Scientists warn we are now entering the plastic age

September 6, 2019 by  
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A recent study reports plastic pollution has deposited itself into our fossil record. Water bottles, lunch bags and clothing laced with microfibers— welcome to what some are calling the “plastic age.” However, this didn’t occur overnight as contamination has been building since 1945. Related: Babylegs — the inexpensive, educational way to monitor ocean plastic pollution “Our love of plastic is being left behind in our fossil record ,” said lead researcher Jennifer Brandon at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. “We all learn in school about the stone age, the bronze age and iron age – is this going to be known as the plastic age?” she told The Guardian. “It is a scary thing that this is what our generations will be remembered for.” Experts think the findings could be used to calculate the onset of the Anthropocene, a proposed geological epoch said to be created by human actions taking over Mother Earth. The highly researched study shows the rise of plastic pollution in sediments and looked at yearly layers off California’s coast dating from 1834 and over the last 70 years. The plastic particles found were mostly fibers from synthetic fabrics indicating plastics move voluntarily on the ocean via wastewater. The journal Science Advances published the research and said microscopic plastics in the sediments has doubled about every 15 years since the 1940s. It’s not hard to see why as mass amounts of plastics are sent into the environment annually and broken down into small pieces, but fibers aren’t biodegradable. This could be worrisome as people consume at least 50,000 microplastic particles a year via food and water. While the impact on health is still a mystery — microplastics which are found everywhere from ocean floors to the tallest mountains — can release toxic substances and could penetrate tissues, experts said. Via The Guardian, Science Advances Image via Rey Perezoso

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Scientists warn we are now entering the plastic age

Hurricane Dorian causes onshore oil spill in Bahamas

September 6, 2019 by  
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Besides demolishing homes, uprooting wildlife and ravaging forests, Hurricane Dorian has also caused an onshore oil spill in the Bahamas. Norwegian energy company Equinor reported it discovered an oil spill at its storage and transshipment terminal. “Our initial aerial assessment of the South Riding Point facility has found that the terminal has sustained damage, and oil has been observed on the ground outside of the onshore tanks,” Equinor said. Related: Hurricane Dorian threatens endangered bird species Before Hurricane Dorian hit, Equinor said it closed all its operations at the South Riding Point terminal on Aug. 31, and no staff was on the premises. “It is too early to indicate any volumes,” the company said. “At this point there are no observations of any oil spill at sea.” Equinor’s terminal contains 6.75 million barrels of crude and condensate storage and provides heavy crude oil blending services. “While weather conditions on the island have improved, road conditions and flooding continue to impact our ability to assess the situation and the scope of damages to the terminal and its surroundings,” the company added. Weather forecasters reported Hurricane Dorian made landfall early Friday morning at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and is now a Category 1 hurricane. Hurricane warnings have been issued for Canada as the hurricane continues moving northeast, and the threat of storm surges in North Carolina and Virginia remains. At the time of writing, at least 30 people have been killed in the Bahamas , the health minister said. More deaths are expected to be announced. Via Reuters , NBC News and The Weather Channel Image via NOAA

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Scientists finally know what is causing the underwater ‘fairy circles’ and it’s not good

August 11, 2017 by  
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Have you — like many — been dumbfounded by the mysterious underwater “fairy circles” found in the Mediterranean and Baltic sea? If so, you’re not alone. Fortunately, scientists finally know what is causing the sea floor phenomena, though it’s not likely to cheer you up. It turns out the “bald patches” devoid of vegetation are actually caused by a foreign species which may put entire ecosystems at risk. In the paper “Fairy Circle Landscapes Under The Sea,” published by Science Advances , lead researcher Daniel Ruiz-Reynés wrote that the invading species are being driven into the areas by polluted waters and climate change : “The spatial organisation of vegetation landscapes is a key factor in the assessment of ecosystem health and functioning,” he wrote, adding, “Spatial configurations of vegetation landscapes act as potential indicators of climatic or human forcing affecting the ecosystem.” The scientific name for the seagrass is Posidonia oceanica, and its dwindling presence signals that the region it is located in is threatened. If large populations of the seagrass disappear, the planet’s larger ecosystem will be affected, the researchers concluded. Unfortunately, it appears the circles, which have been found around the Danish coast as well as the Balearic islands, are more prevalent than scientists realized. This is because they are located below water . “Satellite images and side-scan cartography reveals that complex seascapes are abundant in meadows of Posidonia oceanica, suggesting that self-organised submarine vegetation patterns may be prevalent but have remained thus far largely hidden under the sea,” wrote Ruiz-Reynés. Furthermore, because the seagrass has a very low growth rate, losses are “essentially irreversible.” Related: Strange “Fairy Circles” Appear in the Middle of Africa’s Namib Desert Using findings from previous studies and by creating a mathematical model based on seagrass growth rates and long-distance interaction between underwater plants, the team was able to determine the cause of the fairy circles . Long story short, the competition for resources changes the dynamics of seagrass growth and is largely propelled by both climate change and pollution . This discovery is both intriguing and frightening, considering enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the globe four times — and of that amount, 80 percent makes its way into the oceans . If humans collectively fail to curb carbon emissions and only haphazardly invest in sustainable initiatives, the effects of climate change will result in much of the planet becoming uninhabitable, as well as various species going extinct . + Science Advances Via The Daily Mail Images via University of Southern Denmark , Pixabay

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Scientists finally know what is causing the underwater ‘fairy circles’ and it’s not good

Scientists discover ingredient for life on Saturns moon

July 31, 2017 by  
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Will Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, be the next rock humans aspire to reach after visiting Mars ? According to new research published today in Science Advances , possibly so. This is because researchers have found a complex molecule in the atmosphere of the moon that could very well lead to the formation of life. The molecule is vinyl cyanide and researchers believe it could be the key to developing cell membranes in Titan’s environment . Unlike Earth, Titan’s atmosphere is extremely cold. As a result, lipids can’t form and create cell membranes as is common on this planet. However, vinyl cyanide mixed with liquid methane — a substance Titan has lakes of — could very well foster the development of those essential cell membranes. The discovery was made by NASA’s Cassini probe, which has been exploring the Saturn system for 13 years. According to The Verge , evidence of the molecule was found on Titan but the probe wasn’t able to provide any conclusive measurements. To circumvent this, researchers used data collected from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile . Scientists were able to read the radio waves emitted by different types of frequencies which result from various gas molecules jumping back and forth from one level of energy to another to determine that similar to Earth , Titan has periodic rainfalls. Of course, unlike showers of water, rainfall on Titan is liquid methane. Because of this fact, it was concluded there is a likely chance vinyl cyanide can also be found in the moon’s methane lakes. While no evidence yet exists that there are cell membrane-like structures forming on Titan , the researchers discovered at the minimum that it is possible for life to develop on the moon. As a result, scientists feel encouraged to continue studying it. Related: Saturn’s biggest moon has enough energy to power a US-sized space colony Said Martin Cordiner, co-author of the study, ”This is a far cry from saying [life] definitely happens on Titan and these cells are involved in some kind of primitive life . But it gives us a starting point in that discussion. If there was going to be life in Titan’s oceans, then it’s plausible vinyl cyanide could be a component of that.” + Science Advances Via The Verge Images via NASA  and Deposit Photos

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Scientists discover ingredient for life on Saturns moon

Perk Up Your Workout with a Recycled Coffee Grounds Sports Bra

July 24, 2017 by  
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The earth is home to a colossal 5.5 billion tons of plastic waste infiltrating our land and seas, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances. If the image of a polluted plastic planet perturbs you, pay attention. The study…

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Perk Up Your Workout with a Recycled Coffee Grounds Sports Bra

Researchers finally identify the source of mysterious space radio waves

February 25, 2016 by  
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Fast radio bursts (FRBs) have long baffled astronomers . These huge energy surges in space produce as much power in less than a second as the Sun does in 1,000 years. Scientists used to discover them years after they happened, so they were unable to determine the source or cause of the bursts. They’d even wondered if aliens were behind the mysterious phenomenon. That all changed with an incredible finding by a team of scientists in Australia, who were finally able to record an FRB as it occurred. Read the rest of Researchers finally identify the source of mysterious space radio waves

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Viruses are alive – and they’re the world’s oldest living creatures

September 29, 2015 by  
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Scientists just classified viruses as living things after previously considering them to be nonliving bits and pieces of DNA and RNA. Not only that, new research shows that they predate even the earliest known cells, earning them a spot on the lowest roots of the tree of life. So, the next time you’re coughing and hacking from the flu, remember your body is housing descendants of the oldest living creatures on Earth – some of which are complete with immune systems of their own. Is your mind blown yet? Read the rest of Viruses are alive – and they’re the world’s oldest living creatures

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Viruses are alive – and they’re the world’s oldest living creatures

7 Inspiring product designs that will make you think twice about throwing anything away

September 29, 2015 by  
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If you find a white fox hidden in London, it’s yours

September 29, 2015 by  
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