Sci/Tech briefs

Plastic releases chemicals in oceans

According to a new study by scientists in Japan, plastic can decompose easily in oceans and release certain chemicals that could severely harm animals and even humans.
The scientists stimulated the decomposition of plastic in oceans at 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and this resulted in the production of harmful chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer.
Scientists expect this decomposition to be much faster in natural oceans, as temperatures in oceans often go above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The scientists also analyzed samples from oceans in the United States, Japan, India, and Europe and found traces of such byproducts of plastic decomposition.

Source: Discovery News

Research gives new insight on evolution

Recent research shows that endosymbiosis of two prokaryotic cells, which lack a nucleus, could have been the beginning of life on Earth. Through endosymbiosis, one cell can live inside another cell.
Earlier, only eukaryotic cells, cells that contain a nucleus, were known to undergo endosymbiosis.
This research, published in the journal Nature, shows that endosymbiosis of two groups of prokaryotes — actinobacteria and clostridia — led to the development of the double-membraned cell.
Subgroups of these primitive cells then developed the ability to use oxygen and eventually gave rise to the modern-day organisms.

Source: Science Daily

New screens stretch across surfaces

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed LED display screens that can stretch over objects ranging from the sides of a car to the human body.
To create such screens, the scientists first fixed the light-emitting diodes (LEDs) onto a thin surface that was later dissolved using certain chemicals. The LEDs were held in place during the washing process and were later fixed onto a flexible plastic, glass, or rubber surface.
This novel technique combines the flexibility achieved by using organic materials with the durability and brightness of LEDs.
The panels thus made are also nearly transparent and could be used on windows of vehicles.
The research was published in the journal Science.

Source: Reuters

NASA plans shuttle launch tomorrow

NASA has scheduled the launch of the space shuttle Discovery this Tuesday at 1:36 a.m.
NASA initially had to conduct tests to ensure that foam covering was staying on the tank of the shuttle.
These tests were done following the incident with the shuttle Endeavour last month in which the foam fell off of the tank.
Although Endeavour did not suffer any other damage, foam damage created a hole in the wing of the space shuttle Columbia that led to its disintegration in 2003.
Tests on Discovery, however, revealed that the foam was in place.
Discovery will be on a 13-day mission to continue the construction of the International Space Station.

Source: The New York Times