We can see how humans have altered Earth’s water resources

We can now see how humans have altered Earth’s water resources

For millennia, humans have harnessed rivers, built dams, and dug wells to quench our growing civilization. Now, for the first time, we have a picture of what all those generations have wrought on our blue planet’s most defining resource.

Newly analyzed data from groundwater-detecting satellites “reveals a clear human fingerprint on the global water cycle,” according to a study out Wednesday in the journal Nature. It’s the kind of … [more…]

66-year-old Alan Turing paper inspires new water-purification technique

photo: Alan Turing

When you think about the English computer scientist Alan Turing you most probably think of either his code-breaking efforts at Bletchley Park during World War II or his early hypotheses about artificial intelligence, which resulted in the formulation of the famous Turing Test.

Something you probably don’t associate him with? Groundbreaking chemistry — and, more specifically, groundbreaking chemistry which could soon be used to provide people around the world with


Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles.

The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure … [more…]

Scientists Create Super-Thin Flowing Water that Shimmers Like Soap Bubbles

From SLAC: “X-Ray Scientists Create Tiny, Super-Thin Sheets of Flowing Water that Shimmer Like Soap Bubbles”

SLAC: The liquid sheets – less than 100 water molecules thick – will let researchers probe chemical, physical and biological processes, and even the nature of water itself, in a way they could never do before.

photo: a small glass chip held in a forceps
This tiny glass chip creates super-thin sheets of flowing liquid for X-ray experiments at SLAC’s X-ray laser, LCLS. A stream of liquid flowing through the middle channel is shaped by flows of gas coming

Algae from wastewater solves two problems: biofuel and cleanup

photo: algae ponds - source of biofuels and, now, wastewater treatment

In one of the first studies to examine the potential for using municipal wastewater as a feedstock for algae-based biofuels, Rice University scientists found they could easily grow high-value strains of oil-rich algae while simultaneously removing more than 90 percent of nitrates and more than 50 percent of phosphorus from wastewater.

The findings, which are based on a five-month study at a wastewater treatment facility in Houston, are available online … [more…]