This weird crawling robot baby is used to study dirt and bacteria inhalation

Purdue University researchers built this bizarre crawling robot baby to study how real infants kick up dirt and bacteria from carpet that they then inhale. Engineer Brandon Boor and his colleagues ran the robot over carpet samples removed from people's homes and then analyzed the particulates that were stirred up. Turns out that the particle concentration is as much as 20 times greater than higher up in the room where we adults breathe. That isn't necessarily bad though, Boor says.

"Many studies have shown that inhalation exposure to microbes and allergen-carrying particles in that portion of life plays a significant role in both the development of, and protection from, asthma and allergic diseases," says Boor, an assistant professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering. "There are studies that have shown that being exposed to a high diversity and concentration of biological materials may reduce the prevalence of asthma and allergies later in life."

(Purdue University)

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Watch artists turn a toxic abandoned mining facility into a powerful environmental message

Political art collective INDECLINE (previously) create provocative works. Their latest repurposes a gold ore processing facility on the Mojave National Preserve that was closed in 1994 and declared a Superfund site. Read the rest

Deep-sea expedition seeks clues about how extraterrestrial life might exist

Life on the Rocks is a fascinating account of a scientific expedition to a craggy archipelago off Brazil, where conditions may unlock secrets about possible life forms on Europa, Enceladus, and other nearby celestial bodies. Read the rest

3D printing bacteria to clean up toxic chemicals or make band-aids that heal

ETH Zurich researchers developed a "living ink" for 3D printers that's made from bacteria, nutrients, and a polymer gel. In a small scale demonstration, they printed a small 3D lattice of the material that cleaned up a beaker of contaminated water. From Science News:

Lattices packing various types of chemical-hungry bacteria could create special water filters or help clean up oil spills. And unlike free-floating bacteria, cells locked in a 3-D grid could be plucked out of cleaned-up water and reused somewhere else....

Bacteria-filled 3-D prints could also produce bacterial cellulose — a gelatinous substance used for dressing wounds. Bacterial cellulose is typically grown in sheets, but “imagine if you have a burn on your elbow,” (materials scientist Manuel) Schaffner says. “You try to wrap flat, wet tissue around this area, it’s prone to detach.” Swathes of cellulose grown on 3-D printed structures could precisely match the contours of specific body parts, curbing the risk of contaminants getting trapped under wrinkles in the cellulose or the material peeling off.

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Boaters stumble on massive Caribbean gyre of plastic garbage

Nothing like going to a tropical dive spot known to be "untouched" by humans, only to find a giant plastic garbage patch stretching as far as the eye can see. The Doobie Brothers music adds a nice touch. Read the rest

Conservationists offer $150K to buy a forest, government sells it to loggers for $40K less

Indiana’s Yellowwood State Forest is a scenic forest that Indiana's Department of Natural Resources put up for sale. But after conservationists gathered $150,000 to preserve the forest for another 100 years, the government sold it to a local logging company for $108,785. Read the rest

Wasted! Looks at the major issue of food waste

Chef Anthony Bourdain hosts this interesting documentary on the massive amount of wasted food in our current supply chain, and how it could be diverted from landfills to feed humans, animals, and plants. Read the rest

Last-ditch plan to save 30 remaining vaquitas, earth's tiniest porpoises

Vaquita CPR is the international effort to save the "pandas of the sea," critically endangered and super-cute vaquitas, the earth's smallest species of porpoises. Only 30 are believed to live in their range in the northern Gulf of California. Read the rest

Canadian pipeline project dies, leaving Canada's filthy tar sands with nowhere to go

Canada's filthy tar sands are the world's most carbon-intensive petroleum source, and in the boom years, they flooded the country with so much filthy money that the country spent a decade making war on science and trashing democratic fundamentals in a bid to sustain the tar-sands bubble. Read the rest

Idaho hopes to preserve starry skies with America's first dark sky reserve

The Idaho Statesman has some great updates on the local push to get a large swath of central Idaho designated as America's first dark sky reserve. Read the rest

Timelapse of pastel artist creating large glacier image

Zaria Forman was inspired to create large-scale pastel drawings of icebergs and glaciers after going on a scientific expedition. She created this one earlier this year while she was artist in residence at the Mountainside Northstar resort. Read the rest

Otherworldly drone photos of the Dead Sea

For a hobbyist, photographer Tzvika Stein captures some remarkable images around the world. It's hard to top his cool drone photos of the Dead Sea, which look like another planet. Read the rest

Brexit: UK Tories propose changing thousands of laws in secret, without Parliamentary oversight

Much of the UK's system of laws and "unwritten constitution" derives from EU law, so with Brexit inexorably advancing, the UK has to pass a whole raft of parallel legislation that will replace the EU laws with UK versions, lest there be a "legal black hole" the day after Brexit. Read the rest

Clear-cut tropical forest revitalized with industrial orange peel waste

In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs convinced a Costa Rican orange juice maker to to dump their waste peels in a clear-cut abandoned pasture that was in a national park. Twenty years later, the enriched soil nourishes tropical forest again, according to a new report. Read the rest

Watch this robotic eel swim about measuring water pollution

Swiss researchers have unleashed a robotic eel in Lake Geneva, and their Envirobot successfully detected where the researchers had poured salt along the shore. Read the rest

Crocheted pigeon costumes for dressing them up as extinct birds

Laurel Hope Roth, a former park ranger turned artist, has spent parts of the last decade creating intricate crocheted Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons. Read the rest

This panda-shaped solar farm sets a new bar for cute creativity

Panda Power Plant in Datong, China is a multiphase solar farm building panda-shaped solar arrays. Read the rest

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