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These are the best cities for work-life balance
Helsinki is the city with the best work-life balance in the world.
Finding room for "me time" during a stressful work week is no simple task. But in some places it's easier than others, according to a recent study.
Security company Kisi surveyed 40 cities around the world to discover where residents have the best work-life balance, scoring based on employment factors, such as average commute times, working hours and holiday leave, along with wellbeing and civic rights.
These are the cities with the best work-life balance.
1. Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki residents enjoy the world's best work-life balance, with a comparatively short 40-hour work week and a low average commute time of 26 minutes.
Minimum holiday leave is 30 days, which is one of the highest of any country in the survey. Helsinki also offers generous paid parental leave, which at 1,127 days, is far more than other countries, with the exception of Hungary.
2. Munich, Germany
The first of three German cities in the top 10, Munich is the lowest-stress city on the list. The average work week is longer than Helsinki's by just one hour, and commute times are longer by one minute.
There are some pronounced differences between the top two cities. In the Bavarian capital, minimum holiday leave is just 20 days, though most employees take almost 30 days on average. Parents can take 406 days of paid leave, about one-third the time they can take in Helsinki.
3. Oslo, Norway
Of the cities surveyed, Oslo residents work the fewest hour per week (38.9), and only a small percentage of people work more than 48.
The city provides generous paid leave for parents and has the highest gender equality score of all cities surveyed, followed by Stockholm and Helsinki. It also leads the way in access to mental health services.
4. Hamburg, Germany
Like Munich, Hamburg has a 41-hour work week and is a relatively low-stress place to live and work, although not quite as safe.
Germany is the only country with more than one city in the top 10. All three of those cities have short work weeks balanced with family-friendly policies. Leisure plays an important role in the lives of Germans.
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash
5. Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden's government has taken steps to help the population balance work commitments with home life.
Stockholm scored 76.9 for gender equality, the second highest in the survey. This is partly due to flexible working hours and the structure of parental leave. Social equality is high throughout the city, too, with LGBT+ equality reaching 100%.
6. Berlin, Germany
Employees in Berlin arrive for work around 10am on average, later than the other German cities in the top 10, but still ahead of many other places in the list. The average commute is marginally longer, but stress levels in Berlin are more than double those of Hamburg and more than three times higher than in Munich.
7. Zurich, Switzerland
In Zurich, people work the longest hours of any city in the top 10 and experience some of the longest commutes.
Access to mental health services is the second best, however, and the city enjoys one of the lowest stress levels, topped only by Munich.
Switzerland's most populous city has low air pollution and leads the survey in terms of the wellness and fitness of its residents.
Photo by Mosa Moseneke on Unsplash
8. Barcelona, Spain
There is pressure to do away with the tradition of long lunches and afternoon siestas in some Spanish cities. In Barcelona, workers put in almost 41 hours each week, which is much the same as the other places in the top 10.
When they are not working, the city's residents take more holidays than those in other cities, with an average of 30.5 days, higher than the required minimum of 22 days.
9. Paris, France
Workers in the French capital have the longest commute time among the top 10, at an average of 44 minutes, compared with 26 minutes in Helsinki. But both cities share a generous holiday allowance of 30 days.
10. Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is the only city outside Europe in the top 10. For most residents, the commute to work takes just over half an hour. And the work week is around 40 hours – similar to most others in the top 10.
Like their neighbour the United States, however, Canadians have limited paid holiday leave – Vancouver residents have just 10 days' paid leave, though residents take more than 15 on average.
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These alien-like creatures are virtually invisible in the deep sea.
- A team of marine biologists used nets to catch 16 species of deep-sea fish that have evolved the ability to be virtually invisible to prey and predators.
- "Ultra-black" skin seems to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps fish camouflage themselves in the deep sea, which is illuminated by bioluminescent organisms.
- There are likely more, and potentially much darker, ultra-black fish lurking deep in the ocean.
The Pacific blackdragon
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p>When researchers first saw the deep-sea species, it wasn't immediately obvious that their skin was ultra-black. Then, marine biologist Karen Osborn, a co-author on the new paper, noticed something strange about the photos she took of the fish.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can't see any detail," Osborn told <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">Wired</a></em>. "How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?"</p><p>After examining samples of fish skin under the microscope, the researchers discovered that the fish skin contains a layer of organelles called melanosomes, which contain melanin, the same pigment that gives color to human skin and hair. This layer of melanosomes absorbs most of the light that hits them.</p>
A crested bigscale
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what isn't absorbed side-scatters into the layer, and it's absorbed by the neighboring pigments that are all packed right up close to it," Osborn told <em>Wired</em>. "And so what they've done is create this super-efficient, very-little-material system where they can basically build a light trap with just the pigment particles and nothing else."</p><p>The result? Strange and terrifying deep-sea species, like the crested bigscale, fangtooth, and Pacific blackdragon, all of which appear in the deep sea as barely more than faint silhouettes.</p>
David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL<p>But interestingly, this unique disappearing trick wasn't passed on to these species by a common ancestor. Rather, they each developed it independently. As such, the different species use their ultra-blackness for different purposes. For example, the threadfin dragonfish only has ultra-black skin during its adolescent years, when it's rather defenseless, as <em>Wired</em> <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">notes</a>.</p><p>Other fish—like the <a href="http://onebugaday.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-new-anglerfish-oneirodes-amaokai.html" target="_blank">oneirodes species</a>, which use bioluminescent lures to bait prey—probably evolved ultra-black skin to avoid reflecting the light their own bodies produce. Meanwhile, species like <em>C. acclinidens</em> only have ultra-black skin around their gut, possibly to hide light of bioluminescent fish they've eaten.</p><p>Given that these newly described species are just ones that this team found off the coast of California, there are likely many more, and possibly much darker, ultra-black fish swimming in the deep ocean. </p>
Using machine-learning technology, the genealogy company My Heritage enables users to animate static images of their relatives.
- Deep Nostalgia uses machine learning to animate static images.
- The AI can animate images by "looking" at a single facial image, and the animations include movements such as blinking, smiling and head tilting.
- As deepfake technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, some are concerned about how bad actors might abuse the technology to manipulate the pubic.
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But that's not to say the animations are perfect. As with most deep-fake technology, there's still an uncanny air to the images, with some of the facial movements appearing slightly unnatural. What's more, Deep Nostalgia is only able to create deepfakes of one person's face from the neck up, so you couldn't use it to animate group photos, or photos of people doing any sort of physical activity.</p>
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But for a free deep-fake service, Deep Nostalgia is pretty impressive, especially considering you can use it to create deepfakes of <em>any </em>face, human or not. </p>
How long should one wait until an idea like string theory, seductive as it may be, is deemed unrealistic?
- How far should we defend an idea in the face of contrarian evidence?
- Who decides when it's time to abandon an idea and deem it wrong?
- Science carries within it its seeds from ancient Greece, including certain prejudices of how reality should or shouldn't be.
Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain that what humans see and experience is not the true reality.
Credit: Gothika via Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0<p>When scientists and mathematicians use the term <em>Platonic worldview</em>, that's what they mean in general: The unbound capacity of reason to unlock the secrets of creation, one by one. Einstein, for one, was a believer, preaching the fundamental reasonableness of nature; no weird unexplainable stuff, like a god that plays dice—his tongue-in-cheek critique of the belief that the unpredictability of the quantum world was truly fundamental to nature and not just a shortcoming of our current understanding. Despite his strong belief in such underlying order, Einstein recognized the imperfection of human knowledge: "What I see of Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility." (Quoted by Dukas and Hoffmann in <em>Albert Einstein, The Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives</em> (1979), 39.)</p> <p>Einstein embodies the tension between these two clashing worldviews, a tension that is still very much with us today: On the one hand, the Platonic ideology that the fundamental stuff of reality is logical and understandable to the human mind, and, on the other, the acknowledgment that our reasoning has limitations, that our tools have limitations and thus that to reach some sort of final or complete understanding of the material world is nothing but an impossible, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K2JTGIA?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">semi-religious dream</a>.</p>