Showing posts with the label Environment

Plant-based Antimicrobial Food Wrap Could Be The Plastic Alternative We Desperately Need

Researchers at Rutgers University, in the U.S., have developed a plant-based biodegradable coating or food wrap that can protect edibles against pathogens. This can reduce the use of plastic packaging materials on food and prevent humans from its harmful effects. Image Credits: Pixabay "We knew we needed to get rid of the petroleum-based food packaging that is out there and replace it with something more sustainable, biodegradable and nontoxic," said Philip Demokritou , director of the Nanoscience and Advanced Materials Research Center. "And we asked ourselves at the same time, 'Can we design food packaging with a functionality to extend shelf life and reduce food waste while enhancing food safety?''' The making of the food wrap Researchers used a new packaging technology, focused rotary jet spinning, that converts polysaccharide/biopolymer-based fibres into a solid wrap. The fibres produced using this process can be degraded in the soil within three day

Personality and Family Group Involvement Influences Capabilities in Marmoset Monkeys

Image: It was always assumed that only humans have personalities. However, personalities have recently been discovered in animals ranging from spiders to apes. Animals labelled as "friends" and, in some circumstances, entire social groups exhibit similar psychological qualities. Personality assessments and a battery of learning tests with common marmosets - tiny monkeys from South America - were undertaken by a group of cognitive and behavioral biologists from the University of Vienna, who discovered that a relationship, entangled with family group membership, occurs in these monkeys as well. The findings of the study were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports . Personalities have been associated with human qualities, as well as cognitive abilities such as academic or professional achievements. It has been suggested that animals who are more explorative and/or bold learn quicker. Vedrana Šlipogor and colleagues from the University

Biofuels, a Solution to High Prices but What Exactly Do They Cost Us in the Long Run?

Image: A biofuel production plant in Iowa President Joe Biden said that his government will relax limitations on the sale of E15—gasoline that contains 15% ethanol—as well as additional investments in biofuels as an effort to alleviate Americans' agony at the gas pump. However, scientists who research the environmental impact of ethanol are dissatisfied with the choice. What is ethanol in fuel? Fuel ethanol is the same sort of alcohol found in drinks, but with "denaturant" additives that prevent it from being consumed. The use of ethanol in gasoline reduces the need for crude oil.  E10 is presently the most common gas marketed in the United States. Ethanol is typically made in the United States by fermenting sugar from corn starch. Sugar cane is used in other nations, such as Brazil. Following a study on E15's pollution  impact, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved its usage in 2011. According to authorities, it is now available at 2,300 petrol stati

Researchers Find Plastic Traces In The Lung Tissues Of The Human Body

Scientists have found particles of plastics in human tissues with PET and polypropylene most common. Image credits: Pexels Microplastic pollution has caused damage to the lungs of living people. The traces of plastics have been discovered in the tissues of the patients undergoing surgery. Scientists said that microplastic pollution is everywhere across the world, which has made human exposure unavoidable. Hence, there is an increasing concern regarding health hazards. Samples were analysed to detect the presence of microplastic pollution. These samples were taken from the tissues removed from patients undergoing surgery. Out of 13 patients, microplastics were found in 11 cases. The most common particles were PET, used in making bottles and polypropylene, used in making pipes and plastic packaging. Previous studies have shown the traces of plastics at high rates in lung tissues taken during autopsies. These tiny particles have entered the human body through air, water and food. Worker

Avoiding Cutting Down Palm Trees For its Fruits in Amazonia Can Reduce Economic and Environmental Damage

Researchers at the University of Leeds and the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute ( Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia; IIAP ) have found that cutting down the palm tree Mauritia flexuosa for its fruits had caused ecological and economical disturbances in Peru. Image credits: Pexels The scientists have prepared a detailed study to show why and where the palm trees fell down and the extent of the economic and environmental damage caused by it. “Cutting down female palm trees to harvest the fruit has halved the total production of the fruit of this palm that is available to local communities," said Gabriel Hidalgo , a postgraduate student at Leeds’ School of Geography and lead author of the study. “This is a clear example of the impact of humans on natural resource levels, in an ecosystem that, on first look, appears undamaged. However, changing the way the fruit is harvested can increase both the number of fruit-bearing palm trees and the value of these Amazonian peatlan

New Frostproof Coolants Are an Eco-Friendly and Long-Lasting Alternative to Conventional De-Icers, Say American Scientists

Scientists at the  University of Illinois Chicago, US , have developed  environmentally  friendly anti-freezing coatings for aeroplanes as an alternative to conventional de-icers. Image credit: Pexels Airports are more crowded during the winters. Delays in board flights become longer when the aeroplanes need to be drenched with de-icing fluids. A de-icer is a substance that prevents the formation of ice by lowering the freezing point of water. These fluids help the aircraft fight the frosty winter. But, after the plane takes off, most of the de-icing liquid drops down from the surface and gets mixed with lakes and rivers, resulting in pollution of freshwater bodies. Sushant Anand , a UIC assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Rukmava Chatterjee , a UIC PhD student, have developed an efficient alternative to conventional de-icers to benefit the demanding industries and consumers and prevent waterbody pollution. “We questioned the lifetime of the cryoprotectants and looked a

American Researchers Discover the Impact of Natural Patterns on the Human Brain

Researchers at the  University of Oregon, U.S , have discovered that urban environments are not appealing to the  human brain . Instead, it is nature that helps the human brain stay relaxed and anxiety-free. Image credit: Pixabay The reason behind this issue is the lack of fractals in urban cities. Fractals are geometric patterns that repeat themselves at different scales. These are self-similar and never-ending patterns that are created by repeating a simple process. Fractals can be seen in every object, such as rivers, trees, coastlines and clouds in nature. A human brain requires only 50 milliseconds to detect and respond to natural fractals. "As soon as we look at nature, it triggers a cascade of automatic responses", said Richard Taylor , a physicist at the University of Oregon. "Even before we’ve noticed what we’re looking at, we’re responding to it.” The effects of these natural fractals were found to be positive. Humans do not feel stressed when they walk through

Are you in sync with your microbes?

Bacteria, fungi and viruses are better known for the harm they cause and are usually associated with the words such as infections, fever and at times, even cancer.  The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars every year in attempts to develop new antibiotics, new methods of treatment for ailments caused by infections of these micro-organisms while health care providers spend resources to prevent such infections from occurring in first place.  But what if, the microbes are not meant to be kept away? What if we are looking at the problem the wrong way? What if the microbes are not the problem at all? Confused? Let us explain! Why micro-organisms? Although we first became aware of micro organisms in the year 1675, microbes are estimated to have occupied Earth almost 4 billion years ago. Not only are they the earliest inhabitants, they are also the most versatile and the most ubiquitous of all life forms. The total number of micro organisms on our Earth is estimated to be

The Solar Bulb! Thinking out of the box

Great video, and great application. Truly an interesting use of the "Plastic bottle".  

The science of Consumerism

We live in a world where television, billboards, magazines and even toilets are hoarded with sales pitches trying to convince us that a particular brand of soup is what will rid us of our loneliness and make our lives happier. Every day we are bombarded with ideas and concepts to such an extent that we subconsciously start accepting them (almost like Inception). ‘Advertising’ is selling the viewer the idea that consumption (of a particular product) will lead to gratification. In fact, almost all advertisements tap into our insatiable appetite for prestige, power, happiness and status, making the idea quite seductive. Consumerism today has become a pastime, ideology and even a source of addiction.  In fact lots of economists and philosophers like to think of consumerism as the singular idea that has successfully taken over the world we live in today. People from all regions, religions and ages indulge in the idea that  - more is always better ! But really… is it? Over the

The future of racing, Formula E

Racing away from the gasoline-guzzling and noise polluting sport of Formula 1 , is the new category of auto racing, Formula E . An all-electric-cars event is expected to begin in 2014 and promises to take us one step closer to the future of using cleaner , greener cars in our day-to-day lives. Staying true to their motto of using racing events as a platform for innovation and testing newer technologies, the FIA (  Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile ), motorsport's governing body, has recently given a 'go-ahead' to Formula E and you might get the first glimpses of these cars in action mid-way this year. Surprising as it may sound, electric cars have been around since the late 1800's and were quite popular in those days. However,  developments in technology used for internal combustion engines led to popularity of gasoline fuelled vehicles, which we use today. Fuel crisis and the impact of using fossil fuels on our environment has once again drawn o

Allergies and The Hygiene Hypothesis

Have you ever gone to a kid’s birthday party and every time someone got up for the food table the host would go on with a list of what could be probable allergens in the dish? With kids today being allergic to perpetually everything (except junk food ), throwing a birthday party may be the worst nightmare for any host! But all jokes apart, anyone would have noticed that the list of allergies seems to be getting more and more bizarre. Our connection with microbes Our tiff with the microbial world kick starts quite early in our neonatal life. When the fetus is growing inside its mother’s womb , it is protected from this microbial world. After it is born, it gets introduced into a different environment- one abundant in microbes. These microbes rapidly colonize the gut and respiratory tract, to the extent that at the cellular level they exceed human cells by ten times! But these microbes are actually beneficial to the human body. They provide a constant stimulus for the de

Solar ship! The answer to our fuel woes!

Flying has always been a human dream. Whether it be the Wright brothers in the past or the low-cost airlines in the present, all have worked towards making this dream come true. Luxuries of modern day flights are an added reason to take the aerial route to your destination.  However, the rising demand for fuel and shrinking supplies have taken away the 'low cost' from airlines. Increasing prices of flying not only affects flight enthusiasts but also affects activities such as large scale farming and emergency services such as air ambulances. Adapting a newer energy source will soon be a necessity in the future, but are we future ready? Well, the Solar ship is.  We often look for ways to make our day-to-day lives more eco-friendly but Canada based Solar Ship has taken 'going green' to an all new level. Inspired by the Zeppelin 's of the late 1800s, Solar Ship is developing aircraft that are powered by sunlight. Yes, sunlight powers the movement of these crafts

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