Scientists are cleaning art with bacteria

December 30, 2021 by  
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After centuries of trying different techniques and using various chemicals to clean art, scientists found an eco-friendly solution that already exists in the natural world. Bacteria were thought of as art’s greatest enemy. They are evil, microscopic monsters intent on doing damage to the delicate canvases created by the hands of great art masters throughout history. But maybe not. Scientists have learned how to use helpful bacteria to clean and restore great art from the past. Recently, the technique has been used on carvings etched by Michelangelo. Related: What causes zombie plants? The Italian National Agency for New Technologies (ENEA) started experimenting with microorganisms. They performed a “biocleaning” on tombs in Florence, Italy created by the hands of Michelangelo to remove centuries of gunk and grime from the stone . The restored statues are just one more piece of evidence that this type of art restoration is potentially far more effective than anything ever used in the past. It all started back in the 1990s when Giancarlo Ranalli, a microbiology expert, worked in Pisa with the Technical Commission for Restoration to examine how microorganisms damage art. He worked with a team of restorers attempting to undo the damage done to the Camposanto Monumentale, a historic cemetery full of original plaster paintings and carvings. The cemetery was heavily bombed during WWII and restoration of the site proved to be extremely difficult due to animal glues used on the artifacts in the past. Normal methods of restoration just were not working. The chemicals traditionally used in such projects had little to no effect. Finally, someone on the project asked Ranalli a question: “Dr. Ranalli, can’t you do anything with your bugs?” And so, Ranalli gave it a shot. He covered the frescoes that needed to be restored with organic matter. He then experimented with various “ bugs ” until he landed on one that did the exact thing he wanted it to do: consume all the organic material, leaving the stone beneath it untouched. The “bugs” accomplished what decades of restoration attempts had failed at. There is an entire world of bacteria out there to explore. Ranalli successfully used Pseudomonas stutzeri, strain A29, to clean away animal glue. To determine which bacteria can get a restoration job done, a microscopic Hunger Games is carried out in true dramatic fashion. All the potential bacteria candidates are placed together in an environment where they compete for a single source of food . The food source is the target contaminant they will ultimately be tasked with removing. Whichever bacteria win this fight for the food source and learn how to use it to fuel and fed themselves will become cleaning microorganisms once they are thoroughly vetted and tested to ensure that they will not spread beyond the specific art in question, won’t infect humans and won’t cause damage to materials that should be preserved. The method works. A team of restorers in Spain was charged with removing centuries of animal glue, left over from previous restorations, from the glorious Santos Juanes Church. They decided to try Ranalli’s miracle bug, the animal glue-devouring Pseudomonas , to remove the black film of age from the interior of the church . Centuries of dirt were eaten away by the bacteria to reveal glorious details that were covered up before. So when faced by the tombs of the Medici Chanel in Florence, restorers turned to Giancarlo Ranalli for help. You know, the “bug” guy. The tombs were tricky indeed. Full of actual human remains, the tombs also have gorgeous marble statues carved by Michelangelo. Traditional methods would not work. Ranalli’s bacteria did. Silvia Borghini is the conservator at the National Roman Museum. She said that bacteria has really gotten a bad rap over the years because it’s associated with infection . However, it offers up a lot of benefits as well. “Only a very small number of bacteria are pathogens,” Borghini told CNN. “More than 95% of bacteria are not harmful to humans .” She recently used bacteria-laden gel on the statues in the garden at the National Roman Museum, meticulously applying the material to the marble with a toothbrush . She says the bacteria is “easy to apply and afterwards, the artifacts stay clean.” “It doesn’t harm the environment, it’s not toxic for us [humans] or the flora in the garden. It’s perfect,” Borghini said of the bacteria. It’s a marriage of science and art that could truly change the way great works are restored and preserved in the future. This unique biotechnology could solve many problems that chemical solutions have not been able to effectively address. And best of all, it’s organic . The bacteria do their thing and then they’re removed, leaving nothing behind but restored art. It is truly a fascinating example of what is possible when the power of the natural world is harnessed. Via Popular Science and CNN Lead image via Pexels

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Scientists are cleaning art with bacteria

Crayfish interbreeding causing the extinction of native species

October 12, 2021 by  
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In a new study conducted by Illinois Natural History Survey , scientists discovered by chance that the virile crayfish species , faxonius virilis, are interbreeding with native crayfish in the Current River in Missouri, leading to disruptions in the ecosystem. The study, published in the Journal Aquatic Invasions, also mentioned the species are going through biological inversion that may lead to the extinction of native species. Christopher Taylor, a curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and coauthor of the study, found that the virile crayfish is one of the “widest-ranging native crayfish in North America .” Even though it is native to North America, the virile species is considered invasive in most parts of the U.S. It eventually dominates other species in every territory it is introduced. Related: Dramatic decline in population of Lake Tahoe’s tiniest creatures is changing the entire ecosystem Taylor conducted the study with other researchers including Professor Eric Larson of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences department at the University of Illinois.“The Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas are just a great place to be a crayfish,” Larson said. “The streambeds are rocky so you can hide from fish predators, the water chemistry is good, there’s lots of calcium in the stream and there are a lot of groundwater springs that feed into the main river. That’s why there are so many native crayfish there.”The problem with crayfish interbreeding is that the hybrid species displace the native ones. This, in turn, reduces the production of native crayfish and cuts down their reproduction. Furthermore, the hybrid species consume large quantities of aquatic plants and other invertebrates. As a result, interbreeding ends up affecting the populations of other small fish and species in the ecosystem .“The spread and impacts of an invasive species could cause substantial harm to this unique ecosystem,” Larson said.The researchers found it was difficult to determine that the crayfish species were interbreeding since their offspring did not have unique physical appearances. It was only through mitochondrial DNA sampling that the researchers identified traces of the unique DNA within each other.“Initially, we were finding that some of the native spot-handed crayfish, faxonius punctimanus, had mitochondrial DNA sequences that were aligning with invasive virile crayfish,” said Zachary Rozansky, a graduate student who led the research. “We did not observe any differences in colors or patterns indicating they were hybrids . They looked like one or the other.” Via Newswise Lead image via Unsplash

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

September 29, 2021 by  
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This past summer, a herd of 100 Asian elephants made their way across The Mall in front of London’s Buckingham Palace. They weren’t live animals , however, but life-sized elephant sculptures that were handmade by Indigenous community members from the jungles of Tamil Nadu in South India. The environmental art exhibition is called CoExistence. It was headed by Elephant Family and The Real Elephant Collective, a British Charity and non profit socio-environmental enterprise aimed at raising awareness for the Indian elephant. Meant as a response to the increasing overlap between humans and animals, the campaign’s goal is to trigger a movement of global empathy for members of the animal kingdom who, like the majestic elephant, have found themselves sharing natural habitats with overwhelming human populations. Related: “Extinction – The Facts” explores the global extinction crisis and its consequences The sculptures were made using an invasive weed called lantana, whose removal coincides with benefits to wildlife in protected areas, and supplemented with fragrance created by Xerjoff perfumes. The scent emitted from the lantana elephants is designed after the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India where the elephants began their migration. Flying alongside the elephant are sculpted flocks of bird species that have been declared extinct or endangered in the UK, such as the nightingale, curlew, dalmatian pelican and turtle dove. The project helps demonstrate this unique time in history where the worldwide reduction in human activity from COVID-19 has had an overall positive effect on certain pockets of wildlife species around the planet. “Today marks the first significant step on the herd’s 13,000 mile migration around the world . Over the past 18 months, many countries have gone into lockdown,” said Ruth Ganesh, Creative at The Real Elephant Collective and Elephant Family Trustee. “Brought about by tragic circumstances, this ‘great pause’ – coined the ‘anthropause’ – is providing crucial guidance on how to best share space with animals in our crowded planet . The elephants are here to tell their story about the inspiring ways we can coexist with all the other living beings that make our world magical – from tigers and orangutans, to nightingales and elephants.” + CoExistence Via My Modern Met Images via Grant Walker

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

14 exquisite handmade gifts

December 1, 2016 by  
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If you’re looking for sustainably-sourced gifts that will truly surprise your loved ones, feast your eyes on our collection of exquisitely handmade gift options for this year. Produced by under-the-radar designers, you’ll discover unique items for everyone on your list. From foraged botanical perfume oil to hand-drawn floor plans of your favorite TV characters’ homes, we’ve got you covered with one-of-a-kind gifts that will inspire. UNIQUE HANDMADE GIFTS>

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14 exquisite handmade gifts

Plans for a new underground hotel have been approved in London

December 1, 2016 by  
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London tourists may soon get a chance to spend sleep underground at the upcoming subterranean LDN Hotel, the first of its kind in the city. Ian Chalk Architects is working on the sustainable hotel , which will reportedly feature a plethora of plants , and air that’s cleaner than outside. The underground hotel, slated for construction in London’s West End under St Giles Hotel, will house up to 166 guests at affordable prices. The LDN Hotel would sprawl across what is currently an underground parking lot on the fourth and fifth floors below ground. The LDN Hotel design will be similar to Japanese pod hotels, according to Design Curial, except with a toilet and shower in the room. Related: Incredible eco-friendly mansion is hidden entirely underground While critics raised concern about air quality in an underground hotel, the hotel design features a mechanical ventilation system for air purification that is said to ensure the air will be even fresher than outdoors. Sustainability was also said to be an important consideration, though it is yet unclear what features would make it so, apart from comprising a better use of space than the disused parking lot. Wood paneling, flourishing plants that improve air quality, and bright rooms are among the planned hotel’s interior features. While some may balk at the idea of staying in a room without a window, the hotel will be near to tourist attractions, according to planning inspector David Prentis, and offer unique budget accommodations. The initial proposal for the underground hotel was rejected, but planning officers have since granted permission for its construction. Via Design Curial and Evening Standard Images via Ian Chalk Architects

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Plans for a new underground hotel have been approved in London

Secrets of CBS EcoMedia’s advertising success

October 28, 2016 by  
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It’s one of the fastest-growing divisions of CBS. President and Founder Paul Polizzotto describes the unique business model and the role of purpose.

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Renovated Amsterdam office space features a rooftop of glittering aluminum "leaves"

October 3, 2016 by  
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Goede Doelen Loterijen’s 500 employees are currently scattered amongst fifteen different locations, but soon that will all change. The workers came together to assist in the design of their new building, which will take over a vacant structure in desperate need of a transformation. The renovation is expected to receive an “Outstanding” BREEAM rating , the highest available, for its commitment to sustainable functionality. Related: Benthem Crouwel Architects named designer of new Paris airport metro station Inside the building workers will have access to ample office space, a TV studio, public restaurant, and auditorium, most of which will also be open for public meetings and events. The true charm, however, lies in the unique exterior. An extra floor was added to create a uniform roof spanning across the entire building, as well as extending over the lush courtyard. Columns shaped like the surrounding trees support the roof and a pattern of 6,800 polished aluminum “leaves” give off a glittery luster similar to a swaying forest canopy. A total of 2,400 solar panels power the building and a rooftop rainwater collection system will be used for irrigating the building’s gardens. These features combine to create a structure both green in function and in its reverence for the surrounding environment. + Benthem Crouwel Architects Images via Benthem Crouwel Architects

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Renovated Amsterdam office space features a rooftop of glittering aluminum "leaves"

Foster + Partners breaks ground on Ferring Pharamceuticals headquarters in Copenhagen

September 6, 2016 by  
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Foster + Partners just kicked off construction on Ferring Pharamceuticals’ new light-filled headquarters in Copenhagen . Surrounded on all sides by water, the 39,000-square-meter office building takes advantage of its waterfront position with a glass envelope that captures surrounding views and natural daylight. The visually striking building is built like an inverted pyramid and the generous use of glass gives the structure a floating appearance that contrasts with the heavy plinth on which it sits. Located near the Copenhagen International airport in the city’s Kastrup area, Ferring Pharamceuticals’ new country headquarters design is strongly informed by its surrounding urban landscape. Since the site is flanked by predominately low-rise development, the architects designed the building facade with a strong horizontal emphasis and clad the structure almost entirely in glass to take advantage of views. The headquarters’ triangular form was dictated by the shape of the waterfront site and is set atop a large stone plinth that protects the building from flooding. Six glazed floors and a cantilevered roof canopy are stacked atop the plinth and are arranged in such a way to create self-shaded spaces on each floor. A large atrium punctuates the heart of the building and comprises the entrance lobby, cafe, breakout spaces, conference facility, and other social, collaborative spaces. The areas for quiet individual work, such as the offices and laboratories, are tucked away at the edges. The workspace layout was determined by in-depth studies of the company’s work culture. Daylight streams in to illuminate the workplaces from all sides. Related: Foster + Partners’ Droneport will launch aerial vehicles to deliver medical supplies in Africa “We wanted to create a very strong base that directly connects to and celebrates this unique waterside location and lifts the building above that level – so that there are uninterrupted views from the ground floor to the strait and the surrounding harbour,” said Grant Brooker, who led the building design. “For such a significant project it was vital that the building reflected the personality of the organisation and that it would create a collaborative and flexible working environment to carry them through the next century.” + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners breaks ground on Ferring Pharamceuticals headquarters in Copenhagen

19th century Dutch water tower refurbished as a modern office with a view

August 12, 2016 by  
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The water tower was originally designed by architect J. Kalff as part of the city’s network of fortifications. Its role as the gate to the city center remains unchanged to this day. Its unique place in the Dutch architectural heritage is strengthened by the fact that it is the only water tower in the Netherlands with two flat-steel water reservoirs. BOEi commissioned ZECC architects to modernize the structure by introducing a mix of functions to its interior. The team came up with a design that included the installation of an elevator, additional floors and a new staircase leading to the top of the tower. The floors in the old water reservoirs were filled with office spaces, meeting rooms, and presentation halls. Related: 19th Century London Water Tower Transformed into a Unique, High-Flying Home A small, transparent structure, meant to function as a meeting room or event space, was placed on the roof of the tower, offering wonderful views of the medieval city and St. Jan’s Cathedral. New window openings on the two closed facades are clearly distinguishable from the original openings, while at the same time referencing the existing windows with their arched form. + ZECC Architecten Photos by Stijnstijl Fotografie

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19th century Dutch water tower refurbished as a modern office with a view

New Karma Revero will be entirely powered by rooftop solar panels

August 11, 2016 by  
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Those awaiting news about Karma Automotive’s new Revero model have some exciting updates to chew on. For starters, solar panels on the roof are expected to generate sufficient energy to fully power the car. A teaser released by the company sheds more light on what aspiring Revero owners can expect – take a look after the jump. Karma Automotive says the solar panels on the Revero’s roof “will create enough energy to power the car.” An individualized, hand-painted Karma badge is another unique feature – a detail so exclusive no other car manufacturer can make the same claim. Lastly, the updated “infotainment” system is described as “simple, intuitive, and beautiful,” sans a thick and burdensome owners manual. Related: The Fisker Karma will be resurrected as the Karma Revero this year Fisker owners and the media are invited to attend a launch party hosted by Karma Automotive , which is owned by Wanxiang Group, on September 8, 2016. At that time, a Revero pre-order window will open up for Fisker owners. The model’s exclusivity is reflected in the comments of Jim Taylor, Karma’s chief revenue officer, who said, “Serving a mass market is not, and never will be, our purpose.” + Karma Automotive Via Auto Blog Images via Karma Automotive

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