This week in comments: February 12th—February 18th, 2018

What do Finland, religious animals, the American economy, fish, and Walmart have in common? They were all part of our comments of the week. Did you make the cut?


Mercury making its way into global drinking water thanks to global warming

Colin Montgomery: Never mind the mercury, the melting permafrost is releasing v huge amounts of methane which is 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas compared to Carbon Dioxide. 

Paleontologists now think the smoking gun that killed off 95% of all life 250 million years ago in what's called the great extinction event, was the release of millions of cubic feet of frozen methane, first into the warming seas, then from there into the atmosphere. They reckon it raised the average global temperatures by 10 degrees centigrade above normal, which damn near wiped the Earth clean of life.

William Tretiak: I sure hope when we’re all gone that whatever comes after us is not as selfish or dumb.

The Universal Basic Income: Why Finland Is Giving Away Free Money

Kylee FieldI love how everyone says that a social democracy would “eliminate small businesses” but virtually every social democracy has significantly more small businesses than America by a landslide. Lmao social democracies don’t kill small businesses, Walmart does.

Millennials Are at Higher Risk for Mental Health Issues. This May Be Why

James Christie: Well, our economies went from having 1 income with a suburban house with 2 kids and a pet to 2 people working 3 jobs to pay rent and food. No wonder we're depressed. 


Can Animals Be Religious?

Eddie S. Jackson: The difference between animals and us...we have the facts, the proof, to know better. We choose to believe in sky wizards, even though there is no evidence to support such belief. That places us somewhere below most animals. Explains why we allow our children to be massacred in schools, while we send prayers to families. Instead of melting all the guns down, we'll go to churches and talk to god. Let's continue doing that...seems to be working great.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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Active ingredient in Roundup found in 95% of studied beers and wines

The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.

Surprising Science
  • U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
  • A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
  • Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
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Robot pizza delivery coming later this year from Domino's

The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.

Technology & Innovation
  • Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
  • The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
  • The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.

Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.

The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.

Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."

How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.

Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.

What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.

For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.

Check out how Nuro's vehicles work: