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The pandemic that changed it all – also digitally

While COVID seemed to make everything worse, some positive sides appeared, too.


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The beginning of the outbreak was pretty stressful for many countries around the globe. Many calculations about infections numbers and supplies were made to handle the situation. Especially medical ventilators had been a rare good. To solve this problem the UK started the VentilatorChallengeUK and asked many big companies in different branches if they could support the medical sector by inventing and producing new ventilators. Companies like Airbus, Dyson or Siemens accepted the challenge which led to many amazing results in a short amount of time. Dyson, for example, designed a new ventilator, called "CoVent" in just 30 days! Normally this type of project would need 3 years, they say.

The Rise of the Videocall

With schools closed and a lot of people forced to work from home, new ways had to be found to get through this situation. One of the solutions: Videocalls! Well, they were not invented in the crisis, but we are using them like never before. Not just in the workplace! Many students all over the world used conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom so that classes can take place and connect with their teachers. In China, the New Oriental Education & Technology Group, a Beijing-based online education company, partnered with the live interactive streaming platform Agora.io in April. After a tough 24/7 week of work, they were able to set up online classrooms to bring over a million Chinese student back to learning.

Videocalls enable us to keep connected with our friends, families, and colleagues and thus the system running. And because so many people have used them, a lot of funny stuff happened too. Even news moderators had to deal with the new working from home situation.

Save the world with gaming

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If you are a gamer you are probably familiar with a scenario, which often occurs in games: You are the chosen hero, who fights the evil to save earth and humanity. But what if you could save the real world by playing a game? Well, you can! Foldit is an online puzzle video game where players try to achieve a high score by folding proteins as perfectly as possible. The first breakthrough of the game was in 2011 when players helped decipher the crystal structure of a retroviral protease of the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV), a monkey virus which causes HIV/AIDS-like symptoms, a scientific problem that had been unsolved for 15 years. The players created a 3D-model of the enzyme in just 10 days.

Facing the corona crisis, the developers launched a new corona puzzle where players can design antiviral proteins from scratch. The most promising designs will be analyzed at the University of Washington Institute for Protein Design in Seattle. So, you may be the one who will create the antiviral protein which will help stop the coronavirus. You may also support the project without playing the game with the computing power of your computer at home.

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Parents and educators have long been asking to more actively digitize schools and education in general. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed analogue classrooms into remote schools from one day to another, thus showing how many schools are way behind the expectations of modern learning. But to get students through the year, teachers had to rely on collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Listen to our feature at the Transatlantic Cable Podcast and unlock how the education of tomorrow may look like, with our very own David Jacoby.

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