Thursday, February 4, 2021

The teacher who handcrafted Bernie Sanders’ viral mittens has signed a deal to mass-produce the gloves

An image of Sanders with his mittened hands crossed over his chest during Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration became a social media sensation last month, inspiring hundreds of memes. The 42-year-old teacher from Vermont who gifted the mittens to Sanders a couple of years ago, said she was overwhelmed by thousands of people who had contacted her hoping to purchase a pair. Ellis has now teamed up with the Vermont Teddy Bear Company to make more. “I can’t be more thrilled, because I personally can’t make 18,000 pairs of mittens,” Ellis said on Saturday, estimating how many people had contacted her. “Everybody will get their mittens — everybody,” she added. As part of the agreement, some of the proceeds will go to the Make-A-Wish Vermont charity. (Associated Press)


Elon Musk said his company Neuralink has implanted one of its brain-chips into a monkey, allowing the animal to play video games with his mind

The Tesla CEO told Clubhouse, a social media app, that there’s no sign of where the wireless neural chip was implanted and the monkey doesn’t appear “uncomfortable.” Elon Musk founded Neuralink, his neural tech company, in 2016 to develop devices that could eventually sync the human brain with AI. Recently, he told listeners in a Clubhouse chatroom that the company is working to have monkeys play the game “Pong” with each other using their minds. He plans to release videos of the monkeys using the computer-brain interface in several weeks. In August, Musk showed off his brain-computer interface with a surgically implanted chip that read the brain activity of a pig. He has called the device “a Fitbit in your skull.” He says it could cure conditions such as dementia, spinal cord injuries, insomnia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, memory loss, and depression. It could also help humans control things like computers, prosthetic limbs, and other devices using their thoughts. (CNBC)


Recipient of extremely rare face-hands transplant doing well

Almost six months after a rare face and hands transplant, a 22-year-old New Jersey man who had the operation last August, two years after being badly burned in a car crash is relearning how to smile, blink, pinch and squeeze. Experts say it appears the surgery at NYU Langone Health was a success, but warn it will take some time to say for sure. Worldwide, surgeons have completed at least 18 face transplants and 35 hand transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS, which oversees the U.S. transplant system. But simultaneous face and double hand transplants are extremely rare and have only been tried twice before. The first attempt was in 2009 on a patient in Paris who died about a month later from complications. Two years later, Boston doctors tried it again on a woman who was mauled by a chimpanzee, but ultimately had to remove the transplanted hands days later. In this case, Doctors estimated he only had a 6% chance of finding a match compatible with his immune system. They amputated both of the man’s hands, replacing them mid-forearm and connecting nerves, blood vessels and 21 tendons with hair-thin sutures. They also transplanted a full face, including the forehead, eyebrows, nose, eyelids, lips, both ears and underlying facial bones. The man will be on lifelong medications to avoid rejecting the transplants, as well as continued rehabilitation to gain sensation and function in his new face and hands. (CBS News)


Does WFH mean more work?

Remote work has blurred the line between our personal time and the time we’re on the clock. Workers in North America are logging 2.5 hours more each day on average, with a longer work day becoming the new normal globally, but while many have more meetings and emails to catch up on, having a longer workday doesn’t necessarily mean more hours working. Some people have adopted new work schedules in which they work later but have longer breaks throughout the day. (Bloomberg)


A silicone aorta can reduce how hard patients’ hearts have to pump

Researchers at EPFL’s Center for Artificial Muscles within the School of Engineering- along with his team of around ten other engineers from EPFL’s Integrated Actuators Laboratory (LAI) has been working on new cardiac assistance technology. They come up with a silicone aorta that can reduce patients’ blood pressure. The artificial aortas are naturally elastic, allowing them to expand as blood is pumped into them from the heart’s left ventricle and then contract to serve the blood to the rest of the body. In the case of heart patients, the heart has to work harder to accomplish this cycle. To ease this burden, engineers designed the aortas with silicon and a series of electrodes. The device has to be implanted just behind the aortic valve. Applying electric voltage to the device, the artificial aorta expands to a diameter that’s larger than the natural aorta. Engineers validate their system by building a simulator consisting of pumps and chambers that replicate the blood-flow and pressure conditions within a human heart. Scientists are now planning to conduct further tests of their artificial aorta. (Tech Explorist)


He’s proud to be a Florida man

A man with a Florida tattoo on his forehead has been arrested for calling 911 twice to get a ride home, authorities said. A 22-year-old man dialed 911 to request a ride home after a night of drinking, according to a criminal complaint. A Pasco County, Florida deputy found the man and offered to call him a cab, but he said he didn’t have money. He then began walking in the direction he lives and again called 911 for a ride, cops said. The officer caught up to him and arrested him as he was on the line. The officer searched him and found marijuana. He has been charged with misuse of the 911 system as well as possession of marijuana. He was released on $300 bond. (Fox News)


Man wakes up from 11-month coma, as family weighs how to explain pandemic to him

A teenager from the United Kingdom has woken up from a roughly 11-month long coma, leading his family to weigh how they will explain the coronavirus pandemic to him, according to reports this week.  The 19-year-old from Staffordshire, U.K. suffered a severe brain injury after being hit by a car on March 1, 2020,  about three weeks before the UK entered its first national lockdown. The teenager spent months at Leicester General Hospital before being moved to Adderley Green neurological rehabilitation center in Stoke-on-Trent. During that time he caught the coronavirus twice and recovered. The the family hasn’t yet attempted to explain the scale of the pandemic, but they’ve tried to let him know over video calls that they’re unable to be with him in person due to virus restrictions. Though he’s not fully recovered, the teen has started to move his limbs and is responding to family through blinking and smiling, his family said. (The Guardian)


Texas DPS mistakenly sends out Amber Alert for Chucky doll

An alert published from the Texas Alerts system with an Amber Alert for Chucky the doll and his child was sent out recently. The alert listed Chucky from Child’s Play horror series as a suspect. He is described as a 28-year-old with red, auburn hair, blue eyes, stands at 3’1″, and weighs 16 pounds. Chucky was described as wearing blue denim overalls with a multi-colored striped long sleeve shirt and wielding a kitchen knife prior to his “disappearance.” The alert also listed Glen as an abducted child who is 5 years old, weighs 6 pounds, stands at 2’3″, and also has red, auburn hair and blue eyes. Glen was described as wearing a blue shirt and black collar prior to his “disappearance.” According to Chucky fandom pages, Glen is the son of Chucky and was introduced in the film Seed of Chucky. While the alert appeared to be a mistake, it was sent out via email three separate times to subscribers of the Texas Alerts System. It is unclear at this time how many people are subscribed to the system. The agency said in a statement: “This alert is a result of a test malfunction. We apologize for the confusion this may have caused and are diligently working to ensure this does not happen again.” (DFW CBS)


Fed struggles with diversity

While the Fed shapes policy to keep Black Americans from being hit harder by economic downturns, its own ranks remain almost entirely White. This employment conundrum, in which less than 1% of the central bank’s economists are Black, is driven by hiring practices that favor elite institutions and a culture that can be less than welcoming. Black Americans, making up 13% of the U.S. population, account for 3% to 4% of its economists. (The New York Times)


Why food sticks to nonstick frying pans?

A new paper published in the journal Physics of Fluids offers a likely explanation—food sticks because of the same underlying mechanism that gives rise to the coffee ring effect and so-called “wine tears.” According to co-author and physicist at the Czech Academy of Sciences, food getting stuck to the center of the pan “is caused by the formation of a dry spot in the thin sunflower oil film as a result of thermocapillary convection.” It’s a variant of the so-called Marangoni effect which is responsible for both wine tears and the infamous “coffee ring effect,” which has also generated much interest among physicists. So what’s a frustrated cook to do to keep food from sticking to the center of their frying pan? It’s mostly commonsense advice. “To avoid unwanted dry spots, the following set of measures should be applied: increasing the oil film thickness, moderate heating, completely wetting the surface of the pan with oil, using a pan with a thick bottom, or stirring food regularly during cooking,” researchers say. (EurekAlert)


Mississippi city will pay you $6G to move there

That city, Natchez, is looking for remote workers who will relocate there and buy a home. The cash incentive includes up to $2,500 in moving expenses plus a $300 monthly stipend for a year to offset living costs, according to the city’s new Shift South program. Natchez is a community of fewer than 15,000 people beside the lower Mississippi River. It’s known for its historic homes, more than 1,000 structures in Natchez are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as its arts and outdoor recreation. Homes in the area are priced lower compared to many other markets. The median home listing price in Natchez is $168,000. The city also enjoys a reputation for southern food. In 2008, it declared itself the “biscuit capital of the world.” The popular tourist destination sits at the southern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a scenic route connecting 444 miles through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee all the way to Nashville. The parkway follows a historic route and today is popular to drive, bike or hike. To qualify for the incentive program, a future Natchez resident will need to work for an employer outside the region and be able to work remotely. They will then need to establish primary residence in the city and buy a home valued at $150,000 or more. They have to own and live in the home for at least a year. They also need to be 18 or older and eligible to work in the United States. Anyone interested in the Shift South program can check out the application online here. For anyone who likes the idea of getting paid to move someplace, but isn’t sure Natchez is their style, it’s not the only city offering an incentive like this. Cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma; Savannah, Georgia; Topeka, Kansas and Newton, Iowa have their own programs with their own requirements. (Natchez Incorporated)


The investment firm that controls Ikea has bought a longleaf pine forest in Georgia to preserve the more than 350 plant and animal species that live there

The acquisition by the Ingka Group, which controls 378 Ikea stores worldwide, includes 10,840 acres of land near the Altamaha River Basin, in Southern Georgia. Due to agriculture and land development, only a fraction of the longleaf pine forest that once covered more than 90 million acres from southern Virginia to Florida still exists. Ingka Group said that its goal is to preserve the forest for generations to come. The firm has bought a total of 612,821 acres of forestland in the U.S. and Eastern Europe. The properties are audited by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that they are managed sustainably. (Ikea


Boston Dynamics released new tools, including a robotic arm, for its mobile robot Spot

The front-mounted arm can pick up trash, open doors, turn off switches, clean rooms, and more, according to the Hyundai-owned robotics firm. The arm gives Spot fine motor skills, allowing it to jump rope or draw with chalk, for example. Boston also announced a new version of Spot, called Spot Enterprise, that comes with a dock for the robot to charge its batteries automatically, without human intervention. The company also introduced Scout, a web-based system that includes an interface for controlling the bot from anywhere in the world. (Previously, it only worked with a specific tablet that had to be nearby). The system works with both Spot Explorer and the new Spot Enterprise. The company continues to sell its $74,500 Spot, geared toward developers and robotics researchers. It has sold at least 400 of the robots, which became commercially available last year. (The Verge)


Thursday Brings Us:

  • Create A Vacuum Day
  • Facebook’s Birthday
  • Hemp Day
  • Homemade Soup Day
  • Liberace Day
  • Medjoola Date Day
  • Optimist Day (First Thursday in February)
  • Quacker Day
  • Sweater Day (First Thursday)
  • Thank a Mail Carrier Day
  • USO Day
  • World Cancer Day

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