Google Maps Adds Vocal Guidance for Visually Impaired Users
Now available on Google Maps iOS and Android apps (one day after World Sight Day), a more detailed voice feature will update and guide visually impaired people more effectively. To turn on the feature, access the settings page within the app and toggle through the navigation features and turn on detailed voice guidance under the walking options tab. A milestone in mobility tools for the visually impaired, the update “will let a person know if they’re on the right route, how far until the next turn and in which direction they’re walking” as well as warnings if they are coming up to a busy intersection and more. Available in the US (in English) and Japan (in Japanese), more locations and languages are coming soon. Read more at designboom.
90,000 New Trees for LA
Los Angeles may be well-known for its long stretches of highway and traffic, but Mayor Eric Garcetti sees the benefits of investing in preserving and fostering the city’s natural environment. As part of the Green New Deal, Garcetti appointed Rachel Malarich as LA’s first Forest Officer. She’ll manage the growth of 90,000 new trees—some will replenish the nation’s largest urban forest and others will be planted throughout in-need neighborhoods. The newly planted trees will provide shade, slow rainwater so it can absorb into the ground, and even further unite communities. “I think that trees are a really important part of our communities, and they are hugely connected to public health,” Malarich says to CityLab. Read more there.
Christopher Herwig’s Photographs of Soviet Train Stations
From Kyivska’s Kharkiv Metro to Moscow’s Tulskaya stop, Christopher Herwig photographs Soviet-era train stations all over Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and beyond. The project (and now book) follows his previous endeavor photographing bus stations, and the result is quite stunning. Whether featuring opulent chandeliers and luxurious marble or mosaics celebrating hard work, each subterranean scene is a peek behind what was the Iron Curtain. See more at the Guardian.
The First Women-Only Spacewalk Will Happen After All
Initially cancelled because NASA didn’t have spacesuits for two women (Christina Koch and Anne McClain) who happen to be the same size, the women-only spacewalk—previously scheduled for March—will now take place on 21 October. Jessica Meir (replacing McClain) and Christina Koch (in space until February) will be tasked with installing lithium-ion batteries during their mission. On this being the first walk to be performed by two women, “It’s just normal,” Meir says to the New York Times. “We’re part of the team.” Read more there.
Researchers Find Emissions-Free Way to Make Cement
Researchers at MIT have developed a way (though admittedly experimental) to produce emissions-free cement—that means the manufacturing process “releases no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” This is a hugely significant breakthrough, as cement manufacturing (for the intention of making concrete) is responsible for almost 10% of global emissions. The process includes an electrochemical method, which would replace the current one, which is dependent on fossil-fuels. While this new method still creates minimal CO2, that which is made “comes out as a concentrated gas stream that can be easily separated and sequestered” and can even be used in carbonated beverages. Read more at Dezeen.
The London Underground’s African Diaspora Roundels
In conjunction with Art on the Underground, British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong redesigns the London Underground roundels (the discs that mark each station) for the Westminster Underground stop. Achiampong’s iteration will represent the colors of the African diaspora—green, black, yellow and red—and depart from the traditional red, white and blue palette. It’s significant because it represents a sometimes overlooked community within London’s population and also because the station is across the street from Parliament. “Situated at Westminster at a time of significant national debate on the country’s future, Achiampong’s commission imbues the familiar iconography of the London Underground’s logo with new meaning,” Art on the Underground’s Eleanor Pinfield tells It’s Nice That. “Art on the Underground’s series of commissions explore what it means to be ‘on edge’ and asks how artists can play a role in developing ideas of togetherness and belonging.” Read more there.
First-Ever Diamond Within a Diamond Found in Russia
Fittingly dubbed the “Russian Nesting Doll Diamond,” this tabular-shaped diamond within a diamond was found in the Nyurba mine in Yakutia, Russia. Perhaps the world’s first-ever instance of such a gem, an outer diamond (.62 carats) holds a smaller one (.02) carats within, but the two differ enough so that the smaller rock rattles around inside. Because this is such a rare occurrence, researchers have yet to assign it a monetary value and scientists have no explanation for how it formed. They do know, however, that it’s roughly 800 million years old. Read more at Popular Mechanics.
Phonocut is An At-Home Vinyl Machine
An at-home consumer vinyl-cutting machine, the Phonocut means that anybody—provided you have a digital audio file—can make their very own records in three steps. Essentially “idiot-proof” (according to co-founder Florian “Doc” Kaps) the device cuts 10-inch vinyl as the music plays, and is able to hold 10 to 15 minutes of sound on each side. It will be available to back on Kickstarter next week, and anybody who pre-orders will be sharing their cover versions of “Like a Prayer,” or their custom cut playlists, with their friends in no time. See more at Wired.