Streetlights could be replaced by glow-in-the-dark trees after scientists create plants that shine like fireflies

Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

Streetlights could be replaced by glow-in-the-dark trees after scientists create plants that shine like fireflies

  Experts injected specialised nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant This caused it to give off a dim light, that lit up the pages of a book, for 3.5 hours  The enzyme involved, luciferase, is created by fireflies in their fluorescent glow The team hopes to develop a way to paint the nanoparticles onto plant leaves This would allow them to create much larger lights out of trees and bigger plants  By Tim Collins For Mailonline PUBLISHED: 10:19 GMT, 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:47 GMT, 14 December 2017 Roads of the future could be lit by glowing trees instead of streetlamps, thanks to a breakthrough in creating bioluminescent plants. Experts injected specialised nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant, which caused it to give off a dim light for nearly four hours. The chemical involved, which produced enough light to read a book by, is the same as is used by fireflies to create their characteristic shine. Scroll down for video Roads of the future could be lit by glowing trees instead of streetlamps, thanks to a breakthrough in creating bioluminescent plants. Experts created a watercress plant which caused it to glow for nearly four hours and gave off enough light to illuminate this book HOW DOES IT WORK? Luciferases make up a class of oxidative enzymes found in several species that enable them to ‘bioluminesce’, or emit light. Fireflies are able to emit light via a chemical reaction in which luciferin is converted to oxyluciferin by the luciferase enzyme. Some of the energy released by this reaction is in the form of light. The reaction is highly efficient, meaning nearly all the energy put into the reaction is rapidly converted to light. Lighting accounts for around 20 per cent of worldwide energy consumption, so replacing them with naturally bioluminescent plants would represent a significant cut to CO2 emissions. To create their glowing plants, engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) turned to an enzyme called luciferase. Luciferase acts on a molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light. Another molecule called Co-enzyme A helps the process along by removing a reaction byproduct that can inhibit luciferase activity. The MIT team packaged each of these components into a different type of nanoparticle carrier. The nanoparticles help them to get to the right part of the plant and also prevent them from building to concentrations that could be toxic to the plants. The result was a watercress plant that functioned like a desk lamp. Researchers believe with further tweaking, the technology could also be used to provide lights bright enough to illuminate a workspace or even an entire street, as well as low-intensity indoor lighting. Michael Strano, professor of chemical engineering at MIT and the senior author of the study, said: ‘The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp — a lamp that you don’t have to plug in. ‘The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.’ ‘Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes.’ Luciferases make up a class of oxidative enzymes found in several species that enable them to ‘bioluminesce’, or emit light. The chemical involved, which produced enough light to read a book by, is...

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Almost all plastic in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers.

Posted by on December 6, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

Almost all plastic in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers.

Most of the plastic in our oceans doesn’t get dumped there directly, rivers carry it to the sea. As it turns out, a very small number of them do most of the damage. At last count, there were at least 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world. Much of it gets discarded and eventually ends up in our oceans. Researchers are looking for ways to collect that trash in the sea using a variety of technologies but the overall consensus is that using less plastic, or at least catching the trash at the source, would be much better than filtering it out afterwards. Read: There are 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world But where to start? Well, in fact, that might be an easier decision to make than one would think. It turns out that about 90 percent of all the plastic that reaches the world’s oceans gets flushed through just 10 rivers: The Yangtze, the Indus, Yellow River, Hai River, the Nile, the Ganges, Pearl River, Amur River, the Niger, and the Mekong (in that order). These rivers have a few key things in common. All of them run through areas where a lot of people live — hundreds of millions of people in some cases. But what’s more important is that these areas don’t have adequate waste collection or recycling infrastructure. There is also little public awareness that plastic trash is a problem at all, so a lot of garbage, gets thrown into the river and conveniently disappears downstream. So the problem is huge but the good news is that there is no need to reinvent the wheel — or for some breakthrough technology. Simply collecting and recycling trash as is already being done in other parts of the world (with varying degrees of success) could largely solve the problem. “Halving the plastic input from the catchment areas of these rivers would already be a major success,” said Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. Schmidt was lead author on a recent study that identified the 10 rivers as the main polluters. Below some of the  Rivers: Yangtze River The Yangtze is Asia’s longest river and the third-longest river in the world. It also tops the list of river systems through which the most plastic waste flows into the oceans, according to a recent study. The Yangtze flows into the East China Sea near Shanghai and is crucial to China’s economy and ecology. The river basin is home to 480 million people — one-third of the country’s population. Indus River The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research found 90 percent of plastic flowing into oceans can be traced to 10 rivers. The Indus ranks second on the list. One of Asia’s largest rivers, it flows through parts of India and Pakistan into the Arabian Sea, supporting millions of people. While much plastic enters rivers because of a lack of waste infrastructure, sewage systems contribute too. The Ganges The Ganges is central to Indian spiritual life and provides water to more than half a billion people. Sewage, agricultural and industrial waste have made it one of the world’s most polluted rivers, as have the multitudes of plastic that end up in it. Cleaning up the waste – as students are doing in this picture – is important, but experts say we must...

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The incredible moment a chameleon gives birth to 26 adorable fingernail-sized babies on her breeder’s hand

Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Our Environment | 0 comments

The incredible moment a chameleon gives birth to 26 adorable  fingernail-sized babies on her breeder’s hand

Mr. Kleyn has kindly agreed to address Gardening at Leisure in the New Year.  We can look forward to a most interesting talk. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ A breeder in South Africa shared a video of the moment on YouTube A Knysna Dwarf chameleon can be seen perching on his hand while giving birth The breeder says the chameleon gave birth on his hand, away from hungry males Male chameleons can be ferocious, and often try to eat the babies By Shivali Best For Mailonline A chameleon breeder in South Africa has shared an incredible video showing the moment a female chameleon gave birth to her tiny babies on his hand. The tiny lizards, which are just a centimetre long, can be seen calmly crawling down Aldo Kleyn’s palm just seconds after their mother has given birth. These Knysna Dwarf chameleon babies form part of a giant litter of 26 lizards – with their mum taking a grand total of just one hour and 13 minutes to pop them all out. A chameleon breeder in South Africa has shared an incredible video showing the moment a female chameleon gave birth to her tiny babies on his hand WHY DID SHE GIVE BIRTH ON HIS HAND? Mr Kleyn, says the female chameleon was keen to give birth on his hand, away from hungry males. He said: ‘When the females give birth, the males will try to eat some of the young ones. They are quite ferocious. ‘This female was reaching out to me and I realised she didn’t want to give birth on the tree with the males. ‘To begin with I put her on another plant and she gave birth to three babies, but she wanted to get back on my hand.’ Mr Kleyn, 54, says the female chameleon was keen to give birth on his hand, away from hungry males. He said: ‘I was completely blown away. Lots of people have been asking me questions about the video and asking why did I have her giving birth on my hand and not on a plant. ‘When the females give birth, the males will try to eat some of the young ones. They are quite ferocious. ‘This female was reaching out to me and I realised she didn’t want to give birth on the tree with the males. ‘To begin with I put her on another plant and she gave birth to three babies, but she wanted to get back on my hand. ‘It’s amazing to see that. The babies are perfectly formed when they come out. Some people have asked how does she feed them all, but the babies fend for themselves from the moment of birth. These Knysna Dwarf chameleon babies form part of a giant litter of 26 lizards – with their mum taking a grand total of just one hour and 13 minutes to pop them all out. +13 The tiny lizards, which are just a centimetre long, can be seen calmly crawling down Aldo Kleyn’s palm just seconds after their mother has given birth ‘I’m not sure what kind of pain she would have experienced. The females have babies once a year.’ Mr Kleyn says he has a special incubator set aside for the babies from the moment they are born. The babies can shoot out their famous tongues, which he...

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SCIENTISTS DISCOVER OPTICAL ILLUSION SOME FLOWERS USE TO ATTRACT BEES

Posted by on November 14, 2017 in Our Environment | 1 comment

SCIENTISTS DISCOVER OPTICAL ILLUSION SOME FLOWERS  USE TO ATTRACT BEES

  by LORENZO TANOS New research suggests that there are certain flowers that attract bees with a rather unusual optical illusion that’s visible to the insects, but not to human observers in most cases. Typically, gardeners attract bumblebees by planting blue flowers such as hydrangeas and delphiniums, as noted on a report from the Daily Mail. These flowers are high in nectar and are easily capable of attracting bees on their own. But the new discovery points to something different altogether — flowers luring the insects with microscopic ridges found on their petals. These ridges spread out a “blue halo” of light, creating an “aura” that could also be used as a bee signal. “The exciting thing is that it is a new optical trick – we didn’t know that flowers could use disorder to generate a specific color, and that is quite clever,” said study co-author Beverley Glover, from the University of Cambridge in England. The Guardian wrote that the discovery of how flowers attract bees via optical effects builds on previous research from Glover and her colleagues, who had found that the small ridges on the petals of select flowers are capable of bending light — a phenomenon known as diffracting. Having discovered some plants that could diffract, the researchers examined the petals of 12 different flower species to see if the phenomenon also occurred in them. Using artificial flowers with and without blue halos and testing them on bees, the researchers later found that the bees tended to go to the flowers with halos, while also using the blue hue to inform them which of the artificial flowers came with a sugar solution reward. Based on their findings, Glover’s team found that each of the flowers’ ridges had their own unique architecture, with the heights and spacings of the ridges tending to vary in particular. And while it was found that all 12 flowers only gave off a weak sheen, the researchers discovered that the ridges were also capable of dispersing blue and ultraviolet light. With that established, the flowers were revealed to have a “blue halo” effect, one that can only be seen by people in darkly-pigmented flowers, and one that differed based on the ridges’ degree of variation in height or spacing. Humans can’t see the blue hue emitted by the evening primrose’s petal ridges, but bees can. [Image by High Mountain/Shutterstock] The Daily Mail further noted that flowers that attract bees with the blue halo have been around for millions of years. Fossils of flowering plants, or angiosperms, from over 200 million years ago did not yield any proof of petal ridges capable of such optical illusions. But there were “several” examples of blue halo-generating ridges found in examples from two flower groups that had first appeared about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period. These flowers reportedly existed just as bees and other “flower-visiting insects” were beginning to evolve. “Our findings suggest the petal ridges that produce ‘blue halos’ evolved many times across different flower lineages, all converging on this optical signal for pollinators,” said Glover. According to the Daily Mail, the Venice Mallow (Hibiscus trionum), Queen of the Night tulips, a species of daisy (Ursinia speciosa), and a species of evening primrose (Oenothera stricta) are among the examples of blue halo-emitting flowers that attract bees. [Featured Image by Lucia...

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