From the New York Times,
Designing the Death of a Plastic
by Xiaozhi Lim, August 6, 2018
Decades ago, synthetic polymers became popular because they were cheap and durable—Greek for “many parts,” because they are long chains of many identical molecules — polymers were not designed to disintegrate or disappear. On the contrary, they were meant to last as long as possible once they began replacing metals and glass in long-lasting things like automobiles and airplanes..
Now, scientists are creating material that self-destructs or breaks down for reuse on command.
So, here we are, with literally billions of tons of plastic waste, filling up landfills, strewn all over the environment, floating in great mats in the ocean. Some estimates show that a mere 10% of all plastics are recycled every year.
Many places are trying to ban single-use plastics, but much more needs to be done. Happily, scientists who are working to create methods of creating plastics with built-in destruct mechanism are making progress. They are also working on solutions for the disposal of the existing plastic waste.
Exciting! Read the full article here.
Old mining techniques make a new way to recycle lithium batteries
Using 100-year-old minerals processing methods, chemical engineering students from Michigan Technological University have found a solution to a looming 21st-century problem: how to economically recycle lithium ion batteries.
This is a great story! The process is inexpensive and energy efficient, since they use an existing technology. My only question is, “What do they do with the water they use?”
Read the whole article here.
From Medical News Today,
Even low air pollution may cause you serious heart problems
by Ana Sandoiu
A new study appearing in the journal Circulation looks at the effects of low levels of pollution on the anatomy of the heart, and finds that living next to a busy road can cause you serious heart problems, even levels currently deemed “safe” by the EPA.
Another study linked air pollution to a high risk of diabetes.
The representative for the British Heart Foundation, a partial funder of the study, said, “We can’t expect people to move home to avoid air pollution,” he says. “Governments and public bodies must be acting right now to make all areas safe and protect the population from these harms.”
Read the entire article here.
From the BBC
A bird’s eye view: Songbirds perceive color like humans
by Lucy R Green, August 2, 2018
In a study involving Zebra Finches, a team from Duke University in North Carolina, found that the birds could distinguish variations in color. They chose reds and oranges, since the female Zebra Finches choose their mates for the redness of the male’s beaks. The male has to deliberately ingest compounds containing carotenoids. The more, the redder the beak.
The enzyme that metabolizes carotenoids into the compound that becomes red coloration is the same enzyme as an important immune pathway, so the redder beaks may also indicate to the females that the male is more biologically fit.
Read the whole article here.
Also, in “Spotlight On” a piece on the Common buckeye butterfly, one of the “Companions” from Volume 3 of Secret Voices from the Forest. Buy here.