The Simple Solution to Traffic

Stuck at an intersection, you always watch unfold the Fundamental Problem of Traffic. On green, the first car accelerates, and then the next, and then the next, and then the next, and then you, only to catch the red. Had the cars accelerated simultaneously you would have made it through. Coordination – not cars – is the problem, because we are monkey drivers with slow reaction times and short attention spans. Even if we tried getting everyone to press the pedal on 3-2-1-now would be challenging. This dis-coordination limits how many cars can get through an intersection and when one backs up to the next, that’s when city-sized gridlock cascades happen, taking forever to clear. In general, more intersections equals more dis-coordination which equals more traffic. This is the motive behind big highways: no intersections. Splits and merges, yes.

Intersections, no. No stopping, no coordination problems, no traffic Well that’s the theory anyway. Intersections outside of a highway will back up onto it. Again, because human reaction times limit how many cars can escape the off-ramp when the light changes. But, even without intersections, there would still be traffic on the highway. Traffic can just appear. Take a one lane highway with happy cars flowing until a chicken crosses the road. The driver who sees it brakes a little, the driver behind him doesn’t notice immediately and brakes a little harder than necessary, the driver behind him does the same until someone comes to a complete stop and, oh look, cars approaching at highway speeds must now stop as well. Though the chicken is long gone, it left a phantom intersection on the highway. This is what’s happened when you’re stuck in traffic for hours thinking, “There must be a deadly pile up ahead” and then suddenly, the traffic’s over with no wreckage in sight, to your relief if you’re a good person and mild annoyance if you aren’t. You just pass through a phantom intersection, the cause of which is long gone.

And this phantom intersection moves. It’s really a traffic snake slithering down the road eating oncoming cars at one end and pooping them out the other. On a ring road, a single car slowing down will start an Ouroboros of traffic that will last forever, even though there’s no problem with the road. If the drivers could coordinate to accelerate and separate simultaneously, easy driving would return. But they can’t, so traffic eternal. On highways, traffic snakes grow if cars are eaten faster than excreted, and they shrink if excreted faster than eaten, dying when the last car accelerates away before the next car must stop. Now, in multi-lane highways, there needs be no chicken to start gridlock. A driver crossing lanes quickly with cars too close behind is enough to birth the traffic snake that lives for hours and leaves. It’s this quick crossing that causes drivers behind to over brake and begin a chain reaction. But we *can* make traffic snakes less likely by changing the way we drive.

Your goal as a driver is to stay the same distance from the car ahead as from the car behind at all times. Tailgating is trouble. Not just because it makes accidents more likely but because you as the tailgater can start a traffic snake if the driver ahead brakes. Always in the middle! This gives you the most time to prevent over-braking but also gives the driver behind you the most time as well. And when stuck in traffic, this rule would get all cars to pull apart the snake faster. That’s the simple solution to traffic: getting humans to change their behavior, perhaps by sharing this video to show how and why traffic happens, why tailgaters are trouble, and how we can work together to make the roads better for all. The End. Except, yeah.

.. wishing upon a star that people are better than they are is a terrible solution. Every time. Instead, what works is a structurally systematized solution which is exactly what self-driving cars are. Self-driving cars can just be programmed to stay in the middle and accelerate simultaneously. They’ll just do it. The more self-driving cars at an intersection, the more efficient the intersection gets. A solid lane of self-driving cars vastly increases throughput. Hmm, actually! If you ban humans from the road (which we should totally do anyway) you can get rid of the intersection entirely. After all, a traffic light is just a tool for drivers on one road to communicate with drivers on another, poorly and coarsely. Red equals “Don’t go now, we are coming through the intersection.” Green equals “good to go.” But self-driving cars can talk to each other at the speed of light. with that kind of coordination, no traffic light necessary. Just as with the highway, the best intersection is no intersection.

Humans will never drive this precisely. At the intersection, the fundamental problem with traffic that you watch unfold, as well as everything, is people. So the real simple solution to traffic: is no more monkeys driving cars. This video has been brought to you in part by, with over 180,000 audiobooks and spoken audio products. Get a free trial today by going to If you like thinking about how the future can be better, why not read the Elon Musk biography: “Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance is available at Audible. Give it a listen with your free 30-day trial that you can get at Audible is the place I go to for all of my audio books, and you should too. It’s a near endless universe of interesting things to listen to. Give them a try and thanks to Audible for supporting the channel..


Korea expands support to United Nations Volunteers scheme

Korea and the United Nations have strengthened their partnership in sending out young volunteers to communities in need. Oh Soo-young sheds light on the continued effort to help achieve sustainable development around the world. South Korea aims to further its commitment to achieving peace and development around the world by expanding its support for the United Nations Volunteers scheme. The organization dispatches thousands of volunteers across 130 countries to work on core operations such as providing basic social services, peacebuilding; youth engagement; and national capacity development. The UNV’s Executive Director visited Seoul this week to strengthen the body’s partnership with South Korea. Over the last three decades, Seoul’s foreign ministry has steadily increased its annual contribution to the UNV– expected to reach almost three-point-two million U.S.

dollars this year. This would make South Korea the organization’s second largest donor,… in addition to being the number one provider of fully-funded volunteers. “There’s a very strong volunteer spirit in Korea which is linked to the country’s traditions. And I think Korea has seen the advantages of having young volunteers, specialist volunteers, as opportunities for Koreans to interact with the affairs with the world.” Since 1990, Korean volunteers have served on a wide variety of assignments such as climate change, education and capacity building. “My role was connecting subsistence farmers to the market by providing more input such as seedlings and facilities. Also, providing more capacity building such as education, and cooperative building, and so on. By doing so, the famers could generate more income to improve their lives.” In the face of numerous global challenges, such as the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis, social conflicts and climate change,..

. South Korea will double the number of its UNV volunteers to 50 this year. Many students and specialists are keen to lend a helping hand. “I have easy access to education, water and money but I believe there are people in desperate positions and I am willing to help them. I want to become a specialist to educate them to find out their opportunities that are hidden in their society.” The executive commissioner expressed hope that South Korea’s greater participation will reap strong progress in key areas of cooperation such as governance, security and climate change. Oh Soo-young, Arirang News..

Why cities should plant more trees

Search Google Earth for China and you’ll see this. But an unedited satellite photo might look more like this. That gray smudge is air pollution and it’s coming from Chinese cars, factories, and power plants. But it’s not only here. In cities around the world, air pollution is a big problem. A majority of humans now live in cities and that number is only going to rise, which means more cars, more factories, and more power plants. As officials explore options for fighting air pollution, there is one tool that is often overlooked: trees. Cities are centers of industry, but the resulting pollution is filling our lungs and making us sick. One major culprit is particulate matter: airborne particles of dust, soot and smoke that are released when we burn fossil fuels or kicked up during construction and farming.

When we inhale them, they can cause asthma and they can also enter our bloodstream to cause strokes and even death. Experts estimate that outdoor air pollution kills over three million people a year and as cities grow, leaders are funding creative—and often expensive—solutions for the problem. In London, the mayor spent over a million pounds spraying city streets with an adhesive that was supposed to glue pollutants to the road. and in the Netherlands, designers have created a giant air purifier they call “The Smog Free Tower”, which is cool, but there is another, simpler solution… A new report from The Nature Conservancy shows that planting trees can be a cost-effective way to improve public health, which they do in two ways: First, a tree removes particulate matter when polluted air blows through its branches.

The particulate matter settles on the leaves and when it rains the dust is washed down the gutter so we don’t inhale it. Second, trees cool temperatures by providing shade and releasing water through photosynthesis, which cools summer temperatures by about two to four degrees fahrenheit. But there is a catch! Trees can only clean and cool the air within a close radius: about one hundred feet, so city officials need to be careful where they plant. Officials can maximize pollution reduction by planting trees where population density and air pollution overlap. The Nature Conservancy report uses data from Washington D.C. to create a map showing where planting trees will have the highest return on investment. And some trees work better than others: trees with larger, stickier leaves, like maples and elms are more effective, but they also need to be considered within the larger ecosystem.

Compared to DC, many cities around the world have even more to gain from planting trees: this map shows where return on investment is highest for reducing particulate matter. With proper targeting, planting trees can be just as cost-effective as other strategies like converting public transportation to use less diesel fuel. But there is one major limiting factor: water access. What might work in Boston, will be less feasible in a city like Doha, Qatar, where water is a scarce resource. And on top of that, many mayors don’t yet think of trees as a public health resource. Trees might not look like giant air filters, but that’s exactly what they are, and the sooner we start thinking of them that way, the sooner the air we breathe might be cooler and cleaner in cities around the world..


Life in a liveable world

The climate is changing, extreme weather is disrupting livelihood and food supplies around the world. This is observed. This is documented. This is the scientific communities consensus. The climate is changing. Carbon emissions are driving that change. Emissions come from burning fossil fuels so if we want to slow or even reverse the change, we must lower our fossil fuel use.

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4 Solutions to climate change

In this article, we will examine some of the possible solutions to the problem of human-induced global warming. Many climate change deniers suggest that life in a “low carbon” world will stifle economic development, and is impossible in a modern society. To them, modern society can not function with out fossil fuels. Other’s, who are more open minded and considerably more enlightened, can envision a future where fossil fuels do not dominate the energy sector, and where clean, renewable energy sources provide both clean energy and jobs. Some, like former president Bill Clinton, suggest that it could be a source for enormous economic development. So, what are some of the strategies that we can enlist? Coal produces more CO2 per unit energy than any other fuel. Continue reading “4 Solutions to climate change”

Solutions to tackle fine dust

Armed with science and technology, the Korean government is tackling the country’s fine and ultra fine dust problem as one of nine national research and development projects through the year 2023. The goal is to rid the air of the dust particles that not only spur global warming, but also pose significant dangers to human health. Our Oh Sooyoung has more on tackling fine dust: Korea’s new growth engine. Invisible specks of dust smaller than grains of pollen fog up the sky and pollute the air we breathe. Fine and ultra fine dust particles are so minute that they can also penetrate and clog the lungs, causing respiratory problems like asthma or even cancer. In Korea, the concentration of fine dust particles has remained persistently high compared to other developed countries, at 29 micrograms per cubic meter, or double the OECD average. But now, the Korean government is aiming to cut that figure in half within seven years. It’s one of nine national projects launched last month to boost future industries and the quality of life for all citizens. “In the past, studies on fine dust were conducted separately by different ministries and research groups. This time, the government is taking a comprehensive approach using science and technology.” Continue reading “Solutions to tackle fine dust”

Magnetocaloric a zero global warming potential solution

Well the title of my talk is going to be related to magnetic calorics. And some of the products and R&D that the Building Technologies Program is undertaking. And I titled this a 0 GWP solution. Where for those that are familiar global, warming potential. And I think in its been timely because GWP has been in the news 20 countries, 200 over close to 200 countries came together in agreement part of the Montreal Protocol about reducing HFCs and to enable the half a degree you know for climate change-related to like Sam Rashkin talked about. Continue reading “Magnetocaloric a zero global warming potential solution”

How to Win Climate Change

There are many common beliefs about what climate change actually is. This is a problem that is specific to this current generation due to the technological advances that are supposedly the cause. There is a high amount of activism going on about stopping man-made climate change, but I’m going to show you why this is a waste of time.
Climate change and global warming are not the same things.

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