TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Feel free to stop striving: learn to relish being an amateur

The soundtrack of our lives is the sound of striving. Psychologists, philosophers and behavioural scientists are all coaxing us to strive with variations of the same loop: strive for accomplishment, strive for prosperity, and strive for happiness. We must act fast and slow, or think big and small; be calm, be on edge, eat more, eat less, dance more and sleep more, want more - or less; practise for 10,000 hours or don't practise at all; be deliberate, habitual, and intuitive, or just simply Zen out to zero.

Naturally, we all want to optimise our ways of being. But every once in a while, and for every one of our aspirations, there's a contrarian voice screaming: Enough already! Can't we stop succeeding for just one moment? Cease trying to be exceptional at something? The answer is yes, but to do so you must embrace your inner amateur.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Sick of dangerous city traffic? Remove left turns

To reduce travel times, fuel consumption and carbon emissions, in 2004, UPS changed delivery routes to minimize the left-hand turns drivers made. Although this seems like a rather modest change, the results are anything but: UPS claims that per year, eliminating left turns - specifically the time drivers sit waiting to cut across traffic - saves 10 million gallons of fuel, 20,000 tons of carbon emissions and allows them to deliver 350,000 additional packages.

If it works so well for UPS, should cities seek to eliminate left-hand turns at intersections too? My research suggests the answer is a resounding yes.

As a transportation engineering professor at Penn State, I have studied traffic flow on urban streets and transportation safety for nearly a decade. Part of my work focuses on how city streets should be organized and managed. It turns out, restricting left turns at intersections with traffic signals lets traffic move more efficiently and is safer for the public. In a recent paper, my research team and I developed a way to determine which intersections should restrict left turns to improve traffic.

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TradeBriefs Editorial

From the Editor's Desk

Where could the next coronavirus jump to humans? New research offers clues.

Scientists mapped regions where new coronaviruses may be most likely to spread from wildlife to people.

For well over a year we've been living through the devastating consequences of a highly transmissible coronavirus. While the pandemic it caused is unprecedented by many measures, the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is just one of many SARS-related coronaviruses lurking among wildlife in some regions of the world, many of which could theoretically jump to human populations under the right conditions.

Figuring out what those conditions are is an urgent priority, and scientists have made a lot of progress on that front. They've learned, for example, that when forests get fragmented by deforestation or roads, it increases the likelihood of a virus "spilling over" from animal to human. What's more of a mystery is where, exactly, those conditions come together to create the highest risk for the next coronavirus emergence.

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