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Side Slip Seat
Side Slip Seat

A New Plane Seat Could Make the Middle Spot the Roomiest

Side Slip Seat
Side Slip Seat

The middle seat on an airplane is one of the most miserable positions to be in on a commercial flight. You’re pinned in on either side, fighting for elbow room, and have neither the pleasure of resting against the window, or the ease of going to the bathroom without bugging the entire row. But a design called the Side-Slip Seat could make the middle seat the widest in the row, according to Co.Design.

Created by Molon Labe Designs, the row of seats slides together and apart on a track. The configuration allows a set of three seats to slide together to the width of just two. This means you can have a bigger aisle during boarding, which can help passengers move in and out easily (preventing one overhead bag kerfuffle from slowing the whole process down), and provide wheelchair access.

When it comes time for passengers to take their seats, the row expands to make the middle seat accessible. The design is off-set, so the backrest of the middle seat sits slightly behind the other two. Everyone gets their own dedicated armrests, and the middle seat is actually the widest, by about two inches.

The seat has already been through thorough safety testing and will go to the FAA for crash testing in the next few months. From there, it could be sold to airlines, meaning that you could be seeing something like this on your own plane in the near future.

[h/t Co.Design]

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VINCENZO PINTO, AFP, Getty Images
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This Just In
The Pope Just Officiated an Impromptu Inflight Wedding
VINCENZO PINTO, AFP, Getty Images
VINCENZO PINTO, AFP, Getty Images

Though he might be more famous for his tricked-out Popemobiles, when Pope Francis needs to get somewhere in a hurry, there’s always a papal plane. On Thursday, he made that Airbus 321 a vessel that one lucky couple will never forget when he officiated an impromptu marriage between Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, who have been together for more than 10 years and are both flight attendants for Chile's LATAM Airlines.

It started out innocently enough: on a flight from Santiago to Iquique, Chile, Crux reports, the flight crew was posing with the Pope for a group photo. When Papa Pancho asked the couple if they had had a church wedding, they explained that though they have been civilly married since 2010, the church that they were supposed to get married at was destroyed in an earthquake just a few days before their big day. Not one to let a little thing like being 35,000 feet in the air get in the way, Pope Francis suggested that he make up for their original plans and marry them right then and there.

“He held our hands, blessed the rings, and he married us in the name of God,” Ciuffardi told Crux.

His Holiness also made sure the happy couple knew how historic their nuptials would be. “Never has a pope married a couple on a plane,” he said.

Crew members Paula Podest (L) and Carlos Ciuffardi smile after being married by Pope Francis during the flight between Santiago and the northern city of Iquique on January 18, 2018
VINCENZO PINTO, AFP, Getty Images
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Design
Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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iStock

In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animals that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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