What are they, you ask?
They are tiny bits of plastic used for all sorts of weird purposes. Over 800 trillion microbeads enter US wastewater daily, and because water treatment plants were never designed to handle this new source of pollution, a lot of the microplastics end up in rivers and lakes, get ingested by various creatures, and then make their way up the food chain back to us. here’s the big story on my fave blog, TreeHugger.
Billions of people are stricken by disease every year because of a lack of sewage systems, water processing plants, and proper plumbing. Proper waste management involves expensive infrastructure built to last for decades, if not centuries, regularly maintained by professionals. This is simply impossible in many venues, so a different approach, which doesn’t require central sewage plants, electricity, or expensive maintenance, would be more appropriate. A team at University of Colorado at Boulder have developed a solar powered toilet that can be used just about anywhere with sufficient sun to serve a family of up to six people while generating charcoal for heating the house. The system uses the light of the Sun to heat up the poop, sterilizing it and turning it into biochar. This is done using eight mirrors that focus light on a postage stamp spot which is connected to a bundle of fiber optic cables that guide up to 700 watts of light toward the waste. The light essentially cooks the waste, rendering it into a safe biochar. This biochar can be used as a fertilizer or burned as a heat source. The team will be unveiling their high tech toilet in India later this month and hopes this technology will be rolled out to millions of people around the world.
South Korean police have caught two students selling diet pills. They bought them from a Chinese website. Analysis of the pills found banned substances sibutramine, known to cause heart disease, and phenolpthalein. and – in every pill – 100% match on human flesh.
The search for greener, more power-efficient lighting systems won’t stop with compact fluorescents and LED systems if Dutch electronics giant Philips has anything to say about it. In an effort to embrace a truly natural approach to lighting, the company took a cue from fireflies and deep-sea creatures to create a (literally) green light powered not by electricity or sunlight, but by glowing bioluminescent bacteria. I know the perfect place for it to blaze away happily; teenagers’ rooms.