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Topic Reading-Vol.2380-10/17/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Sky battles: Fighting back against rogue drones
As more drones fly in the air to shoot photos, spray pesticides, or deliver goods, new security concerns arise. There are numbers of incidents of near-misses not only around airports but also in mid-air. Also, a drone could be abused by terrorists to carry and drop harmful objects like a bomb or chemical substance to a target, such as a military facility, prison, and stadium. Sounds scary indeed, doesn’t it? So, how can we prevent such malicious attempts from succeeding? Shooting down a suspicious drone sounds like an easy countermeasure. But it could still cause a damage or harm if the drone is carrying explosives or chemical materials.
In fact, there already are several ways to capture or disable intruding drones to protect a perimeter.
Enjoy reading and learn about arising technologies in the air.


Topic Reading-Vol.2379-10/16/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Same-sex mice have babies
A historic accomplishment in genetic engineering. Bi-maternal, or two mammas mice were created in China. They are not only healthy but also fertile. It may recall you the movie and book, Jurassic Park, where male dinosaurs created their offspring without female.
Parthenogenesis is a type of reproduction in which living things develop from eggs that have not been fertilized. In Jurassic Park, it occurred naturally in order to keep the species by themselves. But in this scientific experiment, researchers took an egg from one mouse and a special type of cell from another, and then applied gene-editing technologies. Though the similar approach to create double-dad mice didn’t go as well as this female-only reproduction, for now, it may not be too long before such mice survive and reproduce.
Will this please the female worriers in a Greek mythology, the Amazons?
Enjoy reading and think if such technology is really needed or pursued.


Topic Reading-Vol.2378-10/15/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Japan’s special take on a packed lunch
When you travel around Japan by train, you’ll most likely find some or many of your fellow passengers eating packed meals during lunch hours or any other time of the day. In Japan, it has been customary to eat a packed meal on the train for over a century. And these packaged meals aren’t just for convenience but are prepared to entice travelers. In fact, it is considered as part of the entertainment for a train trip. People enjoy seeing sceneries while tasting local and seasonal delicacies. Any major train stations that bullet or express trains stop, there is a wide variety of packed lunches stacked on the shelves to choose from. Sometimes, department stores or supermarkets have “Ekiben Fair,” which offers popular or never-heard-of packed lunches to their shoppers. Indeed, it is another deep-rooted Japanese food tradition.
But be careful. Eating a packed lunch on a local commuter train is considered unruly.
Enjoy reading and think if you want to try one when you visit Japan.


Topic Reading-Vol.2377-10/14/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Scientists: Time running short before climate change effects are 'irreversible'
How long will humans keep ignoring the intelligence about what is going to happen to the earth’s climate? The consequences of global warming are well known, and the actions needed to prevent climate and environmental disasters from happening have been proposed enough.
A recent UN panel’s report shows that carbon dioxide emissions by human activities need to be reduced by half of 2010 levels in the next decade to avoid irreversible, catastrophic climate change. Such reduction obviously requires historic, decisive, and drastic actions as no one wants to give up what they are enjoying, or hope to enjoy the convenience and practices, not to mention business activities that heavily depend on energy consumptions.
Yet, the United States of America, the second largest carbon dioxide emitter by human activity, is going backwards under the current administration and Congress. The US had been one of the most influential bodies to lead such actions until two years ago but unfortunately, it seems no longer interested in taking such initiatives for the next two years, at least.
Will human ingenuity ever take such actions while there still are wars, nuclear weapons, genocides, and famines in many places around the world.
Enjoy reading the article and watch the video to learn how significant the impact of global warming that is on its way to everywhere on the planet.


Topic Reading-Vol.2376-10/13/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
As global temperatures rise, so will mental health issues, study says
A rise in temperatures in a certain place seems to have quite an impact on mental conditions in a negative way to the residents, according to a new study in the U.S. The research compiled data of two million responses about their mental health status over a decade. The number of the respondents who reported anything that falls within the range of stress, anxiety, depression, emotional issues increased more in places where there was an increase of just one degree Celsius. The same trend was also found in regions that were hit by a disastrous hurricane like Katrina.
Unfortunately, those whose incomes are relatively lower seem to have been affected more by such meteorological changes. If so, the global warming we are experiencing now is going to cause not only ecological and environmental disasters but also mental and subsequently physical problems to those who live in warmer regions.
Read the article and think what strategies you are going to develop to cope with the ongoing climate change.


Topic Reading-Vol.2375-10/12/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How France created the metric system?
The metric system is an internationally adopted decimal system of measurement. The modern metric system consists of the meter for length, kilogram for mass, second for time, and ampere for electromagnetism. However, there are three countries that still are reluctant to use this modern convenience; the U.S., Liberia, and Myanmar.
When and where did this world standard system originate? It came out of the French revolution which wanted to replace old monarchy and church customs with new systems. Unlike then-more-modernized China or Japan, there were as many as 250,000 different measurement units just in France alone before the revolution. But it wasn’t an easy task to standardize how long and how heavy a thing is. In fact, it took decades before the system became the nation’s de-facto standard.
Now you might have realized that why not “meteric” but “metric” in English. That’s because “metre” in British English came from French “mètre”.
Enjoy reading and learn how the metric system was created and how it became popular.


Topic Reading-Vol.2374-10/11/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Amazon is using AI in almost everything it does
Amazon started its business as an online bookstore, added CDs and videos, and diversified into a mass retailer, selling almost everything. Soon, they offered their online store, warehousing and shipping & delivery infrastructures to other sellers as Amazon Marketplace. They also offered their computing platforms to individuals, companies and even governments as on-demand, cloud services, called Amazon Web Services, or AWS. Amazon also developed some consumer electronic products such as Kindle and Echo. They now have a plan to add thousands of brick-and-mortar stores called Amazon Go where shoppers can simply grab what they want and leave the store without stopping.
You may already have known, heard of, or experienced these Amazon’s business activities. But what is there behind these advanced technologies and services?
Enjoy watching the video and learn what roles AI plays behind Amazon.


Topic Reading-Vol.2373-10/10/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
A supermarket is offering to deliver groceries to your fridge while you're out
What is the last part of the process of purchasing? Online retailers offer customers easy and convenient shopping experience on either smartphone or PC whenever and wherever they are. Prices are very competitive with or even predatory to brick-and-mortar supermarkets or discounters. Payment is done automatically from the registered bank account, credit card or online payment service, such as PayPal, WeChat Pay or Ali Pay. So, what could deter customers from buying online, or choose one shopping site from others?
Patience. One survey found that online shoppers don’t want to be home just to wait for deliveries. Seems to make sense, doesn’t it? If you or both of you work during the day and get home late, there is no chance to receive a delivery. On weekends, you may want to go out to meet your friends, do any leisure activities, or simply not to be bothered by anyone at all.
So, what about having the deliverer leave the delivery items inside the door or even in the fridge? With a smart lock, you don’t have to worry about being intruded by someone else other than the scheduled deliverer. But will that be an ultimate convenience or annoyance?
The next step could be to have the deliverer prepare your dinner or feed your pet.
Enjoy reading the article and think how much convenience you would want for a grocery shopping.


Topic Reading-Vol.2372-10/9/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
The hunt for Planet X turns up a new solar system object
We know so little about our solar system, our galaxy, and the universe.
Our solar system is believed to have been formed some 4.6 billion years ago. There are eight planets, five dwarf planets, and two belts, one between Mars and Saturn and the other outside of Neptune’s orbit in the solar system.
Astronomers have been searching for another orbing object, called Planet X, outside the current boundary of our solar system. Though the planet hasn’t been discovered yet, a dwarf-like object was found at around 2,000 times the distance between us and the sun. It is thought to take as long as 40,000 years to go around the sun. As you know, it takes only a year for Earth to orbit the sun and 165 years for the farthest planet Neptune.
This new dwarf planet was nicknamed the Goblin as it was first observed during the Halloween period. What is significant about this discovery is that the move of the Goblin seems to be strongly influenced by nearby massive force, presumably Planet X.
Enjoy reading about this exciting discovery in our solar system.


Topic Reading-Vol.2371-10/8/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
A potted history of instant noodles 
Do you like instant noodles? They are one of the most popular precooked meal in many places in the world. Nearly 100 billion servings were consumed a year. The largest market is China that sold over 40 billion servings, followed by Indonesia’s 13 billion. Combined, these two populous countries ate over half of the global consumption in 2015.
Instant noodles are usually sold in a precooked and dried noodle block with flavoring powder. They were invented in Japan in 1958 when the growing population needed food that would fill their stomachs quickly. Cup noodles are a popular package of instant noodles in a plastic or paper food container with flavoring and soup powder, which was also created in Japan 13 years later when busy individuals wanted even easier and faster snack.
Though instant noodles are convenient and stomach-filling, they are also too rich in carbohydrates, fat, and sodium. So, they become popular when the economy is developing, and people need the energy to get along, but the consumption declines when people start to become more health conscious. In fact, the market for instant noodles in China has already started to decline.
Enjoy watching the video about instant noodles and think if you want one for your next meal or snack.


Topic Reading-Vol.2370-10/7/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Reviving the old silk road
Dunhuang is a small city in northwestern Gansu Province, China. As it lies on the edge of the Gobi Desert, it was once a frontier garrison and gate town to the Silk Road, connecting the then central region of China with the western regions, which are present-day Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The ancient town is now more known for the Mogao Grottoes, one of the most prominent world cultural heritage sites. The caves consist of 492 grottoes that contain paintings and sculptures created between the 4th and 14th centuries. The number of visitors each day is limited to 6,000 to preserve the valuable artworks and the tickets are hard to get during peak seasons.
Since the launch or the Belt and Road Initiative, Dunhuang has been revitalized as the gate city to the West in culture, tourism, and businesses.
Enjoy reading and learn what this ancient town offers now for new China and Central and Western Asia.


Topic Reading-Vol.2369-10/6/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Roald Dahl's Matilda confronts Donald Trump in new statue
Written by a British author Roald Dahl, Matilda is a five-and-half-year-old girl in England who is often treated unfairly by her own parents and the schoolmistress. When she faces rough treatment, she uses her tremendous intelligence and inherent telekinetic forth to cope with the offenders.
Now, to celebrate the 30th birthday of this popular story character, a new statue of a figure was erected before Matilda’s in the author’s museum in England. Guess who was chosen to be a most-likely encounterer of this bright, formidable girl.
Roald vs. Donald.
Enjoy reading and imagine what Matilda would say to the US president.


Topic Reading-Vol.2368-10/5/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
McDonald's removing artificial additives from its burgers
Surprise! No AI at McDonald’s! The world largest food restaurant chain, which operates 35,000 outlets in 119 countries, is removing AI from its burgers, not Artificial Intelligence but Artificial Ingredients. The company announced that they will not use artificial preservatives, flavors or coloring in their beef burgers, all the buns, the cheese, and the sauce any longer.
Though how much health benefits this change will bring to their burger eaters is not clarified, the message is clear and simple. Some may ask, “Have they used such artificial ingredients?”
After all, AI is not something that is easily recognized.
Will it make their daily 68 million customers healthier or bring more customers to their drive-throughs or counters?
Enjoy reading and think if a no-AI burger attracts you more than an AI burger.


Topic Reading-Vol.2367-10/4/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
2,569th birthday of Confucius celebrated in China
Born in 551 BCE, Confucius (孔子) was a Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure whose teachings focused on creating ethical models of family, society, and ruling. He emphasized the importance of loyalty of family, respect for ancestors and elders and ruling with disciplines and orders in governance as well as parental affection to the people.
His sayings and dialogues were collected in Lunyu (論語) (pronounced Lúnyǔ!), commonly translated as "Confucian Analects." It is still read, taught and referred to especially in China, Korea and Japan, and also in many other places in the world.
Even after 25 centuries of time, Confucius is regarded as one of the most influential persons who shaped the lives of humanity.
Enjoy reading the article about the commemoration of this great figure and see the photos of the ceremony.


Topic Reading-Vol.2366-10/3/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Could we be facing choc-apocalypse?
How much chocolate or Choco-inclusive sweets do you eat? The Swiss eat the most chocolate in the world, as much as eight kilograms per person a year. And other Europeans and Americans love the delicacy, too, maybe because it goes very well with their favorite drink, coffee. Recently though, more people in different food cultures, such as India and China are eating more chocolate than before. Together, these two most populous countries represent over one-third of the global population. The consumption of chocolate in these countries have been rising for health and wealth reasons as their middle class grows and lifestyles become westernized.
If you look at the supply side, Cocoa, the main ingredient of Chocolate is only produced in humid tropical climate and shades of rainforests like West Africa. About half of the entire cocoa production comes from only two countries in the region, Ivory Coast and Ghana. The places where cocoa can be grown is in fact limited. Also, cocoa plants are quite vulnerable to pests and diseases. It doesn’t seem so easy to increase the supply.
As consumption grows, will there be enough chocolate in the future?
Enjoy reading and learn the future prospects of the delicacy.


Topic Reading-Vol.2365-10/2/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
Amazon to open 'four-star' store in New York
How much do customer reviews matter to you when you choose a song, pick a restaurant, or book a hotel? It seems the world is filled with stars. Music, movies, books, travel spots, stores, plumbers, tutors, car sharing, food deliveries, and so on. You can save time by just checking the number of stars to expect the quality or satisfaction level of the goods or services. For your convenience, the ones with four stars or more are shown on the first page of the search.
Some stores carry items that sell well or generate higher margins while others stock up any item that customers may add to their shopping cart. But what about a brick-and-mortar store that sells only highly reviewed items by other buyers like online shops? That is what the e-commerce/service giant Amazon has just opened in a popular shopping district in New York.
Would you be interested in visiting a store to find what others like?
Enjoy reading and think if you’ll see stars on all items in other retailers in the future.


Topic Reading-Vol.2364-10/1/2018

Dear MEL Topic Readers
How to use seawater to grow food in the desert
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a sovereign Arab state in Western Asia, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Though it has the Dead Sea on its western borders and a small shoreline on the Red Sea, the country is landlocked. Very hot and dry. In fact, it is the second most water scarce nation in the world with only less than one-sixtieth of water that the US has per person. Obviously, it is not suitable land for farming. Thus, as much as 98% of the nation’s import is food. In the meantime, what they have is heat and sunshine. With 330 sunny days a year, the land gets enough energy to run an air conditioner per square meter. If they could make use of these inherently available natural and clean resources to farm the desert, they would be able to produce food and create jobs while reducing import.
How could they provide fresh water, food and renewable energy in such a hot and dry region while vegetating areas of such an uninhabited desert? The Sahara Forest Project is working on this challenge.
Enjoy reading and learn how to turn a dry desert into a clean, green farm.