6 Things You Need To Know Today (June 26, 2018)

Photo by Leandro Crespi

1. Virtual reality could be the next frontier in health care.

Artist Tom Christopher has teamed up with the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, to design custom virtual reality experiences that aim to turn patients' attention away from their pain. "These will serve as 'immersive analgesics,' allowing physicians to treat their patients more effectively by improving patients' health and hospital experiences and reducing reliance on pain medication, especially opioids," a center representative explains. (Artsy)

2. The UK's first paper straw factory is set to reopen.

On the heels of the U.K.'s single-use plastic ban announcement, the country’s first paper straw factory is opening its doors for the first time in decades. The factory, located in Wales, plans on meeting the consumer demand and taking full advantage of the niche in the market now that plastic straws are soon to be banned. Reusable straws would be even better, but this is a step in the right direction. (Inhabitat)

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3. Can yoga training for farmers help end poverty in China?

A top Chinese official hopes so. Two years ago, Lu Wenzhen brought yoga to the small rural village of Yugouliang, where the average age of the residents is 65. The farmers are part of China's rapidly aging population who struggle with poverty and depression. But in the years since the elderly Yugouliang farmers took up a dedicated yoga practice—we're talking headstands and standing splits—health costs are down, farm work is easier and more productive, and quality of life is up. Wenzhen's dream is to turn the village into a yoga training base for Chinese farmers to inspire similar change across the country. (NYT)

4. Does sodium increase cardiovascular risk?

While the subject of salt's effect on blood pressure and cardiovascular health is hotly debated, a new study found that both low AND high intakes of sodium increased risk of mortality. (Science Daily)

5. China's plastic waste ban is forcing the world to reckon with its trash.

Earlier this year, China announced that it would stop accepting foreign recyclables for processing—a decision that continues to throw waste industries around the world into a tailspin. A new study shows that China was accepting 14.1 million metric tons of plastics a year. Now all that plastic will have to be processed in a different country or sent straight to landfill. (Earther)

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6. Science says that the root of intense World Cup shenanigans is actually friendship and social bonding.

Historically, research has linked anger-fueled sporting episodes with previous bouts of maladjustment and social issues at home or work. But a new study out of the University of Oxford shows that "hooliganism" might actually be fueled by a desire to defend fellow fans. (Science Daily)

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