Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Gender inclusive space terms, a futuristic Paris suburb, how banana trees can curb wildfires and more

Gender Inclusive Language in Space

While “semantics” are oftentimes brushed off as trivial or nit-picky, the importance of meaning, reference and truth within words cannot be underestimated—and its significance exists everywhere, even in space. NASA is working to recognize and replace “inaccurate and harmful language” that abides by outdated gender biases within the American space program by continually updating their style guide. Today, it’s still common to see “manned” used when describing spaceflights (reminder that Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space way back in 1963), whereas NASA suggests “piloted” or “crewed.” Not only are the many preferred terms more accurate, they will also encourage the next generation of aerospace workers to see that it’s a field for everybody. Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

Image courtesy of NASA

Savannah Walker’s “Six Feet Apart Please” Project

Helmed by NYC-based visual designer Savannah Walker but powered by submissions from friends and strangers, Six Feet Apart Please is an open-source archive of signage and stickers from around the city that helps people to abide by social distancing guidelines. From very formal to humorous, clever and cute, the various entries show the ways designers have translated the simple but crucial message. Documenting her own and then compiling other people’s submissions became a “quarantine obsession,” Walker tells It’s Nice That’s Ayla Angelos. “On a deeper note, someday they’ll disappear and I think we’re all excited for when we can close this six-foot gap,” she says. “To hug, hold, and even just stand near each other again. Six Feet Apart Please will become a digital time-capsule to remember how far away we felt for a year in our lives, and the design that helped us navigate all that space.” See more at It’s Nice That and Six Feet Apart Please—where you’ll find the full collection and can submit your own.

Six Feet Apart Please “Spirit Halloween” image courtesy Savannah Walker 

Banana Trees Could Protect California Cities From Wildfires

Computer science professor Barath Raghavan argues that Californian cities faced with the worst wildfires on record could be granted cover by banana groves. As a member of the California Rare Fruit Growers association, Raghavan researches (and plants and grows) the fruits on plots of land across the state, typically in his yard or on properties owned by friends or family members. He states that since banana trees aren’t technically trees at all (they’re herbs with tall, thick and sappy stems), they do not burn as easily as wood. If a wildfire were to approach a fire-vulnerable town, burning through a grove of banana trees would ultimately slow it long enough for firefighters to gain control, hopefully extinguishing it before it encroaches any further. His coding expertise has allowed him to simulate such scenarios, and he’s been permitted to carry out a real-life experiment in Hawaii. Banana trees also produce a profitable crop, he adds, as he explains which bananas grow best in various parts of the state. Read more at Atlas Obscura.

Image courtesy of Barath Raghavan

BrainGate’s Wireless Human-Brain-to-Computer Interface Succeeds

With a mission to turn thought into action for people who have lost mobility due to neurological disorders or paralysis, neurotechnology company BrainGate has successfully demonstrated “the first instances of high-bandwidth wireless interfacing between human test subjects and a tablet computer.” This means that a user was able to transmit brain signals at a “single-neuron resolution and in full broadband fidelity” without the need for wiring or a decoding device. This advancement could enhance the way human neural signals are received and translated, in order to type, compute and control movement. Read more at Input Magazine.

Image courtesy of BrainGate

Jean Nouvel’s “Jeuneville” Futuristic, Vertical Neighborhood in Greater Paris

Scheduled for completion in 2025, architect Jean Nouvel’s “Jeuneville” vertical neighborhood will rise along the banks of the Seine in Greater Paris (not far from the Olympic and Paralympic villages). The future-forward urban development, which is aiming for a low carbon footprint, will incorporate “more than 100,000 square meters of innovation-centric work spaces as well as 30,000 square meters of public green spaces that will make up a new kind of ecosystem in which an expected 6,000 people will work and 1,500 will live,” according to designboom. An emphasis on wellbeing runs through the colorful grand design. Read more about the ambitious project at designboom.

Image courtesy of Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image courtesy of Six Feet Apart Please