Is it safe to fly yet? Your chances of catching COVID-19 on an airplane might be lower than you realize

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A new study has found that the odds of becoming infected on a short-haul flight are relatively low—assuming everyone on the flight is wearing a mask, that is. Air travel has been one of the hardest-hit industries since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in force earlier this year. Understandably, not many people feel safe riding in a sealed tube for hours on end with other passengers who can spread a respiratory disease via invisible airborne particles. Read Full Story

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Forget cotton masks. The next generation of masks could be high-tech

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Masks are probably here to stay. But they’ll need to evolve. As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, we’re beginning to realize that herd immunity might not work . Early studies show that people infected with the disease can stop producing antibodies within just two months of recovering—after which you can be infected again. If that’s the case, we need to rethink everything from our building air to the way we travel . Read Full Story

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Why this bizarre picnic blanket might be summer’s must-have accessory

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A new “social distancing picnic blanket” because some people just can’t figure it out on their own. If the past week’s warm weather is any indication, not even a pandemic will keep people from heading to the nearest public park for some fresh air. That’s theoretically fine, but images from New York , California , and Florida make it clear that people aren’t always keeping their distance when they go outside. Because it can be hard to eyeball exactly how far six feet is, one designer rethought an essential to make it explicitly clear. Time to add “social distancing picnic blanket” to your list of summer must-haves. Read Full Story

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Sorry, stainless steel. Samsung has a flashier vision for your kitchen

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Samsung is imagining your home to be full of modular, customizable, colorful appliances. The refrigerator of today is a wall of gleaming steel, sparkling like a robot from some 1950s sci-fi TV show. But Samsung has a different vision for the future of your kitchen. Samsung imagines your fridge as a blocky, Piet Mondrian painting. You can choose the size and shape, and even the color, to perfectly match your walls. And this customization won’t just be applied to your fridge. All of your appliances, from your dishwasher to your air purifiers, will soon be elevated to furniture status. Read Full Story

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Hackers could take down the power grid—by telling everyone it was a good time to turn things on

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As power companies learn to manage demand by offering incentives to get people to use appliances or charge cars at off-peak hours, they also leave themselves open to some simple sabotage. When power demand peaks—say, during a heat wave when millions of people crank on air conditioning—it’s common for utilities to ask customers to try to use power at different times of day to help prevent blackouts. They even can offer incentives to help manage the load. In California, for example, the utility PG&E suggests that customers program their laundry machines to run at night when they’ll put less strain on the grid, and offers a discount on electricity rates at less popular times. Those incentives can work. But a new study looks at how people with nefarious motives could use the same approach to deliberately cause blackouts. Read Full Story

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From self-propelled mailboxes to mail-via-missile: A century of attempts at inventing drone delivery

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Drone delivery might sound new, but it’s been in the works for 100 years. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Google’s Wing delivery drones have supplied Virginia residents with toilet paper and medicine , while some grocers have turned to drones to fulfill unprecedented demand for grocery deliveries. Late this summer, Amazon moved a crucial step closer to offering consumers drone deliveries in half an hour or less when the tech giant secured a Part 135 air carrier certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing it to operate commercial drone flights. Read Full Story

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Need some fresh air? The best road and off-road bikes for getting outside, running errands, and even commuting to work

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Starting at $500, these bikes will get you on the road (or trail) in no time These days, biking is an unsung hero for those trying to get some low-impact exercise, fresh air, and the hell away from Ubers and public transit. FC reported earlier this month that biking has ballooned in cities across the world. In Bogata, car lanes have been shut down to give cyclists more space. In Philadelphia, bike traffic increased so steeply in some areas that the city temporarily closed a stretch of a major street to cars. The use of bike-share programs doubled in London, and New York saw a sharp uptick as well. Biking is becoming an increasingly accessible outlet for recreationalists and commuters alike. And it just might stay that way. So if you’re in the market for a two-wheeled ride or the bells and whistles that go along with it, we’ve rounded …

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These diamonds are made of CO2 sucked from the air

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Forget conflict-free: Your next diamond can be carbon negative. On the rooftop of a power plant near Zurich, Switzerland, a row of large machines pulls carbon dioxide from the atmosphere . Some of that CO2 then goes to a production facility in Chicago, where a startup called Aether is turning it into something new: the world’s first carbon-negative diamonds. Read Full Story

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