Video: Barista Coffee Robot

Rozum Café is a fully automated coffee station designed around a robot coffee maker.

A robotic barista does all the work to brew and serve great drinks.

Watch video at You Tube (0:53 minutes) . . . . .

Thai-style Fish Curry

Ingredients

4 tbsp Thai fish sauce
2 tbsp Thai soy sauce
1 fresh red chili, seeded and chopped
12 oz angler fish fillet, cut into cubes
12 oz salmon fillets, skinned and cut into cubes
juice of 1 lime
1-3/4 cups canned coconut milk
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp Thai Red Curry Paste
1 lemon grass stalk (white part only), finely chopped

Method

  1. Combine half the fish sauce and the soy sauce in a shallow, non-metallic dish. Add the chili and fish, squeeze over the lime, and stir to coat. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours, or overnight.
  2. Bring the coconut milk to a boil in a pan and add the lime leaves, red curry paste, the remaining fish sauce, and the lemon grass. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and the marinade and simmer gently for a further 4-5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Source: Curries

Study: Coronavirus Pandemic Likely to Permanently Change Dining Habits of Asian Consumers

Cheryl Arcibal wrote . . . . . . . . .

Asian consumers are unlikely to go back to their old habits of frequently dining out, and will instead prefer takeaways and eating at home once life goes back to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study.

“Consumer across Asia have signalled their eating habits may change permanently once the world moves beyond the impact of the novel coronavirus,” an online survey by market researcher Nielsen found. Over 6,000 respondents in 11 markets – China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – were polled between March 6 and 17.

In China, 86 per cent of those polled said they would eat at home more often than before the outbreak, followed by 77 per cent in Hong Kong. In South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam that number stood at 62 per cent.

The survey underscores the changing retail landscape, particularly for the food and drinks segment, as businesses grapple with the new normal of social distancing drilled into the public’s psyche to stem the spread of Covid-19. The highly contagious disease has affected over 1.2 million people across the globe and claimed at least 64,000 lives so far.

“The Covid-19 crisis has certainly changed attitudes and behaviours of consumers,” said Vaughan Ryan, managing director for Southeast Asia at Nielsen Connect.

“I don’t believe people will fully stop eating out of the home, but clearly the virus impact will last for quite some time and we do expect consumers to continue to eat ‘more’ at home for the foreseeable future.

“But whilst consumer behaviour across markets in the immediate terms has definitely changed, the subsequent question is ‘when will it return to normal?’ The answer may well be never.”

The trend in many of the Asian markets that were included in the survey shows that sales of fast-moving consumer goods has on average risen by at least 20 per cent every week since the outbreak began spreading in late January.

Ryan said that this shows consumer behaviour has moved from “on-the-go lifestyle” to a more “safe in-home consumption” trend.

This growth in home cooking can be seen in the growing user base of Hong Kong-based DayDayCook. The multimedia cooking platform’s active monthly users in China grew by more than half in March from January, while community post users also grew at the same rate.

“Since the onset of Covid-19, there have been significant changes in the food shopping patterns of consumers across different regions,” said Norma Chu, founder of DayDayCook.

She noted that on Tmall consumers had drastically cut down buying of some non-essential foods, such as snacks, nuts and special regional foods, from 73.38 per cent to 21.98 per cent of their purchases. On the other hand, purchases of essential food items, such as noodles, rice, oils, Chinese dried goods and seasonings had increased significantly from 26.3 per cent before the outbreak to 67.69 per cent currently.

Deepika Chandrasekar, research analyst at Euromonitor International, said that in Singapore, restaurants were feeling the impact of the measures rolled out to contain the virus.

“It is likely that restaurants are seeing lower footfall while eating at home starts to increase,” she said, adding that even though online orders of food have been rising most of the city’s restaurants make their revenue from dine-ins.

Jack Chuang, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said that as people start to increasingly dine at home, restaurants should rationalise their store portfolio.

His colleague Veronica Wang added that retailers should also rethink the role of their physical stores, and what the implications are in terms of the store location, format, offerings, and service.

“Social distancing will lead to new, innovative ways of consumer engagement, which I believe will stay as a trend even after Covid-19,” said Wang, adding that live streaming has played a bigger role in both engaging with consumers as well as selling products.

And although social distancing will become the new normal for the foreseeable future, dining and eating together are not entirely going to disappear.

“Dining and eating together serves to also provide social interactions,” said Tuan Phan, associate professor of marketing, innovation and information management at Hong Kong University.

Source: SCMP

Environmental Engineers Discuss How to Identify Factors Affecting COVID-19 Transmission

Rob Jordan wrote . . . . . . . . .

Much remains unknown about how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads through the environment. A major reason for this is that the behaviors and traits of viruses are highly variable – some spread more easily through water, others through air; some are wrapped in layers of fatty molecules that help them avoid their host’s immune system, while others are “naked.”

This makes it urgent for environmental engineers and scientists to collaborate on pinpointing viral and environmental characteristics that affect transmission via surfaces, the air and fecal matter, according to Alexandria Boehm, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Krista Wigginton, the Shimizu Visiting Professor in Stanford’s department of civil and environmental engineering and an associate professor at the University of Michigan.

Boehm and Wigginton co-authored a recently published viewpoint in Environmental Science & Technology calling for a broader, long-term and more quantitative approach to understanding viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, that are spread through the environment. They are also principal investigators on a recently announced National Science Foundation-funded project to study the transfer of coronaviruses between skin and other materials, the effect of UV and sunlight on the coronaviruses, and the connection between disease outbreaks and virus concentrations in wastewater.

Below, Boehm and Wigginton discuss knowledge gaps, potential implications for safe water, promising research pathways and other issues related to the control of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.


As environmental engineers, what do you think are some of the biggest gaps in our understanding of and ability to control viruses such as SARS-CoV-2?

Boehm: We don’t have a good understanding of what virus characteristics and environmental factors control virus persistence in the environment – for example, in aerosols and droplets, on surfaces including skin and in water including seawater. When a new virus emerges and poses a risk to human health, we don’t have a good way of predicting how it will behave in the environment.

Part of the problem is historically there has been limited funding for this sort of work. The National Institutes of Health historically hasn’t funded work on pathogens in the environment, and funding at the National Science Foundation for this work is limited. Also, coronaviruses and most of the emerging viruses that have caught the world’s attention over the last decade are enveloped viruses that are wrapped in an outer layer of fatty lipid molecules that they’ve stolen from their hosts. Proteins on the surface of the envelopes can help these viruses evade the immune systems of the organisms they are infecting. There has been much more work on the fate of non-enveloped or naked viruses because most intestinal pathogens in excrement are nonenveloped viruses – like norovirus and rotavirus.

Are viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 a threat to our water sources?

Boehm: We usually only worry about viruses in water if they are excreted by humans in their feces and urine. Most enveloped viruses aren’t excreted in feces or urine, so they aren’t usually on our minds when it comes to our water sources. There is increasing evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 viruses, or at least their genomes, are excreted in feces. If infective viruses are excreted, then fecal exposure could be a route of transmission. It’s unlikely this could be a major transmission route, but a person could potentially be exposed by interacting with water contaminated with untreated fecal matter.

Wigginton: We’ve designed our drinking water treatment systems with lots of treatment barriers to remove the most prevalent viruses and the most difficult-to-remove viruses. Research on viruses similar to the SARS-CoV-2 virus suggests they are susceptible to these treatments. In terms of virus concentration and persistence, this isn’t a worst-case scenario.

What are some promising or critical research areas for informing our response to viral outbreaks?

Boehm: If we could develop models to predict the environmental survival of novel viruses, that would be a huge step forward. To do so, we need to understand mechanistically how different characteristics of the virus such as size and composition affect how environmental factors – such as temperature and disinfectants – control their survival.

There are also opportunities to better understand how human behavior plays into viral transmission. For example, knowledge about how efficiently a virus can move from a surface to a hand should be informed by the kinds of surfaces that people actually touch, and can, in turn, inform health behavior interventions that will actually reduce exposure.

You write that “environmental science and engineering researchers should take a broader, long-term and more quantitative approach to understanding viruses that are spread through the environment.” Can you elaborate?

Wigginton: We tend to study viruses very intensely when there is an outbreak, but the results from one virus aren’t easy to extrapolate to other viruses that emerge five years later. If we took a broader approach to studying many kinds of viruses, we could better understand the characteristics driving their environmental fate.

Boehm: We need to make sure that observations about virus persistence in the environment are quantitative so they can be extended to understanding virus persistence in other contexts. Sometimes researchers present qualitative observations about viruses in the environment when they are not of immediate importance to their study. For example, some of the early reports of SARS-CoV-2 in feces were reported as numbers of gene copies of the virus per swab sample without reporting the mass of feces on the swab. Unfortunately, these data alone do not allow extrapolation to predict the concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater or excrement, which many people would like to know from both a concern over risk, as well as an interest in using wastewater as an epidemiological tool.

How can experts from different disciplines collaborate research efforts to maximize their value to public health?

Wigginton: Environmental engineers and scientists are mostly looking at pathogens outside of the host. They are detecting pathogens in environmental samples, understanding their environmental fate or designing approaches, such as water disinfection, to remove them from the environment. Meanwhile, virologists are studying what happens within the host cells, and public health scientists are trying to understand people’s exposure to the virus and how it circulates through communities.

Research questions and techniques are sometimes quite similar across these fields. So, by working together we can move methods forward faster. Working across disciplines can lead to discoveries and strategies that wouldn’t be possible independently.

Source: Stanford University

Women’s Lifestyle Changes, Even in Middle Age, May Reduce Future Stroke Risk

Middle age may not be too late for women to substantially reduce their stroke risk by not smoking, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and making healthy food choices, according to new research published today in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

In general, women are more likely than men to have a stroke, die from stroke and have poorer health and physical function after a stroke. The average age of first stroke in women is 75 years. Based on this information, researchers theorized that making mid-life lifestyle changes might help reduce stroke’s burden among women.

“We found that changing to a healthy lifestyle, even in your 50s, still has the potential to prevent strokes,” said Goodarz Danaei, Sc.D., lead study author and Bernard Lown Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Women who made lifestyle modifications in middle age reduced their long-term risk of total stroke by nearly a quarter and ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, by more than one-third.”

Researchers analyzed the Nurses’ Health Study, which includes health information on nearly 60,000 women who enrolled at average age of 52 and continued in the study for an average of 26 years. Researchers studied the impact on stroke risk from smoking cessation, exercising 30 minutes or more daily and gradual weight loss if women were overweight. The researchers also studied the impact of making recommended dietary modifications that emphasize eating more fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less red meat, no processed meat and less alcohol.

During the 26-year follow-up, researchers found:

  • 4.7% of women with no lifestyle interventions had a stroke of any type; 2.4% had ischemic stroke; and 0.7% had hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Engaging in the three non-dietary interventions — smoking cessation, daily exercise and weight loss — was estimated to reduce the risk of total stroke by 25% and ischemic stroke by 36%.
  • Sustained dietary modifications were estimated to reduce the risk of total stroke by 23%.

Researchers also found that increasing fish and nut consumption and reducing unprocessed red meat consumption appeared to have positive impacts on reducing stroke risk, although the degree of impact from these dietary changes was not as big as those achieved through increased physical activity, smoking cessation and maintaining a healthy weight.

While this was an observational study that included mostly white, middle-aged women, Danaei said, “there are other studies to support that the proportional changes in stroke risk from lifestyle and dietary modifications may be generalizable to men. We also estimate that exercising 30 minutes or more daily may reduce the risk of stroke by 20%.”

Source: American Heart Association


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