Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Tech, gender, science and nature news from the first week of 2020

Italian Vogue’s Sustainable January 2020 Issue

After Vogue editors across many international editions declared that the magazine would do its best to “preserve our planet for future generations,” Italian Vogue cut photo shoots—and photos—for its January 2020 issue. In a letter to readers, editor Emanuele Farneti details the embarrassingly long list of people, supplies, and trips needed to complete an issue: “One hundred and fifty people involved. About twenty flights and a dozen or so train journeys. Forty cars on standby. Sixty international deliveries. Lights switched on for at least ten hours nonstop, partly powered by gasoline-fueled generators. Food waste from the catering services. Plastic to wrap the garments. Electricity to recharge phones, cameras,” and so on. Eight different covers, set to release 7 January, will depict painted portraits of professional models wearing painted (or collaged) Gucci garments. Click through to The New York Times to see covers by Vanessa Beecroft and Milo Manara.

Researcher Invents New Field to Study Life Found in Smoke

As flames still burn from another year of disastrous fires, Leda Kobziar (of the University of Idaho) works to grow a new field of study, Pyroaerobiology, that surveys life found in the puffs of smoke emitted from forest fires. Not only bacteria, fungi, and archaea flourish here, but allergens and viruses, too. When the ashen clouds rise and permeate faraway places, so do the things carried inside, and they often permanently alter ecosystems, infect crops or blossoming plants, and even harm citizens. Using drones that can rise into the thick of the clouds, Kobziar is forging an entirely original area of research and carving space for potentially life-changing discoveries typically masked by the overall faulting of climate change. Read more at Popular Mechanics.

Purified Sewage Water Nourishes Forest in Egyptian Desert

To prevent desertification (the eventual progression of land from fertile to arid) in a region of Egypt where the issue is prevalent, scientists are rerouting sewage waste water from nearby cities, passing it through natural purification processes, and using the nutrient-rich solution to fuel the growth of a “green wall.” Named the Serapium Forest, this oasis exists in the barren area around the Suez Canal and is home to eucalyptus, teak and mahogany trees. The 500-mile forest is just the beginning of an effort that is to be mirrored across 10 countries in Africa and China. Read more at Good News Network.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Will Introduce a Transgender Superhero

During a talk at the New York Film Academy, President of Marvel Studios and Chief Creative Officer of Marvel, Kevin Feige, answered a query as to whether viewers can expect more LGBTQ superheroes—and specifically any who will be transgender. Feige followed his “yes, absolutely, yes” answer with “and very soon. In a movie that we’re shooting right now.” Marvel’s push toward diversity also includes its first gay character and first deaf superhero, both in The Eternals, and its first Asian-American superhero, who’ll be seen in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Read more at the BBC.

Design Firm New Territory’s Comfortable Economy Airplane Seat Concept

London-based design firm New Territory’s Interspace chair concept aims to better the coach-class flying experience. In advance of the project, the New Territory team learned that seat pitch was typically associated with comfort, but what passengers really need is the ability to shift their weight or rest against something soft. Thus, they’ve developed a padded wing system that folds out from one’s seat back and grants a cushioned surface to lean on. Anyone who has ever rested against a window or fellow traveler for several hours will understand the value. New Territory also partnered with the UK-based SWS Certification Services to gain airworthiness approval already. Read more at AFAR.

Apple, Google and Amazon Join Forces for More Connected Smart-Homes

A new coalition (which officially launches this year) between Apple, Google, Amazon and the Zigbee Alliance will result in most new devices being compatible with each aforementioned brands’ smart-home products. Setting an official standard for how products should coexist and connect will “make it easier both for consumers to build their ideal smart-home environment and also for manufacturers to develop new products.” That means one day (in the not too distant future) a network of Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, and Google’s Assistant could be compatible over WiFi and work together to deliver news and entertainment, complete tasks, and control smart devices within your home. Read more at Dezeen.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.