High and dry

Inverse Daily: Inside the hospitals treating coronavirus

Emergency rooms are being pushed to the brink.

In case anyone needs a reminder, even if your coworkers seem chill and functional and are making good, socially timed jokes on Zoom, it’s okay — normal, even — to not feel that way. Everyone processes the overwhelming feelings of this pandemic differently. It’s okay to be sad, confused, or not quite there. It’s okay to not make focaccia, even though your friends on Instagram appear to be passing the time this way. It’s okay to eat many generous handfuls of chocolate chips like I just did. It’s okay — and I cannot stress this enough — to not be productive.

Looking for some unproductive ways to pass the time? We’ve got you covered with our ultimate guide to binge-watching.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for March 31, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

Coronavirus resources from Inverse staffers

9 technologies that could help us beat coronavirus (and 10 more Covid-19 infographics you can print out and use (The Unwinder)

How the pandemic will end (The Atlantic)

The untold origin story of the N95 mask (Fast Company)

How does the coronavirus behave inside a patient? (The New Yorker)

OK Zoomer: How Houseparty is letting people get weird in the age of coronavirus (Input)

“You gotta think outside of the box to keep yourself entertained” (The Outline)

Texting with your mind


Do you ever wish that people could just read your mind? Thanks to a new study, that is closer to reality than ever. Similar to how a translation app might convert Mandarin characters into English words, this study looked at how to translate neural activity into written text using neural networks. In the study, participants were asked to read a number of sentences out loud and researchers compared their actual sentences with a translation from neural networks. While not perfect, the researchers found that their algorithm was able to accurately translate these sentences with as low as three percent error. An algorithm like this could greatly improve the development of brain-machine interfaces for those with speech disorders.

Here’s the exciting story on the possibility of translating neural activity into text.

In other neural news:

Here’s SpaceX’s plan to help NASA build a Moon Gateway and explore space


SpaceX is working with NASA to help establish a Gateway spaceship orbiting the Moon, which will help support future manned missions and act as a springboard to more ambitious ideas. The company will use a new Dragon XL capsule to better support cargo greater than 5,000 kg to the lunar outpost. It’s all part of the Artemis project, which involves NASA sending a man and the first woman to the surface of the Moon. The work continues SpaceX’s collaboration with NASA, where it’s transported cargo to the International Space Station and will soon ferry humans with Crew Dragon.

Here are all the deets on this Moon getaway in the works.

In other NASA news:

Meteorites uncover Mars' water history


Scientists analyzed two samples of Martian meteorites that were found on Earth in order to reconstruct the planet's turbulent history. They uncovered how it went from a warm, wet world to a dry, desolate planet. The findings suggest that, unlike Earth, Mars had two sources of water that may have originated from two different planetary bodies colliding together to form the Red Planet. The new study gets us one step closer to unlocking the mysteries of Mars' past.

Read up on this new advance in tracing life on mars.

In other Mars news:

Human composting could revolutionize how we deal with death

Recompose / Anna Swenson / Olson Kundig

When she dies, 55-year-old New York baker Beth Mandel Harrison wants to be composted into soil for a beautiful garden.

“I want my children to remember me when they look at the trees,” Harrison says. “I am a tree. I am something beautiful and natural.”

And although this may sound bizarre, human composting is becoming increasingly accepted across the United States. It has been recently made legal as a funerary option in Washington State, and there are bills to make it legal working their way through New York State’s Assembly and Senate.

Legalizing human composting wouldn’t only allow for environmental activists to have the eco-friendly send-off they hope for. It would also address the massive, hidden environmental issues associated with traditional funerary options — such as carbon footprint and ground pollution — as well as offering a solution to the funerary real-estate crisis currently burying America.

Here’s Inverse reporter Sofia Quaglia’s look into the pros, cons, and implications of this green burial method, and the science of what it means to compost a human carcass.

In other burial news:

Inside the hospitals treating coronavirus

Derek Farley

As New York City's cases of Covid-19 surged last week, our emergency rooms were pushed to the brink. Images from within ERs, including a widely publicized New York Times video, showed a lack of resources like ventilators. Other viral images, like this one of nurses wearing trash bags, pointed to first responders' desperate need for protective equipment.

Meanwhile, around the country, other emergency rooms are eerily quiet, as one doctor of osteopathic medicine in Texas tells Inverse. But they're bracing for a coming storm that they already know they're not prepared for. Two emergency room doctors told Inverse that their caseloads aren't anywhere near that of New York's but that if they don't get more supplies (like personal protective equipment) soon, they risk running out as cases begin to surge, getting sick themselves.

In response, they are preemptively rationing equipment like masks and getting creative, including fashioning protective gear out of snorkels. But this impressive ingenuity simply cloaks the bigger problem: They don't have the resources they need and do not trust the current medical supply chain to get it to them in time.

Doctors who are poised to fight the coronavirus confided their fears and explained what the country needs to do right now to put them in the best position to succeed. Here's how we are failing them for now, but it might not be too late.

Read the story on why doctors around the country are feeling “high and dry.”

In other coronavirus news:

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for March 31, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

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