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A Scientific Guide for Staying Cool in A Heatwave

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Heatwave makes our everyday life uncomfortable. It also poses severe risks to human health and the environment. According to scientific studies, here’s a guide on staying cool in a heatwave. 

The extreme temperatures of a heatwave can result in widespread impacts. Heatwave is detrimental to human health, destructive to plants and animals, and could increase the risk of wildfires. 

In 2019, extreme heat caused the deaths of 356,000 people globally. The World Health Organization calculated that 166,000 people died between 1998 and 2017.

Climate change is likely to make heat waves more intense in the future. BBC Future has featured many aspects of living with and enduring extreme hot weather. Below are some scientific studies that BBC has gathered over the years. 

Staying Cool in a Heatwave 

three people sitting on sand

It’s essential to stay cool in hot weather as it can severely affect your health. But don’t worry, there are some simple steps to feel calm despite the uncomfortable weather. 

  • Keeping out during the hottest part of the day (between 11 am and 3 pm). 
  • Drinking plenty of liquid, such as hot and cold drinks, is also crucial. However, hot drinks aren’t the best idea if it’s very humid. 
  • Eating foods like cucumber, strawberries, watermelon, and lettuce can keep us hydrated.
  • Spicy and hot foods have also been found to help us stay cool by making us sweat more.
  • A Bedouin tribes study in the 1980s shows that wearing loose-fitting clothes can help us cool down.
  • Swimming or taking a cold shower can help you cool down quickly. 
  • There are many ways we could adapt our houses and buildings to stay cooler in high temperatures. This includes wind catchers or towers, green roofs and corridors, and even trees, a fantastic way to keep communities cool. 

The Effects of Hot Weather on our Health

woman touching her temples

The human body’s ideal temperature is between 35.01C and 37.76C (95-99.9F), depending on how it is measured. When the surrounding air reaches or exceeds this temperature, mainly when there is high humidity, the body’s ability to cool itself weakens. 

  • A 2020 study revealed the upper limit of what the human body can survive without severe health impact is a wet-bulb temperature of 35C (95F). In high humidity levels, sweat is more difficult to evaporate.
  • When the body becomes too hot or finds it hard to regulate its temperature, it can lead to heat exhaustion.
  • Scorching weather can also lead to heatstroke because the body can no longer manage the heat. The symptoms of heatstroke include feeling confused, vomiting or nausea, no sweating, scalding skin, and loss of consciousness or seizures.
  • Heatwaves can also lead to various health problems like headaches, dehydration, heart attacks, respiratory problems, and death. 

How the Heat Affects our Brain

As the temperature increases, it would likely make us more irritable, angry, stressed, and lonely. The symptoms range from pretty simple. For instance, motorists are a little more likely to honk their horns when stuck in traffic on a hot, humid day. Or the police may notice a spike in disorderly behavior.

How to Remain Hydrated

person drinking from a glass

Keeping hydrated is a constant public health reminder. Health authorities remind us to consume up to eight glasses of water daily. But the need to keep fluids up when temperatures rise is even more critical. 

Dehydration occurs faster with physical labor or exercise. Even low-level dehydration can cause fatigue, tiredness, and overheating as the body stops sweating to preserve water.

Many instinctively reach for a glass of water, but it may not always be the best choice. In some cases, milk may be better in staying cool in a heatwave. It’s because milk contains small amounts of salt and sugar. Coconut water also contains vital elements which are lost through excess sweat.

Taking Care of our Pets 

Pets, especially dogs, also need extra care when the temperature rises. On hot days, they should remain indoors, stay in the shade, and not take walks or exercise. Their paws may burn on hot surfaces. And they can’t cool off by sweating the same way humans do. In short, they are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke.

And for other news stories, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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Plants Appear to Be Self-Medicating by Producing Their Own Aspirin When Stressed

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It appears that not only do humans get stressed, but plants also get stressed due to external factors. But like humans, they can’t buy medications to relieve stress. Instead, plants self-medicate when stressed.

Whenever we experience minor pains and aches, we grab the nearest aspirin to relieve the pain. If we experience slight fevers, aspirin always seems to save the day. Aspirin relieves mild to moderate aches and pains like toothaches, headaches, muscle aches, or the common cold. 

It’s also used to alleviate swelling in certain conditions like arthritis because it’s considered a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID. It’s also known as a salicylate, the major component in aspirin and other pain-relievers.

But people don’t know that salicylate is a natural plant component. It’s a critical plant hormone vital in several plant functions such as seed germination, stomatal closure, floral induction, root initiation, thermogenesis, and biotic stress response. 

A Plant Sciences study titled “Reciprocity between a retrograde signal and a putative metalloprotease reconfigures plastidial metabolic and structural states” shows the plants’ self-defense mechanism that produces salicylic acid, the active metabolite of aspirin, and how it’s regulated. 

It’s created by photosynthesis via the plant’s chloroplasts, the plant’s tiny green organelles. A plant biologist from the University of California, Riverside, Wilhelmina van de Ven, says this process is similar to humans taking painkillers to relieve discomfort. 

How do plants self-medicate when stressed

plant
Image credit: Science Alert & Jin-Zheng Wang

It might be astonishing that plants produce salicylic acid, a major ingredient in synthetic aspirin for humans. But Wilhelmina van de Ven explains how plants create their own painkillers by performing biochemical analyses on mutated plants blocking the effects of their primary stress signaling pathways. 

Like humans who face stressors from external environments daily, plants also fight for their lives against these environmental stresses. ROS or reactive oxygen species are the by-product of environmental stresses that impact living organisms like plants.

These can include excessive heat, drought, or mean insects that suck the life out of the plants. While ROS in regulation is extremely useful in blocking the stress signaling pathways of plants, it is considered lethal at alarming levels. That said, regulation is key to producing aspiring to relieve plant stress. 

The researchers used Arabidopsis or Rockcress as the plant guinea pig for the experiment. They focused on a component called MEcPP, an early warning molecule and a telltale sign that the plant is stressed. 

Once the MEcPP accumulates in the plants, it stimulates a chemical reaction and creates a response: salicylic acid. 

Jin-Zheng Wang, a plant geneticist from UCR, says, “At non-lethal levels, ROS are like an emergency call to action, enabling the production of protective hormones such as salicylic acid.”

She also adds, “We’d like to be able to use the gained knowledge to improve crop resistance. That will be crucial for the food supply in our increasingly hot, bright world.”

Although this study is still in its infancy, the researchers have considered this knowledge a huge benefit in plant modification, so plants are more resistant to environmental hazards.

And for other news or stories, read more here at Owner’s Mag!

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Technology

Netflix reveals account sharing struggle; to launch “add a home” as potential fix

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Netflix is one of today’s most influential companies. It has changed how we consume content and made us question what we want from our entertainment experiences. With its library of TV shows, movies, and documentaries available on demand across all media platforms, from mobile devices to TVs to computers, Netflix has become a go-to option for anyone wanting to watch their favorite shows on-demand. 

With over 100 million subscribers, Netflix has become a household name in the entertainment world. However, Netflix has been experiencing some problems lately. The company has announced that its subscriber growth rate is slowing down and that they are losing subscribers more rapidly than it did in previous years. The culprit – Netflix account sharing. 

Chengyi Long, Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation, announced in a press release in July that they’ve worked hard to build a streaming service over the past 15 years. And though it’s great that members love Netflix movies and TV shows they want to share more broadly, the widespread account sharing between households goes against their long-term ability to invest in and improve their service.

Netflix account sharing occurs when one person shares access to their Netflix subscription with multiple people—usually family members or friends. In this way, the person who pays for the Netflix service uses fewer accounts than they would if they paid for each account individually. It’s still an expensive subscription, but it doesn’t cost as much as multiple subscriptions would. 

This is a major concern for Netflix because it allows people who do not pay for the service to watch movies and TV shows at no additional cost. If this Netflix account-sharing practice continues, the company is apprehensive about how it will affect the company’s growth rate because it means less money coming into their system. It also means fewer people are paying for subscriptions, which means less money is coming into general circulation.

The bottom line is that Netflix must ensure that its subscriptions are maintained, if not exceeded, to continue growing at their current rate. 

Netflix Account Sharing Feature: ‘Add a Home’

man watching netflix on the tablet

The company has been trying to crack down on this practice of Netflix account sharing for the past months. 

They already tested an “add extra member” feature in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru in March of this year, allowing account holders on their Standard and Premium plans to have two additional subaccounts outside their household for an additional fee.

This August, they will begin testing a new feature in Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala called “add a home”. This feature basically gives an option to add extra “home” accounts within your subscription, but for an additional fee. According to Netflix’s press release, they will ask subscribers to pay an extra – 219 Pesos per month per home in Argentina and $2.99 per month per home in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.”

All plans include a single “home” account through which you can access Netflix on any of your preferred devices. When you want to share your account with someone not from the same household or physical location, you must add extra “home” accounts.

You’re probably wondering how Netflix will detect physical address variations. According to Netflix’s published FAQs, the company uses “information such as IP addresses, device IDs, and account activity from devices signed into the Netflix account”.

Aside from the “add extra member” and “add a home” features, which are only available in certain countries, the company has not stated whether or not they will implement a penalty for sharing Netflix account soon. Meanwhile, the type of member subscription defines the Netflix account sharing limit for most countries.

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Viva Engage: Microsoft Teams’ Take on Facebook

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Since acquiring the social networking service Yammer a decade ago, Microsoft has been working hard to improve workplace communication through Microsoft Teams. Remember how they recently introduced the Microsoft Viva platform to help businesses with remote work with a bet that this new way of life will become the norm for hybrid or remote work?

This year, they are taking it further with the launch of Viva Engage within Microsoft Viva, a brand-new Facebook-like tool inside Teams that promotes social networking at the workplace.

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva is a work engagement platform that facilitates interaction, communication, and the sharing of information, resources, and insights in the workplace. It is powered by Microsoft 365 and accessible through Microsoft Teams. Microsoft says that Viva will nurture a culture that enables people and organizations to perform at their peak level from any location.

What is Microsoft Viva Engage?

screenshot of viva engage

Microsoft Viva Engage is a social networking platform for creating interactive online communities, discussions, and connections. It leverages the Teams’ Communities app’s functionalities. According to Microsoft, the new Viva Engage app will be an improved version of the current Yammer Communities app, with advanced functionality for establishing connections, exchanging information, expressing oneself, and building community at work.

Additionally, Viva Engage, which will be an integral element of the Microsoft Viva suite, supports Viva Connections and Viva Topics and can provide chances for community engagement, socialization, and education across several Viva domains, including Microsoft Viva Insights and Microsoft Viva Learning.

Workers from various parts of the company can use the new tool, a Yammer-based platform, to engage, ask questions of management and other employees, share personal stories, and generally feel more connected at work. Viva Engage aims to empower leaders to shape culture by allowing everyone to interact and participate in their organizations.

Viva Engage has all the functions a social networking platform would entail. You will get a user profile akin to Facebook, where you can publish updates, pictures, videos, and pretty much whatever you’d usually post on a social media channel.

Furthermore, Viva Engage allows you to express yourself through posts or stories. The new Storylines section includes a feed of postings from colleagues you follow and workplace recommendations.

Launch and Transitions

Microsoft will relaunch its Communities app for Teams as Viva Engage by August of this year. It will become available through the Teams web, desktop, and mobile apps. Current administrators of the Communities app should not be concerned, as Microsoft promises a smooth transition with minimal to no changes. Existing Yammer users can launch Viva Engage via the Teams Admin Center.

Although there is much anticipation and excitement for the launch, some current Yammer users are reluctant and confused about the upcoming transition. 

Murali Sitaram, Yammer, and Viva Corporate Vice President explain:

“Nothing is going away. Yammer simply starts contributing to Employee Experience more directly through Viva Engage, and we add new features for both Viva and Yammer customers with Storyline and Stories. We believe that social connections, individual expression, and community should accrue to customers of both productivity and employee experience categories,” 

The features that come with Microsoft Viva offer excellent communication and management solutions depending on the user’s needs. The addition of Viva Engage further makes remote work easier than ever by connecting fellow employees across states and regions and making it easy to collaborate regardless of location. Viva is a flexible platform that can accommodate different types of work structures.

The main question will ultimately be if this platform is sustainable. In the end, it’s up to your organization to determine if Viva Engage is a good fit for your team or remote work.

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