g:science

People around the world use more than a trillion plastic bags every year. They’re made of a notoriously resilient kind of plastic called polyethylene that can take decades to break down.

But the humble wax worm may hold the key to biodegrading them.

It was an accidental discovery. Scientist and beekeeper Federica Bertocchini was frustrated to find that her beehives were infested with the caterpillar larvae of Galleria mellonella, commonly known as a wax worm.

Bertocchini, who works at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain, tells NPR that she was cleaning out the hive and put the worm-infested parts in a plastic bag.

But shortly afterward, she noticed that “they were all crawling around my place and the plastic bag was riddled with holes.”

The Lowly Wax Worm May Hold The Key To Biodegrading Plastic

Photo: Wayne Boo/USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

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INSECTS ARE THE BEST BUILDERS

THEY BUILD THE COOLEST HOUSES

Here’s a happy video for you. <3 we filmed it toward the end of last year but wanted to wait and publish as we get back into the swing of things – our regularly scheduled content is coming back! 

If all goes to plan, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will beam new images of Saturn and its rings to Earth early Thursday, sharing data collected Wednesday from its first dive through the gap between the planet and its striped belt of ice and rock particles.

Today’s dive also marks the start of the final phase in the craft’s 13-year visit to Saturn. Days ago, it used the gravity of Saturn’s moon Titan to bend its path toward its eventual destruction on the planet.

Cassini descended below the ring plane around 5 a.m. ET Wednesday, but the antenna it would normally use to send images is instead being used to deflect potentially harmful objects away from its instruments. As it performed the move, the craft’s Twitter feed announced, “Shields Up!

Cassini Spacecraft Starts Weaving Between Saturn And Its Rings

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

sciencealert.com
We Finally Know How Naked Mole Rats Survive Without Oxygen, and It's Really Freaking Weird
Naked mole rats ( Heterocephalus glaber ) have never been the most conventional mammal - the scrotum-looking creatures are resistant to cancer , can survive almost 20 minutes without oxygen, and can barely feel pain .
By Carly Cassella

Instead of sticking to a glucose-based system, which is dependent on oxygen, when a naked mole rat is deprived of oxygen, it switches its metabolism so that its brain cells start burning fructose for energy instead of glucose.  

Fructose can be turned into energy anaerobically - which means it doesn’t require the presence of oxygen to be broken down into cellular energy.

Until now, this anaerobic pathway was thought only to be used by plants.  

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The “TERRIFYING” asteroid that flew by Earth was not a threat. Ignore the sensationalism.

  • On April 19, a whopping, lustrous asteroid called 2014 JO25 soared past Earth at a safe but visible distance of 1.1 million miles.
  • This particular fly-by was impressive: “The encounter … is the closest this asteroid has come to Earth for at least the last 400 years and will be its closest approach for at least the next 500 years,” according to NASA. “This will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size.”
  • Impressive. But did it burn through the atmosphere, threatening to crush and burn us all in a fiery storm of death? No.
  • According to NASA, “there [was] no possibility” for the 2,000-foot space rock to collide with our dear planet.
  • That didn’t stop the viral news industry from whipping up some ludicrous headlines about 2014 JO25.
  • In reality, the fly-by presented an exciting scientific opportunity to collect data. Read more (4/26/17 8:13 AM)

follow @the-future-now

theverge.com
An artificial womb successfully grew baby sheep — and humans could be next
Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop — much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their...
By Rachel Becker

Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop — much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their lungs and brains grew, they sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wriggled around, and learned to swallow, according to a new study that takes the first step toward an artificial womb. One day, this device could help to bring premature human babies to term outside the uterus — but right now, it has only been tested on sheep.

Instead, the point of developing an external womb — which his team calls the Biobag — is to give infants born months too early a more natural, uterus-like environment to continue developing in, Flake says

 Apparently there’s some confusion about my stances on abortion.  So I figured I’d take this article as a clear example of my hopes and to clarify confusion.

Currently, I am pro-choice.  I am in favor of a woman’s rights to control her body and her bodily autonomy.

In a few years where the technology described above is commonplace and practicable for the average woman to access and utilize, I will switch to being against abortion in favor of putting the fetus in an artificial womb to develop normally.

The woman is no longer pregnant and can choose whether to keep the fetus or put it up for adoption.  In the latter case it would be put into the adoption pool.  But the pregnancy, sex, and parenthood are related but not dependent processes.

You have the right to bodily autonomy and to support, or not support, any fetus or child you wish.  However, you do not have the right to unnecessarily kill that person or person-to-be.

Fees and minutiae I have no particularly feelings on, but that is my view of Abortion and the future of abortion.