Ionic spiderwebs 🕸️ Alcohol risks 🍺 Soda Superbowl 🥤!

Technology News

There’s a new spider in town: advancing the field of robotics with ionic spiderwebs

The team have taken the architectural expertise presented by spiders and applied it to spinning their own artificial spiderwebs which are capable of sensing, adhesion, and self-cleaning through electrostatic actuation and dirt-shirking coating. Their creation, termed ionic spiderwebs (ISW) consists of an ionically conductive organogel core encapsulated in elastic and durable silicone rubber. A high voltage of electricity produces an electric field that polarizes surrounding objects. The elastic nature of the ISW allows it to stretch to three times its resting length, which results in the ability to capture targets with a 68-fold greater mass.

FAA approves first commercial drone flights with no on-site pilots

Farms and other agricultural operations in certain rural areas in the US can now use robotic drones to take images of or gather data on their crops. The FAA has approved Massachusetts-based American Robotics’ request to be able to deploy automated drones without human pilots and spotters on site. AR’s machine eliminates the need for on-site personnel, though each automated flight will still need to be overseen by a remote human pilot. The FAA has uploaded on its website, the pilot “who is not co-located with the aircraft” will have to conduct pre-flight safety checks to ensure the drone is in working condition.

Science News

Different behaviours could reduce death and health risks in regular alcohol drinkers

A large study of UK adults who consume alcohol regularly has found that different patterns of alcohol consumption could be associated with a lesser risk of alcohol-related negative health outcomes such as death. The study found that regular spirit and beer/cider drinkers had a higher adjusted risk of death, major cardiovascular events, liver cirrhosis and accidents/self-harm when compared to those who drank red and white wine. The results also showed that spreading alcohol consumption over three to four days in a week was associated with lower adjusted relative mortality, cardiovascular and cirrhosis risk than consuming alcohol daily.

Designer cytokine makes paralyzed mice walk again

Scientists have succeeded for the first time in getting paralyzed mice to walk again. The keys to this are the protein hyper-interleukin-6, which stimulates nerve cells to regenerate. The team induced nerve cells of the motor-sensory cortex to produce hyper-Interleukin-6 themselves. For this purpose, they used viruses suitable for gene therapy, which they injected into an easily accessible brain area. There, the viruses deliver the blueprint for the production of the protein to specific nerve cells, so-called motoneurons. “Ultimately, this enabled the previously paralyzed animals that received this treatment to start walking after two to three weeks.”

Business News

Coca-Cola Will Sit Out Super Bowl, Joining Pepsi in Benching Soda Ads

The Super Bowl has long served as a prominent front for the long-running soda war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Coca-Cola said it would not run ads in CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl LV, citing a “difficult choice” made to “ensure we are investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times.” Coke’s announcement follows a similar one made by rival Pepsi, which has opted to focus on its annual halftime show rather than run commercials for its flagship drink. The beverage companies’ decisions to put their drinks on the sidelines will no doubt spark more questions about the financial underpinnings of the Super Bowl during a time of economic flux.

Airline industry needs up to another $80bn to survive pandemic

The world’s airlines need another $70-$80bn of government support to get through the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s according to the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the trade association for the world’s airlines. Government travel restrictions and a huge fall in passenger confidence meant global demand for flights fell about 60% last year. That means 2020 saw about 1.8 billion passenger flights, instead of the 4.5 billion in 2019. In an industry where profit margins were already thin it means airlines are estimated to have already lost $118bn, with worse set to come.

Miscellaneous News

In wheelchair, paraplegic Lai Chi-wai climbs up skyscraper in Hong Kong

Lai Chi-wai became the first in Hong Kong to climb more than 250 meters of a skyscraper while strapped into a wheelchair as he pulled himself up for more than 10 hours on Saturday to raise money for spinal cord patients. The 37-year-old climber, whose car accident 10 years ago left him paralyzed from waist down, could not make it to the top of the 300 metre-tall Nina Tower on the Kowloon peninsula. “Climbing up a mountain, I can hold onto rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can really rely on is the rope that I’m hanging off.” The event raised HK$5.2 million ($670,639) in donations.

50 ancient coffins uncovered at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis

Egypt has announced the discovery of a new trove of treasures at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, including an ancient funerary temple. The tourism and antiquities ministry said the “major discoveries” made by a team of archaeologists headed by the Egyptologist Zahi Hawass also included more than 50 sarcophagi. The wooden sarcophagi, which date back to the New Kingdom period were found in 52 burial shafts at depths of 10 to 12 metres (40 feet). Egypt hopes archaeological discoveries will spur tourism, a sector that has endured multiple shocks.

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