Link About It: This Week’s Picks

A planet almost identical to Earth, sneakers for the differently-abled and more in this week's look at the web

1. How to Survive Work on Little to No Sleep

Eight hours of sleep might be recommended for a good night’s rest, but it’s not always possible—especially with work deadlines, late-night partying and nightmares getting in the way. Luckily, scientists have offered their expertise on how to get through the day with little to no sleep. Some come as no surprise (ie: drinking coffee), but some are lesser-known—for example, avoiding sugar and not wearing shades to let the sunlight hit your eyes. Learn more tips on New York Magazine’s Science of Us.

2. Why Water Tastes Weird After Leaving It Out

If you’ve ever left a glass of water out overnight, you’ve probably noticed the weird way it tastes in the morning. According to Discovery News, there’s a scientific explanation for the new flavor. As water interacts with the air, it absorbs small amounts of carbon dioxide and forms minuscule portions of carbonic acid. This newly formed acid lowers the water’s pH, making it more acidic and slightly changing the way it tastes. While Discovery does not recommend leaving water out for too long—as it can host mosquito larvae and grow algae—one night won’t hurt.

3. Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei Finally Receives His Passport

After four years of being essentially locked inside his home country, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has finally been given back his passport. Ai was first detained in 2011 while attempting to travel to Hong Kong and was subsequently charged with tax evasion—an accusation he attributes to his social and political activism against China. Since then, he’s been organizing his acclaimed international exhibitions from home. Now—with passport in hand—Ai plans to travel to Berlin to visit his six-year-old son.

4. Weed Breathalyzers in the Works

A company called Cannabix Technologies is developing a weed breathalyzer to keep up with the increased legalization of marijuana—and drivers that may be too stoned to drive. Current prototypes can detect Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the cannabinoid that provides a high—up to two hours after consumption. Right now, the device is only set to report a “Yes” or “No” to the presence of the drug, but as states come closer to agreeing on the definition of “too high to drive,” later models may provide toxicity levels.

5. NASA Discovers Earth 2.0

A newly discovered planet—called Kepler-452b—is so similar to Earth that NASA has dubbed it Earth 2.0. The far-off planet rests roughly 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus and orbits inside its star’s habitable zone, where it’s warm enough for liquid surface water. Kepler-452b’s similarities to Earth are uncanny; it revolves around its sun once every 385 days, is roughly the same size and temperature as our own planet and is only 20% brighter. NASA isn’t yet sure what the planet is made out of but, so far, signs of extra-terrestrial life are promising.

6. IBM’s Watson Reads the Tone of Your Email

Before you start responding to the weekend’s emails, you may want to consult IBM’s Watson. The artificially intelligent computer is now equipped to analyze the tone and sentiment of text. More specifically, it can determine if a passage is cheerful, negative or angry, open, agreeable or conscientious, and it will even describe how analytical, confident or tentative it is. After figuring out what you’re trying to convey, Watson will then provide alternative words and phrases to fine-tune the text. No more passive-aggressive emails.

7. A Robot-Run Hotel Opens in Japan

While other hotels boast about their abundant amenities, prime location and luxurious rooms, Japan’s Henn-na hotel stakes its claim as a leader in efficiency. The recently opened hotel in Huis Ten Bosch—a Dutch-inspired theme-park located in Nagasaki—aims to reduce electricity usage and waste through eight core design concepts. This includes motion-sensing lights, a cutting-edge “radiant panel” air conditioning system and a staff of friendly robots. Henn-na Hotel also excludes amenities like pajamas and bathrobes, so don’t forget to bring your own.

8. Nike’s Sneakers for Differently-Abled People

When Nike’s first-ever employee suffered a stroke, CEO Mark Parker directed the design department to create a one-of-a-kind, easy-on and easy-off shoe to aid the company’s old friend. Now, Nike is revisiting sneaker design for the differently-abled after seeing a social media post from 16-year-old Matthew Walzer, who suffers from cerebral palsy. The result is the Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE, a basketball shoe that easily peels open, making it simple put on and take off. Walzer, who was integral in the shoe’s design process, was awarded with a custom version of the very first pair.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.