Where there's a will... It took just 8 days for China to build a large new hospital in Wuhan specifically to care for coronavirus patients. Another one is under construction. From The Guardian:
Construction work started on the Huoshenshan hospital on 23 January and finished eight days later, a day short of breaking their own record time set in 2003... The new hospital has 1,000 beds and is expected to begin admitting patients from Monday
And here is a tour of the interior! Read the rest
This is the third time this season that Red Bull Racing broke the pit stop record, this time with a 1.82 second servicing of Max Verstappen's car during yesterday's Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix. I hope robots never take their jobs.
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Over the summer, every weekend was a 3-day weekend for Microsoft Japan employees. The company tested a 4-day workweek without reducing salaries. According to Microsoft, the result was a productivity increase of 40%. It seems that the biggest contributor to that boost is that they cut way back on meetings which, as a rule, waste a lot of time. From National Public Radio:
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Because of the shorter workweek, the company also put its meetings on a diet. The standard duration for a meeting was slashed from 60 minutes to 30 — an approach that was adopted for nearly half of all meetings. In a related cut, standard attendance at those sessions was capped at five employees.
Citing the need for a shift in time management, the Microsoft division also urged people to use collaborative chat channels rather than "wasteful" emails and meetings...
Four-day workweeks made headlines around the world in the spring of 2018, when Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand trust management company, announced a 20% gain in employee productivity and a 45% increase in employee work-life balance after a trial of paying people their regular salary for working four days. Last October, the company made the policy permanent.
One thing you can always rely on in Japan is punctuality, so much so that a train line sent out an official apology this week for leaving a station 20 seconds early. No, not minutes, but seconds.
The Tsukuba Express line – which travels between Tokyo and Tsukuba – regrettably left a station at 9:44:20, rather than 9:44:40. The staff was to blame for not properly reading the schedule.
"We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to you by our customers," the apology letter said. And later in the letter: "The crewman handled the passengers on board after opening the door. After that, when departing at 9:44:40 on time, I closed the door without checking the departure time sufficiently and departed (departure operation) at 9:44:20."
By the way, not one passenger complained of the mishap. Phew!
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A company in Japan is rewarding non-smokers with an extra week of paid vacation, or six days to be exact.
Piala Inc, a marketing firm based in Tokyo, has implemented this new policy not for health reasons, but because non-smokers work longer hours than smokers. According to their calculations, smokers take at least 15 minutes per break, and they take a few breaks per day. Apparently, over a year, this adds up to six working days.
The new policy was conceived after non-smokers at the company complained about the inequity, and CEO Takao Asuka decided this was the fairest thing to do.
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Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University, came up with a boarding method that greatly speeds up the traditional back-to-front boarding method used by most airlines. But the airlines aren't interested. Read the rest
Server farms generate so much heat that they have to run air conditioning year round. That requires energy, which costs money and tends to mean burning more fossil fuels. Meanwhile, in winter, a lot of houses are cold. The people who live there have to turn on the heat, which costs money and tends to mean burning more fossil fuels.
So here's an idea: Why not distribute the hardware from a server farm, putting heat-producing equipment in houses that actually need the heat?
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If a home has a broadband Internet connection, it can serve as a micro data center. One, two or three cabinets filled with servers could be installed where the furnace sits and connected with the existing circulation fan and ductwork. Each cabinet could have slots for, say, 40 motherboards — each one counting as a server. In the coldest climate, about 110 motherboards could keep a home as toasty as a conventional furnace does.
The rest of the year, the servers would still run, but the heat generated would be vented to the outside, as harmless as a clothes dryer’s. The researchers suggest that only if the local temperature reached 95 degrees or above would the machines need to be shut down to avoid overheating. (Of course, adding a new outside vent on the side of the house could give some homeowners pause.)
According to the researchers’ calculations, a conventional data center must invest about $400 a year to run each server, or about $16,000 for a cabinet filled with 40 of them.
Thermocells based on carbon nanotubes (and, thus, cheaper and more efficient than the kind based on platinum) could help capture the wasted heat put off by everything from car exhaust pipes to power station generators, and turn it into electricity. Read the rest
Everybody knows that Americans have a god-given right to waste energy as they see fit—from turning on every light in the house, to leaving the TV on for the cat. The call to conserve? That's just an evil plot. Sing along with this clip from a satirical musical produced by Allied Chemical in 1978.
Then think: This guy is caught up in a false dichotomy—he thinks he either has to ignore the problems associated with fossil fuels or nobly sacrifice away his standard of living. In reality, what Mock-turtleneck there wants isn't an unlimited quantity of energy (or greenhouse gas emissions). Neither will make him happier. Neither will make him wealthier. What he wants is the services of energy. That's what makes efficiency such an important concept, according to William Moomaw, professor of International Environmental Policy and Director of Tuft's Center for International Environment & Resource Policy. Getting people the results they want, for less energy and low emissions, does a lot more good than the usual song and dance.
Watch more of the musical, "Seein' the Light".
(Thanks to Sean Meredith of Track 16 Gallery for the video!) Read the rest