In Nairobi, Kenya, the first beauty pageant for those with albinism took a step against stigma. People with albinism in Kenya and other African countries are sometimes injured or killed because of lingering superstition and ignorance about the skin-pigment condition. The Mr. and Miss Albinism East Africa pageant was organized to spread a positive view of those with albinism and to address misconceptions. The pageant in early December drew participants from several countries who competed for cash prizes.
On the International Space Station, an artificial intelligence assistant from the European Space Agency exhibited a range of behaviors during testing. CIMON (which stands for Crew Interactive MObile companioN) is a small plastic ball with a cartoon face that can float freely in the microgravity environment of the space station. CIMON spoke with astronauts, demonstrated its jet propulsion capabilities, and helped run an experiment. CIMON even jammed to Kraftwerk’s “The Man Machine” but felt a bit grumpy afterward, telling the astronauts to “be nice.” (Don’t worry: They were able to shut CIMON off.)
In Helsinki, Finland, a vast new public library was built to celebrate 100 years of independence. Finland, one of the most literate countries in the world, hopes that the central library, Oodi, will act as “a new living room for the nation.” Located directly across the street from the imposing granite Parliament building, the library was designed by Finnish firm ALA Architects to welcome visitors with spruce cladding and curved lines. The library will house 100,000 books as well as music and video production studios, a cinema, and 3-D printer workshops.