This coronavirus-killing robot may start working nights in your local supermarket

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory worked with Ava Robotics — a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots — and the Greater Boston Food Bank to develop a robot that uses a custom UV-C light to disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the coronavirus…

While household cleaning solutions are able to reduce the spread of the virus, an autonomous robot capable of quickly and efficiently cleaning large areas such as warehouses or grocery stores could prove to be essential. The researchers used the base of one of Ava Robotics’ mobile robots and modified it with a custom UV-C light fixture.

UV-C light has proven effective at killing bacteria and viruses on surfaces, the researchers said. However, it is harmful to humans. The robot was built to be autonomous without the need for any direct supervision or interaction.

The robot sanitized a 4000 square foot warehouse in a half-hour.

Learn to smile in your mask!

With faces covered to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, some of the facial cues that people rely on to connect with others—such as a smile that shows support—are also obscured.

This will be particularly true for North Americans, says Jeanne Tsai, a professor of psychology at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Culture and Emotion Lab, who value high energy emotions—such as excitement or enthusiasm, which are associated with big, open smiles—more than East Asians do…

…Research has shown that North Americans judge people with bigger smiles to be friendlier and more trustworthy than East Asians, so face coverings may make it harder for them to connect with strangers…

As people navigate a masked world, they’ll need to focus more on the eyes and voice to connect with those around them, a psychologist argues.

Balloon spider migration


Click to enlarge

The annual migration of balloon spiders started a week or so ago. Always look for their webs tangled in our East-facing fenceline. A usual sign that summer is here.

Took this iPhoto about 5 minutes after sunrise on my first walk of the morning, today.

100 degrees F in Siberia!


Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

The Arctic heat wave that sent Siberian temperatures soaring to around 100 degrees Fahrenheit on the first day of summer put an exclamation point on an astonishing transformation of the Arctic environment that’s been underway for about 30 years.

As long ago as the 1890s, scientists predicted that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would lead to a warming planet, particularly in the Arctic, where the loss of reflective snow and sea ice would further warm the region. Climate models have consistently pointed to “Arctic amplification” emerging as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.

Well, Arctic amplification is now here in a big way. The Arctic is warming at roughly twice the rate of the globe as a whole. When extreme heat waves like this one strike, it stands out to everyone. Scientists are generally reluctant to say “We told you so,” but the record shows that we did.

The question now on the table is will nations led by fools who continually reject science change their practices in the least? Or are the residents of the planet stuck into a downward spiral, refusing to act – for whatever excuses they adopt – until it is too late to halt our collective demise?

New Mexico sorted COVID-19 with science, good sense. Come and make movies, y’all!

When the movie industry ramps back up, states will be competing for their business. the COVID-19 pandemic may actually help give New Mexico an edge. That’s largely because of the state’s coronavirus response which has made it one of the safest places for productions to shoot.

From Transformers to the Breaking Bad franchise, New Mexico has served as the backdrop for dozens of major films and TV shows. One local filmmaker believes a lot more are on the way. “It looks favorable to us because we’re going to health wise look like a better place to shoot,” says Film Crew Trainer Grubb Graebner.

The coronavirus outbreak has halted film productions for the past three months. Graebner believes once productions get the green light, many of them will head to New Mexico first because it’s safer. “They have the choice of going to shoot in New York where cases are going up. LA where cases are going up or shooting in New Mexico where cases are going down,”…

Same as it ever was!

Germany matches France — making electric car charging stations mandatory at all gas stations

Germany has announced that it will require all its fuel filling stations across the country to set up electric car charging stations…The chargers will be installed under its EUR 130 billion economic recovery plan to help remove refuelling concerns and boost consumer demand. The move is expected to boost EV (electric vehicle) demand along with a wider stimulus plan under which the country plans to raise taxes to penalise owning large polluting ICE (internal combustion engine) SUVs and provide a EUR 6,000 subsidy towards EV costs. The German government’s announcement follows that of the French plan announced last week…

Meanwhile, Congress prepares itself for the annual summer thumb-twiddling competition.

The GOUSA can afford this in a New York minute. Just not in Trump time!

Denmark announced the ambitious plan of tripling its off shore wind power production by building two ‘energy islands’ linked to new wind farms in the Baltic and North seas.

The project is rumoured to cost upwards of 100 billion Crowns (a bit more than 14 Billion $$$), and according to Denmark’s climate minister Dan Jorgensen, will be the “biggest single infrastructure investment in our history”.

Jorgensen also went on to confirm that the island project would be financed through public-private partnerships, with the majority of the funding coming from private investors.

Liberal or conservative, it’s no surprise to have national leaders direct their energies to projects which benefit the whole nation. Unless, of course, they’re greedy, self-centered thugs whose only interests are profits and the exercise of power in his name.

Furry and Furious!


New Orleans street scene/Getty Images

They are furry and they are furious – and they may be the most desperate of diners to yearn for restaurants to unlock from shutdown…Rats, it seems, haven’t been satisfied with curbside pickup or delivery during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that rodent populations – which rely on a banquet of scraps and waste in restaurant dumpsters – are spiking in certain areas. Restaurant trash bins are no longer overflowing, and the famished creatures are scrambling for new sources of food.

“Jurisdictions have closed or limited service at restaurants and other commercial establishments to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas,” the CDC said. “Some jurisdictions have reported an increase in rodent activity.”

Environmental and health officials may witness an increase in service requests amid reports of “unusual or aggressive rodent behavior.”

That’s about as politely as anyone might describe the situation. Rats can be scary and dangerous. The more rats in action, the more dangerous they become.