Apple Shares Trailer for The Elephant Queen

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Apple has shared a trailer for The Elephant Queen.

Embark on an epic journey of love, courage and coming home. Join Athena, the majestic matriarch of an elephant herd, as she is forced to lead her family across the unforgiving African savanna in search of water. This family-friendly adventure is a cinematic love letter to a threatened species. Narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, The Lion King), The Elephant Queen won the Cinema for Peace International Green Film Award of the Year.

You can watch the trailer on YouTube here, and check out our Apple TV guide here.

Those Mosquito Repellant Apps Don't Work

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Devices that use sound in an attempt to repel mosquitos don’t work, and mosquito repellant apps that use your phone speaker don’t work either.

It’s all wishful thinking. There is no evidence sound emitting devices can stop mosquitoes biting. A review of field testing showed no protection was provided. Similarly, laboratory studies failed to show any bite prevention…There’s no reason to think smartphone apps are going to perform any better than any of the other gimmicks that have come and gone from supermarket shelves over the decades.

I didn’t even know mosquito repellant apps were a thing.

What if Plants Could Be Smart Home Devices?

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What if plants could be smart home devices? That’s the idea of Harpreet Sareen and Pattie Maes in their cyborg botany research.

These experiments led the researchers to possible future applications that include sending notifications—the plant might jiggle to alert you when your package is delivered, for instance—or as a motion sensor, which could help you keep track of your pet or be applied to security systems.

Cool idea. When most people talk about “invisible interfaces” they usually mean things like smart clothing or using your voice like with a HomePod. Now if only trees transmitted Wi-Fi…

[email protected] is a Social Network for Plant Lovers

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First created in 2009, [email protected] is a social network for plant lovers, as well as a plant identification app.

Once a user makes an identification (or marks the plant as unknown), they submit their photos to the [email protected] community. Thousands of professional botanists and flora-philes scan the stream of new observations to verify a species, or suggest a new one. If a person confirms your observation, a little green “crowd” icon appears. Your score rises as more people validate your labels, although a few users are certified to train the algorithm without community validation.

I haven’t used this yet but I’ll definitely check it out. I also love iNaturalist. It’s not really a social network, but it can identify both plants and animals.

Use iNaturalist to Identify Flora and Fauna

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I’ve used iNaturalist for a couple years and think it’s a great tool. Two features that help the app stand out from competitors are 1: The machine learning it uses. Once you take a picture, it can automatically suggest what species you’re looking at. 2: With every photo you upload and tag with location and other metadata, you’re contributing to real science. iNaturalist shares data with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

The app is a joint initiative between The California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society and works sort of like a Shazam for Nature in that it lets you snap a shot of something you come across and instantly get an answer for what that planet, animal, or bug might be.

Can You Speak Tree Language? New York City Does

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Created by artist Kate Holten, the New York City Tree Alphabet lets anyone send hidden messages in tree language. You can also download it as a font.

A tentative version of Holten’s new Tree Alphabet was shared across the Parks Department for months, as groups across the system chimed in on which trees should stand for which letters–a more complicated idea than one might think, given that the Parks Department is particular about the species it wants planted.

*cries in Ogham*