Plastic Health Map, Cities in Fiction, Boston Slavery, More: Monday Afternoon ResearchBuzz, October 16, 2023


Environmental Health News: Massive new database on how plastic chemicals harm our health. “Experts from the Minderoo Foundation published today a large, open-access database, called the Plastic Health Map, that includes the findings from more than 3,500 studies from 1961 to 2022 on how plastic chemicals impact human health.”

Scroll (India): An archive project is creating a database of Indian cities in fiction – and you can contribute to it. “The Cities in Fiction project was started by researcher Divya Ravindranath and writer, editor, and translator Apoorva Saini to build a database of real-world cities in fiction… and to see how South Asia is constructed in the fictive imagination. At present, the list primarily covers India, but Ravindranath said that suggestions have been pouring in from all over South Asia since the project’s website went live.”

Boston Globe: Boston researchers have compiled what may be the country’s first city-commissioned database of enslaved people. “The database, which is now posted on the city’s website, lists 2,357 Black and Indigenous people enslaved in Boston between 1641 and 1783, the year Massachusetts abolished slavery. And researchers believe that number is only a fraction of what they can ultimately compile.”

City Monitor: NYC Street Map: A city app now lets you look at historical streets. “The Department of City Planning (DCP) has rolled out an updated version of the NYC Street Map tool, providing users with a record of not just the altered streets but also the original ones dating back to the early 20th century. The tool offers a digital compilation of the entire history of New York City’s 32,000-plus streets.”


How-To Geek: Tor Browser 13.0 Finally Adds a Landscape Aspect Ratio. “The Tor Browser 13.0 update introduces several long-awaited improvements, including a landscape aspect ratio, a fix for the ‘red screen of death,’ and several enhancements from Mozilla’s Firefox ESR 115. Updated app icons and GUI elements are also part of the mix, though Tor Browser retains its basic look and feel.”


Architect Magazine: Meet the New Mellon Foundation Initiative That Is Keeping and Shaping Our Places. “The New York–based organization’s newest program area, Humanities in Place, has deployed $136.6 million since its inception in 2020 to expand the capacity of communities to keep and shape their places and built environments through grants for design projects and the social and cultural infrastructure they provide.”


Fast Company: Fake airline reps are helping disgruntled passengers rebook flights in the latest bizarre X scam. “Earlier this month, Jason Rabinowitz—an aviation enthusiast who goes by @AirlineFlyer on social media and cohosts the AvTalk podcast from flight-tracking site FlightRadar24—noticed an uptick in bots replying to people who were tweeting at airlines for flight updates and customer service—with Air Canada among the common airlines whose customers ended up getting peppered with tweets. As someone who’s followed the airline industry for the past decade, Rabinowitz says the uptick in bot replies is unprecedented.”

9to5 Mac: Google search payment makes up 14-16% of Apple’s profits; if that’s banned, what then?. “The Google search payment – the annual amount Google pays to Apple in return for being the default search engine in Safari – reportedly makes up 14-16% of the Cupertino company’s total profits. With that payment now threatened by the antitrust case against Google, Bernstein analysts look at what that could mean for Apple.” Amazed that a company as old as Apple got that reliant on one revenue source.


Northeastern Global News: Do comics help as a STEM learning tool? Northeastern professor’s study aims to answer that question . “The National Science Foundation awarded [Luke] Landherr a grant to examine this in one of the first studies of its kind on whether comics help as a visual learning tool. Landherr will create a series of comics for a core introductory chemical engineering course that will be used at five partner institutions, as well as Northeastern. Landherr will then look at grades as well as concept testing to determine if student understanding and engagement improves when comics are used.”

The Next Web: Google’s AI could soon consume as much electricity as Ireland, study finds. “A new study published this week suggests that the AI industry could consume as much energy as a country like Argentina, Netherlands, or Sweden by 2027. What’s more, the research estimates that if Google alone switched its whole search business to AI, it would end up using 29.3 terawatt-hours per year — equivalent to the electricity consumption of Ireland.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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