Light-colored roofs that help reflect sunlight may only work in the summer, but a new smart roof made from waste cooking oil can automatically switch between reflecting or absorbing solar heat. Homeowners need not worry about an accompanying smell of greasy French fries, either.
If pictures are worth a thousand words, then they must be worth at least a couple of hundred data points. Plenty of scientific concepts are better displayed with graphics than with texts, and every year the National Science Foundation and Science Magazine highlight the best science visualizations of the year.
The 2009 winners represent a diverse range of fields, from medicine to math to statistics. However, they all manage to distill highly technical scientific concepts into easily understandable pictures, films, and interactive creations.
The invention of plastics in the mid-1800s changed human civilization as profoundly as our earlier mastery of fire, bronze, and steel. Unfortunately, the environmental and health effects of plastic offer a significant downside to such a useful and affordable material. Now, scientists at the University of Tokyo, Japan, have developed a clay-based hydrogel that they hope will perform the same functions as plastic, but do so without endangering people or the planet.
More than 80,000 chemicals are used or produced in the U.S., and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed restrictions or bans on just five. But the agency signaled its intent at the end of last year to possibly add restrictions to four chemicals that are widely used in making products such as toys, household items and medical equipment, according to Scientific American.
Most shoppers probably don't even bother recycling their plastic bags at the local supermarket, but maybe this development will titillate the geek inside everyone. A chemist has created an "upcycling" method of turning the disposable bags into carbon nanotubes, according to New Scientist
Algae have come a long way in our post-fossil-fuels energy situation: Now the same green scum that covers water and other surfaces could soon be enlisted to make biodegradable green plastics for your picnic cutlery.
Explorer David de Rothschild promotes ocean cleanup on a plastic-bottle raft
By Arnie CooperPosted 01.23.2009 at 10:31 am 12 Comments
Given the choice, you probably wouldn't risk sailing 11,500 miles from San Francisco to Sydney in a boat handmade of 20,000 plastic water bottles. But David de Rothschild, the founder of the nonprofit educational organization Adventure Ecology, sees such a vessel as the perfect way to "beat waste" by promoting new uses for recycled plastic while dramatizing the problem of ocean debris. Next month, de Rothschild and a crew of scientists will sail the Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran, to environmental hotspots including Bikini Atoll, the former atomic-bomb testing site, and Tuvalu, an island rapidly disappearing under rising seas.
Plastic. It’s the spring in your tennis shoes, the sheath on your burrito, the skin of your air mattress . . . And, unfortunately, it could also be the hormone disruptor in your endocrine system. This is just one potential danger highlighted in the most recent issue of the journal Environmental Research, which includes a special section showcasing six new studies of the effects of plastics and plastic ingredients on the body and the earth.