As people age, they often stumble upon the realization that time spent in nature appears to be directly correlated to feeling better mentally, physically and spiritually. This happens for several reasons, including the presence of negative ions in purified air, a reduction in stress (and, thus, lower blood pressure and heightened mood) and motivation due to the release of feel-good neurotransmitters.
Despite what many adults have realized anecdotally, it is startling to consider that the average child spends less than half of the amount of time playing outside as their parents did at the same age. In fact, a recent study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, found that almost 50% of preschoolers lacked even one parent-supervised outdoor play session each day. Furthermore, children aged 10 to 16 now spend a mere 12.6 minutes a day on vigorous outdoor activity while they spend a shocking 10.4 hours being relatively motionless.
To shed light on the importance of kids spending time outdoors, scientists at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Auckland developed a tool that measures a kid’s connectedness with nature. The 16-part questionnaire for parents is called the CNI-PPC, or Connected to Nature Index-Parents of Preschool Children. According to a statement made by the University of Hong Kong, the tool identifies how well children in Hong Kong relate to nature.
Hong Kong was a focal point for the research because it poses challenges for kids when it comes to connecting with nature. With this tool, the scientists hope to inspire policy changes and interventions that will help strengthen interactions between kids and the natural environment.
The questionnaire was created by Dr. Tanja Sobko for the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong and Gavin Brown of the University of Auckland. It identifies four ways in which children usually develop a relationship with nature. These include “enjoyment of nature, empathy for nature, responsibility toward nature and awareness of nature.”
Approximately 500 families with kids between the ages of two and five took part in the study. After the families answered all 16 questions, the researchers measured the data against a well-known child behavior measurement, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. As TreeHugger reports, the results didn’t reveal anything new. Rather, it affirmed that the more time kids spend in nature, the happier they tend to be.
“Parents who saw their child had a closer connection with nature had less distress, less hyperactivity, fewer behavioral and emotional difficulties and improved pro-social behavior,” said the release. “Interestingly, children who took greater responsibility toward nature had fewer peer difficulties.”
The researchers noted that when a child grows up in an urban environment without access to green spaces, they may suffer lasting consequences. It can lead to a condition called “nature-deficit disorder” or “child-nature disconnectedness.” Over time, this can lead to both a deterioration of mental and of physical health.
This is the first tool of its kind to measure a child’s connectedness with nature in an highly-urbanized Asian city. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!
Chinese Military Satellite Smashed by Russian Rocket in “Major Confirmed Orbital Collision”
In an incident that is likely illustrative of things to come, Chinese military satellite 1-02 was smashed after it appears to have collided into the debris from a disintegrating Russian rocket.
The collision, which occurred earlier this year, shows the increasing danger of space junk such as satellite parts and other miscellaneous jetsam littering the Earth’s orbit. An estimated 8,000 metric tons of space debris pose the risk of destroying functional equipment such as weather forecasting systems, telecoms and GPS systems – and even manned space travel missions – if the problem isn’t reined in.
The fate of the Chinese satellite was uncovered by Harvard astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell.
The breakup of Yunhai 1-02 was initially reported by the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron (18SPCS). However, it wasn’t until recently that McDowell found out what caused the breakup.
The astrophysicist soon found that it was destroyed by space junk that originated from a Russian Zenit-2 rocket that had launched a spy satellite in 1996. On Aug. 14, McDowell found a strange entry in a database on Space-Track.org: “Collided with satellite.”
“This is a new kind of comment entry — haven’t seen such a comment for any other satellites before,” McDowell tweeted.
“A quick analysis of the TLEs show that Yunhai 1-02 (44547) and [the debris object] passed within 1 km of each other (so within the uncertainty of the TLEs) at 0741 UTC Mar 18, exactly when 18SPCS reports Yunhai broke up,” he added, noting that this “looks to be the first major confirmed orbital collision in a decade.”
However, the Yunhai satellite still remains functional and is transmitting radio signals, notes Space.com.
The incident shows the growing likelihood of such collisions in the high-traffic, littered near-Earth orbital zone.
“Collisions are proportional to the square of the number of things in orbit,” McDowell explained. “That is to say, if you have 10 times as many satellites, you’re going to get 100 times as many collisions.”
He added: “So, as the traffic density goes up, collisions are going to go from being a minor constituent of the space junk problem to being the major constituent. That’s just math.”
A worst-case scenario of such collisions is known as the “Kessler Syndrome,” and describes the possibility of one collision setting in motion a chain of collisions. Such a disaster was the premise of the 2013 film “Gravity.”
One hopes that things don’t reach that point.
In the meantime, however, there have been a number of initiatives meant to tackle the growing problem of space debris, such as the ELSA-d spacecraft launched in a demonstration mission earlier this year.
Boston Dynamics Drops New Video Of 5-Foot Atlas Humanoid Robot Effortlessly Doing Parkour
Robot maker Boston Dynamics has released new video of its two-legged Atlas robot effortlessly completing a parkour obstacle course, offering a new display of its humanoid machines’ unsettling repertoire.
In the video, a pair of Atlas robots can be seen leaping over large gaps, vaulting beams, and even performing backflips. The robot can even be seen jumping over a board while using its arm to remain steady.
While the display seems like anything but “free” running – as the original developers of parkour had envisioned – the routine does seem like an impressive, if terrifying, display of effective coding that took months to perfect, according to the Hyundai-owned robotics firm.
“It’s not the robot just magically deciding to do parkour, it’s kind of a choreographed routine, much like a skateboard video or a parkour video,” said Atlas control lead Benjamin Stephens.
See for yourself:
Unlike its robotic dog Spot, which controversially hit New York City streets last year before being pulled, Atlas isn’t a production robot. Instead, it’s a research model meant to see how far the limits of robotics can be pushed.
In the past, Boston Dynamics has displayed the robot’s feats with videos of Atlas jogging and even busting out some cool dance moves.
Team lead Scott Kuindersma said in a statement that in about two decades, we can expect to coexist with robots that move “with grace, reliability, and work alongside humans to enrich our lives.”
Until then, some of us will continue to reserve our right to feel a bit queasy about the prospect of people being chased down by these skilled free-running (and dancing) machines.
South Korean Toilet Turns Poo Into Green Energy and Pays Its Users Digital Cash
What if your morning #2 not only powered your stove to cook your eggs, but also allowed you to pay for your coffee and pastry on the way to class?
It seems like an absurd question, but one university in South Korea has invented a toilet that allows human excrement to not only be used for clean power, but also dumps a bit of digital currency into your wallet that can be exchanged for some fruit or cup noodles at the campus canteen, reports Reuters.
The BeeVi toilet – short for Bee-Vision – was designed by urban and environmental engineering professor Cho Jae-weon of the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), and is meant to not only save resources but also reward students for their feces.
The toilet is designed to first deliver your excrement into a special underground tank, reducing water use, before microorganisms break the waste down into methane, a clean source of energy that can power the numerous appliances that dorm life requires.
“If we think out of the box, feces has precious value to make energy and manure,” Cho explained. “I have put this value into ecological circulation.”
The toilet can transform approximately a pound of solid human waste – roughly the average amount people poop per day – into some 50 liters of methane gas, said Cho. That’s about enough to generate half a kilowatt hour of electricity, enough to transport a student throughout campus for some of their school day.
Cho has even devised a special virtual currency for the BeeVi toilet called Ggool, or honey in Korean. Users of the toilet can expect to earn 10 Ggool per day, covering some of the many expenses students rack up on campus every day.
Students have given the new system glowing reviews, and don’t even mind discussing their bodily functions at lunchtime – even expressing their hopes to use their fecal credits to purchase books.