Brief #3 - okładka

The device which generates power while walking and the world’s first hydrogen-electric passenger flight

Scientists created a small device that could generate energy from a slight breeze created during walking. It could be out on a person’s arm – the airflow just from natural arm swinging while walking would be sufficient. In its current form, it can power 100 LED light and temperature sensors. It consists of two plastic strips that become electrically charged when they flutter in the wind through a process called the triboelectric effect. It is effective with a breeze of 1.6 meters per second (5.75 km/h) and in the future may be used as a power source for cell phones or even compete with traditional wind turbines.

The world’s first hydrogen-electric passenger flight took place on September 24th. The plane made by ZeroAvia company can take up to six passengers and – according to the manufacturer – will make over 400 km long, zero-emission flight by the end of 2020.

An inorganic chemical compound called Prussian blue is a key component of sodium-ion batteries. The pigment, which was developed by a Berlin color maker in the early 18th century, is excellent at storing sodium ions, which allows making batteries of high power and long cycle of life. It recharges fast and can deliver short bursts of energy. Sodium-ion batteries are used as alternate powers systems for data centers in case of blackouts as well as stationary storage used by utilities to capture renewable energy and deliver electricity to consumers hours later.

Sex after the heart attack

The new research shows that drinking coffee is tied to better outcomes in colon cancer patients. The scientists studied 1171 patients diagnosed with advanced or metastatic colon or rectal cancer who could not be treated with surgery. The patients who drank a cup of coffee a day had an 11 percent increased rate of overall survival, and a 5 percent increased rate of living progression-free in comparison to those who didn’t. The higher amount of coffee drank, the better the results. People who had four or more cups a day had a 36 percent increased rate of overall survival and a 22 percent increased rate of surviving without the disease intensifying. It was of little significance whether the coffee was regular or decaffeinated.

People who had the same amount or more sex after their first heart attack as they did before had a lower risk of dying than those who had less sex or none at all. It was mostly the result of lower rates of non-cardiovascular diseases, like cancer. Moreover, those who had more sex considered themselves healthy, less often suffered from depression, and were of higher socioeconomic status.

The scientists are exploring whether some of the protists – single- or multi-celled microbes – might prey on viruses living in the seas and oceans. They analyzed almost 1700 individual protists found in samples coming from the Gulf of Maine and the Mediterranean Sea.

Fashion industry going sustainable

African’s fashion industry is using new and traditional methods to achieve more sustainability. Organizers of the shows are reducing the carbon footprint by making the teams behind them smaller as well as downsizing the light and sound systems. Some of the shows and fashion workshops are also available online. The African market is more made-to-order oriented, and the producers are more resourceful and use natural fabrics more often. The fashion on the continent is less seasonal than the Western one, which means less clothing ends up discarded in landfills. After the oil industry, fashion is the world’s worst polluter.

Internet fashion rental companies are on the rise in the UK and the US. Some of this work is done on a peer-to-peer basis with private lenders and renters managing the process on their own. They post or meet up to exchange items, and take care of the cleaning. Another model is to depend on the commission – offering to hold clothes, clean, and post them. In the latter case, the items come either from independent sellers or unsold stock from brands.

A growing number of fashion companies are ceasing to use exotic skins (i.e. Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, and Mulberry). It is at least partially tied to the COVID-19 pandemic as the slaughtering of wild animals for bags and coats creates conditions where pathogens similar to COVID-19 can spill over and infect humans. Other reasons include problems with the supply chains and activity of organizations fighting for animal rights.

The British government is considering introducing a ban on selling furs in the UK after it leaves the EU’s common market, which will take place on January 1st, 2021. It would prohibit importing fur from all species with possible exemptions for, i.e. for the ones used in religious ceremonies.

States in crisis: Lebanon, Myanmar and Iraq

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, asked the world to help his country rebuild the port in Beirut after the August explosion. “There is a great need for the international community to support the reconstruction of destroyed neighborhoods and facilities,” he said. Lebanon is facing an economic and political crisis. The Lebanese pound lost 80% of its value since last October, poverty, and unemployment are on the rise while political factions face troubles forming the government. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Lebanon for settling the impasse in politics and application of the necessary reforms.

November’s Myanmar elections could fail to meet international standards, according to UN humans rights investigator, Thomas Andrews, and the rights groups. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of people from Rohingya and other minorities are denied the right to vote on the grounds of their ethnicity, race, or religion. The access to information is limited due to the restricted internet and coronavirus lockdown. Over 730 000 Rohingya ran away from the country in 2017 after repressions initiated by the military which was led with “genocidal intent”, according to the UN.

The pandemic, the revival of ISIS, the struggling economy, and political crisis are among many problems of Iraq. The official number of death and infected stands at 8000 and 300 000 accordingly, but it seems to be the lesser of the troubles for Iraqis. The health system was wrecked even before the pandemic, and now the economy follows as crucial for the country oil revenue is in decline. That adds up to the political crisis that started at least last October when mostly Shiites went out to the streets to protest against the Shia government as people were tired of a corrupted and ineffective system. It left hundreds of demonstrators killed and thousands injured by the security forces. The country remains entangled in the US-Iran conflict, and its prime minister fails to deliver on his promises of reforms. Meanwhile, ISIS is slowly reviving in rural areas in provinces north and west of Baghdad – not as a meaningful force yet.

Football: business, discrimination and the COVID-19

There was a hate crime incident at one in ten football matches of the 2019/2020 season in England and Wales, according to police data. The number of arrests for racist or “indecent” chanting rose more than twice from 14 in the previous season to 35 in the last one. The number seems high, especially as more than five hundred out of almost three thousand matches of that season were cancelled or organized without the audience due to the pandemic.

Despite players and football associations campaigns against hate, the stadiums remain a rather unwelcoming environment for fans of other races and sexual orientations. According to the statistic from 2016, 82% of people who observed anti-LGBT abuse at a sporting event in Scotland, witnessed it at a football game.

While Chinese investors are stepping back, American businessmen are looking for good deals in European football. They already hold major stakes in one-fifth of the teams playing in the top UK, Italy, and France leagues, and many are looking for new opportunities. Clubs from the Old Continent are less expensive than investing in top-tier sports in the US, and they offer global exposure that helps to attract consumers from all over the world. Now, with the COVID pandemic, it is easier to buy stakes for the lower price making significant acquisitions for the investors who believe that sports – and football – will revive.

With the qualification round for the FIFA World Cup coming soon, tensions between the global federation – FIFA, and the domestic football leagues grow. Clubs are required by the global federation to release players for international duties, but recently they are hesitant to do so among the fear of the pandemic. On Friday American Major League Soccer was the first one to block its footballers from playing in their national teams.

The airline industry crisis, economic revival and cryptocurrencies

The American airline industry is facing a crisis even worse than the one after 9/11. Unless the Congress offers another stimulus package, 35 000 people may lose their jobs. That number would add to the current decline of 100 000 workplaces in air transportation. The airlines in the US received $25 billion in aid already and were forced not to lay off workers at least until October 2020. However, the pandemic crisis seems to be far from over as the aviation traffic remains at 700 000 passengers a day – a third of its regular rate.

Meanwhile, the price of the jet fuel went down so much that the manufacturers use its main component – straight-run kerosene – to make fuel oil for the ships. Traditionally one of the most expensive oil products, it is now in low demand as the air traffic most probably will not get back to pre-COVID19 levels until 2024. Similar fate share diesel and vacuum gas oil.

Incoming data from the third quarter suggest a strong economic revival in the eurozone, according to Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank. Although good news, the strength of the revival remains uncertain and may be uneven among the countries. It will also depend on how well they will cope with containing the pandemic. European Central Bank is stimulating markets with $1.6 trillion.

Cryptocurrencies are performing better on the markets than gold – one of the best investing assets of 2020. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index – that consists of digital coins – went up about 66%. That is almost two and a half times more than the 26,1% rise of gold. Both assets are considered a “refuge” during tough financial times. Nevertheless, experts warn that cryptocurrencies have a history of “wild swings”.