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Community Greening Projects Help To Reduce Crime 

Is there any benefit to cleaning up messy and abandoned spaces in a neighbourhood, besides making them look better and adding a small green lung to the area? A team from the University Of Michigan Institute For Firearm Injury Prevention and the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center in the USA decided to find out, building on previous research into Busy Streets Theory, a theory that suggests that when communities participate in greening programs in their neighbourhoods it doesn’t just lead to better looking vacant spaces – crime in the area also goes down. 

The research, which was published in the American Journal Of Community Psychology last month, analyzed summer crime statistics from 2016 to 2018 at 2102 street segments in Youngstown, Ohio, and discovered that in areas in which community members actively worked to keep their green their neighbourhoods and maintain vacant spaces by planting, mowing, and cleaning them, violent crime “experienced more than twice the reduction” in comparison to areas that were maintained by professionals who mowed the area, while spaces that weren’t looked after at all saw a slight increase in violent crime.

Electric Micro-Mobility Vehicles Reduce Congestion. 

It may seem like an obvious conclusion that if you encourage e-bike and e-scooter use, congestion and pollution will go down due to there being fewer cars on the road but it’s been difficult to study due to how data had to be gathered, which was via travel surveys that relied on self-reporting and are therefore unreliable and biased.

However, in 2019, Atlanta in the USA banned all electric micro-mobility vehicles in the city between 9 pm and 4 am for safety reasons, resulting in a perfect scenario for researchers from Georgia Tech’s School Of Public Policy to study. The obvious, but now backed by data: if small vehicles are banned travel times increase by 9% to 11% for daily commutes and by 37% for large events. There is a tradeoff, however, which is what Atlanta was trying to combat: accidents and hospitalizations go up when there are more micro-mobility vehicles on the road.

The research was published in Nature Energy in October 2022.

Hope For Combatting Drug-Resistant Bacteria That Plague Hospitals.

One of the reasons that hospital-acquired infections are so nasty is because the bacteria produce a slimy biofilm that protects them from antimicrobial drugs and cleaning products that are designed to destroy them. A multi-institutional team led by scientists at King Abdullah University Of Science And Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia has made an enzyme that breaks down the molecules that the bacteria use to communicate to each other that they should be making the biofilm to protect themselves. (The term for this breaking down process of molecules via enzymes is “quorum quenching”.) The research was published in Frontiers In Microbiology on 22 August 2022.

The enzyme originates from research done on bacteria samples that were extracted from Red Sea sediment in 2016 in which seven promising quorum quenching genes were identified and studied. The research on the genes is ongoing in order for it eventually to lead to commercial applications.

In January formula D_ partnered with KAUST during its Winter Enrichment Program, which explored the theme “resilience” and celebrated overcoming adversity in order to normalize failure as an integral part of knowledge seeking and the journey to success. Our team was tasked with designing a number of pop-up exhibits, including the “Hall Of Failure”, which profiled international scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs and the obstacles and challenges they faced. Attendees were encouraged to add their own profiles and failure examples to the wall, which resulted in an exhibit that showcased new content every day and which grew organically over the course of the two-week event.

The project was well received and not only changed attendees’ perceptions of failure but demonstrated that innovation takes time and is about experimentation that leads to all sorts of unexpected results, none of which is a waste because it contributes to knowledge and sparks innovative thinking.

Fish Look Downwards When They Swim. 

An international collaboration led by scientists at Northwestern University in the USA who study optic flow has determined that fish look down when they swim (as opposed to upward when they are hunting) in order to help them stabilize themselves against movement such as currents in rivers. By looking down they can focus on stable features such as a riverbed and its textures, whereas other fish or plants might give them false information about whether or not they are moving.

The team traveled to India to study larval zebrafish in their natural habitat in order to figure out why their lab fish respond to motion below them more strongly than motion above them and the research, which was published in Current Biology on 2 November 2022, has potential applications for bio-inspired robots.