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Steel-Belted Silence

September 1, 1998

Automobiles leave mountains of used tires: Two billion tires have accumulated in piles across the United States alone. Researchers at the Instituto de Acstica in Madrid, Spain, are using this waste to ameliorate another environmental impact of the automobile by packing crumbs of rubber from discarded tires into highway sound barriers.

Rubber turns out to have a broad sound absorption spectrum well-suited to traffic noise, and the tire crumbs stand up better to rain and dust than the glass and rock wool used in traditional sound barriers. Reverberation room tests have shown that the smaller the rubber crumbs are, the better they absorb sound. In June, the Madrid researchers tested a full-scale prototype barrier made with the recycled rubber.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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