Friday Science Bites 9/9/16

I’ve been thinking this week about CRISPR and gene drive.  This week, several new articles have come up on the applications of these technologies.  Going to save them for their own post though, and today focus on some lighter items.

  1. Cotton’s status as Fabric Most Likely to Keep Us Cool may be supplanted by something called nanoPE.  A t-shirt made of this fabric has the potential to keep skin a significant 2 degrees Celsius cooler than cotton, which could translate into energy (and $$) savings from less AC use.  The idea is that body heat is retained in both the visible and infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
    The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    The Electromagnetic Spectrum (wikipedia)

    Traditional fabrics like polyethylene that allow IR radiation to pass unfortunately also allow visible light to pass, making clothing rather . . . . non-functional.  But a shirt made from nanoPE allows IR radiation to dissipate while still functioning as an article of clothing.  Though, more work will need to be done before the heads of Fashion Week agree.

  2. On the topic of clothing, this piece reviews the current state of clothing recycling — what’s possible, the current challenges, and who the innovators are.  (Spoiler Alert: H&M is one of them).  According to the article, the ‘holy grail’ of clothing recycling is ‘closed-loop sourcing’, whereby one produce is recycled completely into another product.  I think many of us assume all recycling is closed loop, but in fact, it involves a lot of waste.  For example, with 20% used cotton, H&M’s recycled denim line has “pushed the limit” on what is currently possible.
  3. I haven’t yet focused on scientists in these Friday posts, but I saw a story this last week compelling enough to include here.  It is the story of Eric Breitung, who, after earning his PhD in Chemistry and working at GE as a research scientist, chased and caught his dream of living in New York City and combining science with art through a job in conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  His story is so inspiring to anyone looking for a career change, and coming up against obstacles.  For example, when he was first turned down from an art conservation scientist job at the Met in 2006, he followed up to ask what he needed to do to get a job like this.  The Met offered him a year-long fellowship.  Despite the paycut, he took it, continued to pursue jobs in the field, and in 2015, was contacted by the Met when another art conservation scientist job opened up.  This time, the job was his.  Talk about persistence!
  4. Researchers at Rutgers have overturned the five-second rule, with a twist.  Contamination does increase with time, but within five seconds significant contamination can occur.  The scientists tested various foods on floors treated with the Enterobacter aerogenes B199A bacteria, which attaches to food in a way similar to that of Salmonella.
  5. Speaking of bacteria, this week scientists announced they could watch, in real-time, bacteria develop antibiotic resistance.  Video below.  This is incredible.  Evolution happening, before our eyes.

Leave a Reply