Environmental Sounds

The Tesla lineup (l-r): Models S, X, 3 and Y; photo from Tesla.

Soft and unobtrusive, so-called “elevator music” was originally designed to have a calming, soothing effect on people who were anxious about riding in elevators (especially those riding for the first time). For a time, the uncomplicated melodies and orchestral arrangements were fairly ubiquitous, emanating not only from elevator cars, but also waiting rooms, shopping malls and even car radios. At some point, though, the simple – some would say bland – tunes began to fall from favor, with many people becoming openly hostile toward the unassuming genre. As the hostility grew, the number of places you could hear the music became less and less, until even few elevators continued to serve up their signature sounds.

Not everyone hates elevator music, however, and a recently announced plan by a tech billionaire – none other than Elon Musk – could mark a comeback of sorts for the musical style. According to USA Today, the entrepreneur plans to have the electric cars from his company Tesla play elevator music through their external speakers, sharing the sound with pedestrians and other motorists. Musk announced the new offering in an August 20 tweet. No timeline was given as to when the feature would be available, but Tesla frequently sends upgrades via over-the-air updates (similar to smartphones), so it could happen anytime.

Not a Gator Elevator

A pair of deputies keep an alligator at bay outside an elevator at the Estero Parc apartments in Florida; image via the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

OK, we’ve all heard stories of elevator entrapments. And, tales of wildlife getting a little too close for comfort are all too common. But combining elevators and alligators is a new one, and something residents of an apartment complex in southwest Florida surely pray won’t happen to them again. According to UPI, it all started on August 3 at the Estero Parc apartments in Lee County, south of Tampa Bay on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Several riders ready to exit their elevator were stunned when the doors opened and just outside the car sat a small alligator. Now, alligators are not unusual sights in coastal Florida, but it has to be a bit unnerving when one is blocking your only way out. Fortunately, deputies from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office were able to keep the critter corralled until a wildlife handler arrived on the scene and removed the scaly trespasser. There were no reports of injuries to either the people involved or the wayward reptile.

“Heathrobots” Join COVID-19 Fight at London’s Heathrow

Robots delivering food and supplies to quarantined COVID-19 patients in Chinese hotels, while indisputably strange and sci-fi, makes perfect sense. Now robots, outfitted with virus-killing ultraviolet (UV) light systems, have been enlisted at London Heathrow airport in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, the BBC reports. Here, the short, rounded robots — which bring to mind R2D2 — cruise the terminals and enter areas like restrooms (when unoccupied, of course) to disinfect them with powerful UV light (which is also harmful to human skin, hence the provision restrooms be unoccupied.) In the video below, the host describes the airport’s other virus-fighting measures, including retrofitting escalators with UV-light sanitation systems and placing anti-viral coatings on high-touch areas such as escalator handrails and lift buttons.