Brave New World

[government] A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.
[moral] Lenina doesn’t see why she shouldn’t have sex with anyone she likes whenever the occasion offers, as to do so is merely polite behavior and not to do so is selfish.
[society] Reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays. “Has any of you been compelled to live through a long time-interval between the consciousness of a desire and its fulfillment?”
Aldous Huxley (1932), Brave New World

Baixa, o Subúrbio

A Baixa de Lisboa, também chamada Baixa Pombalina, foi edificada por ordem do Marquês de Pombal depois do terramoto de 1755. Durante cerca de 200 anos correspondeu ao centro político, económico e comercial de Lisboa, com os seus conhecidos locais do Terreiro do Paço, o Rossio, o Cais do Sodré e o Chiado. Após os anos 60 do século XX foi-se transformando gradualmente num centro essencialmente turístico e suburbano. 

Numa reportagem de 2015, alguns dos habitantes da Baixa falam das suas deslocações diárias para fora da sua área de residência em direção ao trabalho, dos problemas de limpeza urbana e segurança, assim como a sua expectativa em morar em locais mais atrativos que o seu bairro suburbano:

Joana Nogueira, 28 anos, foi morar para a Baixa lisboeta há três anos e desloca-se para o seu trabalho em Queluz através do IC 19. Partilha com um amigo o arrendamento de um apartamento na Rua de São Nicolau. Também ele, António Matos, tem-se de deslocar para o seu trabalho em Almada, recorrendo à bicicleta e o cacilheiro. Joana e António partilham o enorme descontentamento pelo progressivo degradar da qualidade de vida nesta zona da cidade devido ao estacionamento abusivo, falta de higiene do espaço público e mesmo  tráfico de droga. César Laia que vive na Rua dos Bacalhoeiros e também trabalha fora de Lisboa, aponta outro problema: “a abertura de lojas de fraca qualidade, sempre viradas para captar dinheiro aos turistas”. António Matos está tão descontente com este cenário que vê como muito provável a possibilidade de abandonar a zona: “Sair todos os dias de casa e assistir a cenas decepcionantes dá-me vontade de sair…”. O presidente da Junta de Freguesia anunciou a tentativa de resolver alguns problemas, nomeadamente criando mais quatro dezenas de lugares de estacionamento para residentes na Rua da Prata.


The Rulers of The World

Tardigrades are 500 million years old and at first glance, very intimidating. They have podgy faces, eight legs, ferocious claws and dagger-like teeth. They are never more than 1.5 mm long and can only be seen with a microscope. They have been discovered up a mountain in the Himalayas, in Japanese hot springs, at the bottom of the ocean or even in Antarctica.
  • In 1964, scientists exposed Tardigrades to lethal doses of X-rays, alpha, gamma and ultraviolet radiation and found that they could survive. In 2007, radiation was one of the biggest threats facing the Tardigrades when they were attached to a satellite and blasted into space. After the satellite had returned to Earth, scientists found that many of them had survived. Some of the females had even laid eggs in space and the newly-hatched young were healthy.
  • Tardigrades can tolerate being frozen to -272.8 °C, just above absolute zero. To put that into perspective, the lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was a balmy -89.2 °C in central Antarctica. They coped with a profound chill that does not occur naturally and must be created in the lab, at which atoms come to a virtual standstill.
  • In 1842 a French scientist showed that a Tardigrade could survive being heated to temperatures of 125 °C for several minutes; in 1920 a Benedictine friar brought Tardigrades back to life after heating them to 151 °C for 15 minutes.
  • In 1998, a study found that Tardigrades could survive a pressure of 600 MPa. This is beyond anything they might encounter in nature: the deepest part of the sea is in the Mariana Trench, which goes down 10,994 m and the water pressure is around 100 MPa.
And finally, when a Tardigrade dries out, it enters a deep state of suspended animation that closely resembles death and its metabolism slows to 0.01% of the normal rate. It can stay in this state for decades, only reanimating when it comes into contact with water.

Sonification

Sonification converts data that would ordinarily be displayed visually or numerically into sound. The ear, often more than the eye, has an exceptional ability to pick out subtle differences in a pattern, which is helpful in discovering phenomena not obvious in a visual display. The ears can detect changes in a sound that occur after just a few milliseconds whereas the eyes limit for detecting a flickering light is about 50 times a second. Sonification is already a tool helping to find hidden astronomical activity or to distinguish cancer cells from normal cells.