This eerie map of the world’s air quality shows just how big our planet’s Nitrogen Dioxide problem has gotten. Now Dyson have made an Atlas to show people just how widespread the problem is…

Image for post
Image for post
A global atlas of the world’s NO2 pollution | Image ©Descartes Labs

Last year, between August and September you contributed to all the pollution recorded. If you were in a car, bus or train with a combustion engine — in fact, if you did virtually anything using electricity you produced nitrogen dioxide, a nasty-smelling, gaseous pollutant. In cities, almost all of it comes from vehicle exhausts. But it can also be produced by power plants, factories and anything else that burns things.

With people increasingly worried about the impact of burning fossil fuels, the scientific community is investing more money into studying its effects. One experiment is the European Space Agency’s Sentinel 5P environmental monitoring satellite. Using state-of-the-art photo-optic equipment it can create images of real-time NO2 pollution anywhere on the planet. …


In 1993 NASA’s brightest minds were forced to concede defeat. They’d confronted a problem that even they couldn’t find a solution to: The wind. While trying to harness one of earth’s most volatile elements to power a future Mars rover, they were blown back to the US by the untameable gusts of Chile’s Atacama Desert. But where NASA failed, O-Wind was born…

Image for post
Image for post

Originally published in Dyson on: on.dyson.co.uk

01

South America’s Atacama Desert is known for two things: dust and wind.

As Earth’s driest region, it’s an otherworldly place where barely anything lives — and nothing thrives. Not the sort of place you’d expect to find a team of scientists working on the most advanced technologies in the world.

Nestled between two mountain ranges, temperatures on this plateau can vary by as much as 50°C in a day. The Atacama is so inhospitable that biologists were actually surprised to find living organisms there.

Image for post
Image for post
The deflated landing “balloons” used on the Spirit Mars rover | Photography NASA

But it is this barren quality which first attracted NASA’s engineers to the Atacama. Photographs taken by the Mars Curiosity rover show that Earth’s own lifeless, red wasteland bears a striking resemblance to our interplanetary neighbour. According to NASA, “due to its extreme dryness, the Atacama Desert in Chile is one of the most important environments on Earth for researchers who need to approximate the conditions of Mars”. …


Every great invention of the modern age needed a patent to protect it from copycats. We’ve gathered some of the most interesting documents in the history of invention.

Image for post
Image for post

Originally published in Dyson on: on.dyson.co.uk

A patent gives its owner a legally-enforceable monopoly to their invention. The invention could be any new and inventive solution to a technical problem; whether it’s the humble paper clip to a new pharmaceutical to developments in AI or quantum computing.

Patents play an important role in incentivising and rewarding innovation. They reward the skill and ingenuity that go into developing any invention by preventing others from using the idea covered by the patent.

This is a valuable tool for anyone in the business of innovating. For example, it is because of the potential rewards offered by a monopoly that pharmaceutical companies invest millions into research and development, including going down numerous blind alleys, in the hope of finding life-saving treatments. …


From the catchy tune your laptop plays as you wake it to the sharp bleating of a freezer door that’s been left open. Our technology is constantly communicating with us. But do we really understand the full extent of their usefulness?

Image for post

We live in an increasingly noisy world. When we’re on the move, the phones in our pockets buzz, beep and ring, at work our computers play melodies when we turn them on and off, and even at home our kitchen appliances are an orchestra of alarms.

These are just a sample of the growing number of functional noises that we’re increasingly reliant on to communicate with our user friendly technological gadgets.

“A good example is Skype or other messenger apps which most of us use all the time,” says Tom Ridley, a sound design engineer at Dyson.

He explains, “when you send a message it makes a certain noise. When one arrives it makes a different noise, and you get different sounds for errors and connecting to the internet and almost all the programmes other functions. It has an audio vocabulary that people who use Skype will all recognise.” …


They way we spend money is changing. Less people use hard monetary currency than ever before and more transactions happen digitally every day. Does this mean the end for money?

Image for post
Image for post
Does the new Apple Card contactless payment system finally mean cash is dead? | Photography Apple

Current accounts aren’t ‘cool’. People don’t wait excitedly outside a Natwest branch to receive their cash ISA. In fact, quite the opposite: normally the only time you see a queue outside a bank is after a financial disaster.

Nevertheless, over 14,550 people are waiting in a digital line for their Monzo Bank card at the time of writing this. And everywhere you look Monzo’s eye-catching “Hot Coral” coloured cards have been appearing in people’s wallets. Seemingly every time someone whips one out to buy a coffee, Monzo gets another bank-convert.

‘It’s a very mission-driven app and bank,’ says Tom Blomfield, 31, co-founder and CEO of Monzo Bank. Monzo is a challenger bank for the smartphone generation. Rather than investing in physical branches, this bank just has an app that sends you notifications with emojis for each transaction, letting you know when you’ve spent too much on all those millennial coffees. …


Image for post
Image for post

The incredible true story of how a bird watcher’s love of the natural world helped to solve an engineering problem plaguing the urban heart of Tokyo: the Bullet Train’s sonic boom headache.

Image for post
Image for post
The story of the unforseen technological applications of a Kingfisher’s beak | Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

Japan’s so-called “Bullet train” is more aptly named than you might imagine. When the locomotive was first unveiled in 1964 it was heralded as a design masterpiece.

However, by 1990, the applause had turned to anger as the project engineers and people of Tokyo discovered a deafeningly obvious issue with the train’s design.

Reaching speeds of over 320km per hour, every time the Shinkansen train carriages entered a tunnel they would essentially become a shotgun round. And just like a rifle, every time the train would blast out of a tunnel, it did so with an explosive bang.

Image for post
Image for post
Japan’s famous Bullet Train, featuring Nakatsu’s “kingfisher” nose-cone | Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash

The phenomenon, which is called ‘Tunnel Boom’, is created by the train forcing air along the enclosed tunnel, and building up the air pressure in waves until it reaches the end of the tunnel when it is released in the form of a sonic boom (similar to the noise once made by Concorde jets). Disgruntled, local residents reported hearing bangs up to 400m away from the railway. …


From Gutenberg to Adobe’s invention of the PDF (and beyond)— how the world of publishing went from zero to 1 million-mph…

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Water Journal on Unsplash

On 15th June 1993 Adobe Systems’ top-secret project Camelot was completed and released to the world. The product of this task-force’s three-years of work was the rather prosaically named, Portable Document Format — better known today simply as the PDF.

In version 1.0 users could add and edit text, images, hypertext links, and bookmarks. It was a no-frills package, strictly utility.

But by 2007 Adobe supplied its PDF format to the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) — essentially making the PDF the internet’s official document publishing format.

Even back in 2015 an estimated 2.5 trillion PDFs existed on the internet alone. Whether you are distributing a company-wide memo or a glossy New York fashion magazine, the PDF has made publishing open to everyone with a computer. A PDF may not yet carry the cultural cache of a printed magazine, but thanks to the internet, the PDF seems to have out-evolved its neanderthalic print ancestor in the battle for publishing. …


Cinemas hate Netflix. For years these gate keepers to the spectacular fantasies cooked up by Hollywood had it good. When a blockbuster was released there was only one place you could watch it. But as the film industry seemed to run out of ideas, streaming services like Netflix decided they’d start making films, not just buying them. Now the best new films and TV aren’t being made by big studios — and cinema owners are very unhappy.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kosta Bratsos on Unsplash

Tim Richards, CEO of VUE, one of Britain’s biggest cinema chains, recently published an open letter to BAFTA moaning about the inclusion of Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar tipped film, Roma at their recent awards ceremony.

In his two-page letter he complains that while “Cuarón is an incredible filmmaker for whom [he has] a huge amount of respect,” his film Roma did not “adhere to BAFTA’s rules”.

He also accuses the British film institution of “not [living] up to its usual high standards this year in choosing to endorse and promote a ‘made for TV’ film.

To most people this will just sound like rotten tomatoes. Vue and the rest of the cinema industry rely on big films screening their latest pictures for the public. They are the gate keepers of Hollywood and they have become quite cosy in the business they call show. Tickets got more expensive, films became franchises, which became reboots, which became gender reboots. All the while studios and cinemas made money by turning their customers into cash cows. …


Image for post
Image for post

A recent study has found that everyday chemicals used in kitchen and bathroom cleaning products are now responsible for more air pollution than traffic. Here’s what you need to know about what you’re breathing…

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

New findings published in the research journal, Science, report that chemicals used in household goods like shampoo, deodorant, and cleaning sprays may contribute as much to poor air quality as cars.

The key finding of the research suggests that the amount of potentially harmful “emissions per unit product use” produced when using some household chemical products can be “one to two orders of magnitude higher than from automobile exhaust.”

Although the focus on most discussions about improving air quality are has been on the outdoor pollution caused by traffic, this latest study has shifted the focus instead onto the more wide-ranging “urban air quality”. …


For years we’ve all been told that extroverts lead better lives, but now their quiet counterparts are fighting back. Introverts are taking back control of offices, public spaces, and now the last battleground: the web. Are we about to start living in the Age of the Introvert?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

By Henry Tobias Jones*

“London is open,” at least, according to our mayor Sadiq Khan’s post-Brexit advertising blitz which welcomed in the world. According to his ads, we Londoners are a chatty, party going, extroverted, grab-life-by-the-balls bunch, and we’re all really looking forward to sharing our city with the rest of you.

There’s just one problem; London is the least welcoming place in the UK. The capital has topped countless surveys for having the least open and affable people in any of Britain’s major cities. …

About

Henry Tobias Jones

Features director of ES Magazine, Evening Standard Founding editor of @dyson on: Follow me @henrytojones

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store