Open-Source Urban Planning Arrives Via Twitter

A new tech movement aimed at empowering citizens to remake their cities, called DIY City, launched in 2008 and involves forums where people can propose projects and then discuss the potential solutions.

Now, DIY Traffic, the initiative's first specific project, is underway in San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland. According to O'Reilly Radar, it uses Twitter to send and receive traffic updates from subscribers.


"Simple but potentially quite useful especially in a city that doesn't have traffic maps or if you travel on side streets," is how O'Reilly puts it. "DIY Traffic will accept traffic updates, let you send out an alert and let you query for the conditions on a specific street."

DIY City and DIY Traffic signal the convergence of three important trends. First is the democratization of city planning. Similar to the work the Personal Democracy Forum is doing to promote free elections around the world, this technology has the power to get everyone involved in decision-making and thereby harness collective intelligence to get work done quickly and efficiently. It's also a nod to the open-source media model promoted by Jay Rosen at NYU, who is little concerned with the future of investiagive journalism because everyone armed with an iPhone can now disclose anything they want, whenever they want, and advertise it to the world. Third is infinite potential of Twitter. And just when you thought they would never monotize. No wonder they turned down that offer from Facebook.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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