Biofuels like ethanol could be worse than gasoline for the environment

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Know what happens when you assume? You make an ass out of you, me, and the federal government.

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Biofuels like ethanol could be worse than gasoline for the environment originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:20:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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from Autoblog

Waste Amphetamines Alter Underwater Ecosystems

Last week, tens of thousands of gallons of sewage gushed into urban streams in Baltimore, because of leaky pipes and flooding rains. And when that happens, it’s not just organic matter and microbes that get flushed into aquatic habitats. It’s drug residues, too: caffeine, antihistamines, headache drugs… even amphetamines and heroin. 

Researchers actually detected all those drugs a few years ago, in a survey of urban and suburban streams in Baltimore. And they wanted to see what effect illegal drugs, like amphetamines, might have on aquatic ecosystems. So they built artificial streams in the lab, stocked with insects and real creek rocks—slippery ones with biofilms of algae and bacteria growing on them. Then they doped half the streams with amphetamine residues—similar to the concentrations found in real urban streams. 

After three weeks, the mix of microbial life in the amphetamine-laced streams changed significantly, compared to the untainted waters. And insects like midges emerged earlier than usual—suggesting that drug residues might be able to alter food webs underwater, and on land, too. The results appear in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. [Sylvia S. Lee et al., Occurrence and Potential Biological Effects of Amphetamine on Stream Communities]

Previous studies have shown that even treated sewage has lots of drug residues in it—because most wastewater treatment plants weren’t built to filter out pharmaceuticals. One solution, the researchers say, is more up-to-date wastewater infrastructure. Think of it as preventive medicine…for the nation’s aquatic life.

—Christopher Intagliata

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

from Scientific American

Artist Submerges Black Dress In Dead Sea For Two Years, It Emerges In Pure White Salt

Israeli artist Sigalit Landau submerged a black dress in the Dead Sea in 2014 as part of an eight-part photo series entitled Salt Bride. Every three months she would take a photo of the dress as it gradually become covered in salt crystals until, two years later, it was completely coated in white. How about that! Still, no word how many times Ariel tried it on and pretended she was a person with legs while nobody was around, but I guarantee her father wasn’t happy about it.
Keep going for shots of the whole process.
Thanks to Ashley, who wants a dress covered in geodes. I want tiger’s eye pants!

from Geekologie – Gadgets, Gizmos, and Awesome

Dexmo exoskeleton glove lets you touch and feel in VR

As much as we enjoy virtual reality these days, there’s still the occasional urge to fiddle with virtual objects using just our hands. If all goes well, the upcoming Manus VR glove will be the first to unwrap our hands from controllers, but it’ll only provide tactile feedback, meaning you still won’t be able to feel the shape nor physical properties of virtual objects. This is where Dexmo comes in: This mechanical exoskeleton glove tracks 11 degrees of freedom of motion and offers variable force feedback for each finger. To put it simply, you’ll be able to realistically squeeze a rubber duck in the VR world. Better yet, this seemingly clunky glove claim to be lightweight and also runs wirelessly "for a relatively long time."

Dexta Robotics, the Chinese startup behind Dexmo, has spent the last two years coming up with over 20 prototypes before getting to the current version. Unfortunately for us mere mortals, it’ll be a while before we can get our hands on this device. CEO Aler Gu told Engadget that he’s only made a batch of Dexmo and is currently seeking keen software developers plus VR/MR (mixed reality) market leaders who can take full advantage of his gear, before he eventually takes it to market — be it for gaming, education, medical or training.

"Selling Dexmo is different than selling consumer electronics because you can’t use Dexmo right out of the box," Gu added. "It will take some really amazing content for people to realize how gaming-changing this innovation actually is."

Little else is known about the Dexmo at the moment — no date nor price just yet. However, with Valve now opening up the HTC Vive’s trackers to third-party peripherals, we can already imagine how much more awesome VR will be courtesy of these futuristic gloves. Some day we’ll look back and think, VR was so lame when we only had controllers.

Source: Dexta Robotics

from Engadget