Many people wearing obligated masks on the Paris Metro during the Covid-19 pandemic"n

Inverse Daily

What if your face mask could detect pathogens? It’s being developed now.

Plus: NASA captures a phenomenon over the Atlantic.

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While I daydream about taking the new Ford Bronco offroading, let’s get you caught up on the essential science and innovation stories from Inverse. I’m Nick Lucchesi, an editor here. We’re happy to have you along for the ride.

Before we hit the gas, have you taken our apocalypse poll yet? Vote on what items you’d put in your apocalypse backpack. We’ll publish the results later this summer.

What’s in your headphones — If you were moved to listen to outer space-themed music over the weekend, you weren’t alone. That’s according to information provided to Inverse from Spotify. The streaming giant says its playlist “Let’s See Them Aliens” saw listenership increase by 90 percent this month. Here are more stats: listens of NASA-related playlists jumped by 470 percent and listens of alien-related playlists jumped by more than 80 percent in late May — when chatter about the then-unreleased Pentagon UFO report was everywhere. Seizing the opportunity, Spotify opted to create its own, new alien playlist, which we’re happy to exclusively share with you first: The cl0se ënc0ūnteRs playlist. Its mix of Top 40 and genre classics creates a playlist where the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. (I would’ve added “Alien” by Beach House. A bit on the nose but a great song.)

Programming note — There will be no Inverse Daily on Friday, July 2, and Monday, July 5. Instead, we will deliver Sunday Scaries on Monday, July 5, because it’s going to feel like a Sunday for anyone who has the day off on Monday.

Mailbag — Which of these items would you put in your apocalypse bag? A Leatherman-style multitool, a self-winding watch, or a Pulaski axe? Answer this question and more in our annual apocalypse survey. Take the anonymous survey here. We will publish the results later this summer in a special guide.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for June 29, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

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Face mask can detect “virtually any pathogen” Researchers from Harvard and MIT have designed new "living" face masks that use CRISPR engineered enzymes to detect pathogens, reports Sarah Wells:

Getting a cold or even the flu used to just be a, largely inevitable, part of life. But now we’re painfully aware that each sniffling person we pass or squeeze next to on the subway could be harboring invisible pathogens on the hunt for their next host.

But what if those pathogens were no longer invisible? In research published Monday in Nature Biotechnology, a team of researchers from Harvard and MIT designed a face mask — as well as a slew of other wearables — that can detect pathogens in just a matter of minutes. No wires required.

Thanks to CRISPR technology baked inside, Peter Nguyen, a research scientist at Harvard and first author on the study, tells Inverse these wearables go far beyond what your FitBit could ever hope to achieve.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

NASA captures a phenomenon over the AtlanticA massive Saharan dust plume floating over the Atlantic leaves researchers with several pressing questions. NASA released images of the 2020 and 2021 plumes. Jenn Walter has the photos:

Last year, a massive cloud of dust made its way from the Sahara desert all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. NASA named it Godzilla.

Now, Godzilla’s back. Well, a new version of it.

See the images here.

More for the “dust” heads:

Amelia Martin / 500px/500Px Plus/Getty Images

Plants may survive the climate crisisScientists discover that birds are adapting to the climate crisis by carrying plants in a different direction, showing how animals adjust to a changing world. Tara Yarlagadda has the story:

Migrating birds are significant for many plant ecosystems, as they eat and then carry plant seeds in their gut far beyond a plant’s native habitat — some, as the study notes, more than 100 miles away.

If birds transport the seeds far enough north, they could theoretically disperse the plants to cooler habitats better suited to weather the climate crisis.

“Contemporary climate change is so fast that many plants require dispersal distances far beyond those that normally take place locally,” lead author Juan Pedro González-Varo, of the University of Cádiz, said in an emailed press statement.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

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Aliens in the clouds over Venus? If there are microbes living in the Venusian skies, they have evolved to survive with far less water than any known life on Earth, reports Erika K. Carlson:

Some scientists are starting to turn their gaze toward the hellishly hot planet as a potential place to look for life in the Solar System — one more likely to bear fruit than Mars.

But there’s one small snag: Opportunities to look for alien life directly on other worlds are rare, so scientists will first try to rule candidates out. Typically, they will spend years studying various factors that affect whether or not an environment might be able to host life in the lab, or in a simulation. And doing just that, a study fresh off the press holds bad news for would-be Venusians — but also good news for hopeful Jovians.

Read the full story.

Go deeper:

Happy birthday to Gary Busey, who memorably starred in 1998’s Soldier. Here’s a picture of Busey back in 1977. The actor turns 77 today. Here’s hoping Buse’ is the loose this week.Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/Getty
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