Archive for ‘innovation’

25/05/2019

Taiwan begins mass production of home-grown missile corvettes, minelayers

  • Self-ruled island cannot match Beijing’s spending, but innovation can help it succeed in a one-sided military conflict, observers say
  • First of Tuo Jiang-class stealth warships expected to be ready by 2021
Taiwan began mass production of its Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes on Friday. Photo: Handout
Taiwan began mass production of its Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes on Friday.

Taiwan has begun mass production of its home-grown Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes and high-speed minelayers as it seeks to shore up its naval forces amid rising hostility from Beijing.

Dubbed the “aircraft carrier killer”, the small but powerful corvette, which has a displacement of 680 tonnes and a top speed of 45 knots, is a state-of-the-art stealth warship built by Lung Teh Shipbuilding.

A total of three corvettes will be built under the NT$31.6 billion (US$1 billion) Hsun Hai project, the self-ruled island’s navy said.

The warship is equipped with one of the world’s most technologically advanced computer systems and built partly with high-entropy metal alloys for extra strength and durability, it said. Its stealth technology and low radar cross section makes the ship virtually invisible at sea and even more obscure when operating close to the coastline.
Armed with eight subsonic Hsiung Feng II and eight supersonic Hisung Feng III anti-ship missile launchers, the corvettes are intended to take over many of the missions currently undertaken by larger, less manoeuvrable and more expensive frigates and destroyers, the navy said.
In the event of an actual armed conflict with Beijing, the warships would also boost Taiwan’s ability to counter a much larger and better equipped rival, a concept known as asymmetric warfare.
Taiwan simulates repelling invasion as Beijing threat persists

In a ceremony on Friday at Lung Teh’s shipyard in Suao, Yilan county, to mark the start of mass production, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the move was made possible after the navy succeeded in overcoming a number of design and technological issues regarding the warship, an earlier version of which she boarded soon after becoming the island’s leader in 2016.

Together with the construction of the high-speed minelayers, also by Lung Teh, and a home-grown submarine at a separate shipyard in Kaohsiung, Tsai said Taiwan was entering a “new era” of naval strength that would give it the ability to thwart any attempts by the People’s Liberation Army to invade its territory.

“This proves we are able to build our own warships and launch a new era of the naval force,” she said.

Construction of the Tuo Jiang-class corvettes was under way, with the first expected to be ready for delivery to the navy in 2021 and the last by 2025, Tsai said.

The first batch of four minelayers would also be ready by 2021, she said.

Taiwan has sought to counter the rising threat from mainland China by developing more of its own military hardware in recent years. Beijing’s military budget for 2019 is 1.2 trillion yuan, or about 16 times as much as Taiwan’s.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, and suspended all official exchanges with it after Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president and refused to accept the one-China principle.

Experts doubt China’s ability to launch assault on Taiwan

Over the past three years Tsai has prioritised Taiwan’s military expansion, ordering the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology – the island’s top weapon research and development agency – to speed up production of weapons like the surface-to-air Skybow-III and supersonic anti-ship Hsiung Feng-III missiles.

Taiwan is also expected next year to begin mass production of its CM-34 Clouded Leopard eight-wheeled armoured vehicles and has set a target to manufacture 284 of them by 2023.

Four prototypes of the vehicles, which passed pre-production tests in October, are expected to take part in the island’s annual Han Kuang war games next week.

Chieh Chung, a national security research fellow at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said that because of the huge discrepancies in their military budgets Taiwan could not engage in an arms race with the mainland so had to be more innovative.

“Taiwan has to develop an asymmetric defence strategy,” he said. “Take the Tou Jiang corvettes, for example. Because of their high speed, stealth function, small size and powerful weaponry, they can be deployed anywhere near Taiwan’s coast and called into action very quickly to fend off enemy vessels,” he said.

“The same applies to the high-speed minelayers, which can drop mines very quickly and make it very hard for enemy ships to attack the coast,” he said.

Source: SCMP

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07/04/2019

India eco-school: Is this the greenest campus on Earth?

School
Image captionThe school’s surrounding mountainous landscape is almost devoid of vegetation as it is above the tree line

Secmol is a school pioneering practical green education in one of the world’s harshest environments.

Its campus is perched nearly 11,000ft (3,350m) up in the pre-Himalayan mountains along the Indus River in Ladakh, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Road sign

The teenage pupils at Secmol (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) lack wi-fi and almost all phone coverage, in an area only accessible by air during the long harsh winter when deep snow renders roads out of the province impassable.

The surrounding mountainous landscape is almost devoid of vegetation as it is above the tree line.

Secmol
Drone footage of schoolImage copyrightSUMEDH CHAPHEKAR

The school even sets its own time zone to maximise sunlight, which also reminds every student and visitor that when they pass the gates they are entering a different world.

Pupils are all from the regular Ladakhi school system and only those who have failed their year 10 exams are permitted to attend. There are also a number of university students who form a core part of the community along with the teachers.

Child helping prepare food in kitchen

School director Konchok Norgay explained to the BBC that the students learn about the environment for an hour or two each day.

In a typical maths lesson, they may calculate if the water from the spring is enough for tree planting, or work out the efficiency of the solar cooker that they use for heating water.

Mirrors used to harness the sun's intense heat

The solar cooker looks impressive, with mirrors crafted to catch the harsh sunlight, focusing their power to create intense heat.

But it is currently only used to boil water for tea.

Water is boiled using natural light

Norgay proudly showed off his experimental biogas methane digester, which is powered by slurry.

Dung is mixed with water and then placed in a long tube and left for several days.

Secmol's director Konchok Norgay

The gas rises to the top, and is filtered through steel wool to ensure the gas does not corrode the oven, before reaching a plastic inflatable reserve tank.

“It’s fantastic as not only do you use less commercial gas, but you use natural materials instead,” student Stanzin Sungrab says. “And we can use the slurry waste as fertiliser in the kitchen garden.”

Each student must perform daily responsibility shifts and develop their confidence with nightly presentations to the rest of the school and visitors.

Stanzin has spent many hours developing relationships with Karjama, Thotkar and Sheyma, the campus cows.

Cow shed

When students are not on the 04:00 breakfast preparation shift, the day starts at 07:00 with a seven-minute group meditation.

Students are encouraged to focus on goals for the day over a meal of cold roti bread and homemade apricot jam.

The apricot stones are sent to a neighbouring monastery, where the kernels are recycled into apricot oil.

apricot seeds for recycling

Innovation is hard-wired into the architecture of the campus, challenged by an environment where winter temperatures typically reach -15C to -25C, and summer can often peak at 30C.

Ladakh has longstanding environmental credentials – even if the recent sprouting of large concrete hotels and increasing pollution in the capital Leh are challenging its green record.

“We banned plastic bags here 30 years ago,” says Sonam Gatso, who operates a local green organisation.

Sonam also believes local Buddhist culture helps promote environmental awareness. “We try to be compassionate as we believe in Karma – cause-and-effect. If you do wrong to anyone else or the environment, wrong will come to you.”

Girl peels eggs

Secmol is an impressive school, but how far can its lessons extend beyond its innovative but isolated campus?

Urgain Nurbu, a former Secmol student who is now living on campus again, has been so inspired by what he learnt that he organised an environmental youth camp in his remote village.

College student Urgain Nurbu

The camp-goers make rain jackets from old plastic, and Urgain invites environmental speakers to inspire the young people.

One graduate has started her own eco-travel company, another makes environmentally-themed films.

Shara, an architectural student, is now experimenting with creating pre-fabricated building blocks from mud, wood shavings and straw.

Shara

She is part of a team designing a new university in the area which plans to teach eco-tourism and green architecture, scaling the influence of ideas nurtured in Secmol’s pioneering atmosphere.

For now, the school’s impact is achieved by transforming individual mindsets to create a sense of shared responsibility.

“My grandfather told me how quiet and beautiful our village used to be and there were fish in the river,” student Padma Doma told the BBC.

“That’s why it’s so important to me to protect our precious environment. In the future, maybe it can be like that again.

Padma Dolma shows food box

“I want to go home and convince my family to segregate their garbage. Will they listen? Perhaps not, but I will try, and if I see somebody throwing away a packet, I will pick it up.”

Stanzin feels this is “a really critical time for our planet”.

“In our homes we throw away garbage but here we recycle. In our homes we throw away plastic but here we use it for insulation.”

As the environment is so harsh, Ladakhis are very conscious of subtle changes in the weather, and have become increasingly aware of climate change, he says.

“Last year, we didn’t have much snow so there’s not enough snowmelt in the springtime. Because we are so high up and everything must be treasured, you learn to understand the value of the smallest drop of water.”

List of things that impact the environment

All photos Emily Kasriel unless indicated. Subject to copyright.

Source: The BBC

14/03/2019

China to invest more in emerging industries

BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) — China’s emerging industries will become a major driving force for investment growth this year, the Economic Information Daily reported Wednesday.

China will increase policy support for and infrastructure investment in emerging industries in 2019, including commercial applications of 5G, artificial intelligence, industrial internet and internet of things, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The country will cultivate emerging industrial clusters with market influence and distinctive advantages that can vigorously drive regional economic transformation, the newspaper quoted Ren Zhiwu, deputy secretary-general of the NDRC, as saying.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also plans to promote the deep integration of the internet, big data and artificial intelligence with the real economy, and encourage innovation in new technologies and new forms of industry, the newspaper said.

Local governments will also step up support for strategic emerging industries in financial aid, technological innovation and the business environment. Efforts should be made to improve strategic emerging industries’ capabilities to innovate, said the newspaper.

Source: Xinhua

07/03/2019

China establishes special committee for national nutrition plan

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) — China has created a special committee to implement the country’s national nutrition plan, according to the National Health Commission (NHC).

Jointly established by NHC and 17 other government departments to coordinate and advance nutrition and health related work, the national nutrition and health committee held its inaugural meeting on Feb. 28 in Beijing, said a source of the NHC.

During the meeting, the committee adopted the regulation on its work and the main tasks for 2019 on the national nutrition plan.

Among the key jobs are improving food nutrition and health standards that build upon food safety, and establishing subcommittees at local levels to organize nutrition education and training, to conduct pilot programs and spread scientific knowledge in this regard.

Innovation will also be encouraged in the efforts, while nutrition intervention will be introduced in the campaign to battle poverty.

The national nutrition plan (2017-2030) was released by the General Office of the State Council in July 2017, with the goal of raising awareness of nutrition among the Chinese people, reducing obesity and anemia among students.

Source: Xinhua

21/12/2016

What China claims to have invented | The Economist

Strange the Chinese felt the need to do their own reasearch about its inventiveness when that had already been done thoroughly by Joseph Needham – http://www.nri.cam.ac.uk/joseph.html – and summarised in

  The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention
Robert Temple
Inner Traditions
Paperback
288 pages
November 2007

http://www.curledup.com/geniusch.htm

Needham’s research uncovered many more than 88 Chinese inventions!

EIGHT is a lucky number in China. How fortunate it was, then, that a team of more than 100 scientists was able, after three years of research, to declare that ancient Chinese had achieved no fewer than 88 scientific breakthroughs and engineering feats of global significance. Their catalogue of more than 200 pages, released in June, was hailed as a major publishing achievement.

All Chinese schoolchildren can name their country’s “four great inventions”: paper, printing, the compass and gunpowder. Now it appears they have a lot more homework to do. The study purports to prove that China was first with many other marvels, including the decimal system, rockets, pinhole imaging, rice and wheat cultivation, the crossbow and the stirrup.

It is no coincidence that the project, led by the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences, got under way a few months after Xi Jinping took over as China’s leader in 2012. Mr Xi has been trying to focus public attention on the glories of China’s past as a way to instil patriotism and provide a suitable historical backdrop for his campaign to fulfil “the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

Mr Xi is building on a long tradition among the Communist Party’s propagandists of claiming world firsts. “China invented Lassie,” ran a headline in Global Times, a party-controlled newspaper, about dogs being domesticated in China 16,000 years ago (another group of scientists reckon China first did this 33,000 years ago). In 2006 official media shocked the Scots with an assertion that China invented golf a millennium ago, hundreds of years before the game took off in Scotland.

As a lover of football, Mr Xi likes drawing attention to China’s pioneering of that sport, too. On a visit to Britain in 2015 he stopped at one of the country’s most famous football clubs, Manchester City. There he was presented with a copy of the first rules for the modern game (drawn up by an Englishman in 1863). In return, he handed over a copper representation of a figure playing cuju, a sport similar to football invented by China 2,000 years ago (see picture, from a football museum in Shandong province). It was apparently popular both among urban youths and as a form of military fitness training. Mr Xi would like a great rejuvenation of this, too. In 2014 he announced plans to put football on the national curriculum. The aim is to make China a “first-class power” in football by 2050 (it has a long way to go).

The growing attention that China pays to its ancient achievements, real and exaggerated, contrasts with the almost total rejection of them by Mao Zedong after he seized power in 1949. In Mao’s China history was not something to celebrate. A central aim of his Cultural Revolution was to attack the “four olds”: customs, culture, habits and ideas. Many Chinese dynasties destroyed some glories of the previous one, but the Communists took this to new extremes. Across the country state-sponsored vandals destroyed temples, mansions, city walls, scenic sites, paintings, calligraphy and other artefacts.That began to change after Mao died in 1976. Now Mr Xi claims that Chinese civilisation “has developed in an unbroken line from ancient to modern times”. He glosses over not just the chaos and destruction of the Mao era but the long centuries when the geographical area now called China was divided into many parts, and even run by foreign powers (Manchu and Mongol).

The party also wants to use ancient prowess to boost China’s image abroad and to counter widespread (and often unfair) impressions in the West that the country is better at copying others’ ideas than coming up with its own. The four great inventions were one of the main themes at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, an event that China saw as its global coming-out party after decades of being treated with suspicion and contempt by foreign powers.

Envy of the West’s rapid gains in technology since the 19th century has been a catalyst of Chinese nationalism for over 100 years. It fuels a cultural competitiveness in China that turns ancient history into a battleground. This was evident in China’s prickly response to a recent documentary made by the BBC and National Geographic, which suggested that China’s famous terracotta warriors in Xi’an showed Greek influence. Some people interpreted this as a slight. One Chinese archaeologist dismissed the theory as “dishonest” and having “no basis”; another said that foreign hands could not have sculpted the figures because “no Greek names” were inscribed on their backs. Likewise in 2008 Boris Johnson, then mayor of London, was derided for saying that table tennis originated not in China but on Victorian dining tables and was known as whiff-whaff.

Just a slight inconsistency

The publication of the 88 achievements, however, has drawn attention again to an enduring mystery: why, after a long record of remarkable attainment in technology, did Chinese innovations largely cease for the 500 years or so leading up to the collapse of the last imperial dynasty in 1911? As state media observed, few of the inventions on the new list belong to this period. This puzzle is often referred to as the “Needham question”, after a British scientist and Sinologist, Joseph Needham. (It was he, in his study of China’s ancient science in the 1950s, who first identified the four great inventions—before then most people thought they had emerged in the West.) A member of the team that produced the list said the question deserved “deep reflection” and would be a topic of future research.

Mr Xi skates over this. He lauds Zheng He, a eunuch who launched maritime voyages from China across the Indian Ocean from 1405, as one of China’s great innovators—an early proponent of a vision of China that Mr Xi would like to recreate: prosperous, outward-looking and technologically advanced (the admiral’s massive boat is number 88 on the list). Yet he fails to point out that soon after Zheng He’s explorations China turned inward, beginning its half-millennium of stagnation.

In this 15th-century turning point, reformists in China see an obvious answer to Needham’s question: isolation from the rest of the world is bad for innovation. They take heart in China’s efforts since the 1970s to re-engage with the West, but lament the barriers that remain. With luck, it will not take 100 state-sponsored Chinese scientists another three years to reach the same conclusion.

Source: What China claims to have invented | The Economist

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25/11/2016

China breaks patent application record – BBC News

China-based innovators applied for a record-setting number of invention patents last year.

The country accounted for more than a million submissions, according to an annual report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo). It said the figure was “extraordinary”.

Many of the filings were for new ideas in telecoms, computing, semiconductors and medical tech.

Beijing had urged companies to boost the number of such applications.

But some experts have questioned whether it signifies that the country is truly more inventive than others, since most of China’s filings were done locally.

What is a patent?

A patent is the monopoly property right granted by a government to the owner of an invention.

This allows the creator and subsequent owners to prevent others from making, using, offering for sale or importing their invention into the country for a limited time.

In return they must agree for the patent filing to be publicly disclosed.

To qualify as an “invention” patent, the filing must contain a new, useful idea that includes a step – a new process, improvement or concept – which would not be obvious to a skilled person in that field.

Some countries – including China – also issue other types of patents:

Utility model patents. The ideas must still be novel, but it is less important that there is a “non-obvious step”

Design patents. These require the shape, pattern and/or colour of a manufactured object’s design to be new, but do not require there to be a novel technical aspect

Skewed figures

A total of 2.9 million invention patent applications were filed worldwide in 2015, according to Wipo, marking a 7.8% rise on the previous year.

China can lay claim to driving most of that growth. Its domestic patent office – the Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (Sipo) – received a record 1,101,864 filings. These included both filings from residents of China and those from overseas innovators who had sought local protection for their ideas.

The tally was more than that of Sipo’s Japanese, South Korean and US equivalents combined.

Applicants based in China filed a total of 1,010,406 invention patents – the first time applicants from a single origin had filed more than one million in a single year.

But they appeared to be reticent about seeking patent rights abroad.

According to Wipo, China-based inventors filed just 42,154 invention patent applications outside their borders – Huawei and ZTE, two smartphone and telecoms equipment-makers, led the way.

There was a rise in the number of medical tech patent filings from China

By comparison US-based inventors sought more than five times that figure. And Japan, Germany and France also outnumbered the Asian giant.

One patent expert – who asked not to be named – suggested the disparity between Chinese inventors’ local and international filings reflected the fact that not all the claims would stand up to scrutiny elsewhere.

“The detail of what they are applying for means they would be unlikely to have the necessary degree of novelty to be granted a patent worldwide,” he said.

But Wipo’s chief economist said things were not so clear cut.

“There is clearly a discussion out there as to what is the quality of Chinese patents,” said Carsten Fink.

“But questions have also been asked about US and other [countries’] patents.”

And one should keep in mind that China is a huge economy.

“If you look at its patent filings per head of population, there are still fewer patents being filed there than in the United States.”

Patent boom

Part of the reason so many applications were made locally was that China set itself a target to boost all types of patent filings five years ago.

Sipo declared at the time that it wanted to receive two million filings in 2015.

The government supported the initiative with various subsidies and other incentives.

Adding together China’s invention, utility and design patents, its tally for 2015 was about 2.7 million filings, meaning it surpassed its goal by a wide margin.

One London-based patent lawyer noted that Chinese firms were not just filing patents of their own but also buying rights from overseas companies.

“This all goes to show the growth of the telecoms and high-tech industries in China, and that these companies are playing a more significant role globally than hitherto,” said Jonathan Radcliffe from Reed Smith.

“The fact we are now seeing them suing and being sued for patent infringement in Europe and in the US on subject matter such as mobile phones and telecoms standards – and indeed seeing Chinese companies suing each other over here in Europe for patent infringement – shows that they have truly arrived.”

Source: China breaks patent application record – BBC News

03/10/2016

How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online – India Real Time – WSJ

The internet fails to reach millions of women in the small towns and villages of India, so Google is trying to deliver it to them — by bicycle.

The Alphabet Inc. unit has built an army of thousands of female trainers and sent them to the far corners of the Subcontinent on two-wheelers, hoping to give rural woman their first taste of the web. Each bike has a box full of connected smartphones and tablets for women to try and train on.

The idea is to give people who have never even sent an email a better understanding of how being connected could improve their lives. Families that can afford to be online often chose not to be because they do not see the value. Meanwhile women are sometimes blocked by their families from new technology.

ENLARGEA web trainer who is taking part in Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.‘s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Bhagwati Kumari Mahawar got her very first taste of the internet just a month ago.

The 19-year-old used a smartphone Google brought to her remote village in the desert state of Rajasthan to search for designs of mehndi, the elaborate henna designs Indian women get on their hands and feet. Then she looked up information on how to sew a blouse.

ENLARGEBhagwati Kumari Mahawar in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

“I really wanted to learn,” she said, sitting in the shade near the Google bicycle and a water buffalo.In the project, called Internet Saathi, Google partnered with local philanthropy Tata Trusts to show women in rural India how to connect to the web.

Instructors are trained in how the web works, and then are given bicycles with large boxes on the back containing internet-enabled devices running Google’s Android mobile operating system. The newly equipped “saathis” — or “partners” in Hindi — then cycle from village to village providing instruction to their peers.

“I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not,” said the instructor who helped Ms. Mahwar get online, 30-year-old Kamla Devi Mahawar, who is unrelated to her pupil.

She never used the web until she began her Saathi training ten months earlier, but since then has enjoyed showing women how to search for information like recipes and stitching guides, and showing them how to use voice queries if they are unable to type in text.

ENLARGEWomen look at cell phones as part of Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: NEWLEY PURNELL/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In a demonstration, she sat on the ground while half a dozen women circled around her, watching as she searched for images of nearby temples and forts. Some women want to learn how to use Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service, while others simply want to make phone calls, she said.

Since the program’s launch last year, about 9,000 guides have helped reached 1 million women, Google said, noting that the program fits its mission of helping expand internet access globally.

India is an increasingly important commercial market for the Mountain View, Calif. search titan given its nascent internet economy.

While the country is home to more than 1.2 billion people, consultancy McKinsey & Co. reckons some one billion people still lack regular web access. More online consumers in the years ahead could mean more users of Google’s services, like its search engine, email and Android.

A bike used by an instructor who teaches women how to use the web, part of Internet Saathi, the joint program of Alphabet, Inc.’s Google and local philanthropy Tata Trusts, in the village of Habibwala, in Rajastan, India, Sept. 28, 2016. PHOTO: GOOGLE

Last week, at an event in New Delhi, Google executives said they are expanding their efforts to reach Indians with products and features like a new version of its YouTube app designed to work even on India’s often sluggish mobile networks.

Asked how her work with others could be made easier, Ms. Mahwar, the trainer, was quick to point out that better web connectivity is key.

“The internet doesn’t work half the time,” she said. Fixing that “would help a lot.”

Source: How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online – India Real Time – WSJ

30/09/2016

Glass loos with a view open in China – BBC News

Whatever will the Chinese think of next?

China’s recent obsession with glass tourist attractions has gone round the U-bend with the opening of some see-through treetop public toilets.

The loos, near Shiyan Lake in southern Hunan province, have fabulous views of both the forest below and other people using the facilities.

Cubicle walls, even those between the men’s and women’s sections, are only separated by lightly frosted glass.

But state media said few visitors dared use the loos on their opening day.

Image copyrightBARCROFT IMAGESImage caption

Shy users of the urinals may take comfort from the privacy barriers between them, though not in the fact they are made of glass

Despite a boom in the construction of glass bridges and walkways in scenic locations in China in recent years – in some cases so popular they had to be closed – these are thought to be the first entirely glass public bathrooms in the country.

However, it not the first time those busting to go have been exposed a little more than they might like by the enthusiasm for glass.

There were reports recently of some male toilets in a university dorm in Hunan which included one very public cubicle.

Image copyrightBARCROFTImage captionUnusually, a head for heights is a requirement for a job as a cleaner there

Image copyrightBARCROFTImage caption Awkward: cubicle walls are only lightly-frosted, even between the men’s and women’s sections

News of the wide-view WCs at Shiyan Lake sparked a range of reactions online.Responding to a Facebook post about it by state television channel CCTV, Ejike Nnadi summed up the feelings of many: “Hell no.”

Others were more taken by the idea. “You’ll be surprised by what you can tolerate when you really, really need to go,” said one post.

Another nodded towards another modern use for restrooms: “I’d be in there ’til my battery hit zero if there was signal in there!”

Image copyrightBARCROFTImage captionThe well-lit lavs are built on a steep hillside

Tina Chen took a dimmer view of all such projects though. “(It) is not about being shy, just again someone had extra money to waste.”

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage caption Unusual glass structures have provided popular photo ops for tourists across China

Awkward or not, it is hoped that these bathrooms for the brave will encourage tourists to visit the countryside around Changsha city and admire the spectacular autumn colours of its forests.

Source: Glass loos with a view open in China – BBC News

23/09/2016

Indian-Born Biologist Is Among MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Winners – India Real Time – WSJ

Manu Prakash grew up folding origami paper frogs and cranes in his hometown in northern India.

Indian-Born Biologist Is Among MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Winners

So it seemed natural for the 36-year-old Stanford University biologist to build an inexpensive microscope for the developing world that can be put together from a single piece of paper.“

I was inspired by tools like pencils, and what it takes to make those tools available to everyone,” he said. “The goal is to enable and inspire others to do science.”

His Foldscope, which costs less than $1 to produce and includes built-in lenses, is now used in 130 countries to help identify infectious diseases, among other things.

The gadget helped propel Mr. Prakash, along with 22 others, into the ranks of the MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, who are awarded a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for showing exemplary creativity in their fields.

Source: Indian-Born Biologist Is Among MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ Winners – India Real Time – WSJ

15/09/2016

Britain approves China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear plant deal after review of scheme | South China Morning Post

The British government said on Thursday it was giving the green light to a controversial new nuclear project at Hinkley Point after Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a review.

“Having thoroughly reviewed the proposals for Hinkley Point C, we will introduce a series of measures to enhance security and will ensure Hinkley cannot change hands without the government’s agreement,” Business Secretary Greg Clark said in a statement.

Beijing calls for British nuclear project financially backed by China to proceed.

“Consequently, we have decided to proceed with the first new nuclear power station for a generation.”

The board of French state-owned power company EDF approved its participation in the project in southwest England on July 28, only for Britain’s new government under May to announce hours later that it wanted to review it.China has a one-third stake in Hinkley Point and analysts have warned that Britain would have risked its relations with the world’s second-largest economy if it cancelled the costly deal.

Source: Britain approves China-backed Hinkley Point nuclear plant deal after review of scheme | South China Morning Post

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