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Filter out ammonia, chlorine or swirling toxic dust. The Advantage respirator gives a snug fit in seconds, using a harness that tightens two head-straps with a single clip. Its facepiece comes in three sizes to protect all types of people. Advantage 420 Half Mask Respirator $40; chúng tôi may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Swine flu, nuclear tests, global warming—signs of impending doom abound. Should the unthinkable happen, the smart survivalist has two options: flee the planet or, for those of us who aren’t Richard Branson, stock up on gear that will meet your basic needs during Armageddon. If the world doesn’t end, you can always take your new gadgets camping.


Filter out ammonia, chlorine or swirling toxic dust. The Advantage respirator gives a snug fit in seconds, using a harness that tightens two head-straps with a single clip. Its facepiece comes in three sizes to protect all types of people. Advantage 420 Half Mask Respirator $40; chúng tôi

Food and Shelter

The latest Leatherman packs bigger, stronger pliers, plus 18 more tools to build your house and skin your dinner. A new locking mechanism causes dull-edged tools to pop out together but knives to stay safely in place until you pull them. Leatherman Super Tool 300 $84; chúng tôi


The ultraviolet light built into this 32-ounce bottle zaps waterborne bacteria, viruses and protozoa in 80 seconds. If you can’t stand still while it’s working, grab the leakproof container and run. A rechargeable battery hides inside the lid. CamelBak All Clear UV Water Purification System $130 (winter); chúng tôi


Grid down? Plug in with the solar-powered SN-3 flashlight. While its bright LEDs shine, a universal jack charges your other electronic gear. An hour of sun provides 15 to 40 minutes of gadget use. SunNight Solar BoGo SN-3 $50; chúng tôi

Human Contact

This phone lets you talk even when the cell network fails, because its built-in walkie-talkie can radio similar phones within six miles. A full keyboard makes it easy to search your phonebook for an emergency contact. Motorola Clutch i465 $130 plus service; chúng tôi

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The Five Ps Of Marketing For 2023

How data, technology and changing consumer expectations are shaping the marketing mix

All of these technologies have the potential to give marketers new opportunities to meet and surpass consumer expectations. However, this is only possible if marketers can keep their skill-sets up to date and look at ways to integrate new ways of working into existing processes, for example through an effective digital transformation agenda.

Many businesses are struggling to keep up and it’s therefore interesting to take note of the innovations making the biggest impact. In an excellent article for the CIM, David Benady  recently outlined how these innovations fall into categories that form what he refers to as the new ‘Five Ps’ of marketing:

– Payments

– Products

– Promotion

– Place

– People

It’s worth reviewing each of these in turn and the different implications and opportunities for marketers:


As frictionless commerce continues to grow and transform the shopping experience, Apple Pay, Amazon, Google’s Android Pay and many other platforms will provide more opportunities for consumers to make mobile payments in ways that reflect their needs and lifestyles.

Google’s ‘Hands free’ app will potentially offer further, more transformative opportunities for consumers, whilst overall the trend is clear that mobile payments will only continue to grow. More and more payments are taking place on smartphones and tablets as they become increasingly ubiquitous in our daily lives.

Source: A.T. Kearney 2023

Opportunities for marketers Promotion

The data already indicates that consumers are using messenger apps more than social networks and chatbots may give brands an opportunity to create more meaningful content to engage and connect with consumers within these channels and make commerce more interactive.

Creating more personalised, one-to-one experiences is one way to create more relevant connections and the key platforms for marketers to be aware of include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Google Hangouts and Viber.

It’s also worth reflecting that the days of creating a half-hearted brand profile on a social network that simply broadcasts mass messages to users may be coming to an end. Chatbots, by contrast, have the ability to use natural language processing and AI to learn from conversations and therefore enable brands to offer exclusive new deals and promotions that are tailored to specific customer groups and followers.

Opportunities for marketers

Although it’s a valid strategy to create a presence across multiple channels, we’re seeing today that customers are using fewer apps more regularly. Of these, messaging apps are some of the most popular and therefore one of the big opportunities for brands will be to create services and content within these apps to reach consumers in the places that matter.

As part of KPCB’s internet trends briefing, Mary Meeker called voice “the most efficient form of computing input”. After all, we can speak 150 words per minute compared to typing just 40. Voice interfaces can learn about us and therefore improve their understanding and prediction of our intent. 


One way of connecting with consumers is by becoming smarter through the use of different forms of data. For example, biometric heart data from a wearable wristband or piece of clothing could provide feedback on an ad or product on a website, which can then be tailored or adjusted accordingly depending on the signals.

The trend away from ownership with the rise of the sharing economy is another factor that is influencing people’s relationship with products:

Millennials in particular are more likely to use Uber or Airbnb to get around and stay somewhere respectively. We can also see this in the demand for streaming television, films and music via Netflix, iTunes or Amazon rather than owning DVDs or CDs.

It will be interesting to see how this trend develops and we could one day see this spread to other areas of life, including household appliances, furniture and technology.

Opportunities for marketers

Wearable tech gives marketers the opportunity to create new and extended brand experiences. Wearables are devices we use nearly all the time, everyday, and therefore loyalty is an area that could be explored further. The technology that wearables use also enables links and connections to other apps and services, providing real-time consumer behaviour data that could be harnessed (in a responsible and ethical way) by partner brands to develop more integrated customer experiences.

The sharing economy is another area of huge potential, with peer-to-peer finance, online staffing, accommodation, car sharing and video streaming all continuing to disrupt traditional markets and savvy marketers should learn from how these new disruptors are challenging the status quo and communicating the benefits to consumers.


Place will become an increasingly important element of the marketing mix as people look for context and convenience. Location is a major indicator of purchase intent and it’s unsurprising that consumers are increasingly using ‘near me’ when searching for shops or services.

Beacon technology allows brands to connect with consumers when they enter a particular location and to target them in more meaningful ways. A few years ago Google published research around ‘Micro-moments’ that encouraged marketers to consider how mobile has shaped changing consumer behaviours. The demand for relevance is a key facet of this research and something location can help marketers to use as they develop more meaningful propositions.

Opportunities for marketers

As programmatic marketing becomes more sophisticated, marketers will find greater opportunities to target the right people, at the right moments, in the right context. With the right balance, consumers will experience better relevance and brands will realise better results.


Customer relationship management (CRM) is no longer about storing just basic customer data and keeping track of emails. CRM technology is beginning to impact the entire organisation, from managing communication internally between employees to building a detailed picture of the customer through multiple datapoints.

Technology has transformed customer expectations. With all the data companies have, customers expect more from the marketing they receive, particularly in terms of the frequency and relevancy of messaging:

Brands must therefore listen to and communicate across multiple channels, including websites, apps, email and social media, to build a truly 3600 view of the customer.

Marketers are now entering the boardroom and becoming a vital part of the sales process through the customer insights they’re able to obtain. It’s therefore likely that the role of the marketer will change, becoming more strategic by identifying ways to connect with consumers via multiple touchpoints.

Opportunities for marketers

CRM gives brands the opportunity to engage with consumers across multiple touchpoints and become more responsive and agile to market demands. Marketers must identify ways to use data and insight to build a more detailed and nuanced picture of the customer and map the customer journey accordingly.

However CRM isn’t just about connecting with customers. There are now opportunities for multiple departments, from finance to HR and client services, to use CRM to build deeper relationships with internal teams and in the process improve collaboration, processes and new ways of working.

How The Juno Spacecraft Will Survive Jupiter’s Devastating Radiation

Jupiter’s huge magnetic field, whose layers are marked by blue lines in the illustration above, give it one of the harshest radiation environments in the solar system. NASA

Mighty Jupiter is incomprehensibly large. More massive than all the other planets and asteroids in the solar system combined, Jupiter is the size of 1,300 Earths. As if such a big guy needed any additional protection, Jupiter is also swathed in radiation that’s many thousands of times harsher than around Earth.

“Jupiter is by far the most severe radiation environment of any body in the solar system, other than the Sun,” says Kevin Rudolph, an engineer at Lockheed Martin who helped design and build the Juno spacecraft.

The Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter on July 4 and orbit it for two years. How will Juno survive such blistering radiation? “We’re basically an armored tank,” says Juno principle investigator Scott Bolton. “This mission is a first for NASA in many ways. It’s probably one of the biggest challenges they’ve attempted, to get this close to Jupiter.”

Where Does The Radiation Come From?

Jupiter’s large metal core gives it a magnetic field 20,000 times larger than Earth’s. And just like Earth’s magnetic field, the Jovian magnetosphere traps the electrically charged particles that stream out from the sun.

The particles in the magnetosphere build up over time, and many become more dangerous. As the planet spins, the Jovian magnetic field whips around, too, accelerating all those charged protons and electrons that got caught in the magnetic net. They also take on more energy as they crash into other.

“You end up with essentially BBs,” says Rudolph. But they’re sub-atomic, so they can pass through a spacecraft’s solid hull and spell trouble for a spacecraft’s electronics.

“Those BB-like particles will fly into an electronic circuit and knock the atoms off the chip, or knock the electrons in the circuitry out of position. If they knock enough out, it can destroy the circuit.”

An Armored Tank 1. Avoid the radiation

The first step to making sure Juno’s circuitry doesn’t get taken apart by radiation is to limit its exposure.

Jupiter’s worst radiation is concentrated around its equatorial regions, so Juno’s elliptical orbit will make sure it flies through those areas as little as possible.

Juno’s elliptical orbit will help it avoid Jupiter’s most intense radiation. NASA

“The orbits that we have go far away from Jupiter over most of the orbit,” says Rudolph, “and when they come in close, they dive quickly through the intense part, then fly below the radiation and go back out quickly.”

“We thread a needle,” says Bolton. “By going over the poles we’re able to drop down in a small gap between the atmosphere and these intense radiation belts.”

2. Radiation hardening

Lockheed Martin based Juno’s design on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. But radiation levels around Mars are much lower than at Jupiter, so the Juno team had to make some adaptations.

The engineers wrapped many of the components of Juno’s avionics systems in a thin layer of lead shielding, which is dense enough that the particles have trouble penetrating.

They also made some of the electronic parts larger, to lessen the impact of each radiation hit. For example, Rudolph says, if a transistor only has five atoms in it and radiation knocks away one of those atoms, then it would have lost 20 percent of its functionality. But if the transistor has 500 atoms in it, than a radiation hit only knocks out 0.2 percent of it.

“If it’s bigger, it’s more robust against radiation,” says Rudolph.

Juno’s radiation vault–the white box beneath the high-gain antenna–protects most of the spacecraft’s electronics from radiation. Lockheed Martin

This kind of radiation hardening makes the spacecraft able to survive a radiation dose of 50,000 rems. But that’s still a far cry from the 20 million rems that Juno will be exposed to over its lifetime. To make it even hardier, they needed to build a special box.

3. A radiation-proof vault

Most of Juno’s electronics are secreted away inside a cube that measures about 3 feet on each side. The “vault” is made built from half-inch-thick titanium that will stop or slow down those fast-moving charged particles before they can smash into Juno’s delicate parts.

Of course, Juno’s solar panels and cameras won’t do much good if they’re locked inside a dark box. Those and other sensors are left outside the vault, with cables connecting them to the circuitry inside the vault.

Those external parts have added protections. For example, the camera that looks at the stars to help the spacecraft orient itself is wrapped in an inch-thick canister, with just one end open.

The solar panel arrays have a 12-millimeter-thick sheet of glass over the top. The glass lets in light so the solar panels can do their jobs, but it also provides a small amount of protection against radiation and damaging dust particles.

4. Overcompensating

To see how radiation would affect Juno’s solar panels, engineers put the cells in what Rudolph describes as a “hot dog”-shaped chamber that fires electrons at the cells.

Those experiments showed that the solar cells would lose 10 to 15 percent of their output over the life of the mission. So to compensate, the team just made the panels 10 to 15 percent bigger. That way, Juno will still have enough power to take photos and measurements even when its near the end of its mission.

Each of Juno’s three solar panels is 30 feet long. Engineers made them larger to compensate for the damage they’ll receive from Jupiter’s harsh radiation. Lockheed Martin

Overall, Juno is designed to take twice as much radiation than scientists expect it to have to deal with. Its total radiation tolerance of 40 million rems gives a little room for error, in case the radiation levels are higher than expected, and should also leave open the possibility for a mission extension beyond November 2023.

Paving The Way To Europa

Juno’s radiation-protected sensors show us Jupiter in greater detail than ever before. The mission could help to uncover how Jupiter formed, in turn shedding light on how the solar system, and maybe even life itself, came to be.

NASA is also seriously considering a mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, which scientists consider to be one of the most likely spots to find alien life in our solar system. Because Europa orbits in Jupiter’s severe radiation belt, Juno’s design could help shape the spacecraft that eventually go there.

“Europa’s radiation dose is much worse than the dose that we’re getting from Jupiter,” says Rudolph. “They’re going to have to come up with some nifty stuff, and I’m sure NASA will take lessons from this mission.”

Five Key Science Takeaways From The First Presidential Debate

In the throes of a pandemic, the 2023 US election has a different feel.

Last night, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden went to head to head in an extraordinary first debate, hosted by the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Everyone in attendance (family, media, and campaign staff only) was masked up and tested for COVID-19 prior to arrival. The candidates didn’t shake hands when they took the stage, again to limit transmission of the virus.

The pandemic cropped up multiple times during the 90-minute debate—but it wasn’t the only science issue on the table. Here are five important takeaways about the candidates’ platforms and priorities in public health, the environment, and more.

The future of the Affordable Care Act looks murky.

Passed and signed by then-President Barack Obama in March of 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been subject to plenty of change in the past decade. But recent proposals to revise the law, which provides insurance coverage for at least 20 million people in the US, could be more impactful.

In July the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) ruled that more companies could refuse to provide contraceptive coverage for employees on the grounds of religious freedom. SCOTUS will face another big decision regarding the ACA when it takes on a lawsuit filed by 18 states and the Trump administration this November. The case argues that the policy is unconstitutional because it forces the American people to enroll in insurance without offering necessary tax relief.

Mention of the ACA came early last night, with Biden arguing its importance during a global pandemic. “There are 100 million people who have pre-existing conditions, and [their insurance] will be taken away,” he said. Trump countered with the fact that he signed an executive order last week that protects patients with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage. The text of the plan doesn’t outline how those protections differ from those already provided by the ACA.

Read President Trump and Biden’s full health care platforms online.

The US still needs a pandemic-response plan.

As the candidates dove deeper into the debate, they hit on the past, present, and future of the current coronavirus crisis. Last week, the US COVID-19 death toll passed 200,000, a number that the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) estimate would be the upper limit for mortalities in the country. The daily case rate has taken a dip since the peak of the first wave in July, but epidemiologists expect another spike in the winter months ahead.

President Trump assured the public that a vaccine would be out this year, contradicting the “Operation Warpspeed” timeline set by the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), which slates initial doses for January of 2023 at the earliest. “We could have the answer by November 1,” the president said. “We have the military logistically all set up [to distribute the drug].”

Biden noted that the back and forth between the White House and public health agencies like the CDC has seeded distrust in Americans. He cited polls showing that at least half of the country is wary of getting vaccinated for COVID-19, and also pointed out that better guidelines on mask wearing could have helped save lives earlier in the pandemic. President Trump responded that the casualty rate would have been worse if it weren’t for his international-travel ban, which mainly targeted China. The US’s first outbreaks, however, likely stemmed from Europe.

Neither candidate offered specifics when grilled on how they’d counter the virus and all its ripple effects over these next few months. Shutdowns stood out as a hot-button issue, as the two debaters went back and forth on the effectiveness of closing down schools and businesses to limit community spread. Trump also noted that he’s speaking at two large rallies this weekend in Wisconsin, but downsized the threat of viral spread because they’re being held outdoors.

The pandemic has exposed the effects of systemic racism in the US.

The event then veered into issues of race, equality, and police brutality. On the topic of how systemic social issues affect public health, Biden pointed out that Black and Latino people have suffered the toughest losses from COVID-19, largely due to imbalances in medical care and resources. “One in 500 African Americans will have been killed by COVID-19 by end of the year” if the country doesn’t take direct action, he said. Neither politician addressed the outbreaks on tribal reservations in Western states.

You can’t talk about climate change without talking about the economy.

With an entire discussion question on climate change, both Trump and Biden had plenty of time to expand on their plans to deal with carbon emissions and major storms and wildfires that have ravaged the country this year. Trump agreed that humans are responsible for global warming (in part), but he doubled down on his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Accord. He also noted that he wants to grow billions of new trees to make the air and water cleaner for Americans—a correlation that isn’t quite scientifically sound—and give more tax incentives to electric vehicle makers and buyers.

Biden, for his part, summarized a $2 trillion proposal, which he stressed was different from the “radical” Green New Deal, to combat the climate crisis, resolve environmental justice issues, and jumpstart economic recovery. “We can get to net zero energy by 2035,” he said, referring to the benchmark for carbon-free power sources set by many other countries. To reach that goal, the US would have to rebuild much of its utility infrastructure, invest in new engineering, weatherize homes and offices, and add charging stations along every highway. This movement, Biden said, would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, while saving the country billions in damages from storms and wildfires exacerbated by climate change. He pointed specifically to the floods that washed out cropland in South Dakota and other Midwestern states last year, costing some farmers their properties and livelihoods.

Trump also spoke to the disastrous wildfire situation on the West Coast. “We need forest management,” he said, in reference to prescribed burns and selective logging. “The floor is covered with dead trees.” Back in March, the US Forest Service put a temporary hold on prescribed burns due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 could throw voting into a tailspin.

In preparation for this virus-plagued election season, nine states have switched to mostly mail-in voting, while 36 others are allowing residents to request mail-ballots, no questions asked. The goal is to keep people’s civic rights intact, while also keeping them from flocking to tight spaces and swapping pathogens. Poll workers, who are typically 60 years of age and older, would be particularly vulnerable.

Biden conceded that tallying mail-in ballots can be difficult, especially with the US Postal Service’s strapped budget, which is causing major lag in deliveries. But he also pointed out that as long as voters drop their ballots into a mailbox on time, their choice should matter, even if the envelope arrives in local election offices after November 3. The most foolproof option, however, is to fill out and return the ballot as soon as it arrives. Early voting could be the one boon in this extremely uncertain election process.

The first vice presidential debate is on October 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The next presidential debate is on October 15 in Miami, Florida.

Correction: The article previously misidentified the university hosting the debate as Case Western. It is Case Western Reserve.

Rim’s Blackpad Tablet: Five Questions About The Rumored Device

Research in Motion may launch a 7-inch tablet device as early as Monday that has no 3G connectivity and an entirely new operating system, according to reports. Rumblings about a BlackBerry tablet have been circulating for months, but very few device details have leaked. The information that has leaked has remained surprisingly consistent such as the lack of 3G connectivity and a new OS for the device. The screen size has been up for debate, with some saying the device will have a 7-inch display while others saying 9.7 inches.

Whatever the screen size, the tablet – also known as the BlackPad – may be announced during RIM’s Blackberry Developer Conference that starts Monday in San Francisco, according to the Wall Street Journal .

As we get ready for a rumored BlackPad launch here are 5 things I’m wondering about the new device.

To 3G or not to 3G? That is the question.

The so-called BlackPad reportedly won’t have a built-in 3G antenna. Instead, you’ll have to tether your BlackBerry handset to the tablet for cellular data service. The Journal also says the BlackPad will include Bluetooth connectivity and a “broadband connection,” which probably means the tablet will have Wi-Fi.

While adding tethering capability is a nice idea, it seems strange not to include a 3G option for the rumored BlackPad. Apple’s iPad has Wi-Fi only and 3G + Wi-Fi options. The forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab will launch as a 3G + Wi-Fi device, with a Wi-Fi only version to follow shortly thereafter. The hassle of having to tether your tablet to your handset may make the rumored BlackPad a nonstarter for many users.

Not running Blackberry 6, OS, really?

A persistent rumor circulating since at least August is that the BlackPad wouldn’t be running Blackberry 6. Instead, the device would run a tablet-specific OS based on QNX software. QNX, acquired by RIM in April, makes embedded operating systems for a variety of products such as cars, medical equipment and unmanned aircraft control systems.

It’s not clear why RIM would give up on Blackberry 6 after launching the new OS with much hoopla in New York this summer. JavaWorld speculated in August that RIM may have wanted a fresh start with the BlackPad since the BlackBerry OS may contain a lot of legacy code making it less adaptable and stable. The Journal says RIM will eventually be moving its BlackBerry handsets to QNX software as well.

What will the OS do?

Since this is a RIM device, you have to wonder if the BlackPad will be primarily focused on enterprise customers. RIM’s main business is all about supporting government and corporate customers that depend on BlackBerrys for secure e-mail and wireless communication.

That being said, RIM has been adding more functionality to attract individual users. The touch-based interface for BlackBerry 6 devices is a huge improvement over RIM’s bizarre SurePress technology. BlackBerry 6 also has an improved Web browser based on the WebKit browser engine and an overhauled multimedia player for your music.

But with RIM’s focus on business, how many regular consumer options would the BlackPad include? What would the multimedia capabilities be like for video and music playback, and what about purchasing content for your device? The Journal says RIM is working with Amazon to produce a music application for BlackBerry. Would that show up on the BlackPad? What about improvements to the gaming selection at App World, the third-party applications store for BlackBerry devices.

How many cameras?

The Journal says the BlackPad will come with either one or two cameras. Presumably, this means the device will most likely have a rear-facing camera but it’s not clear whether it would also get a front-facing camera for video chat. If it had launched a year ago RIM may have been able to get away with not putting a front-facing camera on the rumored BlackPad. But front-facing cameras are quickly becoming standard parts of new mobile devices.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab has two cameras, and there are rumors the iPad 2 will add a front-facing camera. Many new mobile handsets are now sporting front-facing cameras such as the iPhone 4, new iPod Touch, Sprint EVO 4G and the Dell Streak. Hopefully, the BlackPad will include video chat capabilities as well.

How will you buy the thing and for how much?

If there’s no 3G connection, and presumably cellular contract, will you be able to buy the BlackPad independent of the cellular carriers? Since it’s a BlackBerry companion device, it would make a lot of sense to buy it through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. But will you be able to buy the BlackPad as a standalone device right next to the iPad at Best Buy? If carriers are selling the device exclusively, will the BlackPad come with any restrictions? For example, will you have to pay extra to tether the rumored BlackPad with your BlackBerry device, as you do to tether the iPhone on AT&T?

Finally, how much will this device cost? Since the BlackPad reportedly comes without a 3G antenna, you would think it would be priced nearer to the Wi-Fi only iPad’s $499 price tag. As opposed to the Galaxy Tab’s unlocked price that is estimated to be $700 or more. Of course, pricing also depends on how much onboard storage the device will have, whether it would support external memory cards and any other hardware options the device may include.

The rumored BlackPad could be an appealing device, but we’ll have to wait until early next week to see what RIM has planned.

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Fyi: How Do Mosquitoes Survive Rainstorms?

The secret to a mosquito’s survival during a rainstorm isn’t due to any fancy maneuvers or midair acrobatics. It is a combination of their low mass, hydrophobic wings, and go-with-the-flow mentality, according to David Hu, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Hu has researched mosquitoes’ flight behavior in rainy conditions to better understand the limits of micro-airborne vehicles (MAVs). These tiny robot airplanes can be as small as an insect, so understanding how mosquitoes survive collisions with raindrops can help scientist develop more reliable MAVs.

Understanding how mosquitoes survive collisions with raindrops can help scientist develop more reliable MAVs.”There is still a question of how to build these things and once you build them what their limits are,” Hu says. A mosquito can provide some solutions to these limits—providing ideas for how MAVs can be better adapted to in-air collisions.

A raindrop falls from the sky at about 10 miles per hour. When it hits a solid surface at this speed, it rapidly decelerates by 100 percent and generates a force that is about 10,000 times the weight of a mosquito—enough to kill it, Hu says.

But a mosquito is very lightweight, so a raindrop only decelerates by 2 to 20 percent when it collides with the insect in midair, creating a force of about 50 to 300 mosquito weights—still a significant force, but because of the mosquito’s extremely strong exoskeleton, not enough to kill on impact, Hu says. “It is like you take a down feather out of your jacket and put it right on top of the mosquito,” Hu says.

It’s easy to imagine that a swipe of a feather won’t harm a mosquito, but how does a mosquito handle the force of a raindrop? One of two things happens: If the raindrop hits the mosquito’s legs or wings, the mosquito gets knocked off balance and spins in the air as the raindrop slips off of its water resistant extremities. The mosquito recalibrates and is back on track in about one-hundredth of a second.

The mosquito is back on track in about one-hundredth of a second. If a raindrop directly hits a mosquito’s body, the impact is much greater. Instead of spinning in midair, the raindrop grabs hold of the mosquito, rapidly accelerating it downward. It’s like walking down the street, then a bus going 10,000 miles per hour hits you and carries you along with it.

The mosquito hitches a ride on the raindrop at super speed for about 5 to 10 centimeters and then it does something unexpected—it peels away from the raindrop and continues on its flight path.

This process would be like if that unfortunate guy who got hit by the bus happened to be covered in newspapers, Hu says. As he and the bus collide, his newspaper limbs begin to flap in the wind. Because the mosquito’s long legs and wings extend past the perimeter of the drop, they generate wind and torques that free the mosquito, Hu says.

Mosquitoes are the ultimate tai chi masters: they don’t resist the force. Throughout all this turmoil, you’d think the mosquitoes would alter their behavior to avoid raindrops. Yeah, they can survive the impact forces, but it can’t be comfortable to hurtle toward the earth on the back of speeding raindrops. You’d be wrong.

“I call the mosquitoes the ultimate tai chi masters because they don’t resist the force at all,” Hu says. Instead, the mosquito just goes along for the ride despite the jet-speed acceleration.

But this carefree attitude may work against the mosquitoes when they are flying too close to the ground. If the mosquito is 10 centimeters or fewer from the ground and gets a direct body hit from a raindrop, it doesn’t have enough time to peel off. Instead, it gets smashed into the ground. Game over for the tai chi master.

This story was produced in partnership with Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. For more FYIs, go here.

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