Weekly News Bites: extreme weather, googly-eyed cars, and 20 quadrillion ants

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are the effects of extreme weather becoming more likely due to climate change and leading to sinking cities, putting googly eyes on cars that help pedestrian safety, and how many ants there are on Earth.

When comparing weather simulations which did or did not include climate change, the Meteorological Research Institute of Japan, the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University found that climate change made extreme heat patterns 240 times more likely to occur

In other climate change news, the fastest sinking cities globally are coastal cities in Southeast Asia, says a study by Nanyang Technological University. Some factors that lead to this rapid sinking include extreme weather and rising sea levels. 

It can be difficult to know when it is safe to cross the road when traffic is heavy. We usually try to look at the driver to see if they see us, but what about autonomous vehicles? It turns out that sticking giant googly eyes onto autonomous vehicles can help improve safety for pedestrians. The University of Tokyo programmed a car to “look” at a person if the car acknowledged them letting them know it was safe to walk.

Knowing whether you’re in the presence of viral particles can help reduce transmission and track the origins of positive cases. Scientists from Tongji University have developed a mask that can alert the wearer if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or influenza. The mask detects small quantities of virus in the air soon after exposure. 

Have you ever wondered how many ants there are on Earth? A study by the University of Hong Kong and the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg in Germany estimates that there are around 20,000,000,000,000,000 (20 quadrillion). All of these ants together weigh more than wild birds and mammals combined.