Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Converting salt water to drinking water, recycling face masks in concrete, an exhibition of abortion stories and more from around the web

Researchers Uncover a Fragment of the Asteroid That May Have Killed Off Dinosaurs

Paleontologists discovered a tiny fragment that may have been from the asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs, as revealed in a new documentary Dinosaur Apocalypse. Found in the Tanis fossil site in North Dakota, the fragment was preserved in amber after landing in tree resin upon impact, enabling researchers to identify the chromium, nickel and other materials that suggest a cosmic origin. The research—which will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the coming months—also uncovered an exceptionally preserved dinosaur leg from a thescelosaurus, believed to have died on the day the asteroid hit and a fossilized pterosaur egg, the first found in North America. The fossil records give paleontologists a detailed look at what happened on the extraordinary day, including where the asteroid came from and what exactly unfolded when it made impact. Learn more about at CNN.

Image courtesy of CNN

Plants Grow in Lunar Soil for the First Time

Half a century ago, Apollo astronauts brought back samples of lunar rock and dust that researchers at the University of Florida recently planted thale cress seeds into and, for the first time, grew edible plants. At first the samples were averse to water, requiring an additional nutrient solution, but eventually they sprouted, looking verdantly green for a time before turning slightly purple yet remaining safe to eat. While it wouldn’t be very tasty, the breakthrough germination confirms that life can be grown on the moon and in space where astronauts may need to rely on on-site resources for longer missions. “The idea of bringing lunar soil into a lunar greenhouse is the stuff of exploration dreams,” says Robert Ferl, a co-author of this study. “If you look back at science fiction, plants have always been part of the deep exploration agenda.” Read more about what this entails for future space missions at The Washington Post.

Image courtesy of Tyler Jones/University of Florida, IFAS

Manual and Hotline “Privatise the Mandem” Helps Fight Gentrification

In an effort to combat rapidly rising inner-city gentrification, London-based author Nabil Al-Kinani wrote and published Privatise the Mandem, a radical, 80-page manual on preserving the culture and affordability of lower-income neighborhoods. Within, Al-Kinani advocates for privatization, where council estate housing is collectively owned by those who live there. He offers the context of the current UK housing crisis, instructions on how to acquire estates, a detailed timeline diagram, inspirational stories of those who stood up to gentrification and won and even a hotline (+447554658435) to ask further questions on WhatsApp and Telegram, with Al-Kinani potentially dropping by in-person to discuss planning. “If we don’t secure the ends [inner-cities] now, there’s a real risk that we’ll imminently be displaced and our communities destroyed in the process,” says the author. Read more about Al-Kinani and his plan to preserve communities at The Face.

Image courtesy of Nabil Al-Kinani

New Portable Device Can Turn Saltwater Into Drinking Water

Only 0.5% of Earth’s 326 million trillion gallons of water is safe to drink. To make water more accessible and consumable, researchers at MIT developed a portable device that converts saltwater into drinking water with the touch of a button. The current prototype (which fits into a regular-sized suitcase) requires less power to operate than a cellphone charger, processes one liter of water per hour, charges itself via a solar panel on its exterior and removes the need of a filter by relying on electric fields. The entire device only has three buttons, granting the invention an ease of use that makes it a crucial tool for all types of use, from cargo ships to refugee camps. While the prototype is priced around $4,000 to $6,000 per unit, scientists believe the device can be developed down to around $1,500 and process 10 times the amount of water. Learn more about this life-saving tool at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Junghyo Yoon/Unsplash

Cindy Rucker Gallery’s Exhibition of Abortion Stories

This past weekend, the Lower East Side’s Cindy Rucker Gallery hosted a three-day exhibition focused on abortion stories, in response to reproductive freedom across the US being threatened. From emotional to pragmatic, the works vary in all ways but still center on the fundamental right to abortion. Shout Your Abortion (an initiative striving to normalize abortion through art and community) created a work called “Abortion Pills,” wherein medicine boxes were piled on the floor and each one featured a QR code leading users to a list of resources for reproductive health services. Lena Chen’s “We Lived in The Gaps Between the Stories” is a wreath of plants traditionally used for abortions. Christen Clifford performed “Interior Portraits: We’re All Pink Inside” for the first time in a gallery. “This is not just a women’s health project, although it may have stemmed from that,” Clifford tells Hyperallergic. “A lot of my research comes from early feminist art and early feminist body art. What I hope I’m doing is expanding that and exploding it a little to include all bodies, because all bodies deserve bodily autonomy.” Read and see more from the show at Hyperallergic.

Image of Christen Clifford’s “Interior Portrait, Lydia” (2022) courtesy of the artist

Face Masks Can Be Recycled to Create Stronger Concrete

New research published in Materials Letters announced that scientists at Washington State University found a way to recycle face masks by incorporating them into concrete, creating a more durable material that is 50% stronger than the standard. As face masks generate plastic pollution and concrete engenders a carbon-intensive process, the study not only improves concrete’s design, it also addresses two sustainability issues. Researchers found that the fibers in the masks—polypropylene or polyester fabrics—represent the same core materials in concrete, and the masks’ microfibers are able to absorb energy that could lead to cracks. The study also suggests that concrete bolstered with the mask additive will reduce the amount of cement needed for a project, saving carbon emissions. “These waste masks actually could be a valuable commodity if you process them properly,” says lead researcher Xianming Shi. Learn more about this innovative process at Digital Journal.

Image by Emadrazo; courtesy of Emadrazo/Digital Journal

Maharishi Vastu Architecture Prioritizes Residents’ Health

After studying Maharishi Vastu architecture (MVA) for 40 years, Jon Lipman and a team of researchers found that the style can “boost residents’ mental health, improve their sleep, and lower their stress.” MVA’s principles include everything from orientation (in order to fully harness the sun’s energy) to specific proportions and placement of rooms, as well as the use of non-toxic materials in order to generate cosmic harmony. Despite these guiding factors, the houses can look very different. Lipman’s paper suggests “using architectural design as preventive medicine and in public health,” in order to create healthier homes (and offices) and, in turn, neighborhoods and cities. Read more at INVERSE.

Image courtesy of maharishivastu.org

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 of Christen Clifford’s “Interior Portrait, Lydia” (2022), digital photograph taken at Cindy Rucker Gallery for Abortion Stories 2022, photo courtesy Christen Clifford