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In honor of Friday, here are some interesting and amusing stories about life under COVID-19 and in this generally surreal year of 2020.

Pixelated pilgrimage: The annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca has been restricted due to COVID-19, so many people will be unable to go. But it wouldn’t be 2020 if enterprising developers weren’t trying to create a virtual hajj.

Fashion masks: You know you need to wear a face covering (if you’ve been within a lightyear of the NAM’s Creators Respond communications campaign, that is), but who says it has to be a boring, scratchy surgical mask? What about a mask cover made of pearls? Or a mask that “serves as a combination walkie-talkie, personal secretary and translator”? If you’re curious about your options, The New York Times (subscription) has you covered.

Bioprinting: If you can believe it, researchers are 3D-printing “tiny replicas of human organs—some as small as a pinhead—to test drugs to fight Covid-19,” according to The New York Times (subscription).

And last, if you’re looking to distract yourself from earthly woes:

  • NASA’s latest mission to Mars is on its way. The rover Perseverance and helicopter Ingenuity were launched yesterday morning.
  • The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit will start telling the public some of what it’s found.
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