Amazing bead chain experiment in slow motion

Earth Unplugged has uploaded this video.  The description reads:

Published on Jun 27, 2013

These beads seem to levitate, defy gravity and jump out of the beaker. But how and why do they act like this? We met up with Steve Mould, the science guy from Britain’s Brightest, to explore the science behind the “self siphoning beads” – also known as “Newton’s Beads”.

To get a closer look at the phenomenon, we filmed them in slow motion to try to work out what exactly was happening, and how the behaviour changes with height.

Steve’s original self-siphoning beads are here:
Watch lightning in slow motion here:


Scientists discover new, more energy friendly method to de-salt sea water

“Figure 1. Schematic illustrations of a) the BPE desalination device and b) the region of interest near the BPE anode and ion depletion zone depicting the net velocity vectors of a cationic species under the combined forces of electromigration and convection. Gnd=ground.”

Electrochemically Mediated Seawater Desalination” is the title of the paper published by Angewandte Chemie, International edition earlier this month.

From the paper:

With global demand rising faster than availability, fresh water is quickly becoming a limited resource. In fact, the United Nations estimates one third of the world’s population is living in water-stressed regions, and by 2025 this number is expected to double.1 Seawater desalination is an attractive solution to this problem because seawater accounts for more than 97 % of the world’s water supply.2 Currently, the primary limitation preventing the widespread use of seawater desalination as a fresh water supply is the immense amount of energy required to drive the process.3 Here, we describe a new, electrochemically mediated desalination (EMD) method for membraneless seawater desalination.

Our approach for desalination is illustrated in Figure 1 a. A seawater feed is separated into brine and desalted water streams at the junction of a branched microchannel where a bipolar electrode (BPE)4 is present. The anodic pole of the BPE generates an ion depletion zone,5 and hence a local electric field gradient that redirects ions present in seawater to the brine channel. Importantly, this device operates with an energy efficiency of 25 mW h L−1 (25±5 % salt rejection, 50 % recovery), which is near the theoretical minimum amount of energy required for this process (ca. 17 mW h L−1).6 In addition to this energy efficiency, the approach provides three other important benefits relative to currently available desalination methods. First, EMD does not require a membrane, thereby eliminating a major drawback of reverse osmosis (RO), the most widespread method for desalination.7 Second, EMD requires only a simple 3.0 V power supply to operate and therefore, in the future, may be employed in resource-limited settings with a battery or low-power, renewable energy source. Third, the EMD platform may be prepared with little capital investment and could be implemented in a massively parallel format.8

Read the full article, click here.

Teen Elif Bilgin makes plastic out of banana peels

16 year old Elif Bilgin from Turkey has won the 2nd annual Science in Action award for her project of making bio-plastic from banana peels.  Bloomberg carried this story:

On Thursday, June 27, Elif Bilgin, 16, from Turkey, was declared the winner of
the second annual Scientific American   Science in Action Award , powered by
the Google Science Fair. Bilgin won for her project, Going Bananas! Using
Banana Peels in the Production of Bio-Plastic as a Replacement for Traditional
Petroleum-Based Plastic . In addition to the $50,000 prize, Bilgin will have
access to a year's mentorship and is invited to Google's California
headquarters in September to compete in the 15-to-16-year-old age category in
the overall Google Science Fair.

"My project makes it possible to use banana peels, a waste material which is
thrown away almost every day, in the electrical insulation of cables," says
Bilgin. "This is both an extremely nature-friendly and cheap process, which
has the potential to decrease the amount of pollution created due to the use
of plastics, which contain petroleum derivatives."

Scientific American 's independent judging panel elected Bilgin from a pool of
15 Scientific American Science in Action Award finalists who were culled from
thousands of submissions from more than 120 countries for the 2013 Google
Science Fair. "Thomas Edison famously said, 'Genius is 1 percent inspiration
and 99 percent perspiration,'" says Mariette DiChristina, editor in chief of 
Scientific American and chief Google Science Fair judge. "He would have found
a kindred spirit in Elif Bilgin who spent two years toiling away on her
project to develop a bioplastic from discarded banana skins. We admire her
persistence and her wonderful work."

“Down the River” – news from TN Clean Water Network

Source: Tennessee Clean Water Network
Source: Tennessee Clean Water Network

From the Tennessee Clean Water Network news release:

Do you know what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone? Did you know that Tennessee pollution plays a role in the loss of aquatic species in that Dead Zone?

Many Tennessee lakes and streams are being affected by a form of water pollution with which you may not be familiar – nutrient pollution. Agricultural activities, like farming and breeding cattle, produce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from wastewater and fertilizer runoff. When nitrates and phosphates increase, so do algal blooms. When algae grow and decompose, dissolved oxygen levels decrease, which means our fish and other organisms can’t breathe. Sometimes they come back, and sometimes we lose them for eternity.

Nutrient pollution is a problem for Tennessee lakes and streams, and TCWN works fervently toward awareness and correction of this issue with their work across the state. But the problem goes beyond Tennessee borders. Many of our rivers flow into the mighty Mississippi, and then down to the Gulf of Mexico. There, scientists have been warning of a steadily-increasing area ominously called the Dead Zone. Predictions for its size in 2013 were just released and the news is not good. This year, the Dead Zone might be as large as the state of New Jersey in area – between 7,286 & 8,561 square miles.

Final data will be released by the US Geological Survey in October and will be analyzed by top marine scientists throughout the world. Nutrient pollution is a worldwide problem, and can only be stopped by educating farmers and rural residents, and by supporting regulations for limits on this pollution. That’s why TCWN is proud to be a member of the Mississippi River Collaborative, a coalition of environmental groups and legal centers working hard to ensure that we always have a Mississippi River ecosystem that thrives.

Sustainable living is the key to our future, and TCWN works hard to keep our water environments healthy. Can you help support this important mission? Click here and sign up for a monthly donation of just $10. Do your part, and we can continue to do ours.

The Happy Kid Project on Vimeo

The Happy Kid Project short film opens with this statement:

There is no such thing as a bad kid.  There are happy kids and there are unhappy kids.

Learn more about this new model for enriching relationships with children, co-created by Lynne Forest and Danielle Alvarez.  Click here to read the Happy Kid Project blog.

“The Invention of the Light Wheel” – Max Planck Institute

"Nanoparticles with a spin: A photonic wheel (indicated by the green spot on the white background) causes a nanoparticle in an optical trap to rotate around itself in the direction in which the light is propagating. As soon as the optical trap is opened, the particle’s rotational motion causes it to hurtle away." © Peter Banzer / MPI for the Science of Light Source:
“Nanoparticles with a spin: A photonic wheel (indicated by the green spot on the white background) causes a nanoparticle in an optical trap to rotate around itself in the direction in which the light is propagating. As soon as the optical trap is opened, the particle’s rotational motion causes it to hurtle away.”
© Peter Banzer / MPI for the Science of Light

According to a news release dated June 24th, 2013 by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, physicists have invented a, “New type of light wave extends the possibilities in biology, physics and nonotechnology.

From the report:

Light can now be used to achieve ever better control of microparticles and nanoparticles. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen are now able to use a laser to cause tiny particles to rotate around an axis perpendicular to the light beam – a particle thus rotates like the wheel of a bicycle in its direction of motion. The researchers achieved this by creating a photonic wheel: light with purely transverse angular momentum. This state of light was previously unknown. Physicists assumed that all light had propeller-shaped, longitudinal angular momentum. The new way of controlling light waves makes optical tweezers, which can be used to grip and manoeuvre cells and other micro-objects and nano-objects, more versatile.

Light can exert incredible forces. According to the rules of quantum mechanics, light is an electromagnetic wave, as well as a stream of photons. Since it has momentum, a transparent particle through which a light beam falls experiences a recoil when the photons leave it. Although the force which a photon exerts in this process is almost infinitesimal, the effect of innumerable light particles in intense and tightly focused laser beams adds up in such a way that objects up to a few micrometres can be held in an optical trap or moved in a specific way. Biologists, for example, use this effect in optical tweezers to fix cells and rotate them at the focus of a microscope. To this effect, scientists working with Gerd Leuchs, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, are now creating new possibilities for them.

"Propeller or wheel: In circularly polarised light, the vector which represents the electric field of the light wave (blue arrows) rotates helically in the direction of propagation. Such an electromagnetic wave has longitudinal angular momentum. If two circularly polarised waves rotating in opposite directions meet at a focal point, light with purely transverse angular momentum is generated. Its electric field vector rotates about an axis perpendicular to the direction of propagation like a bicycle spoke." © Peter Banzer / MPI for the Science of Light Source:
“Propeller or wheel: In circularly polarised light, the vector which represents the electric field of the light wave (blue arrows) rotates helically in the direction of propagation. Such an electromagnetic wave has longitudinal angular momentum. If two circularly polarised waves rotating in opposite directions meet at a focal point, light with purely transverse angular momentum is generated. Its electric field vector rotates about an axis perpendicular to the direction of propagation like a bicycle spoke.”
© Peter Banzer / MPI for the Science of Light

Read more about the new research, click here.

“The Heart of the Matter” -American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The Commission on the Humanities and Social Services from the American Academy of Arts has produced this short film with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Several well known artists, visionaries and thinkers of our day are interviewed, Sandra Day O’Connor, John Lithgow, Ken Burns, Billie Tsian, George Lucas and Yo-Yo Ma among them.

Humanities are important for building relationships, for allowing us to dream, to live while we’re alive.  Humanities are good for teaching us human history and showing us our commonalities.  Humanities are important for teaching us law and without them, we would be like robots, uncreative.  Why are we here?  The Humanities are the immeasurable, they teach us the why.  These are some ideas shared by the The Heart of the Matter.


Spinning statuette in Manchester museum

Description reads:

Published on Jun 20, 2013

Time Lapse footage of Manchester Museums Spinning Statuette, taken over a week long period.

“To comment on the video visit and let us know what you think.”

FLOW – For Love of Water(part 1/9) by Irena Salina

FLOW is an award-winning documentary by Irena Salina, released in 2008.  This most excellent 84 minute film builds a solid case against allowing water privatization for profit.  The film begins in America.  I have transcribed most of the first 12 minutes of the film, as I believe water to be sacred.  Water is a natural resource to be cared for and respected, as we are nothing without water.

FLOW takes the viewer from Bolivia to South Africa, to India and Brazil, to France, Canada and the United States to dissect the $400 billion dollar global industry built around privatizing public water supplies.

Opening words, on screen:

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

W.H. Auden

FLOW, the documentary opens with a scene from the Ganges River bank by night.  First words spoken in this film:

More than 2 million people die every year from water-born diseases.  Most of them are children, about 5 years of age.” – Ashok Gadgil

“We have millions of people in the United States.  Every morning, they get up and turn on the tap not knowing that there’s rocket fuel in the water supply.”  – Erik D. Olson

“The world is running out of fresh water.  People will do anything.  They’ll give anything, their life savings, their house, anything for water.”  – Maude Barlow

“Without water, we have nothing, we have no culture, we have no society, we have no economy.  Without water, the Earth wouldn’t be what it is.”

When you think about our planet, it is one huge living body because of the water flowing through it.  And across the land masses, you can have veins of water and arteries of water flowing.  This flows into our ocean, which is the heart of our Earth.  And, it exhales.  It evaporates water and puts water back into the hydrological cycle, which then again, goes up to the mountain tops and again comes down in the form of veins and arteries.  So, our planet is just one huge, living body with water constantly circulating through it and it’s the water that gives it life.”

“We, too are like the surface of our planet, 70% water and 30% solid.  We too have a heart.  We have 60,000 miles of veins and arteries.  And just like the Earth recycles the water, we have a water cycle within us.”  – William E. Marks

The United States does not keep active records of how many people get sick from the water supply every year.  There are estimates that some 500,000 to 7 million people get sick every year from drinking their tap water.” – Erik Olson

One of the problems is that we have lots of bugs in the system, viruses, pathogens, bacteria.  A lot of those things that you think of as stomach viruses or flues come from your drinking water.” – Paul Schwartz – National Policy Coordinator for Clean Water Action

We are not removing things like industrial chemicals, rocket fuel, pesticides, certain pharmaceuticals, drugs that were discharged by like big animal factories or by sewage treatment plants.  A lot of people think they don’t have to worry about their water supply because they go out and buy a bottle of water.  Well, we have news for them.  In fact, a lot of your exposure to many of the chemicals comes from the simple act of showering.  So, some of these more volatile pollutants come in through your skin.” – Erik Olson

[Note: Bottled water also originates from the water supply]

There are over 116,000 human-made chemicals.  We have no idea how they interact.  We are becoming experiments for these synthetic chemicals.  And, when the liver takes these chemicals out of our bodies, what happens, they get flushed down the toilet and then they go into the aquifer and then they go into our rivers and streams.  We take the water from our rivers and streams and we put it into our public water supply systems and we’re drinking it again.” – William E. Marks – Author, “The Holy Order of Water”

“All those pharmaceuticals.  All those cosmetics and the stuff that’s in there.  You know what, it’s changing the chemistry in our bodies and it’s hurting us.” – Schwartz

For the last 20 years, since the Green Revolution brought chemical agriculture to India, there are two problems that it has created for water systems.  The first problem is the crops are actually highly inefficient in water use.  They need lots of water to dissolve the chemicals.  And that means five to ten times more water is used to produce the same amount of food.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva – Physicist

[Subtitled]  “70% of water worldwide is used by agriculture.  20% is used by industry.  10% is used by us.  So, it’s because of agriculture and industrial users, that we need more and more water to grow things that should not grow in these places.  And sure enough, to grow all of this, you need a lot of pesticides and chemicals.  And sure enough, all those chemicals, with water, in the earth.. it’s not a good marriage.” – Jean-luc Touly

[Quoted on screen] “Birth defects in Mexico increase near agricultural areas.”

“Fertility declines throughout Europe primarily in areas with heavy pesticide use.”

“Tasmanian cancer rates shoot up 200% after heavy use of pesticides.”

And today, in lab studies that are not open to the public… we are discovering that in the water of the Seine… in the last five years fish are changing sex.  Ther are only females.  There are no males.” – Touly

[On screen] “In Texas, toxocologists find high levels of Prozac in tissue of every fish they sample.”

“We still have to drink water, no matter what.  Unfortunately, pollution is everywhere.” -Touly

[On screen] “Industrial toxins travel in water and have been found in seals, whales, polar bears and in the breast milk of Inuit mothers.

We musn’t forget that these chemicals were designed for warfare.  They are the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.  Every one of them came out of the war system.  Now, they are in our drinking water.” -Dr. Shiva

“It could sound exaggerated, but really it’s not.  This is not 50 or 100 years, it’s happening right now.” – Touly

“People assume that there’s somebody in their government protecting their water supply and that’s often not the case.  One of the most extraordinary examples of that is the most common pesticide sprayed in the United States, Atrazine.” – Erik Olson

Atrazine itself is an herbicide for weed killer.  And it’s used on products such as corn.  It is the number one contaminant found in drinking water, ground water, surface water.” – Tyrone Hayes – Biologist, Univ of California, Berkeley

[On screen] “Atrazine is manufactured by a Swiss company  called Syngenta.”

“Syngenta is one of the largest agrochemical businesses in the world.”

“Initially, we were contracted by Syngenta, the makers of atrazine.  And, their interest was in trying to understand whether or not, so they said, whether or not atrazine could function as an endocrine disruptor.  Meaning, could it interfere with hormones, such as thyroid hormone, testosterone, estrogen.  We found that atrazine has a number of effects, but most significantly atrazine demasculinizes the exposed male frogs, I would even say chemically castrates. – Dr. Hayes

Continued in part 2/9 :

“We went on to show that in addition to being de-masculinized, they were also feminized.  So, another words, male amphibians would grow ovaries and even produce eggs.  Fish show similar effects.  Their sperm counts drop and they start to make egg yolk protein.  It doesn’t mean that atrazine is causing the global decline in sperm count that’s in men.  Again, the experimental and epidemiological data indicate that atrazine may play a very significant role.” – Dr. Hayes

On screen ] “Low sperm counts blamed on pesticides in U.S. water” – National Geographic, 2005

Atrazine contamination has also been linked with increase incidence of prostate cancer and breast cancer.

“One concern is fetuses that are in effect living in water.  So, if that fetus gets exposed to a chemical, it’s constantly drinking its ambiotic fluid.” – Dr. Hughes

Sweden banned atrazine in 1989, Norway 1990, Italy 1991, Germany 1991, Finland 1993, Austria 1995, Denmark 1995, Belgium 2002, France 2003.

In the entire European Union, atrazine has been banned.  And, in effect that’s the only way you can limit atrazine levels because it can travel up to 600 miles(1000 km) in the rainwater.  In fact, of the 80 million pounds of atrazine we use in the United States, about 1/2 million pounds of that atrazine comes back in the rain water.” – Dr. Hayes

And the irony I guess is that here’s a European company selling 80 million pounds of a product in the United States where it’s not even legal in the home country.” – Dr. Hayes

“When the United States Environmental Protection Agency. and the Bush administration decided that it needed to at least appear to to do something about the problem, after we sued them  They ended up sitting down with the people that made atrazine in private negotiations.  They met over 50 times privately with the company and they cut a deal.  No crack down, no enforcement action, no banning the pesticide.” – Erik Olson

In 2006, the EPA declared that “no harm will result” from exposure to atrazine, according to Olson.

The film goes from here to Bolivia and Lake Titicaca…