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Inverse Daily: superhuman speed may be just around the corner

Scientists have come up with an exoskeleton that could allow for humans to run up to 46 miles per hour.

Illustration of a superhuman walking
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It’s important to remember that if you’re cooped up inside at home right now, you’re one of the lucky ones.

As in many disasters, those without safe access to a shelter are among the most at risk of harm. In New York City, cases of Covid-19 have already been found in 27 homeless shelters (as of March 25). As a record number of people experience unemployment, the homeless population could increase, adding to already crowded shelters. There are also many people with inadequate housing: 2 million Americans lack indoor plumbing, which is, of course, essential for sanitizing during this crisis.

The number of cases within the New York City jails has also been sharply rising. Here’s a staggering statistic, reported Wednesday by the New York Post: “There are 14.5 infections per 1,000 inmates in city jails compared with about 2 per 1,000 people in New York City, which has more than 16,700 cases.” This has prompted the release of some inmates with underlying health issues, but a coalition of advocates are asking for all to be freed for public health.

This isn’t exactly a new story. It’s what we see in every climate disaster, like the inmates left in Hurricane Florence’s path in South Carolina, and if these problems aren’t addressed soon, we’ll see it again.

This article is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Friday March 27, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day.

Coronavirus resources from Inverse staffers

Steampunk legs may be around the corner

Google Patents

Inspired by a design that dates back to the 1890s, scientists at Vanderbilt University have come up with an exoskeleton that could one day allow for humans to run as fast as 46 miles per hour (20.90 meters per second). This theoretical design involved a strange, spring-like attachment that would make humans more like bicycles.

When you pedal a bike, you're moving it forward both while you're pushing down and when your foot is suspended in the air (the upstroke of a pedal). That means that you're always applying force, and that's one major reason bikes go so fast. But when we run, we're only getting the benefit of that "push" when our feet are on the ground. And, the faster we run, the less our feet actually touch the ground. That imposes a limit on our speed.

This design doesn't solve the foot to ground contact problem, but it does allow us to apply more force with each footfall. The springs store energy while the foot is in the air and releases it once it hits the ground. That, the team proposes, could help us run as fast as 46 miles per hour, if they can get the design to be safe (which is a huge sticking point right now).

It's a strange idea, but perhaps not that far from reality. Here are the details as to how it could come to life.

In other athletic news:

Elon Musk to reopen Tesla’s New York plant for a very good reason

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk is planning to reopen Giga New York, Tesla's facility dedicated to producing solar products. The move would enable Tesla to start producing ventilators to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, filling a gap in healthcare systems struggling to fight the virus. Tesla had closed the New York facility alongside the Fremont plant on Monday.

Here’s the story on how Tesla may start producing much-needed ventilators.

More Musky news:

Too much THC

Heath Korvola/ Getty Images

One in five Americans deal with chronic pain, which can make life miserable and contribute to depression and opioid use. This widespread pain problem drives many people to try medical marijuana, but new research highlights a troubling risk.

According to a new study, which reviewed 8,505 cannabis products across over 600 dispensaries across the United States, medical marijuana products are often twice, even three times, too strong for pain relief. These highly potent products, which contain way more THC than is recommended for clinical use, can create a “vicious cycle” of dependence and make people need more and more marijuana to take the edge off.

Here’s the story on THC dependency.

More cannabinoid news:

People are sharing Reddit photos of animals reclaiming nature


With humans self-isolating in response to the global pandemic, the animals are back in town.

Scores of people tucked away at home have given space to the wildlife that usually stays away, as photos of animals taking over paved plazas, city streets, highway roads surface on Twitter and Reddit. The subreddit r/reclaimedbynature is seeing more animals than plants lately. Now, "we're seeing more and more animals braving human environments, places that would once have been theirs,” moderator Thom Jackson tells Inverse.

We rounded up 15 of the best photos and videos of animals taking over human-dominated spaces.

More on animals reclaiming their space:

Carbo-loading in quarantine

Nicolas Balcazar / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Your Covid-19 anxiety coping mechanism might be loading up on a bunch of carbohydrate goodness, from pasta to pizza to pancakes and more. But why are carbs the foods we gravitate to during a moment of crisis? Inverse asked three nutrition experts, and there are both physiological and psychological reasons.

  • Chemically, carbohydrates trigger an increase of insulin in the blood, which signals for an increase in serotonin, the so-called "happiness hormone." Carbohydrates are also a dietary source of glucose, which is what fuels our basic cognitive functions.
  • Evolution-wise, in the earlier days of humanity, we depended on our ability to run away from threats, so we needed that carb energy to do so.
  • Psychologically, there are reasons tied to smell, a feeling of connection and community, the ability to plan ahead for the day, and a fear of scarcity that also help us gravitate to cooking, baking, and eating carbs.

Here’s the story on why we turn to carbs for comfort.

More news on how you’re coping with coronavirus:

Weekend entertainment

Are you watching or rewatching any TV series, movie, YouTube channel, or something else while you practice some good old social distancing? Let us know here and we'll share some of the best responses in a future newsletter. Hope you're holding up!

Here’s our recommendation: download Stardew Valley. It’s a calming, socially cooperative game where you can tend to a farm and make new friends.

What are some of the ways that you are maintaining social connections while physically distancing? Let us know at the link above. We'll share selected answers in future editions of Inverse Daily.

This article is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for Friday, March 27, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day.

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