Scientists discover how to stop banana peels from browning

May 13, 2022 by  
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Understanding and changing how banana peels brown could help the world save tons of food that go to waste each year, according to a new study published in “ Physical Biology .” The researchers looked at the root cause of browning in bananas and other fruit typically found in someone’s home. They found that the browning process is caused by enzymes and air reactions. Although this is a known fact, there have been no efforts in the past to observe how this process can be controlled. The researchers now say browning can be stopped by genetic modification and proper storage of fruit. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas One of the ways proposed by the researchers is storing bananas in cooled containers under a modified atmosphere. The researchers also found that the formation of spots could be slowed down by decreasing oxygen in their formation sites.  Browning of fruit, including bananas, leads to an estimated 50 million tons of food waste every year. With the world grappling with food security , the researchers say losses could be prevented. Bananas are among the universally accepted foods and are produced massively across the world. Saving bananas from browning could increase food security for the world at large. “For 2019, the total production of bananas was estimated to be 117 million tons, making it a leading crop in the world,” says Oliver Steinbock, lead author of the research. “When bananas ripen, they form numerous dark spots that are familiar to most people and are often used as a ripeness indicator. However, the process of how these spots are formed, grow, and their resulting pattern remained poorly understood, until now.” The study was conducted by a team of researchers from Florida State University, led by Steinbock. Over time, Steinbock found that it is possible to protect fruit from turning brown as fast as they do. “Fruit browning continues to be a major challenge for the food industry. Our study offers a model for banana spotting which is capable of capturing their evolution in a physically meaningful context and which can be applied to procedures to mitigate food waste ,” Steinbock said. Via Natural History Museum Lead image via Pexel s

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Coral in the Mediterranean threatened by heatwaves

January 21, 2022 by  
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A new study has found that heatwaves associated with climate change are threatening coral populations in the Mediterranean. The study, published in  Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology , established that corals could be wiped out unless action is taken soon.  This wide-scale research on heatwaves’ long-term effects on corals has established that some areas have already seen an 80 to 90% reduction in biomass. According to the researchers behind the study, these reductions affect the ecosystem’s overall functioning. They say corals are the key to the existence and functions of coral reefs. Heatwaves threaten the existence of the reefs entirely, a situation that could affect sea life for almost all sea creatures. Related: An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea The study was done by researchers from the Faculty of Biology, the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) at the University of Barcelona, and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) of Barcelona. The findings are part of the first long-term analysis showing heatwaves’ effects on corals in the Mediterranean . Although there have been various studies on the impact of heatwaves on corals, most focus on short periods. Knowledge on long-term effects remains limited, given the time corals take to reproduce and grow. Corals grow over hundreds of years, a timeframe that complicates research. For this study, the researchers analyzed results obtained in long-term monitoring on different populations of corals. The observed data dates back to 2003 when a heatwave caused mass coral mortality in the protected sea area of Scandola in Corsega, France . “We observed an average biomass loss regarding the initial biomass of 80% in populations of red gorgonian, and up to a 93% regarding the studied population of red coral,” noted Daniel Gómez, a researcher at ICM-CSIC. Joaquim Garrabou, also a member of ICM-CSIC, is more concerned with the continued depreciation of affairs over the years. “These data are worrying for the conservation of these emblematic species , and it indicates that the effects of the climate crisis are speeding up with obvious consequences for the submarine landscapes, where the loss of coral equals the loss of trees in forests.” The experts now say that the only way to save the corals and their reefs is to take drastic measures. “There is an urgent need for stronger measures to be implemented against the climate crisis before the loss of biodiversity becomes irreplaceable,” the experts concluded. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Coral in the Mediterranean threatened by heatwaves

Researchers and Indigenous groups collaborate to save caribou

October 19, 2021 by  
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Scientists are working with Indigenous communities to change the fate of Arctic caribou herds threatened by climate change. Habitat loss has caused a 56% decline in North America’s wild caribou population over the past 20 years, a situation that scientists and Indigenous conservation groups are determined to change. Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $718,000 to Logan Berner, an assistant professor at Northern Arizona University’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems (SICCS), for a three-year study dubbed “Fate of the Caribou.” The study offers insights into how human actions and a changing environment affect the caribou. Related: Indigenous communities are crucial in protecting the Amazon According to Berner, the study will continue to collaborate with local Indigenous groups to determine the best ways to protect the vital animals . “Our interdisciplinary research team will collaborate with members of local Indigenous and rural communities to conduct large-scale ecological analyses across multiple caribou herds in North America using novel ecological modeling, decades of satellite observations, and extensive field data,” said Berner. Berner will also collaborate with other parties to carry out interdisciplinary research to find ways of advancing the protection of wild caribou. The team includes Regents’ professor Scott Goetz, Earth scientists , ecologists, remote sensing experts and more. According to the researchers, they will be working towards generating actionable results for the management of caribou herds. “Our research will help advance understanding and management of caribou as we partner with the Indigenous-led caribou and natural resource management boards that are central to Arctic governance. We will work with them to produce actionable science that can inform the policies and co-management of caribou herds stretching from Hudson’s Bay to western Alaska,” the team wrote in a research description. Wild caribou are an important land-based species in the Arctic for both humans and the ecosystem. Those who live in the region rely on these animals for food . These animals also help balance the ecosystem. However, for the past few years, the animals have faced threats causing their population to decline. In addition to researching ways to sustain caribou populations, the researchers will also train young scientists to continue with the conservation job. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition

October 19, 2021 by  
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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child declined to rule on a complaint filed by youth activists from twelve countries. The young adults claimed that Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey have violated children’s rights by failing to control carbon emissions, despite knowing about the perils of climate change. The panel told the activists that they should have brought their cases to national courts. The self-dubbed “Children vs. the Climate Crisis” insist there’s not time for lengthy court cases; they need to take their case to the top. The youth come from twelve countries: Argentina , Brazil, France, Germany, India, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia and the United States. Some countries, such as the Marshall Islands , are especially pressed for time — their chain of ancient submerged volcanoes may be under the rising seas by 2035. Related: “Climate shocks” threaten over half of Earth’s children “The truth is that I’m doing this because I feel like I haven’t been left a choice and this is the only way for me to not feel guilty,” said 18-year-old French climate activist Iris Duquesne as reported by EcoWatch. “The shame of having the possibility to do something and not doing it is too big. This is the main motivation for all youth climate activists, this and anger. Anger to feel left behind, not listened to and simply left alone.” The petition in question was filed in 2019 by 16 activists who ranged in age from eight to 17 at the time. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors 196 signatories of a 1989 convention declaring the civil, cultural, economic and political rights of children unassailable. Of these, 48 countries agreed to allow children to take action to fix violations. The five countries named in the petition are part of this subset. Environmental and human rights attorneys from Hausfeld and Earthjustice are representing the youth activists. The lawyers said in a statement that the committee’s decision, announced October 11, “delivered a rebuke to young people around the world who are demanding immediate action on the climate crisis. In dismissing the case, the Committee told children that climate change is a dire global emergency , but the UN’s doors are closed to them.” However, the kids had some wins. The committee acknowledged that states are legally responsible for emis s ions that cause harm beyond their borders, and that the youth are indeed victims of climate-related threats to their health, life and culture. These findings could significantly influence future litigation. Via Washington Post and EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition

Archaeologists uncover 3,400-year-old Egyptian necropolis

April 1, 2016 by  
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Swedish archaeologists have uncovered a previously unknown Egyptian necropolis containing dozens of tombs and ancient artifacts near Gebel el Silsila on the Nile’s west bank. The team, from Lund University , has dated the tombs back to the New Kingdom , 3,400 years ago. Unfortunately, the researchers found that the site has been looted multiple times and damaged from erosion, however, there is still much valuable information to be gathered from the find. Read the rest of Archaeologists uncover 3,400-year-old Egyptian necropolis

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New Bubble Greenhouses could produce fresh water and food in drought-stricken regions

July 28, 2015 by  
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As water shortages threaten to destabilize many of the world’s driest regions, including California , researchers have developed an innovative new type of greenhouse that can provide fresh water and grow food. Engineers from Murdoch University believe that a 1,615 square foot Bubble Greenhouse “could produce around eight cubic metres of freshwater and up to 30 kilograms of crops each day.” The sealed design of the greenhouse will also protect crops from insects and disease, and the researchers say the technology should be easy to implement. Read the rest of New Bubble Greenhouses could produce fresh water and food in drought-stricken regions

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Better Cement for Construction with Less CO2

November 25, 2014 by  
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Greener cement for construction may be already well within reach, based on a new study carried out by researchers from MIT in the United States and CNRS in France.  While modern-day cement has its roots extending back to the mid-1700s, the ratios of the two main ingredients, calcium (from limestone) and silica (from clay), which are used to manufacture it can vary widely, and had not been studied to this extent before. The potential reduction in carbon emissions from the production of cement could be as much as 60 percent, according to Dr. Roland Pellenq, the senior research scientist for the study.  The production of cement is presently one of the largest contributing industrial sources of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Consequently, changes in its manufacture could have significant and widespread benefits if a better production method is developed. “In conventional cements, Pellenq explains, the calcium-to-silica ratio ranges anywhere from about 1.2 to 2.2, with 1.7 accepted as the standard. But the resulting molecular structures have never been compared in detail. Pellenq and his colleagues built a database of all these chemical formulations, finding that the optimum mixture was not the one typically used today, but rather a ratio of about 1.5.”  Production of cement at this ratio would, according to the researchers, allow significant reductions in CO2 emissions.  In addition to the emissions benefit, the researchers also found that cement produced at this ratio would be stronger and more fracture resistant. Adaptation of this research will still take time to implement, as the new formulations will need to be studied by engineering standards organizations before this becomes the new standard for manufacture. There could even be a synergistic benefit in this, by significantly reducing the carbon emissions in the production of the cement, and then further reducing emissions due to less cement being needed due to the improved strength of the material. via: MIT Press Release image credit: Phlat Phield Photos

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Why is This Praying Mantis Wearing the World’s Tiniest Pair of 3D Glasses?

April 29, 2014 by  
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Animals can teach us a lot about the world, which is why we’re always dragging them into our scientific experiments. While some of this research is downright cruel and unnecessary, some is more bizarre than anything else. In a recent project at Newcastle University neuroscientists strapped the world’s tiniest pair of 3D glasses onto a praying mantis, and then expose the bug to a series of weird 3D videos. Strange as it may sound, the researchers say the project could reveal important clues about how 3D vision evolved, and lead to novel approaches in implementing 3D recognition and depth perception in computers and robots. Read the rest of Why is This Praying Mantis Wearing the World’s Tiniest Pair of 3D Glasses? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 3D glasses , 3D vision , newcastle university , Praying Mantis , praying mantis vision , praying mantis wears 3D glasses , world’s smallest 3D glasses

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Wireless Brakes for Bikes Developed by Computer Scientists

October 13, 2011 by  
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Would you trust wireless breaks when heading down this hill?? Photo by thenoizz via Flickr CC Scientists at Saarland University have come up with a brake system for bikes that may take awhile to trust. The brakes work wirelessly. It sounds a little risky to potentially trust your life with a wireless brake system but according to the researchers, their new system works perfectly 99.999999999997% of the time. … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Wireless Brakes for Bikes Developed by Computer Scientists

OUD NOW! Reclaimed Cabinets Splice The Old & New

October 13, 2011 by  
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Photos: Theo Herfkens Repurposing old furniture can be as simple as applying a new coat of paint. But why stop there? Dutch designer Theo Herfkens goes the extra mile by playing doctor in his OUD NOW! (meaning “old now”) collection of furniture that splices reclaimed vintage pieces with modern cabinetry, giving birth to new hybrids with a foot in the past. … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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