Hot Amazon workers, supercomputer record, Dr Toilet, and more

Published April 19, 2020

It’s not hot in here, it’s you

Amazon is deploying thermo-imaging cameras in its warehouses to detect employees who are running fevers. (It’s also going to deploy them for workers at Whole Foods.)

The cameras in effect measure how much heat people emit relative to their surroundings. They require less time and contact than forehead thermometers, earlier adopted by Amazon.

The accidental supercomputer

Folding@Home is a program that allows people to ‘donate’ their computer’s processing power when it’s not in use — specifically, to help do medical research on proteins. Essentially, thousands of individual computers work together as one big computer.

Thanks to renewed interest with the outbreak of CoviD-19, the program just set a new record for computing power: It broke the “exaFLOP barrier” — 1 quintillion operations per second, making it far and away the most powerful computer in the world. (In contrast, a fast desktop computer processor might be rated at a mere 100 gigaFLOPs†.)

Folding@Home actually hit 2.4 exaflops, making it “faster than the top 500 traditional supercomputers combined.”

* 1,000,000,000,000,000,000
† 100,000,000,000

Fly, baby, fly

For the first time in almost a decade (!), NASA will be launching two astronauts into space — to the International Space Station.

The U.S. doesn’t have any rockets capable of doing it, so NASA is paying SpaceX to deliver them. (Since 2011, only Russia has had the technology to send people into space.)

The launch is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27 at 4:32 p.m. Eastern time.

Maybe it’s just Taco Bell

Severe bloating can be mistaken for a heart attack“.

OFF switch for binge drinking

Want to stop a mouse from binge drinking? Open its head and turn off its brain’s kappa opioid-receptor system. At least, that’s what researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina found.

The ‘kappa’ is the part of the opioid receptor system that makes you hungover. Strangely, though, when it’s deactivated, so is the desire to binge drink.

After blocking the kappa opioid receptors in these mice, the team tested how much alcohol the animals voluntarily consumed.

“Blocking these kappa receptors in the extended amygdala didn’t completely abolish drinking. It brought it down to a more moderate level, the equivalent being a glass of wine at dinner opposed to a bottle.”

Were you hit on the head too many times?

If someone you know is about to do something a little over the top, check for head bumps. It seems that concussions can lead to a loss of inhibitions — so found researchers at the University of Western Ontario.

The study found that participants who had previously suffered a concussion performed well on 11 of 12 cognitive tests, but showed a strong impairment in the test of inhibitory control.

The really bad side is that fewer inhibitions can lead to more risk-taking, and down a vicious spiral.

Breaking wind

Some interesting wind-energy notes:

Scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should

Stanford University bioengineers have developed a “smart toilet” that uses a whole bunch of devices to monitor a person’s health. It not only collects and analyzes samples, but also (I kid you not) measures “urodynamics”:

…which details the flow rate, magnitude, and stream time of each participant’s urine and then compares the data to see if there are any patterns between the bodily waste of healthy and unhealthy bodies.

It gets better.

After an individual’s trip to the toilet is complete, the data and images collected are then stored in an encrypted cloud server, which is supposed to keep the information private.

Wait, what?

And I will leave it to you to read about how the toilet knows who’s using it….

(Click to enlarge)

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