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Hey Stephen: Put a cork in it!

A reader named Stephen wrote to us yesterday, pointing out that environmentalists extol the benefits of using cork on one hand and worry about endangered cork forests (at left) on the other. Odd, that. Fortunately, Treehugger resolved the quandary for us -- it seems that cork is that rare material whose harvest ensures its longevity. Industries that need cork have to keep the forests healthy; without their protection, the trees might get cut down:

The WWF have released a report saying that up to 75% of the cork forests in the Mediterranean might be lost within the next 10 years — all because of screw-top wine. They go on to suggest that by 2015 there might only be 5% of wine bottles using cork. Apparently without protection of the cork forests (cork is harvested from the bark of a special oak tree roughly every 9 years and then allowed to grow back -- some still productive trees are well over 200 years old), then habitat and livelihoods may be lost. 62,500 workers might be displaced along with the "endangered Iberian lynx, the Barbary deer, the black vulture and the imperial Iberian eagle." ...

[Pro-cork] programs highlight that cork extraction is financially, socially and environmentally sustainable, and that corks can easily be either recycled or composted, in contrast to the lifecycles of their newly arrived competitors.

Four fun cork facts after the jump.

From The Independent:

* The first recorded use of cork as a stopper is attributed to the Ancient Egyptians.

* Widespread usage began when Dom Pérignon swapped the traditional conical plugs - wooden stoppers wrapped in olive oil-soaked hemp - for cork.

* A single wine cork can have 800 million tightly packed cells made from a complex fatty acid called suberin, which prevents water from penetrating tissue.

* Yearly losses to the wine and cork industry from cork taint are estimated to be about £684m (about $1.3 billion).

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7 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Your Memory
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Being cursed with a bad memory can yield snafus big and small, from forgetting your gym locker combination to routinely blowing deadlines. If your New Year's resolution was to be less forgetful in 2018, it's time to start training your brain. The infographic below, created by financial website Quid Corner and spotted by Lifehacker Australia, lists seven easy ways to boost memory retention.

Different techniques can be applied to different scenarios, whether you're preparing for a speech or simply trying to recall someone's phone number. For example, if you're trying to learn a language, try writing down words and phrases, as this activates your brain into paying more attention. "Chunking," or separating long digit strings into shorter units, is a helpful hack for memorizing number sequences. And those with a poetic bent can translate information into rhymes, as this helps our brains break down and retain sound structures.

Learn more tips by checking out the infographic below.

[h/t Lifehacker.com.au]

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