1. The world's first "forest city" is in the works in China.
Italian architect Stefano Boeri is the mastermind behind the Vertical Forest—a skyscraper complex in Milan covered in thousands of plants, trees, and shrubs. Now, he's scaling his idea up by designing a "forest city" complete with hundreds of plant-centric buildings woven together to combat smog in urban China. Though the idea is in the beginning phases, it could be complete as soon as 2020. (The Guardian)
2. Girl power: More women starred in movies last year than the year before.
From 2015 to 2016, the number of women in protagonist roles rose seven percentage points to 29 percent of box-office hits, which we liked hearing. The number of major female characters overall rose from 34 to 37 percent, too. These figures are complicated by the fact that minority women, particularly Hispanic women, saw a decline in leading roles. But on a more uplifting note, when women were directors or producers, they were also protagonists almost 60 percent of the time. (NYT)
3. Poetry is music to our brains.
In a recent study, researchers found that the human brain responds positively to poetically constructed sentences. It appears that the brain can appreciate poetry without any regard for its literal meaning. Wish we could go back in time and tell our English teachers! (ScienceDaily)
4. Addiction is way more complicated than a disease.
Addiction is often referred to as a "disease of the brain," but the author of a new article, published in Nature, reveals that there is no way to actually distinguish between an addicted person's brain and a non-addicted person's brain. Instead, we should be researching the many social and developmental factors we know play a role in addiction. (Science of Us)
5. Sex-positive trans porn is helping people stay true to themselves.
Alternative porn hub Grooby creates empowering pornography that represents gender nonbinary scenes and aims to affirm LGBTQ folks in their choices. (Independent)
6. PepsiCo has a good reason to make a shift toward healthier products.
Almost half of the big food and drink company's revenue now comes from its healthier offerings like oatmeal, juices, and even kombucha. It's also making a gradual shift to lower the sugar, fat, and salt content in many of its products. (Grub Street)
7. The ocean isn't as fish-friendly as it once was.
According to a new study conducted at Geomar Helmoltz Centre for Ocean Research, climate change has caused oxygen levels to drop 2 percent over the past 50 years. This might not seem like a huge number, but that drop has made it a difficult habitat for larger fish like tuna and sharks to survive in. (The Guardian)
8. Turns out there's more to understanding voices than just listening.
Scientists have isolated something called the McGurk Effect, which accounts for the many factors our brain takes in while deciphering what it's hearing, including vision and experience. The effect specifically references when we put two things together by mistake and suddenly think someone is saying something they're not. (NYTimes)