Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Power from waves, two sneaker innovations, an Alzheimer's breakthrough and more from around the web

Nike ISPA’s Link Axis Sneakers Are Designed to be Disassembled and Recycled

New from Nike ISPA (which stands for improvise, scavenge, protect and adapt), the Link and Link Axis sneaker models are designed to further the brand’s future in circular design. The sneakers are constructed from three modules that interlock rather than relying on glue, meaning they can easily be disassembled and recycled after use. Each style also uses recycled materials (including 100% recycled Flyknit and 100% recycled TPU), further emphasizing the brand’s focus on more sustainable practices. Read more at Sneaker News.

Image courtesy of Nike

McLaren Unveils Entry Into the Metaverse and First NFTs

Today British luxury carmakers McLaren Automotive introduced MSO Lab, the first chapter of the brand’s entry into the metaverse and web3 space. Honoring the innovative fusion of design and engineering at the bespoke McLaren Special Operations, the Lab will provide access to exclusive, limited edition McLaren NFTS, early intel, members-only channels, conversations with McLaren Automotive and MSO teams and exclusive rewards. Further, it will acts a hub for like-minded members to come together in a digital community. The unveiling accompanies an announcement for McLaren’s first NFTs, the Genesis Collection—an invite-only, ultra-limited randomized mint that features a storied car in McLaren’s history. These upcoming drops will be available on McLaren’s new marketplace, which is supported by the carmaker’s metaverse partner InfiniteWorld. Learn more about this at McLaren.

Image courtesy of McLaren Automotive

More Evidence That the Blueprint For Life Started in Space

In a new study, scientists have found the remaining two of the five informational units—known as nucleobases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine and uracil)—of DNA and RNA that were still to be detected in meteorite samples, adding evidence to the theory that life began in space. The study, led by associate professor Yasuhiro Oba of Japan’s Hokkaido University, has revealed the elusive cytosine and thymine within meteor samples that fell to Earth and landed in Australia, British Columbia and the US. The same testing technique was applied to soil from the Australian site, and “the meteorite values were greater than the surrounding soil, which suggests that the compounds came to Earth in these rocks.” While life could have “formed in a warm soup of earthly chemistry,” this exciting discovery adds to evidence to the theory that “life’s precursors originally came from space.” Read more at Science News.

Image courtesy of NASA

Researchers Engineer an Enzyme that Eats Plastic Waste

Following similar developments in England and France, a team of scientists at The University of Texas at Austin created an enzyme variant that breaks down plastic with the potential to eliminate billions of tons of landfill. The enzyme—dubbed FAST-PETase—targets polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a polymer found in consumer packaging that makes up 12% of global waste. Researchers used a machine learning model to generate mutations of a natural enzyme that degrades PET, creating an efficient variant that can eat plastic—in certain cases in as little as 24 hours. This is much faster and more effective compared with current methods of eliminating plastics, which include recycling (but less than 10% of plastics get recycled and can take centuries to degrade) and burning, which is costly and toxic for the environment. As the portable enzyme operates at less than 50 degrees Celsius, it can be used to clean up polluted sites, offering a breakthrough solution to cleaning pollution. Learn more about it at Phys.org.

Image courtesy of Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Public Libraries are Offering Free Seeds to Foster Community and Sustainability

From Georgia and California to Maine, Arizona and Colorado, public libraries across the US have begun offering seeds for patrons to take home and plant. The initiative is multifold: it builds community, fights food insecurity, champions biodiversity and promotes a connection to nature. “The library has become so much more than just a place to come in and get books. It’s becoming a community center, and the seed library fits right into that,” says Leslie Weber, the youth services associate at Connecticut’s Mystic & Noank Library, which offers more than 90 different types of seeds. The program sources seeds from non-profits, donations or a take-some-leave-some system. Patrons can take as many seeds as needed to grow a garden at home or plant in a community garden, which many libraries have started building. Providing resources on urban agriculture and encouraging donations to food banks, these libraries are bolstering communities via foodways. Learn more about it at Civil Eats.

Image courtesy of Tina Aityan/OPL

Largest Animal Crossing in The World Set for LA

Set for completion in 2025, the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing will provide safe passage for animals to wander above the 10-lane Highway 101 in northwest Los Angeles. The crossing will make the trek from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Simi Hills of the Santa Susana mountain range safe for the creatures that make the journey—mostly mountain lions, but also “coyotes, bobcats, deer, snakes, lizards, toads and even ants.” The crossing will be covered in soil and native plants so it’s inviting for animals. Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg says, “We can coexist side by side with all kinds of wild instead of paving it over and choking it off. It is about bringing more attention to an ingenious solution so urban wildlife and ecosystems like this one cannot only survive, but thrive.” Read more at CNN.

Image courtesy of the Annenberg Foundation

A Sneaker That Grows Edible Plants

From New York-based independent material designer Stella Harry Lee, the Mircogreen Shoe is a prototype sneaker that sprouts edible plants from its bacterial-grown synthetic material. The project consists of crocheted shoe uppers, which have successfully grown radishes and lettuce seeds through everyday use and exposure. While compelling and vibrant, the sneakers also conjure a dystopian future, where climate change has decimated factories and resources and people have to make their own products. In generating its own materials, the project critiques an industry of fashion brands that market themselves as sustainable without addressing—and actually perpetuating—issues of mass production. Though the Microgreen Shoe isn’t a complete solution to this, the prototype questions how materials are designed, championing a world that gets back to nature where people grow their own resources. Learn more about this project at MOLD.

Image courtesy of Stella Harry Lee/MOLD

Mallorca to Receive Spain’s First Wave Power Plant

Developed by Sweden’s Eco Wave Power, a new “wave power station” will generate energy from the Port of Adriano in Mallorca, Spain. Thanks to the location’s ideal conditions, the plant should be able to generate enough energy for 400 neighboring households. The power station “showcases a patented technology created by the Swedish company, incorporating a set of systems based on floats, pistons, hydraulic motors, generators and inverters,” according to designboom. “The facilities are specifically designed to convert wave energy into clean energy—all it takes is a 0.5-meter-tall wave for the plant to produce electricity.” Eco Wave Power installed similar plants in Israel and Gibraltar—Portugal and California are next. Read more about the process at designboom.

Image courtesy of Eco Wave Power

Scientists Develop a Pen That Detects Alzheimer’s

Scientists at Manus Neurodynamica, an Edinburgh-based medical technology company, developed a pen that provides an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. As the current method to test for Alzheimer’s is long, expensive and requires brain imaging, radio tracers and cognitive assessments, this new technology will make screenings more accessible, helping doctors diagnose patients earlier on. The Neuromotor Pen works by measuring limb and hand motion while a patient writes. It logs this data and, using artificial intelligence, compares it to motor patterns from those with impairments. While the pen is presently in its trial phase (with only one more to go), scientists are hopeful this breakthrough can give people more peace of mind about any tremors or abnormalities they make experience. Manus Neurodynamica also developed a similar device to diagnose Parkinson’s. Learn more about the technology at The Times.

Image courtesy of The Times 

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 Stella Harry Lee/MOLD