Researchers Just Accidentally Discovered A Process That Turns CO2 Directly Into Ethanol

Researchers Just Accidentally Discovered A Process That Turns CO2 Directly Into Ethanol

In a new twist to waste-to-fuel technology, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed an electrochemical process that uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol. Their finding, which involves nanofabrication and catalysis science, was serendipitous.

Ecosystem In Bottle Only Watered Once In 1972

Ecosystem In Bottle Only Watered Once In 1972

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In a beautiful example of a closed but functional ecosystem, David Latimer has grown a garden sealed inside of a giant glass bottle that he has only opened once since he started it almost 54 years ago.

Latimer planted the garden on Easter Sunday in 1960. He placed some compost and a quarter pint of water into a 10-gallon glass carboy and inserted a spiderwort sprout using wires. In 1972, he opened the garden again to add a bit of water. With that one exception, the garden has remained totally sealed – all it needs is plenty of sunlight!

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It might seem strange to some that a totally sealed garden would thrive like this, but it’s not – the garden is a perfectly self-sufficient ecosystem. The bacteria in the compost break down the dead plants and break down the oxygen given off by the plants, turning it into the carbon dioxide that the plants need to survive. The bottle is an excellent micro version of the earth as a whole.

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(via: dailymail,  boredpanda)

Why Didn’t We Evolve To Like Vegetables Instead Of Unhealthy Foods

Why Didn’t We Evolve To Like Vegetables Instead Of Unhealthy Foods

Wouldn’t it be great if you had cravings for things that are good for you like broccoli or kale? Like, the same cravings you have for things like pizza, chocolate and doughnuts – all the things which cause serious illness and disease. If we evolved to crave things that were good for us, then we would live in a disease free world, but instead, we crave fats and sugars, which make us very ill, and this really makes no sense.. so why did we evolve to love the things that are bad for us?

The answer lies in our evolutionary history, at least 10,000 years ago. In this time we lived as hunter gatherers, and I’ll first look at why we crave sugar:

Sugar is extremely rare when you are a hunter gatherer, and the only real source of pure sugar is honey, which is very difficult to find and even harder to harvest. So, the main source of sugar would be fruits, which are relatively high in sugar, but also contain vital micro nutrients such as vitamin C. Being high in sugar provides much needed energy for the active hunter gatherer lifestyle, and also provided much needed micronutrients, so naturally, we evolved to seek out these sweet tasting fruits. Still, the sugar content of fruits is nothing compared to modern foods, and with an active lifestyle, it would pose no health risks, just benefits.

Fats are also very difficult to find, and the only source would be animals, which understandably don’t want to get caught and eaten. But we evolved to seek out fats because they are a fantastic source of energy, and contain about twice as much energy per gram as carbohydrates, which again, is extremely useful for an active lifestyle. Fats also always come alongside protein, and other nutrients which are not provided in fruits in any meaningful quantity, but are extremely important for health and ultimately survival. So naturally, we evolved to seek out fats and sugars, because they provide us with much needed energy, much needed micronutrients, and, particularly in the case of fats, are quite rare.

We didn’t evolve to crave foods like broccoli simply because they were very easy to find, and didn’t provide much of what we needed the most – energy. Plants like vegetables were probably eaten quite commonly, but because of their ease of access and low energy content, we never needed to crave them.

As we developed agriculture and industry, we were able to extract and concentrate the flavours that we liked – sugar and fat – into extremely unhealthy foods, which cause the illnesses we are all familiar with today. However, if we had evolved to crave broccoli, you can bet that we would have extracted and concentrated whatever was in broccoli into a food which would have resulted in its own illness. The problem isn’t the nutrient as much as the quantity and form we eat them in today.