China’s most important border is imaginary: the Hu Line

First drawn in 1935, Hu Line illustrates persistent demographic split – how Beijing deals with it will determine the country's future.

Credit: Tomaatje12, CC0 1.0 – Public domain.
  • In 1935, demographer Hu Huanyong drew a line across a map of China.
  • The 'Hu Line' illustrated a remarkable divide in China's population distribution.
  • That divide remains relevant, not just for China's present but also for its future.

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Manmade objects now weigh more than all living things on Earth

Humans churn out about 30 gigatons (30,000,000,000 tons) of material every year.

Credit: aryfahmed via Adobe Stock
  • The study compared estimates of the planet's total biomass (the mass of all living things) with anthropogenic mass, which includes all human-made materials.
  • Every year, humans are bringing materials into the world at a higher rate.
  • Concrete is the single biggest contributor to anthropogenic mass and it's a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions, suggesting that finding more sustainable alternatives could help curb climate change.
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New study argues that migrating from cities, not travel bans, slows spread of disease

Of course, it's all about where you move. The authors argue that it needs to be less populous regions.

Credit: Christian Schwier / Adobe Stock
  • Moving from densely-populated urban regions is more effective in stopping the spreading of disease than closing borders.
  • Two researchers from Spain and Italy ran 10,000 simulations to discover that travel bans are ultimately ineffective.
  • Smaller cities might suffer high rates of infection, but the nation overall could benefit from this model.
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Why Erdogan wants to turn Istanbul into an island

'Kanal Istanbul' would create a second Bosporus – and immortalize its creator.

Image: Randam, CC BY-SA 4.0 (alteration by Ruland Kolen)
  • The Bosporus is three times busier than the Suez Canal, and getting worse.
  • To resolve marine congestion, Turkey wants to build a 'second Bosporus'.
  • The controversial project would alter local geography – and may have unintended consequences.

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Why virtual reality is necessary on a planet of 11 billion

Virtual reality is more than a trick. It's a solution to big problems.

  • According to projections shared by the UN, Earth's population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050. By the year 2100, that number could increase to 11 billion. Virtual reality will be necessary to reduce the waste of such a large population in industries like transport, retail, and manufacturing.
  • As an existing technology, there is a lot that virtual reality can do: rich and immersive environments, heightened storytelling, emotionally resonant experiences, and increased productivity in retail. But it's only in its infancy.
  • As the world's population continues to grow, the technology will need to evolve to facilitate a larger network of users, and developers will have to think harder about the technological potential and the ethical, neurological, and emotional side effects.

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