our-brains-to-be-better-learners

Spectacular Footage Records Seven Moths as They Take Flight in Stunningly Slow Motion | Colossal

Almost a year after releasing his wildly popular footage of muppet-like insects, Dr. Adrian Smithis back with another montage in incredibly slow motion. This similarly spectacular follow-up—which is shot at 6,000 frames per second with a macro lens—documents the unique flight maneuvers of seven moth species as they slowly lift into the air. Capturing both graceful wing movements and ungainly leg flailing, Smith records rare glimpses of the yellow underbelly of the Virginian tiger moth, the spiky mohawk of the white-dotted prominent, and the beautiful wood-nymph’s habit of scattering microscopic scales all with extraordinary detail. For more close-ups of moths, beetles, and other insects, head to Smith’s YouTube. (via The Kids Should See This)

— Read on www.thisiscolossal.com/2021/08/adrian-smith-moths/

A World Without Sci-Hub – Palladium

Aaron Swartz was 26 years old when he took his own life. He did so under the shadow of legal prosecution, pursued by government lawyers intent on maximal punishment. If found guilty, he potentially faced up to 50 years in prison and a $1 million dollar fine. Swartz’s crime was not only legal, but political. He had accessed a private computer network and gained possession of highly valuable information with the goal of sharing it. His actions threatened some of the most powerful, connected, and politically protected groups in the country. Their friends in the government were intent on sending a message.

It’s the kind of story you would expect about some far-off political dissident. But Swartz took his life in Brooklyn on a winter day in 2013 and his prosecutor was the U.S. federal government. When Swartz died, he was under indictment for 13 felony charges related to his use of an MIT computer to download too many scientific articles from the academic database JSTOR, ostensibly for the purpose of making them freely available to the public. Ultimately, Swartz potentially faced more jail time for downloading academic papers than he would have if he had helped Al Qaeda build a nuclear weapon. Even the Criminal Code of the USSR stipulated that those who stored and distributed anti-Soviet literature only faced five to seven years in prison. While prosecutors later pointed toward a potential deal for less time, Aaron would still have been labeled a felon for his actions—and to boot, JSTOR itself had reached a civil settlement and didn’t even pursue its own lawsuit.

But Aaron’s cause lived on. This September marks the ten-year anniversary of Sci-Hub, the online “shadow library” that provides access to millions of research papers otherwise hidden behind prohibitive paywalls. Founded by the Kazakhstani computer scientist Alexandra Elbakyan—popularly known as science’s “pirate queen”—Sci-Hub has grown to become a repository of over 85 million academic papers.

The site is popular globally, used by millions of people—many of whom would otherwise not be able to finish their degrees, advise their patients, or use text mining algorithms to make new scientific discoveries. Sci-Hub has become the unacknowledged foundation that helps the whole enterprise of academia to function. 

Even when they do not need to use Sci-Hub, the superior user experience it offers means that many people prefer to use the illegal site rather than access papers through their own institutional libraries. It is difficult to say how many ideas, grants, publications, and companies have been made possible by Sci-Hub, but it seems undeniable that Elbakyan’s ten-year-old website has become a crucial component of contemporary scholarship.  
— Read on palladiummag.com/2021/09/24/a-world-without-sci-hub/

American Economic Association

Medicaid provides health insurance for millions of America’s most vulnerable people. In 2015, it covered 40 percent of all children at a cost of roughly $90 billion. Some have worried that this price tag is too high. 

But in a paper in the American Economic Review, author Andrew Goodman-Baconasserts that Medicaid coverage for children has more than paid for itself in the long run.

Goodman-Bacon found that Medicaid eligibility in early childhood reduced mortality and disability and increased employment up to 50 years later. As a result, young children in the 1960s and 1970s, who grew up with Medicaid, became healthier adults who paid more work-related taxes and relied less on welfare. 

— Read on www.aeaweb.org/research/charts/childhood-insurance-medicaid-adult-health

Appreciating the Poetic Misunderstandings of A.I. Art | The New Yorker

The Twitter account @images_ai has gained a following for its feed of surreal, glitchy, sometimes beautiful images created through machine learning.
— Read on www.newyorker.com/culture/infinite-scroll/appreciating-the-poetic-misunderstandings-of-ai-art