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HORIZONS

This radical architecture style could make future cities good for your health

Plus: NASA wants your take on their Mars sample return plans.

CSA-Printstock/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Have you ever heard of Maharishi Vastu architecture? Founded on principles similar to the passive architecture movement, this style of architecture emphasizes the health of the building occupants and the health of the environment the building itself occupies. The design concept has been around since at least the 1980s, but it has endured.

In 2005, a Washington Post reporter penned a story about a talk given by one of MVA’s main proponents, Jon Lipman. Lipman’s ideas, the reporter writes, might be considered “eccentric” at best. But some of MVA’s principles can help inform how we build more equitable, healthy, accessible, and green cities. In a new peer-reviewed paper, Lipman and a team of researchers lay out their findings based on 40 years of research into MVA. They argue incorporating MVA’s tenets into a building’s design may boost residents’ mental health, improve their sleep, and lower their stress.

HORIZONS explores the innovations of today that will shape the world of tomorrow. This is an adapted version of the May 2 edition. Forecast the future by signing up for free.

Building for brain health

An example of a community built on MVA principles in Suffolk, England.Geography Photos/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Some of MVA’s principles seem arbitrary: Entrances to homes must face certain directions, for example. But in the new paper, Lipman and a team of researchers say there is evidence following these rules and other tenets of MVA to build homes can result in happier, healthier, more creative occupants. Importantly, Lipman runs a sustainable home firm that incorporates MVA into its designs.

The paper proposes “using architectural design as preventive medicine and in public health,” suggesting that by lowering homeowners’ stress and improving their sleep, there may be a knock-on effect on the health of the neighborhood as a whole. It is true that where a person lives can have a profound influence on their health in both the short and long term.

Perhaps more intriguingly, however, the paper doesn’t just concern itself with homes built according to MVA’s rules, but also offices.

One aspect of Lipman and his team’s investigation centers on “solar architecture” — how a building’s design exposes its occupants at different times of the day to sunlight. They found that ensuring a building is well-lit by sunlight throughout the day, and particularly, in the morning when the Sun rises in the east, may help ease the winter blues, improve sleep quality, and even make people feel more alert.

Anyone who has ever had to trudge into an office building with no natural light to sit in a beige cubicle for hours on end can probably imagine how much better they would feel — and perhaps, more productive — if they were to be bathed in the glow of natural light. But the principle also applies within our home offices, too.

As companies and employees consider the future of work, exploratory concepts like MVA could help design more equitable, health-giving, and productivity-boosting spaces people want to attend.

Read the full paper.

On the horizon…

A SpaceX Falcon 9 carries Crew-4, a NASA mission to the International Space Station, into space.NASA/Getty Images News/Getty Images

SpaceX is speeding up its booster turnaround time. The same Falcon 9 that launched the commercial AX-1 mission to the International Space Station on April 8, launched a batch of Starlink internet satellites just three weeks later, on Friday, April 29.

The 53 satellites, part of SpaceX’s internet constellation, launched to space at 5:27 p.m. Eastern on Friday from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Less than ten minutes later, the Falcon 9’s first stage landed on SpaceX’s drone ship, Just Read The Instructions. SpaceX now has 2,400 satellites in space as part of the Starlink internet constellation. Starlink is supposed to offer high-speed, low-latency, affordable internet to practically anywhere on Earth so long as the location has a clear view of the sky.

Three weeks is the quickest turnaround time for a Falcon 9 first stage ever recorded and a milestone in commercial space flight. SpaceX and other space companies want to develop fully reusable fleets to cut the costs of private space launches.

According to EverdayAstronaut, this is SpaceX’s 17th launch this year. Next on the horizon? Another Starlink batch is set to launch on May 5, 2022, but watch this space: Weather can delay launches, among other setbacks.

Miss the launch? Watch the replay.

See it to believe it…

It sort of looks like an old-timey plane.NASA

Could this be the vehicle that helps bring Perseverance’s safely cached Mars samples back to Earth? NASA is seeking comment from the public on its planned sample return mission to bring Mars rocks into Earth’s labs. They’re hosting two online public meetings about the mission if you want to find out more.

T-minus the internet…

5. Good news for electric-car makers: Recycled lithium batteries may outperform fresh ones, reports Scientific American.

4. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is putting money into Sandbox AQ: The Google-related outfit aims to make software that encrypts information so a quantum system wouldn’t be able to read it without a key. Bloomberg has more.

3. Researchers created a 3D printed ‘mini heart’ that beats: The technology could help develop new treatments for heart problems, reports trade-mag 3Dprintingindustry.

2. A new tool lets researchers track subtle animal behaviors in real-time: SLEAP could help reveal tiny changes in animals’ behavior they would otherwise miss (it’s also free to use).

1. The war in Ukraine could have implications for uranium imports to the U.S.: The New York Times reports on why that could particularly affect indigenous people and lands.

Beyond the horizon…

NASA just extended some key Mars missions, including Curiosity rover. Curiosity rover has spent nearly a full ten years on Mars. Mark your calendars for August 5, 2022, it’s ten-year anniversary on the Red Planet.

This has been HORIZONS, a newsletter that explores the innovations of today shaping the world of tomorrow.

Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Send your tips and all other musings to horizons@inverse.com

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