Curious Bends – Jurassic Park in Tamil Nadu, Cheating Sleep, Drones for Good and More

Curious Bends is a weekly newsletter curated by science journalists Akshat Rathi and Vasudevan Mukunth. Subscribe here.

1. Watching Jurassic Park in a tiny village in Tamil Nadu without subtitles

“This “theater” in Ambasamudram, the only one for many miles around, was in fact a massive warehouse / barn building, with a cloth screen strung up at one end, flanked by big box speakers sitting on the floor, and no seats! Instead of seats, the enormous bare floor curiously had a rope running right through the middle, dividing it into two long halves facing the screen. For in that rustic “theater”, packed in like cattle, watching a film entirely in American with no subtitles or dubbing, this Tamil-speaking audience reacted almost identically to the one munching popcorn in the plush stadium seats in California. The gasps of awe at the dinosaurs were, of course, to be expected and relished, but what really surprised me were the reactions to the human characters speaking largely incomprehensible American.” (6 min read, coyot.es)

2. I once tried to cheat sleep, and for a year I succeeded

“I saw that there were risks to what I was about to try, but I was also really fed up with dealing with my frequent grogginess just because I didn’t sleep eight hours each night. I jumped into the experiment and told a few good friends to keep a close eye on me; if anything seemed awry I would stop. The idea was to break the large chunk of sleep at night in to multiple naps and thus reduce the total time spent sleeping. After three weeks and a few obstacles, I finally settled into the new schedule. I was getting 4.5 hours of sleep in total, which was just a little more than half the hours I used to sleep.” (10 min read, qz.com)

3. Leprosy is a treatable, non-communicable disease. Yet there remains an island of lepers in South Korea

“Off the southwestern corner of the Korean Peninsula is Sorokdo, or Sorok Island. At first glance, it looks like a good vacation getaway — it is a tiny but accessible one-and-three-quarter square miles (4.46 km2) spot of land with nice beaches, pine trees, and is home to about 1,000 people, give or take a few hundred. You can visit if you want — as of 2009, there’s a bridge connecting Sorok Island to the mainland — but the government prefers you didn’t. And more to the point, the government prefers that the residents of Sorok Island don’t leave, either.” (3 min read, nowiknow.com)

4. Remembering Charles Correa, one of the pioneers of sustainable architecture

“Correa will be remembered as independent India’s first urban visionary for his nuanced understanding of urbanisation and architecture in the Indian context. Many of his buildings can be considered as models of contemporary sustainable design. He reminded us that buildings and architects need to work with the elements. Correa spent more than half a century designing buildings that did not have to depend on air conditioning and heating.” (3 min read, downtoearth.org.in)

5. Video: the drone pilots making the world a better place

“Meet the people pioneering new careers as drone pilots, from the South African savannah to the building sites of California. “Drone Rangers” is the first film in The Economist Films’ new “Future Works” series, which looks at the jobs of tomorrow being done today.” (12 min watch, youtube.com)

Chart of the Week

“Nearly 60 million people were forcibly displaced across the world by conflicts in 2014 (either within their own countries, or to other nations as refugees). It is the highest number ever recorded according to a new report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and equivalent to the population of Italy. The figure is 8.3m higher than in 2013, driven mainly by the war in Syria, the advance of IS in Iraq and resurgent conflicts in Africa.” (2 min read, economist.com)

Forcibly displaced people in the world. Source: The Economist

Forcibly displaced people in the world. Source: The Economist