Google Street View Cars Are Now Testing for Air Quality, Too

iStock
iStock

Google Street View has literally changed the way we see the world. Now, the tech giant wants to show people which areas of their neighborhood are the most polluted.

As Tech Crunch reports, 50 of Google's Street View cars—which capture images for Google Maps—will be outfitted with internet-connected air quality sensors produced by San Francisco-based startup Aclima.

This project marks the latest development in Google's partnership with the tech and climate science company. Beginning in 2015, Google equipped its Street View cars with Aclima air sensors and asked drivers to cruise around Oakland, California, on weekdays from May 2015 to May 2016.

The result was a scientific study which revealed that air pollution levels can vary greatly—with five to eight different readings—along the same city street, and even within the same block.

"We found you can have the best air quality and the worst air quality all on the same street," Aclima founder Davida Herzl tells TechCrunch. "Understanding that can help with everything from urban planning to understanding your personal exposure."

The sensors will be used to monitor the levels of particulate matter in the air, as well as carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and nitric oxide. To start, cars with air sensors will be deployed in just one U.S. city—Houston—while others will be sent to drive around Mexico City and Sydney while going about their usual business of capturing images for Google Maps. The data will then be uploaded to Google BigQuery, where the public will have access to it.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

Find Your Next Outdoor Adventure With This Scratch-Off National Parks Poster

Newverest
Newverest

Whether you’re a devoted thru-hiker, day-hiker, or a casual nature observer, America’s National Park system has something for everyone to enjoy, from wildlife to natural wonders ripe for exploration. And now one Kickstarter campaign is looking to bring your love of the parks into your home with this unique piece of wall art.

The U.S. National Parks scratch-off poster from Newverest will not only inspire your next hiking endeavor, but can help you keep track of your travels as well. If you pledge now, you can receive a copy of the poster for $25, and for $49, you can get the poster and a frame. 

A scratch-off national parks poster on the wall
Newverest

There are 60 different parks on this poster—which is available in black or white—that are represented by colorful illustrations created by local artists. When the poster arrives, though, the illustrations will be grayed-out. It's up to you to scratch them off as you visit the parks, revealing the full-color art underneath. "Think of the national parks scratch-off poster as your bucket list of National Parks,” the company says on its campaign page.

When you purchase a poster, you’ll also receive a metal mediator scratch-off tool, a microfiber cleaning cloth to wipe away any residue, adhesive stickers for easy hanging, and 62 cards that feature a hand-drawn scene of each park, along with interesting facts about them. For instance, on the Sequoia and Kings Canyon card, you’ll learn the park is home to the largest sequoia trees in the world, whereas the Arches National Park card lets the reader know the territory is home to over 2000 arches.

Scratch-off National Parks poster
Newverest

Newverest, founded in 2017, isn’t new to the poster game: The company also makes U.S. and global scratch-off maps. Alongside helping plan trips, the company hopes their newest poster will educate kids and adults alike about the beauty of the parks and why they should be preserved.

With $3257 raised, Newverest is still working to reach its $10,000 goal. But you can help bring the project to life until February 21 by heading here.

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Last Wild Grove of Wollemi Pines, the Endangered ‘Dinosaur Trees,’ Saved From Australia's Wildfires

Marina Denisenko, iStock via Getty Images
Marina Denisenko, iStock via Getty Images

Almost three decades after they were rediscovered, the ancient "dinosaur trees" of Australia's Wollemi National Park were nearly wiped out for good. Wildlife officials in New South Wales feared that the last natural stand of Wollemi pines would be counted among the billions of plants and animals destroyed by Australia's recent wave of wildfires. But thanks to quick action from firefighters, the ancient grove has been saved, The Guardian reports.

The first Wollemi pines date as far back as 200 million years, and the trees reached peak numbers 65 million to 34 million years ago. Since then, populations have shrunk so drastically that the species was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered 26 years ago. Fewer than 200 wild specimens exist today, and they're all concentrated in a protected sandstone grove in Wollemi National Park, about 125 miles northwest of Sydney, Australia.

The Wollemi pines' fragile status means that one bad forest fire could spell its end. With this in mind, the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Rural Fire Service prioritized their protection this bushfire season. Before the Gospers Mountain fire spread to the canyons where the trees grow, a team of firefighters was sent there by helicopter to install an irrigation system. This kept the trees hydrated and made them less vulnerable to flames. Helicopters also dumped fire retardant around the grove to weaken the fire when it arrived.

The efforts weren't able be able to save every Wollemi pine from damage and destruction—a few trees survived with charring and two more died—but they were enough ensure the continuation of the species. With a population this small, protecting it is a never-ending battle. In addition to fire, visitors stepping on seedlings and introducing diseases also pose a threat. For that reason, the Australian government has chosen to hide the exact location of the grove from the public.

[h/t The Guardian]

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