Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Engineering researchers at Northwestern University have developed a “smart sponge” they say can soak up to 30 times its own weight in oil

The team says its sponge would be the most “economic, efficient, and eco-friendly” way to clean up oil spills. Current oil spill clean-up solutions involve the use of chemical dispersants, or igniting the oil – both methods are potentially harmful to the ecosystem. The sponges are coated in a nanocomposite slurry that is Oleophilic, Hydrophobic, and Magnetic (OHM). The study was published in the journal Industrial Engineering and Chemical Research. (Forbes)


Levels of coronavirus antibodies in 90% of recovered patients declined sharply after two-to-three months, according to a Chinese study

Researchers analyzed 37 symptomatic and 37 asymptomatic patients, and found that those who tested positive for IgG antibodies had significantly fewer levels after a few months. The median percentage decrease was 70% across all patients. The study could limit the ability of some nations to offer so-called “immunity passports,” increased mobility for those who have recovered for the virus and tested positive for antibodies. 40% of those in the asymptomatic group tested negative for antibodies 8 weeks after leaving isolation. A Hong Kong virology professor said that the study does not necessarily mean that individuals would not have immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after a few months. Other parts of the immune system, he said, may be able to offer protection. The professor also pointed out the relatively small group of patients analyzed. There’s currently no evidence that anyone has become infected with COVID-19 twice. (Reuters)


“Fortnite” has removed police cars in its latest season

An inside source says the change is not a political statement, but “us being sensitive about the issues many people in our audience are dealing with.” On June 5th, “Fortnite” maker Epic Games tweeted about “ongoing injustices in society” and said the company supports “equality and justice, diversity and inclusion,” though it stopped short of expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The first report on the potential change came as many Reddit users noticed that police vehicles were nowhere to be found in “Chapter 2, Season 3.” The launch of the latest “Fortnite” season was delayed in early June to give “time for the team to focus on themselves, their families, and their communities.” Criticism of police brutality in the U.S. has led to the cancelation of the TV shows “Cops” and “Live PD.” As of May 2020, “Fortnite” has over 350 million registered players worldwide. (The Wall Street Journal)


Men with cats are slightly less likely to be seen as relationship material, according to a new study

Researchers at Colorado State University showed more than 700 heterosexual college-age women photos of two white men, both with and without a cat. For one of the subjects, 38% of women said they’d consider casually dating the man, and 37% said they’d consider a serious relationship – those numbers dropped to 33% in each category in the group that saw the same man holding a cat. The percentage of women who said they’d never consider getting involved with one of the male subjects also increased when the photo showed him holding a cat (9% to 14%). The women were also asked about the perceived traits of each subject. The men holding cats were “viewed as less masculine; more neurotic, agreeable, and open; and less dateable.” A woman who identified as a “dog person” was even less likely to find a man with a cat dateable. Despite persistent stereotypes, cat owners are no more likely than others to experience depression or extreme loneliness. (MDPI)


The FDA has warned consumers not to purchase certain brands of hand sanitizer found to contain the toxic substance methanol

Scientists say exposure to large amounts of methanol, if ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause nausea, headache, blurred vision, seizures, and nervous system disruption. According to an FDA press release, the hand sanitizers are all manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, and should be immediately discarded. The brands include:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer

(United States Food And Drug Administration)


Google staff push for action

Over 1,600 workers at Google parent Alphabet are asking the search giant to stop selling its tech services to police departments. In a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, the employees say they want Google to speak to their values amid countrywide demonstrations to scale back policing following the killing of George Floyd. Google said that its staff have made over 500 product suggestions recently that are currently being reviewed, but certain platforms like Gmail and Google Cloud will remain available for governments and local authorities. (TechCrunch)


US work visas frozen until year-end

Visas allowing hundreds of thousands of people to work in the U.S. have been temporarily suspended by the White House. Along with the extension of a pause on green cards, the freeze will affect some 525,000 workers, including those on H-1B visas, seasonal workers, students on work-study summer programs, and au pairs. The ban has been met with criticism from many business leaders, who say it will drastically impede their ability to recruit global talent. President Trump says the move will help create jobs for Americans who’ve been affected by the pandemic. (The New York Times)


Man refusing to wear mask fights his way into Walmart in Florida

A defiant shopper fought his way into a Florida Walmart after he was denied entry for refusing to wear a face mask, a viral video shows. The clip shows the gray-haired man scuffling with an employee at the Orlando superstore on the same day face masks became mandatory in the county. With his arms out, the worker tries to block the man from entering. The older man then shoves the Walmart worker, even falling to the floor at one point. Clearly determined, the man gets up and scrambles his way inside as the worker continues to try to block him. The shopper ignores the offer and makes his way halfway up an aisle. Ultimately, the man angrily agrees to leave, the clip shows but not before the worker tells him that he was “spitting all over the f—ing place.” Florida has seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases. (WDBO)


Couple accused of killing son by forcing him to drink water

A Colorado couple accused of killing their 11-year-old son by forcing him to drink large amounts of water are facing several charges, including child abuse and first-degree murder. The 41-year-old father and 42-year-old step-mother turned themselves in to authorities and are being held without bail at the El Paso County jail. Prosecutors say the son died on March 11 after the couple made him drink the water because his urine was dark. The county coroner’s office determined the boy died of forced water intoxication after he was told to drink four 24-ounce (.7-litre) bottles of water over four hours without eating. According to an arrest affidavit, the boy’s stepmother told authorities he wore a diaper at night because of a hereditary urological problem. The father and a sergeant based at Fort Carson, called 911 after he found the boy in his bed with foam coming from his mouth and blood on his bed. An arrest affidavit says the boy suffered other physical abuse, as did five other children. (The Colorado Springs Gazette)


US honeybees are doing better after bad year, survey shows

American honeybee colonies have bounced back after a bad year, the annual beekeeping survey finds. Beekeepers only lost 22.2% of their colonies this past winter, from October 1 to March 31, which is lower than the average of 28.6%, according to the Bee Informed Partnership’s annual survey of thousands of beekeepers. It was the second smallest winter loss in the 14 years of surveying done by several different U.S. universities. Last winter’s loss was considerably less than the previous winter of 2018-2019 when a record 37.7% of colonies died off, the scientists found. After that bad winter, the losses continued through the summer of 2019, when beekeepers reported a 32% loss rate. That’s much higher than the average of 21.6% for summer losses. (Bee Informed)


Man saves woman’s life at Kroger while shopping for milk for his twins

A quick trip to Kroger turned into a life-saving situation for a League City, Texas man. He was at the store to buy milk for his twins. “I heard someone scream out,” the man said. “So, I moved toward the direction of the scream then I saw a lady splayed out on the floor.” He jumped into action. Relying on his former medical background and ten years of service with the U.S. Coast Guard, he began administering CPR. “I literally saw where her sternum was. I put my forearm with my fingers back and just started pumping her chest,” he said. The woman appeared to be in cardiac arrest. He and another customer in the store took turns administering chest compressions until paramedics arrived. He has since heard from the woman’s family. The doctors told her that if it wasn’t for the quick actions, she wouldn’t have made it. The father of four said he doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a regular guy who was making a trip to his local grocery store. “I just saw someone in need. I didn’t even think about it, I just jumped in to help,” he said. “Afterward was kind of strange, a strange feeling… like I have all this adrenaline and I still have to go get the milk.” The man said he is an electrician and is required to know CPR for work. He said he renews his training and certification every year. (Click 2 Houston)


Woman threatened man over his sausage

An Ocklawaha, Florida woman remains behind bars after she was arrested and charged with Aggravated Battery. A deputy responded to a Mobile Home Park following reports of a disturbance. When the deputy arrived, the victim stated that he was standing at the stove cooking sausage and had asked the 30-year-old defendant who was on the couch, if she wanted any since he was already cooking. The victim said that she did not answer so he cooked it anyway. According to the arrest affidavit, while the victim was cooking her sausage, she walked up behind him and pressed a knife to his genitals. The victim said he had to beg her to stop due to the amount of pressure she was applying to his groin area. According to reports, as she lowered the knife, she pointed her finger in the victim’s face and stated, “you sorry son of a bi**h.” She then returned to the couch. The victim then grabbed his sausage, walked outside, and called 911. The woman was in possession of the knife but denied any wrongdoing. She was apparently aggravated because the victim bothered her while she was on the couch. Needless to say, she did not get to eat her sausage. (Ocala Post)


Florida man carrying nearly 500 grams of weed tries to steal plane to meet girlfriend

A 22-year-old Florida man is behind bars after he attempted to steal an airplane at the New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport so he could fly to California to meet his girlfriend while carrying nearly 500 grams of marijuana, according to the New Smyrna Beach Police Department. Officers were alerted that a stolen vehicle had been found at the airport, and while in the process of locating that vehicle, officers were flagged down by a man who said it was his vehicle that was stolen. The victim told officers that a man unknown to him jumped into the back of his truck and offered him $1,000 for a ride. The man then got out of the truck but left a grinder, scale and cellphone behind. At the same time the victim flagged down officers to describe the incident in the truck, another officer at the airport was notified by a flight instructor that a man with a blue bag was spotted crouching on the wing of a plane on a portion of the tarmac that was not accessible to the public. According to a report, the man asked the flight instructor how he could fly a plane. By the time officers reached the tarmac, the man was sitting in the right seat of the aircraft. When officers approached him, he again asked if they knew how to fly the plane. The man then jumped from the emergency exit window of the plane and was detained by officers. After the man was secured in the back of a patrol car, officers returned to the plane and took the man’s duffel bag into evidence. Officers said they found his ID, sunglasses, headphones, cigarillos, two lighters, a pocket knife and a laptop. A glass pipe was also found and tested positive for methamphetamine. Next to the duffel bag was a container holding marijuana, investigators found. While he was being processed, he told officers that he was the manager for a medical marijuana dispensary and that he was transporting the marijuana to California. Investigators said he had nearly 500 grams of marijuana on him and that he illegally trespassed on New Smyrna Beach Airport property. The man was taken to the Volusia County Jail on charges of grand theft, possession of paraphernalia, trespassing in an operational area of an airport, possession of cannabis and leaving the scene of a crash involving damage. Jail records show he is being held on $30,500 bond. (ClickOrlando)


Wednesday Makes Good With:

  • Celebration of the Senses
  • Energy Shopping Day
  • International Fairy Day or Faerie Day
  • Pralines Day
  • Parchment Cooking Day (Last Wednesday)
  • Stonewall National Monument Day
  • World UFO Day



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