Category Archives: Everyone

What Is Nanotechnology and How Can It Change Our Lives For the Better?

Nanotechnology is the study of extremely small particles, or nanoparticles, and how these can be manipulated and controlled in useful ways. Nanotechnology is currently being used in hundreds of common products, including batteries, sunscreens, antibacterial products, scratch-resistant coatings, electronics, plastics, and even food and cosmetics.

But this technology is so new, many of us know very little about it. There are also many concerns about its safety for human and ecological health. Let?s shed some light on this important topic and its potential impact on our lives.

WHAT ARE NANOPARTICLES?

Nanoparticles are any particles of matter small enough to be measured on the nanoscale. This is the same scale used to measure atoms and molecules. In fact, many biological and natural systems occur at the nanoscale. The protein hemoglobin that carries oxygen in our blood is only 5 nanometers, or 5 billionths of a meter, in diameter.

Other natural nanoparticles are being investigated for possible use in nanotechnology. For instance, scientists are currently researching the strength and flexibility of spider silk, which is reinforced by natural nanoscale crystals. And they have already copied the nanostructure of lotus leaves to create water repellent surfaces in fabrics and other materials.

WHY USE NANOPARTICLES?

What?s wrong with regular-sized particles, you may ask? The difference lies in what scientists call the ?quantum effect.? Larger particles of matter, such as gases, liquids and solids, have very predictable qualities. Whereas, matter can have unexpected behaviors at the nanoscale. These quantum effects can include properties such as greater strength, lighter weight or increased chemical reactivity.

For example, gold nanoparticles react differently to light than their larger-sized counterparts. Gold can appear red or purple on the nanoscale. Also, it?s been found that gold nanoparticles selectively accumulate in tumors. It?s not known why they do this, but scientists have been able to use gold nanoparticles to create more precise imaging and laser destruction techniques that can target tumor cells and avoid harming healthy cells.

Another important quality of nanoparticles is their significantly larger surface area compared to regular particles. The surface area of a particle is what allows for reactions with surrounding materials. A large particle of matter will have a limited amount of surface area. Whereas, there can be trillions or more nanoparticles in the same amount of space as a larger-sized particle. That means they can have trillions of times more surface area for reactions.

This is important for many different technologies. Scientists are researching nanoengineered batteries and fuel cells, where enhanced chemical reactivity could potentially produce cleaner, safer and cheaper ways to produce and store energy. Nanoparticles? larger surface area also holds great potential for products such as water filtration systems, pharmaceuticals and clothing insulation.

HOW IS NANOTECHNOLOGY USED?

The use of nanotechnology has exploded over the past few decades. More and more manufacturers are including nanomaterials in a vast array of products. In fact, over 1,600 products are known to contain nanoparticles today. And research is ongoing, so you can expect to see a lot more in the near future.

These are some examples of current products and technologies that incorporate nanomaterials.

Biomedical

Nanotechnology is used in many areas of health care, including wound dressings with nanoscale silver as an anti-bacterial agent, and synthetic bone based on nanoparticles that can be inserted into areas where natural bone is missing or broken.

Electronics

The field of nanoelectronics has created many advances, including faster, smaller and more portable electronics with increasingly large amounts of data storage. Ultra-high definition screens use nanotechnology to produce more vibrant colors and improve energy efficiency. Nanoscience is also behind bendable and flexible electronics that are being introduced in medical and other applications.

Clothing

Nanoscale additives and surface treatments have created fabrics that resist wrinkling, staining and bacterial growth. Some fabrics can even provide lightweight ballistic energy deflection in personal body armor.

Energy

The Shenhua Group, one of the world?s largest coal companies, is using nanotechnology to liquify coal and turn it into gas. This could bring a major change to global energy production as countries with large natural reserves of coal, such as China and the U.S., now have the potential to manufacture gasoline.

Sunscreen

Certain sunscreens contain molecularly-engineered nanomaterials that absorb more light than normal brands and spread more evenly on your skin compared to the thick, sticky sunscreens you might be used to.

Cosmetics

Encapsulating or suspending ingredients in what?s called nanospheres or nanoemulsions can increase their penetration into your skin. Many different products use this in some form. For example, in 1998, L?Oreal introduced Plentitude Revitalift, an anti-wrinkle cream that used polymer nanocapsules to deliver active ingredients into deeper layers of skin.

Food

Nanoparticles made from clay are being used in lightweight bottles, cartons and packaging films to create an impermeable barrier to gasses such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. In addition, storage containers are being made with silver nanoparticles embedded in the plastic that will kill any bacteria present.

IS NANOTECHNOLOGY SAFE?

Nanotechnology has the potential to transform our lives for the better. Cheap, lightweight solar plastics are being developed that could make solar energy more widely available. Nanoparticles have been discovered that can easily clean up toxic chemical spills and air-borne pollutants. Lightweight nanomaterials may even hold the key to expanding space exploration.

Despite these potential gains, nanotechnology has a shadow side. It?s a very new science, and therefore, we have no way of knowing the long-term effects of releasing nanoparticles into our environment.

Studies funded by agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency are looking at potential safety concerns associated with nanoscale materials. But, it?s difficult to keep up with this rapidly expanding technology.

And perhaps more concerningly, the nanotechnology industry is largely unregulated. Companies aren?t required to label products containing nanoparticles, and there are no recognized standards on production and handling of nanomaterials. The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety recommends that precautions be in place to avoid worker exposure to nanomaterials, but this is still primarily left in the hands of the employers.

In addition to human health concerns related to nanoparticles, we also do not know the potential affects on our planet and ecosystems. Studies have shown that some nanomaterials are toxic to species such as algae, invertebrates and fish. Disturbing evidence has also found that nanomaterials can be transferred across generations in both animals and plants.

One of the best ways to keep yourself and our planet safe is to stay informed about this new technology. Check if any of your commonly-used products contain known nanoparticles on The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies website. Speak to your local politicians about what they?re doing to ensure the products of nanotechnology are safe.

And don?t hesitate to share what you know with others. The more everyone knows about nanotechnology, the more likely it is that manufacturers will be held accountable to effective health and safety standards.

Related at Care2

Will Nanotechnology Help or Hurt Our Environment?
What Is Rising CO2 in Our Atmosphere Doing to Our Food?
5 Household Items You Should Be Buying Organic

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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What Is Nanotechnology and How Can It Change Our Lives For the Better?

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Most members of the National Park Service Advisory Board got so frustrated they quit.

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Most members of the National Park Service Advisory Board got so frustrated they quit.

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The NAACP is bringing renewable energy to communities of color.

Over the next year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will install solar panels on 20 households and 10 community centers, train 100 people in solar job skills, and push for equitable solar access policies in at least five states across the U.S.

“Underserved communities cannot be left behind in a clean energy transition,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a statement about the new Solar Equity Initiative. “Clean energy is a fundamental civil right which must be available to all, within the framework of a just transition.”

The initiative began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by installing solar panels on the Jenesse Center, a transitional housing program in L.A. for survivors of domestic abuse. The NAACP estimated that solar energy could save the center nearly $49,000 over the course of a lifetime, leaving more resources to go toward services for women and families.

Aside from the financial benefits, the NAACP points out that a just transition to clean energy will improve health outcomes. Last year, a report by the Clean Air Task Force and the NAACP found that black Americans are exposed to air nearly 40 percent more polluted than their white counterparts. Pollution has led to 138,000 asthma attacks among black school children and over 100,000 missed school days each year.

It’s just a start, but this new initiative could help alleviate the disproportionate environmental burdens that black communities face.

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The NAACP is bringing renewable energy to communities of color.

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Los Angeles schemes to sue major oil companies over climate change.

Over the next year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will install solar panels on 20 households and 10 community centers, train 100 people in solar job skills, and push for equitable solar access policies in at least five states across the U.S.

“Underserved communities cannot be left behind in a clean energy transition,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a statement about the new Solar Equity Initiative. “Clean energy is a fundamental civil right which must be available to all, within the framework of a just transition.”

The initiative began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day by installing solar panels on the Jenesse Center, a transitional housing program in L.A. for survivors of domestic abuse. The NAACP estimated that solar energy could save the center nearly $49,000 over the course of a lifetime, leaving more resources to go toward services for women and families.

Aside from the financial benefits, the NAACP points out that a just transition to clean energy will improve health outcomes. Last year, a report by the Clean Air Task Force and the NAACP found that black Americans are exposed to air nearly 40 percent more polluted than their white counterparts. Pollution has led to 138,000 asthma attacks among black school children and over 100,000 missed school days each year.

It’s just a start, but this new initiative could help alleviate the disproportionate environmental burdens that black communities face.

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Los Angeles schemes to sue major oil companies over climate change.

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Farewell to Reality – Jim Baggott

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Farewell to Reality

How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth

Jim Baggott

Genre: Physics

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: August 6, 2013

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


From acclaimed science author Jim Baggot, a lively, provocative, and “intellectually gratifying” critique of modern theoretical physics ( The Economist).   Where does one draw the line between solid science and fairy-tale physics? Jim Baggott argues that there is no observational or experimental evidence for many of the ideas of modern theoretical physics: super-symmetric particles, super strings, the multiverse, the holographic principle, or the anthropic cosmological principle. Unafraid to challenge prominent theorists,
Baggott offers engaging portraits of many central figures of modern physics, including Stephen Hawking, Paul Davies, John D. Barrow, Brian Greene, and Leonard Susskind. Informed, comprehensive, and balanced, Farewell to Reality discusses the latest ideas about the nature of physical reality while clearly distinguishing between fact and fantasy, providing essential and entertaining reading for everyone interested in what we know and don’t know about the nature of the universe and reality itself. Praise for The Quantum Story : “Baggott has done something that I would have thought impossible in a popular book. He navigates successfully between the Scylla of mathematical rigor and the Charybdis of popular nonsense.” — The Wall Street Journal “The basic history behind the quantum revolution is well-known, but no one has ever told it in such a compellingly human and thematically seamless way.” — Publishers Weekly , starred review “Intellectually gratifying.” — The Economist Jim Baggott completed his doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Oxford and his postgraduate research at Stanford University. He is the author of The Quantum Story , The First War of Physics , and A Beginner’s Guide To Reality . Baggott lives in England.

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Farewell to Reality – Jim Baggott

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Hey — everyone can get into national parks for free on Monday.

Here’s the idea: Build underwater barriers in front of the glaciers most vulnerable to collapse, keeping warm ocean water from sloshing in to melt them.

Princeton glaciology postdoc Michael Wolovick presented this concept at the American Geophysical Union conference in December, as the Atlantic reports.

The Antarctic glaciers Wolovick studies are subject to disastrous feedback loops: The more they melt, the more they are exposed to melt-inducing seawater. Recent studies have suggested these massive stores of ice could collapse much faster than previously thought, potentially raising sea levels by 5 to 15 feet by the end of the century (that’s seriously bad news for coastal cities).

Wolovick has been researching the feasibility of slowing that collapse with ‘sills’ constructed out of sand and rock along the fronts of these vulnerable glaciers. Unlike a seawall, they would be entirely underwater, but would keep warm ocean water from reaching a glacier’s vulnerable base.

That could stall glacial retreat dramatically, and maybe even reverse it. In Wolovick’s virtual experiments, even the least successful version of the sills slowed a glacier’s collapse by 400 or 500 years.

It’s all still a huge if, Wolovick admits, that requires more research. But if it works, it could buy some crucial time against sea-level rise.

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Hey — everyone can get into national parks for free on Monday.

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Get used to saying ‘bomb cyclone.’ This is our climate now.

Now that one of the strongest nor’easters on record has swirled off to Canada, it’s time to talk about what everyone was thinking during the storm: Is this just what happens now?

Short answer: yes. Get used to it. Wild storms like this week’s massive coastal cyclone will be part of winters in the Anthropocene.

This storm’s frightening name — the “bomb cyclone” — was derived from an obscure meteorological term and caught on after President Donald Trump’s terrifying tweet about nuclear weapons. The storm wasn’t as scary as all that, obviously, but it still spread havoc.

The storm ravaged a swath of the country from Florida to Maine. In South Carolina, rare snow blanketed downtown Charleston. In South Florida, stunned iguanas fell from the trees.

Boston also witnessed its largest coastal flood in history. Amid the usual scenes of buried cars and cute dogs playing in the snow, we also saw waves crashing through a seawall into homes and fire trucks plowing through flooded streets on their way to high-water rescues. At one point, the National Weather Service in Boston warned people not to ride the icebergs that were floating in on the high tide. That’s … unusual.

Storms like this one have always threatened to flood coasts. Seven of New York City’s 10 worst coastal floods on record have been from nor’easters. With rising seas and warming wintertime oceans juicing the power of cyclones, there’s good reason to expect that huge winter storms will pose an increasingly severe risk to coastal communities in the Northeast. In fact, it’s exactly what we expect will happen with climate change.

It’s normal for winter storms to gather strength in a hurry — dozens of them do so every year around the world. But the “bomb cyclone” intensified at a rate far exceeding any storm to come close to the East Coast since the advent of weather satellites in the 1970s. After a day of searching, the National Weather Service found a similar storm from 1989 about 600 miles off the coast that didn’t affect land.

Meteorologists and weather geeks spent the storm marveling at the view from space, but as with every big storm of our new era, this one felt like a harbinger.

Atlantic Ocean temperatures right offshore were as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal for early January, causing hurricane-force winds and snow squalls so intense they fired off lightning bolts over parts of New York and Rhode Island. Forecasters dispatched a Hurricane Hunter airplane to investigate the storm.

All this atmospheric drama overshadowed two other storms underway at the same time. A sprawling cyclone even stronger than the “bomb cyclone” plowed past Alaska, where the ocean should be covered in ice this time of year. In Europe, a powerful ocean storm made landfall in the British Isles. It arrived with a cold front whose strong winds fanned midwinter wildfires on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica and closed down ski slopes in the Alps for fear of avalanches.

For some, all this evidence of an overheating world is too much to accept.

In comments on the Senate floor this week, Senator James Inhofe of snowball fame, riffed on another recent presidential tweet in the context of the current cold snap. “Where is global warming when we need it?” he said. “We sure needed it this last week.”

Increasingly, it seems like the only time you hear a climate denier talk about climate change is when a snowstorm hits. Hey, look! It’s really cold outside. This snowball sure isn’t warm; therefore the world isn’t warming.

Winter may be the last refuge of climate deniers, so it makes sense that they’ll work harder to seize on cold-weather storms. It’s a window into their view of the world. Appearance is enough evidence. It’s all that really matters. Given what’s at stake in the oceans and on land, such views should be seen for what they are: a threat to our safety, just as real as any bomb.

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Get used to saying ‘bomb cyclone.’ This is our climate now.

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‘Climate gentrification’ is coming to Miami’s real estate market.

In 2017, I couldn’t stop trying to identify corvids. It’s harder than you might think. My latest challenge: a photo of a black bird on the ground. It’s got the fluffy neck feathers of an adult raven and the blue eyes of a baby crow. I’m going with: Raven.

Turns out it’s an Australian raven, a species identifiable by their bright blue eyes. By the rules of #CrowOrNo, I win, because I correctly guessed it’s not a crow. (Though in fairness, I’d call it a draw.)

#CrowOrNo is a weekly Twitter challenge hosted by University of Washington crow scientist Kaeli Swift. Each week, she posts a picture of a bird, which always — to the untrained eye — looks an awful lot like a crow. For a few hours, the eager public submits guesses as to whether it’s a crow, or no. After the big reveal, she explains the clues to use to tell crows from their cousins.

The challenge helps illustrate the large and surprisingly complex world of corvids, a smart family of big-brained birds that includes crows, ravens, and jays. It also shines light on some great crow-themed mysteries, like why some crows have caramel-colored feathers.

For me, the more I learn about crows, the more I see the extraordinary in the most seemingly ordinary birds — like the fact they can recognize faces and might even give gifts.

That’s the value of taking science out of the lab to the social media sphere, like Swift is doing. And, crow or no, I think we could all use a little more science in our lives.

Jesse Nichols is a contributing assistant video producer at Grist.

Continued here:

‘Climate gentrification’ is coming to Miami’s real estate market.

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Trump trolls America during a cold snap that covers 1 percent of the Earth’s surface.

In 2017, I couldn’t stop trying to identify corvids. It’s harder than you might think. My latest challenge: a photo of a black bird on the ground. It’s got the fluffy neck feathers of an adult raven and the blue eyes of a baby crow. I’m going with: Raven.

Turns out it’s an Australian raven, a species identifiable by their bright blue eyes. By the rules of #CrowOrNo, I win, because I correctly guessed it’s not a crow. (Though in fairness, I’d call it a draw.)

#CrowOrNo is a weekly Twitter challenge hosted by University of Washington crow scientist Kaeli Swift. Each week, she posts a picture of a bird, which always — to the untrained eye — looks an awful lot like a crow. For a few hours, the eager public submits guesses as to whether it’s a crow, or no. After the big reveal, she explains the clues to use to tell crows from their cousins.

The challenge helps illustrate the large and surprisingly complex world of corvids, a smart family of big-brained birds that includes crows, ravens, and jays. It also shines light on some great crow-themed mysteries, like why some crows have caramel-colored feathers.

For me, the more I learn about crows, the more I see the extraordinary in the most seemingly ordinary birds — like the fact they can recognize faces and might even give gifts.

That’s the value of taking science out of the lab to the social media sphere, like Swift is doing. And, crow or no, I think we could all use a little more science in our lives.

Jesse Nichols is a contributing assistant video producer at Grist.

Continue reading here – 

Trump trolls America during a cold snap that covers 1 percent of the Earth’s surface.

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The Great Lakes are having Great Snowstorms partly thanks to climate change.

It started with the cinematic, widely serenaded death of spunky little spacebot Cassini, closing out a 13-year mission to Saturn with a headlong dive into the planet’s gaseous atmosphere.

Meanwhile, back on a more familiar planet, an orbiting satellite named DMSP F19 quietly blinked out. The DMSP weather-tracking satellites have meticulously recorded Arctic sea ice coverage since 1978, which makes them one of our longest-running climate observations. But in 2015, Congress voted to mothball the last satellite in the series. Now, on the cusp of the biggest planetary shift humans have ever seen, we stand to lose one of our best means for understanding it.

Also this year, I started following LandsatBot, a project by Welsh glaciologist Martin O’Leary that tweets out random satellite views of Earth’s surface hourly. Like a geographic Chat Roulette, LandsatBot scratches the same imaginative itch that high-def images of Saturn’s rings do, but its alien views are all terrestrial. From satellite height, every landscape looks like an abstract painting, all fractal rivers and impressionist daubs of cloud.

These days, amidst an unending torrent of Game of Thrones gifs, signs of the end of democracy, and variations on that distracted boyfriend meme, I sometimes come across a Landsat image dropped without comment into the clutter. I stop and stare. Whether it’s an astroturf-green wedge of land somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago or the Crest-colored swirl of icy Antarctic seas, I try to imagine the world down there: A place I will probably never go, without landmarks or footprints, but irrevocably changed by us. Whether you recognize it or not, it’s home.

Amelia Urry is an associate editor at Grist.

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The Great Lakes are having Great Snowstorms partly thanks to climate change.

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