Every day Document has an agenda: news from the under read corners of the world, and the web, that might not end up crossing your path. Discoveries, curiosities, essential cultural dispatches—with this information, go forth.


The World

Living in the world’s noisiest city will age your hearing quality, on average, by twenty years. 

In London, researchers have unearthed a connection between the increase in decibels and low birth weights. The Guardian has delved into the issue by trying to find out what is the noisiest city in the world and how discovers that Delhi may not the be loudest but it’s suffering an epidemic of hearing loss.

The study found that, on average, a person living in the loudest cities has hearing loss equivalent to that of someone 10-20 years older. Overall the results showed a 64% correlation between hearing loss and noise pollution. Guangzhou, China, ranked as having the worse levels of noise pollution in the world, followed by Cairo, Paris, Beijing and Delhi. Of the 50 cities, Zurich was found to have the least noise pollution. Participants in Delhi recorded the highest average hearing loss—equivalent to someone 19.34 years older than them. Vienna had the lowest hearing loss—but still, on average, that of someone 10.59 years older.


The Mind

The transmission of stress changes our brains.

Researchers have now discovered that stress is easily transmitted from one person to another, and that it can change the makeup of your brain. Scientists at the University of Calgary, who were studying the effects of stress in pairs of male or female mice, discovered that if they removed one mouse from each pair and exposed it to a mild stress before returning it to its partner, the networks in the brains of both the stressed mouse altering the paterner. Jaideep Bains, PhD, who led the team, suggests that these findings may also be present in humans.

We readily communicate our stress to others, sometimes without even knowing it. There is even evidence that some symptoms of stress can persist in family and loved ones of individuals who suffer from PTSD. On the flip side, the ability to sense another’s emotional state is a key part of creating and building social bonds.


The Future

Can blockchain technology make digital art as much of a commodity as physical art?

It’s hard for digital art to have value because, after all, it’s just a file then came be endlessly copied for eternity. It’s not like a painting, or piece of craftsmanship—anyone can duplicate it—an exact replica, pixel perfect at the click of a mouse. But now blockchain is going to change that. The secure verification technique allows artists to make an original version of their digital art while securing provenance and ensuring their work is recognized as a one of a kind. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight goes under the skin of blockchain art to question its creative value.

A lot of what makes physical art valuable is its scarcity—there are only so many paintings by Mark Rothko, after all. But digital art has always been different because it can be perfectly copied, ad infinitum. Crypto technology and the blockchain may be able to change all that. Just like Bitcoins are scarce, so too can original digital artwork now be scarce, even if duplicates remain common in the same way that prints or photographs of physical artwork are common.



Russia now legally recognizes art made less than 50 years ago as art. 

Until now, Russia didn’t officially recognize contemporary art. The law strictly stated that artworks made less than 50 years ago were nothing more than luxury items, but a legislative change opens up the international market to oligarchies and collectors alike. The Art Newspaper distills what the change will mean for overseas.

The previous, prohibitive legislation was created in the chaotic 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, to prevent the mass exportation of cultural treasures. But it also made it virtually impossible to import art, levying huge tariffs on important works of art and offering no re-export guarantees to private collectors. Russians have, therefore, tended to base their private collections in Europe.



No one is happy about the Frida Kahlo Barbie Doll.

The great-niece of the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is suing Mattel to stop the production of Frida Khalo Barbie Doll. In a statement from the Kahlo family, Mrs. Mara Romeo states that she is the sole owner of the late artist’s image, and disagrees with Mattel’s aesthetic decisions when converting the larger than life artist into a plastic figurine. The BBC reports that Mattel is insisting they sought permission for the Frida Kahlo foundation beforehand.

Mrs. Romeo told AFP news agency that the problem was not confined to image rights. “I would have liked the doll to have traits more like Frida’s, not this doll with light-coloured eyes,” she said.



Because no one really knows what to do with augmented reality, it’s now coming to classic literature

Words are one of our main methods to transport us to far away or make believe places. Books have a unique ability to place us in an entirely fictional world, construction every element in our own heads. But what is something else could help bring words to life? In “A metamorphosis of one’s own,” The Economist profiles a new augmented reality exhibition in Prague to see if technology can make a Kafkaesque world more visceral then mere text.

“The opening of ‘The Metamorphosis’ is a nightmare,” says Mika Johnson, a lecturer at Prague Film School and a Franz Kafka fanatic. In Kafka’s story Gregor wakes to find himself transformed into a speechless bug. His family bangs on the door, pleading with him to respond; his boss berates him. To Mr. Johnson and his team, Gregor’s anguish was ideal for virtual-reality (VR) adaptation. “It’s a perfect coincidence of technology and text,” says Berthold Franke, regional head of the GI, the German cultural association that funded the project. “You’re transformed by the headset, then you’re transformed again in the story.