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McDonald's touchscreens test positive for feces, dangerous bacteria
A semi-scientific test of touchscreen kiosks in eight McDonald's restaurants in the U.K. have caused alarm that microbiologists say is unwarranted.
- The Metro newspaper conducted a semi-scientific test of touchscreen kiosks in eight McDonald's restaurants in the U.K.
- All of them tested positive for various kinds of bacteria that can cause infection.
- Public touchscreens are known to harbor high amounts of bacteria, though tests also suggest the average smartphone isn't much cleaner.
A new test suggests you should strive to avoid public touchscreens — unless you don't mind getting poop and other infection-causing bacteria on your fingers.
The Metro newspaper recently conducted a limited study that involved taking swab samples of touchscreen kiosks located within eight McDonald's restaurants in the U.K. All of the samples tested positive for some kind of bacteria that can potentially cause infection.
"We were all surprised how much gut and faecal bacteria there was on the touchscreen machines," Dr. Paul Matewele, senior lecturer in microbiology at London Metropolitan University, which helped analyze the samples, told the Metro. "These cause the kind of infections that people pick up in hospitals."
Some of the bacteria found were relatively common.
"For instance Enterococcus faecalis is part of the flora of gastrointestinal tracts of healthy humans and other mammals," Matewele said. "It is notorious in hospitals for causing hospital acquired infections."
But at least two samples tested positive for listeria, a rarer bacterium that's found found in human and animal feces, and which can lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.
"Listeria is another rare bacterium we were shocked to find on touchscreen machines as again this can be very contagious and a problem for those with a weak immune system," Matewele said.
The test also revealed the presence of the bacteria proteus, klebsiella and staphylococcus.
How dirty are touchscreens in general?
In short, pretty disgusting. You might have read reports (some more scientific than others) showing that airport touchscreen kiosks are actually dirtier than the "flush button" on airplane bathrooms, or similar tests showing that your keyboard is covered with an ungodly amount of germs.
But the worst offender is probably in your pocket. Ask yourself when's the last time you used a disinfectant on your smartphone. If you're like most people, it's probably not often enough, considering a University of Arizona study showed that smartphones are likely to carry 10 times the bacteria found on the average toilet seat. At least that's something you can fix.
As for public touchscreens, the solution is straightforward though it'll take a bit of effort: Always wash your hands after using one — especially if you're about to eat.
A McDonald's spokesperson told the Metro: "Our self-order screens are cleaned frequently throughout the day. All of our restaurants also provide facilities for customers to wash their hands before eating."
A more down-to-earth response
"These kinds of stories are irritating," David Coil, a microbiologist at the University of California at Davis, says to The Washington Post. "It's always something: kids' toys, doorknobs, touch screens. These are all the same objects touched by people. Of course there will be human-associated bacteria on them. Washing your hands more or less does the trick."
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
A recent study on monkeys found that stimulating a certain part of the forebrain wakes monkeys from anesthesia.
- Scientists electrically stimulated the brains of macaque monkeys in an effort to determine which areas are responsible for driving consciousness.
- The monkeys were anesthetized, and the goal was to see whether activating certain parts of the brain would wake up the animals.
- The forebrain's central lateral thalamus seems to be one of the "minimum mechanisms" necessary for consciousness.
Pixabay<p>When the team electrically stimulated a part of the brain called the central lateral thalamus, located in the forebrain, the monkeys woke up: they opened their eyes, blinked, reached out, made facial expressions and showed altered vital signs. </p><p>"We found that when we stimulated this tiny little brain area, we could wake the animals up and reinstate all the neural activity that you'd normally see in the cortex during wakefulness," Saalmann told Cell Press. "They acted just as they would if they were awake. When we switched off the stimulation, the animals went straight back to being unconscious."</p><p>This area of the brain may function as an "engine for consciousness," Redinbaugh told Inverse. Although past studies have shown that electrical stimulation can arouse the brains of humans and animals, the new findings are unique because they reveal which specific neural interactions appear to be minimally necessary for consciousness.</p><p>"Science doesn't often leave opportunity for exhilaration, but that's what that moment was like for those of us who were in the room," Redinbaugh told <a href="https://www.inverse.com/science/first-squid-mri-study-brain-complexity-similar-dogs" target="_blank"><em>Inverse</em></a><em>.</em></p>
Future applications<p>The team said the findings could have many applications down the road, but more research is needed.</p><p>"The overriding motivation of this research is to help people with disorders of consciousness to live better lives," Redinbaugh told Cell Press. "We have to start by understanding the minimum mechanism that is necessary or sufficient for consciousness, so that the correct part of the brain can be targeted clinically."</p><p>"It's possible we may be able to use these kinds of deep-brain stimulating electrodes to bring people out of comas. Our findings may also be useful for developing new ways to monitor patients under clinical anesthesia, to make sure they are safely unconscious."</p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
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