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Laughter Clubs for Stressed Hong Kongers

Hong Kong is an Asian financial hub with 7 million residents or, to be precise, with 7 million stressed residents due to the soaring property prices, tiny living spaces and stressful work places. It is no wonder that the number of people in Hong Kong asking for psychiatric treatment increased 20 percent between 2007 and 2011.

In such a place, laughter clubs seem to be a promising business. Dick Yu, a 35-year-old trained hypnotherapist, set up Hong Kong’s first laughter club in 2007, after he discovered the concept of laughter yoga, which originated in India by the physician Madan Kataria in 1995.

Since then hundreds of Hong Kongers have signed up for free classes. “Ho ho, ha ha ha” is their mantra. They breathe deeply, give each other high-fives and move like penguins!

These clubs may be funny, but laughter is a real panacea: it helps expand blood vessel linings to increase blood flow, reduces stress hormones, boosts the immune system and triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s naturally produced pain killers. Laugh out loud, then!

By | April 18th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

Turn on the Sun in Africa

The magazine Wired has recently published an article about Solar Sister, a US-based non-profit enterprise, which is taking solar power’s potential to women in Uganda, Rwanda and southern Sudan.

Solar Sister creates sustainable businesses, powered by smart investments in women entrepreneurs, in order to cut poverty and spread electrical power in these countries where up to 95 per cent of the population lacks reliable access to electricity.

African women receive kits containing solar-powered equipment and are trained on how to use them; they then gain access to a team which teaches them how to sell the items and grow their customer base. They sell products such as lamps, mobile phone chargers and radios, keeping a ten per cent commission.

“Energy poverty is at the core of all poverty,” says Katherine Lucey, CEO of Solar Sister. “But with reliable access to electricity, people can live their lives more fully. Students can study at night, and women can cook. It completely changes their ability to lift themselves out of poverty.”

By | April 16th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments

Cai Lun (蔡伦) and the Papermaking Process

Do you know who invented the process of making paper? Paper has existed in China since the 2nd century BC, but it was Cai Lun (蔡伦) (ca. 50-121 AD) who is credited with significant improvements and the standardisation of the paper-making process, which today is still based on his technique.

Cai Lun was a court eunuch who was promoted several times under the rule of Emperor He of Han. In 89 AD, he received the title of Shang Fang Si, an office in charge of manufacturing instruments and weapons.

In 105 AD, Cai invented the composition need to make paper along with the papermaking process. This process included the use of materials like bark, hemp, silk and fishing net. Cai's paper (known as Cai Lun paper) was light and thin, strong and inexpensive and could be mass-produced.

Cai Lun’s invention enabled China to develop its civilisation much faster than with earlier writing materials (primarily bamboo). The same happened in Europe, where Cai Lun paper was introduced in the 12th or 13th century. This invention not only promoted written language, but it also progressed human civilisation as a whole. For these reasons, it is considered one of the most important inventions in history.

By | April 16th, 2012|Blog|0 Comments
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