Unusual pets

Inverse Daily: hippo pandemonium

Pablo Escobar's hippos may be an accidental experiment in rewilding.

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Here’s some good climate news that might have slipped under your radar: On March 11, a US Court District Judge found that the Forest Service’s plan to cut down 1.8 million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. While it’s not clear whether this will stop the project, it’s a win for protecting America’s old-growth forests.

This victory may also prevent the spread of some diseases. As this report in The Nation found, the loss of habitat makes it so animals come in closer and more frequent contact with humans, enabling the jump of diseases from animals to humans.

What are some of the ways that you are maintaining social connections while physically distancing? Let us know at the link above! We'll share selected answers in a future edition of Inverse Daily.

This article is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day.

Coronavirus resources from Inverse staffers

An accidental experiment in rewilding

pack of hippopotamus in ColombiaShutterstock

Forty years ago, the Colombian jungle was home to just four hippos, living in captivity on a cocaine kingpin’s ranch in Colombia. But after Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993 — leaving the hippos behind — the animals went wild. They've spent the intervening decades thriving, and there are now as many as 100 of the hippos living in Colombia, wreaking their own special havoc on the land.

At least, that’s what we thought. Escobar’s hippos can certainly cause environmental damage — but new research questions the notion that introducing big herbivores like hippos to new places is always problematic for the local ecosystem.

In more cases than not, non-native herbivores are actually filling a role left vacant by another, extinct species, according to a new study. Essentially, these hippos may be an accidental experiment in rewilding, supporting the idea that bringing back extinct species (like woolly mammoths) actually benefits the environment.

Read up on what can be learned from these roaming hippos.

More on Escobar’s hippos:

Should you share your password with your partner?

Tara Jacoby

More than 81.7 million Americans own a wearable — a gadget like a Fitbit or an Apple Watch that track factors like one’s location, stress levels, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate. Wearables are mostly known as tools for fitness and are designed so you can easily share your collected data with others — a feature that prompts, and sustains, athletic competitiveness.

But choosing to share data about your workouts can come with unintended consequences if you forget that you’re constantly sharing — and in a new feature, technology reporter Becca Caddy dives into how unintended sharing affects romantic relationships.

From cheating to pregnancy reveals, to a potential future where wearables could be used as a way to prevent romantic conflict before it happens, wearables have the potential to reveal the intimate details of your life. Technology, it appears, can make or break a relationship — depending on the person equipped with the tech.

Read up on this modern dating quandary.

More on modern love:

What we can learn about past megaprojects

Xiaodong Qiu/Moment Unreleased/Getty Images

The world’s largest megaproject may be emerging in response to the coronavirus. What can we learn from past megaprojects?

Three University College London researchers last month wrote a groundbreaking paper on why megaprojects fail. They’ve found their research has taken on all-new importance, as the American government submits funding requests totaling up to $1 trillion. Key stakeholders are working in overtime to develop a solution, which means learning from prior experience about what works in these situations.

Leadership, market orchestration, and handling stakeholders are just three of the issues leaders will need to address when developing a solution. The experience could help inform the global response to an even larger megaproject, one that could cost up to $50 trillion: climate change.

Read up on how to design a better megaproject.

More climate news:

This computer chip wants to read your mind

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Understanding the human brain is a monumental task, but after years of toiling, a team of material scientists have designed a chip that allows us to read people's minds better than ever.

Research published Friday in the journal Science Advances describes how the joint Stanford team developed a brain-reading chip that takes the best of existing brain-computer interface technology, like that used in Elon Musk's Neuralink, and melds it with highly scalable silicon chip technology.

As a result, the researchers say their chip can record more data while simultaneously being less invasive than previous models.

With the density and high resolution made possible by their chip, the researchers hope that in the future it can be used to help improve human prosthetics, such as devices that can translate electric signals from the brain into robotic limbs or hands, as well as devices that could restore vision or speech in a patient.

Read about how it could help create better prosthetic and speech devices.

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Retrofitting hospitals into hotels

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The Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers has gone viral in a video explaining one potential engineering response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on March 20, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite explained a four-step process that the Army is using to convert civilian buildings into intensive care units (ICUs) to expand treatment for the remarkably contagious virus.

"What we need to do is, we need to go into these hotels that are empty. Where people don’t have jobs. We go in and cut a contract, to be able to have the state set up a lease for that particular facility. We would then take the building over in a period of an exceptionally short amount of days, and we would go in and turn this into an ICU-like facility,” Semonite said.

Given the unprecedented scope of the emergency, the government is not likely to find much resistance.

Continue reading on setting up temporary hospitals.

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Today’s good thing

As the stock market collapses and the world enters financial turmoil, sustainable funds are doing comparatively better. It’s an encouraging bright spot and a potential indication of where the world needs to head to survive.

This article is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day.

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