Tag Archives: Good News Monday

Good News Monday: Can Dogs Detect COVID-19?

Here’s a bow-WOW from the world of science: Dogs’ acute sense of smell may mean they can sniff out people carrying the virus — say, before they get on an airplane.

[from StudyFinds.org]

Dogs trained to detect people infected with COVID-19 – by sniffing their armpits

MAISONS-ALFORT, France — While a vaccine for the coronavirus will help stop the pandemic’s spread, finding everyone who may be carrying the virus is still an issue. Luckily, man’s best friend is now on the case. Researchers in France are helping to specially train dogs to detect people infected with COVID-19 — by sniffing their armpits.

A new study that has seen pilot programs spring up around the world has discovered that dogs can sniff out coronavirus in the sweat of humans. Thanks to their famously acute sense of smell, dogs have been rooting out drugs, explosives, and even successfully pick up diseases like cancer for years.

COVID-sniffing dog
A team of French scientists have now shown man’s best friend can also help save lives during the pandemic by spotting the virus. (Image credit: National Veterinary School of Alfort)

The French scientists are now showing how our furry friends can also help save lives during the pandemic by spotting virus clues. An early experiment suggested canines could be between 75 and 100 percent effective at detecting the disease with their noses.

Dogs paw-trolling airports for COVID?

The technique has already been piloted in several countries including the UEA, Lebanon, Finland, Australia, and elsewhere. Travelers may already have seen the specially trained dogs at some airports, but researchers are still trying to prove without a doubt that dogs can pick up the scent before the method is fully adopted.

The team behind the study hope their findings will mean dogs could help with COVID aid in parts of the world without the infrastructure for expensive mass testing programs. The loveable animals could be used anywhere however, with the hope that invasive nasal swabs could be replaced by a simple sweat sample taken from under the armpit for a dog to sniff.

Mass testing alternative?

Professor Dominique Grandjean, from the National Veterinary School of Alfort in France, says the dogs could check a large number of people in a short period of time.

“The results are good and I’m happy, really happy,” Grandjean says in a statement, per SWNS. “It is a success technically and scientifically and it’s surprising because we didn’t know what we were going to have as results.”

COVID-sniffing dogs
During the study, which started in March, the researchers recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out bombs, colon cancer, or were used in search and rescue missions and re-trained to detect COVID-19. (Image credit: National Veterinary School of Alfort)

“We have been validated by the World Health Organization and they have given us a bit of money which is good. “Probably the country which is the most advanced now is the UAE, where they have dogs in three international airports. They are deploying some mobile units to go to the villages and to the people that might be more exposed to the virus,” the professor explains.

“For us here the idea was, of course, the airports but I can imagine a small city having a couple of dogs and just saying to the population ‘you can be tested whenever you want.’ You just come and put a swab under your armpit and give that to the dog and he will tell you yes or no. The dogs would be able to do that very quickly on a large number of people.”

Ending the pandemic one sniff at a time

Grandjean adds that dogs could also be used where people are reluctant to have uncomfortable nasal swab tests. During the study, which started in March, the researchers recruited six dogs previously trained to sniff out bombs, colon cancer, or used in search-and-rescue missions and re-trained to detect COVID-19.

They then collected sweat samples from 177 people (95 with COVID-19 and 82 without) and then placed the samples inside cones for the dogs to sniff. In trials, the dogs successfully picked out the infected sweat when examining a line-up of mock and negative samples.

Although the published study is just a “proof of concept” and cannot be taken as absolute proof, Prof. Grandjean and his team have now carried out further studies to validate their results and have more planned in 2021. They have also issued a “practical guide” to other academics to help others in their research and are building up a set of “international training standards” for dogs.

“We have been working with lots of countries. I think we have 20 countries working for us. It’s amazing, really amazing,” Prof. Grandjean concludes.

The study was published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

SWNS writer William Janes contributed to this report.

Good News Monday: Hope In Sight


Experimental brain implants in monkeys offer hope for restoring vision

Scientists have said they are one step closer to restoring the sight of blind people using brain implants.Scientists have said they are one step closer to restoring the sight of blind people using brain implants.

[Adapted from an article by Amy Woodyatt, CNN]

Monkey business? After a series of successful experiments, scientists are a step closer to restoring the sight of blind people using brain implants.

Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience developed implants containing 1,024 electrodes — conductors that carry electrical currents into and out of the brain — and implanted them in the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes visual information, in two macaque monkeys. By sending electrical signals to the monkeys’ brains, researchers created “phosphenes” — dots of light that could be “seen” or perceived by the brain, and then used to create the illusion of shapes and objects.

Lead researcher Pieter Roelfsema told CNN that the team wanted to show it was possible to induce “vision of objects” through direct electrical stimulation of the brain, explaining that the visual cortex has “a sort of visual map of space.””You can work with it like a matrix board along the highway. If you stimulate or light up multiple boards, you can see patterns,” he said.The monkeys performed a series of tasks, and, using their artificial vision, were able to recognize shapes and “percepts” including lines, moving dots and letters, according to findings recently published in the journal Science.

Wider implications for restoring sight

The team believes that such technology could one day be used to simulate sight in blind people who have been able to see at some point in their lives.

Good News Monday: Nature in Review

The World Wildlife Fund reports positive developments in this otherwise hellish year.

“The last 12 months have brought hardship to every corner of the globe that we have not collectively experienced in generations. But they have also brought us closer in unexpected ways and shown us just how connected we all are; that people and nature are intrinsically linked.”

YEAR IN REVIEW

© naturepl.com / Inaki Relanzon / WWF

World’s first solar-powered LED fishing net helps sea turtles swim free
Hundreds of thousands of turtles are unintentionally caught by commercial fishing vessels every year. WWF partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and scientist Jesse Senko of Arizona State University to design the world’s first solar-powered LED fishing net. This year, the team is working together with the manufacturer to scale and produce the nets.

Tiger spotted at record-high elevation in Nepal 

Images from a new camera trap reveal the highest-elevation sighting of a tiger in Nepal, captured at over 8,000 feet in a densely forested area. High-altitude habitats may provide refuge for tigers and help connect their territory between Nepal and India. The finding also expands understanding of tiger habitats now that there is evidence of their use of high-altitude areas.

Bengal tiger and cub

© naturepl.com / Andy Rouse / WWF

Rear view of a young girl riding a horse and wrangling a cow in a vast grassland with a hilly landscape in the background

© WWF / Becca Skinner© THOMAS SZAJNER/WWF-US

Partnering with communities and companies to invest in the future of America’s grasslands

A new project produced in collaboration with private landowners across North America’s Northern Great Plains will help improve one million acres of grassland to help fight the climate crisis. WWF joins forces with The Walmart Foundation, McDonald’s, and Cargill to invest more than $6 million in this initiative.

100 bison find a new home with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

WWF partnered with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe; their economic arm, REDCO; and Rosebud Tribal Land Enterprise to secure nearly 28,000 acres for what will become North America’s largest Native-owned and managed bison herd. The new Wolakota Buffalo Range can support 1,500 bison and is a hallmark of WWF’s partnership with Native nations to develop healthy bison herds for conservation.

A greater one-horned rhino chews a mouthful of grass

© Gordon Congdon / WWF

a man sits on the front of a small boat in blue waters and cuts a piece of farmed seaweed off its line

© WWF-Malaysia / Eric Madeja

Rhinos make a comeback in India’s Manas National Park

The greater one-horned rhinos in Manas National Park—their population once completely decimated by poaching—are making a comeback thanks to joint conservation efforts under the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 initiative. 

Today, there are around 3,700 greater one-horned rhinos in Asia, up from only 200 at the beginning of the 20th century.

WWF’s first impact investment: seaweed farming

WWF has invested in Ocean Rainforest, a small for-profit company that operates a seaweed nursery, farms, and processing facility around the North Atlantic’s Faroe Islands. Seaweed is a fast-growing marine vegetable that is both a nutritious food source and—because it is highly efficient at absorbing CO2—a valuable carbon sink.

The venture marks WWF-US’s first effort designed to accelerate innovative business ideas that generate positive environmental outcomes as well as financial returns.
© GARETH BENTLEY/WWF-US

Namibia’s conservancies get a lifeline for people and wildlife

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached every corner of the world and has had sweeping negative impacts to people and communities, threatening lives and livelihoods.

As communities try to cope in the short term, the Namibian government, civil society, and passionate conservationists have rallied—with support from WWF and key partners—to help fill the void the pandemic has created. The Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilience Facility (CRRRF) fund was developed—a coordinated national effort to provide immediate financial relief to Namibian conservancies affected by COVID-19.

great barrier reef aerial

© James Morgan / WWF

aerial view of pebble mine site

© Laura Margison / WWF-US

Working with companies to solve the plastic crisis

From coastal shores to the Arctic to coral reefs, plastic pollution negatively affects all ecosystems.

WWF analyzed the plastic use of five companies, including McDonald’s Corporation and The Coca-Cola Company, and identified just how much plastic companies were using and where it went after its disposal. Adding 100 more companies to the project could keep more than 50 million metric tons of plastic out of nature over time.

Rejection of mining permit marks important milestone in protection of Bristol Bay

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for developers to build the controversial Pebble Mine in Alaska, marking an important moment in the decade’s long effort to protect Bristol Bay. This marks a huge win in the fight to protect this iconic, biodiverse landscape.
© CAMBODIA WWF/GERRY RYAN

Critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and the world’s most productive freshwater fishery saved from destructive dam

After years of scientific research, advocacy, and community and government engagement by WWF-Cambodia and other partners, the government of Cambodia abandoned plans to build the Sambor hydropower dam on the Mekong River and put a 10-year halt on future dam construction on the river’s main artery.

A free-flowing Mekong protects the world’s most productive freshwater fishery and supports breathtaking biodiversity, including the largest population of Irrawaddy river dolphins on Earth. WWF-Cambodia is poised to support federal development of a sustainable energy plan that promotes clean and renewable energy alternatives while keeping the mighty Mekong intact.

Seed-dispersing drones help rebuild koala populations devastated by bushfires

In response to the 2019-2020 bushfire crisis in Australia, WWF launched the largest and most innovative wildlife and nature regeneration program in the country’s history. The goal is to double koala numbers on the east coast of the country by 2050, with the hope that the recovery of this species will also benefit other local species, as well as boost the local economy of regional communities. WWF is using specialized drones to disperse eucalyptus seeds, with some models able to plant 40,000 seeds per day.

View from behind of a man flying a drone low to the ground among trees
Workers unloading tuna fish catch, largely skipjack, Tema port, Ghana

© Kyle LaFerriere/WWF-US

The Global Dialogue on Seafood Traceability drafts first-ever global standards for seafood traceability

As part of an industry forum that includes more than 70 companies across the seafood supply chain, WWF released the first-ever global standards for tracking seafood products from source to sale. So far nearly 50 brands—including grocery chain Whole Foods Market—have committed to begin implementing these ocean-saving standards.

Good News Monday: Beginning of the End?

The first coronavirus vaccine was given in the U.S., opening a new, hopeful chapter in the battle against a pandemic that has ravaged the country.
Monday, December 14, 2020 9:35 AM EST
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday, vaccinations took place in Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, N.Y. The pandemic has scarred New York State profoundly, leaving more than 35,000 people dead and severely weakening the economy.
The vaccinations started after the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Friday night, and as the U.S. coronavirus death toll approaches 300,000, with a steady surge in new cases daily.
Better late than never?
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Good News Monday: Cyber-crazy?

Is Cyber Monday a “thing” outside of the US? My inbox is being bombarded with hundreds of panicky Buy Now! Last Chance! Special Pricing! emails today. My fingers are sore from deleting them all. And I haven’t even bought anything!

I hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday. We were lucky enough to have two of our “girls” visit — one who had Covid and a subsequent positive antibody test, and another who never leaves her apartment and whose fiancé recently tested negative for Covid. Fingers crossed that nobody gets sick.

Having consumed enough food to feel positively whale-ish, the following article seemed appropriately Good Newsy for this week.

Photo by Elianne Dipp on Pexels.com

Good News Monday (early edition): A Sigh of Relief

Despite the looming threats of new COVID devastation, many are feeling optimistic after Biden’s decisive presidential win. For any readers who are disappointed, I hope this will usher in a new era of civility and a return to classic American values of inclusion. Unless your ancestry is Indigenous, we all came to this melting pot from somewhere and we all deserve to live in a country that welcomes us.

Here’s a great piece — brought to my attention by the Enlightened Mind blog — that shows worldwide jubilation about the end of 45’s reign of terror. I have no doubt he’ll continue to tweet his nastygrams, but hopefully to a smaller audience and without daily media coverage of his sociopathy. Cheers!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

World now looks at how Biden will reshape U.S. policies after turbulent Trump era

Shibani Mahtani, Miriam Berger  1 day ago


Elections expert Q&A: No evidence of fraud and fail-safes everywhere in US.

The world looked ahead Saturday to new American leadership, with U.S. allies and rivals alike starting to predict what the change in the White House would mean for their relations with the United States and for American engagement more generally.a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Activists join a pro-migrant demonstration on the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Crossing Port in Tijuana, Mexico, after Joe Biden was declared winner of the U.S. presidential election. (Guillermo Arias / AFP/Getty Images)Activists join a pro-migrant demonstration on the U.S.-Mexico border at the San Ysidro Crossing Port in Tijuana, Mexico, after Joe Biden was declared winner of the U.S. presidential election. (Guillermo Arias / AFP/Getty Images)

Here are the latest developments:

  • Congratulatory messages poured in from around the world to Biden and vice president-elect Kamala D. Harris.
  • Spontaneous celebrations broke out on streets in London, Berlin and other cities.
  • President Trump has continued to make unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud, retweeting misleading claims about the integrity of the vote count.
  • Trump’s far-right allies, notably Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, encouraged him to keep up the fight and railed against mail-in ballots.

It did not take long after Joe Biden’s victory was projected for world leaders to unleash the normal flood of congratulatory messages. But for those abroad who have felt uneasy with President Trump and his norm-breaking style, it was a much-awaited moment of optimism and even jubilation.PlayCurrent Time 0:14/Duration 1:15Loaded: 43.14%Unmute0FullscreenDeath toll from storm Eta soarsClick to expand

Death toll from storm Eta soars
The Washington Post Logo
Biden defeats Trump| The 2020 Fix
The Washington Post Logo
Crowds celebrate Biden-Harris win near White House

Shouts of “Biden!” and cheers broke out in Berlin, London, Toronto and other cities when the excruciating wait for an announcement came to an end. On Twitter, echoing Paris’ mayor, people tweeted out, “Welcome Back, America.”

Many hope that Trump’s unilateralism and America-first populism will give way to an era of renewed U.S. global leadership and an embrace of multilateralism to tackle common challenges.

“It’s good that there are finally clear numbers. We look forward to working with the next U.S. administration,” tweeted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “We want to invest in cooperation for a transatlantic new beginning, a new deal.

Reinhard Bütikofer, a German member of European Parliament, quipped, “I heard a Pan-European sigh of relief, when Biden’s victory was called.”Marianne Hoenow from Connecticut celebrates the victory of president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala D. Harris in front of the Brandenbug Gate next to the United States Embassy in Berlin on Nov. 7, 2020. (Markus Schreiber/AP)Marianne Hoenow from Connecticut celebrates the victory of president-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala D. Harris in front of the Brandenbug Gate next to the United States Embassy in Berlin on Nov. 7, 2020. (Markus Schreiber/AP)The U.S. election gripped the world, making way for plenty of memes

Though Trump had yet to acknowledge his defeat, some of the foreign leaders closest to him did not delay in sending their congratulations to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his congratulations., saying, “The U.S. is our most important ally and I look forward to working closely together on our shared priorities, from climate change to trade and security.”

Poland’s right-wing President Andrzej Duda, who has been politically aligned with Trump, cautiously tweeted to congratulate Biden “for a successful presidential campaign.” Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, whom Trump once called his “favorite dictator,” sent his best wishes to Biden, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the president-elect. He also noted that Harris’s Indian heritage is “a source of immense pride.”Villagers in Painganadu, India, prepare placards featuring Sen. Kamala D. Harris on Nov. 6, 2020, a day before Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris were declared winners as president-elect and vice president-elect. (Aijaz Rahi/AP)Villagers in Painganadu, India, prepare placards featuring Sen. Kamala D. Harris on Nov. 6, 2020, a day before Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris were declared winners as president-elect and vice president-elect. (Aijaz Rahi/AP)

Harris’s family hometown in southern India — the birthplace of her maternal grandfather — had already been holding celebrations in her honor ahead of the traditional Diwali festival. Meanwhile, Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, also saluted her family ties to Jamaica, the birthplace of her father, as well as her “monumental accomplishment for women.”

In Biden’s ancestral hometown in Ireland, a crowd gathered to pop champagne. “I want to congratulate the new President Elect of the USA @JoeBiden Joe Biden has been a true friend of this nation throughout his life and I look forward to working with him in the years ahead,” wrote Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin in a nod to Biden’s Irish heritage.

Perhaps the first foreign leader to congratulate Biden was Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji, who said in a tweet — even before the election was formally called — that they must work together to confront a warming planet and rebuild the global economy.

Hours later, congratulations from world leaders and others — who were watching the vote count unfold over days — were finally uncorked as soon as U.S. news organizations declared Biden the winner. Leaders with diverse views and priorities — from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron to Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — were quick to share their enthusiasm about working with Biden.Residents in Ballina, Ireland, climb a scaffold as they hang out American flags and bunting for president-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 07, 2020 in the ancestral home of the Biden family. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)Residents in Ballina, Ireland, climb a scaffold as they hang out American flags and bunting for president-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 07, 2020 in the ancestral home of the Biden family. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged Biden to “deploy his vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs — which have created divisions and uncertainties — and to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respect and shared interests.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari urged Biden to “deploy his vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs — which have created divisions and uncertainties — and to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respect and shared interests.”

Some U.S. rivals, however, reacted differently. The People’s Daily China, an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, chose instead to taunt Trump by retweeting his boast that he’d won the election and commenting “HaHa” with a laughing emoji.

Iranian Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei did not directly mention Biden or Trump in a tweet denouncing the election as a sign of the “definite political, civil, & moral decline of the US regime.” But Iranian Vice President Eshaq was more optimistic, saying, “I hope we will see a change in the destructive policies of the United States, a return to the rule of law and international obligations and respect for nations.”a person riding on the back of a motorcycle: A man reads a copy of Iranian daily newspaper Sobhe Nou with a cartoon depicting U.S. president Donald J Trump and a headline reading 'Go to hell gambler', in front of a newsstand in Tehran, November 07, 2020. According to local media reports, many Iranians are rooting for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)Man reads a copy of Iranian daily newspaper Sobhe Nou with a cartoon depicting U.S. president Donald J Trump and a headline reading ‘Go to hell gambler’, in front of a newsstand in Tehran, November 07, 2020. According to local media reports, many Iranians are rooting for Democratic candidate Joe Biden. (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) In Europe, few sad to see Trump go

Politics and pandemic

The pandemic has added urgency to Biden’s pledge to reverse Trump’s approach, which has left the United States estranged from the World Health Organization and facing the highest numbers of deaths and new cases at home.

After Trump withdrew from the WHO, Biden promised to rejoin it on his first day in office. Biden is a “globalist at heart,” wrote Natasha Kassam, a research fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute political think tank, in the Guardian.

Other Trump policies are also in doubt. The Times of India, which anticipated Biden’s win with the headline “Bye Don, It’s Biden Finally,” said that H1-B work visas — allowing nonimmigrants to work in the United States — are unlikely to return in their previous numbers, even if the Biden administration has a more favorable immigration policy. But it noted that the Democrats could be stronger about challenging human rights violations in India.

In China, relations with the United States have fallen to their lowest point in 40 years amid bitter disputes over trade, technology, human rights and the novel coronavirus. But hopes have been stirred that a Biden win might act as a circuit-breaker and offer possible cooperation in certain areas.

Still, an op-ed in the nationalistic Global Times tabloid noted deep partisan divisions in the United States that it said would not be easily eased.

With Trump determined to contest the election results in court, some foreign commentators expressed their fears.

“The squatter” was the title of the Saturday cover of Der Spiegel, a leading German news magazine. A defiant, fatigue-clad Trump is depicted holding a rifle, barricaded in the Oval Office with a bullet-holed picture of a smiling Biden in the backdrop.Trump’s claims of stolen election have some recent precedents — in Gambia and Guyana

In Britain, the Guardian declared Trump in a “fight against reality,” but noted in an editorial that Biden would have his work cut out to “rebuild the U.S. government’s credibility after Trumpism hollowed out its institutions.”

In Japan, a burger outlet near a U.S. naval base followed a long tradition of naming a burger after every sitting American president by adding the Biden Burger to its menu, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Biden Burger pays homage to his Scranton, Pa., roots. It comes with Philadelphia-style cheese and potato chips to represent Pennsylvania, a major chip producer. The Trump Burger has a dash of jalapeño, “supposedly reflecting Trump’s sharp tongue,” NHK wrote.

Mahtani reported from Hong Kong and Berger from Washington. David Crawshaw in Hong Kong; Steve Hendrix in Jerusalem; Michael Birnbaum in Latvia, Riga; Kareem Fahim in Istanbul; Danielle Paquette in Dakar; William Booth and Karla Adam in London; Niha Masih in New Delhi; James McAuley in Paris; Susannah George in Kabul; Chico Harlan in Rome; Isabelle Khurshudyan in Moscow; Amanda Coletta in Toronto; Lesley Wroughton in Cape Town, South Africa, and Kate Chappell in Kingston, Jamaica, contributed to this report.

Good News Monday: A Pandemic Love Story

Reprinted from the New York Times:

“For a 67 year old widower, the pandemic might seem the most unlikely time possible to fall in love. Yet by stepping outside the box where most seniors feel comfortable, online dating created unexpected opportunity. Discovering another widower on the same page regarding Covid led us to being tested. We shared negative results, building the kind of trust absent from typical fledging relationships. The spark revealed in our first face-to-face meeting kindled quickly into something much stronger. In weeks, relative social isolation led to bonds typically requiring months in a busier pre-Covid world. We look at each other and shake our heads, smiling. A new hashtag sums it up: #mypandemicmiracle.”— Mark Alberhasky, Atlanta
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

Good News Monday: The Eyes Have It

Sharing a cool article today on a major scientic advance for the blind.

Doctors Are Preparing to Implant the World’s First Human Bionic Eye

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

The same implants could potentially treat paralysis as well.

by VICTOR TANGERMANN on Futurism.com

A team of researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has built a bionic device that they say can restore vision to the blind through a brain implant.

The team is now preparing for what they claim will be the world’s first human clinical trials of a bionic eye — and are asking for additional funding to eventually manufacture it on a global scale.

It’s essentially the guts of a smartphone combined with brain-implanted micro electrodes, as TechCrunch reports. The “Gennaris bionic vision system,” a project that’s more than ten years in the making, bypasses damaged optic nerves to allow signals to be transmitted from the retina to the vision center of the brain.

The system is made up of a custom-designed headgear, which includes a camera and a wireless transmitter. A processor unit takes care of data crunching, while a set of tiles implanted inside the brain deliver the signals.

“Our design creates a visual pattern from combinations of up to 172 spots of light (phosphenes) which provides information for the individual to navigate indoor and outdoor environments, and recognize the presence of people and objects around them,” Arthur Lowery, professor at Monash University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, said in a statement.

The researchers are also hoping to adapt the system to help those with untreatable neurological conditions, such as limb paralysis, to regain movement.

“If successful, the MVG [Monash Vision Group] team will look to create a new commercial enterprise focused on providing vision to people with untreatable blindness and movement to the arms of people paralyzed by quadriplegia, transforming their health care,” Lewis said.

trial in July showed that the Gennaris array was able to be transplanted safely into the brains of three sheep using a pneumatic insertor, with a cumulative 2,700 hours of stimulation not causing any adverse health effects.

It’s still unclear when the first human trials will take place.

“With extra investment, we’ll be able to manufacture these cortical implants here in Australia at the scale needed to progress to human trials,” Marcello Rosa, professor of physiology at Monash and MVG member, said in the statement.

The news comes after Elon Musk’s brain computer interface company Neuralink announced it’s testing its coin-sized interface prototype in live pigs. The end goals are similar: to treat brain issues including blindness and paralysis.

Whether the Monash device is technically the first bionic eye, though, may come down to semantics.

A separate brain implant, a “visual prosthetic” device, developed by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, recently allowed both blind and sighted participants to “see” the shape of letters, as detailed in a paper published in May.

Good News Monday: Kitchen Magic

With all the cooking at home we’re doing, I was excited to pick up some great tips this week. It may not make sheltering in place any less stressful, but at least the kitchen will be cleaner!

First up, some dishwasher tricks:

  • For dishes that still look cloudy even after a full cycle, pour some white vinegar into a dishwasher-safe bowl and place it on the top rack. The vinegar cuts through hard water to help reduce stubborn residue.
  • Another dishwasher hint: To keep plastic containers from flipping over and filling with water, put them on the top rack and cover them with your plastic or metal dish drainer to weigh them down. (Odds are, it could use a good clean, too.)
  • The dishwasher’s also useful for cleaning your microwave’s turntable. Just put it in the bottom section with the plates and goodbye, anything sticky.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Finally — here’s my favorite hack to keep your eyes from tearing when you slice onions: Simply sprinkle some lemon juice on your cutting board as well as the onion. I have no idea why this works, but it’s kind of amazing!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Good News Monday: Writers, Think Pink!

Many of us remain isolated from friends and family during this pandemic. So imagine how difficult it would be to find yourself newly diagnosed with breast cancer — and with no support system to help you through the crisis.

An organization called Girls Love Mail has a novel way of boosting women’s spirits. Since 2011, it’s enlisted thousands of empathetic people to send words of encouragement to strangers; about 167,000 letters have been mailed to date.

Want to share a little hand-written optimism? Visit girlslovemail.com in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month in October.

Photo by Abstrakt Xxcellence Studios on Pexels.com