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Teen Wins Google Science Award For Removing Plastic Microbeads From Water

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Teen Wins Google Science Award For Removing Plastic Microbeads From Water
Photo Credit: Medium

An Irish teenager has won an international science award for his project which removed microplastics from water. 

Fionn Ferreira, from Ballydehob in west Cork, has been named the overall winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair, a prestigious annual global science competition open to students aged 13 to 18.

The 18-year-old was awarded a $50,000 (about €45,000) bursary at an awards ceremony at the Google international headquarters in Mountain View, California, yesterday.

Ferreira was one of 24 finalists chosen from a shortlist of 100 regional entries that competed for the top prize.

Teen Wins Google Science Award For Removing Micro Plastics From Water
Fionn Ferreira . Image Source: Unilad

His project examined a new method for extracting microplastics (plastic particles less than 5mm in diameter) from water. 

Microplastics or microbeads are mostly used in soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs to exfoliate skin, although they also can be found in toothpaste and abrasive cleaners.

In waterways, fish and other wildlife mistake the tiny scraps of plastic for food and, from there, the beads are integrated into the food chain.

Source: Fionn Ferreira/YouTube

At present, no screening or filtering for microplastics takes place in any European wastewater treatment centres.

Ireland plans to introduce legislation that will outlaw the sale, manufacture, import and export of products containing microplastics.

Ferreira used ferrofluids, a combination of oil and magnetite powder, and magnets to extract microplastics from water. 

In 1,000 tests, Ferreira was able to remove over 87% of microplastics from water samples.

“The method used was most effective on fibres obtained from a washing machine and least effective on polypropylene plastics,” he said.

Ferreira stated that his proposal could “form the basis for an effective way of extracting microplastic from water”, adding: “The next step is to scale this up to an industrial scale.”

Ferrier sat his Leaving Certificate exams last month at Schull Community College and is due to attend university in the Netherlands. 

The teenager works as a curator at the Schull Planetarium, has won 12 science fair awards, speaks three languages fluently, plays the trumpet at orchestra level, and had a minor planet named after him by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

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AI

New AI Decodes Your Brainwaves And Draws Whatever You’re Looking At

“If you wish to understand the Universe think of energy, frequency, and vibration.”

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New AI Decodes Your Brainwaves and Draws Whatever You’re Looking At
Photo Credit: The Mind Unleashed

Manuel García Aguilar, The Mind Unleashed 

Waves are all around us. Everywhere we go we encounter them. From Texas to New York and from China to Canada, you’ll always have waves vibrating and creating part (even most) of your reality. We can find them in the form of sound, images, and even heat.

As Nikola Tesla once said:

“If you wish to understand the Universe think of energy, frequency, and vibration.”

And now, a team of scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Russian corporation Neurobotics understands the universe inside our heads thanks to a device they created that is capable of “reading” the mind of the user. Science is always breaking the barrier between fiction and reality.

The team placed a cap of electrodes on the scalp of participants so they could record their brain waves (produced by synchronized electrical pulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other). This technique is non-invasive, with information gathered through an electrode-covered electroencephalography (EEG) headset.

They then had each participant watch 20 minutes worth of 10-second-long video fragments. The subject of each fragment fell into one of five categories and the researchers found they could tell which category of video a participant was watching just by looking at their EEG data.

In the researcher’s words:

“Here we hypothesize that observing the visual stimuli of different categories trigger distinct brain states that can be decoded from non-invasive EEG recordings. We introduce an effective closed-loop BCI system that reconstructs the observed or imagined stimuli images from the co-occurring brain wave parameters. The reconstructed images are presented to the subject as a visual feedback.”

To better understand the concept of brainwaves, let’s work with an analogy. We can think of brainwaves as musical notes, the low-frequency waves are like a deeply penetrating drum beat, while the higher frequency brainwaves are more like a subtle high pitched flute. Like a symphony, the higher and lower frequencies link and cohere with each other through harmonics.

We can understand this process as a transformation of waves to images.

Operation algorithm of the brain-computer interface (BCI) system. Credit: Anatoly Bobe/Neurobotics, and @tsarcyanide/MIPT Press Office
Operation algorithm of the brain-computer interface (BCI) system. Credit: Anatoly Bobe/Neurobotics, and @tsarcyanide/MIPT Press Office

“We did not expect that it contains sufficient information to even partially reconstruct an image observed by a person. Yet it turned out to be quite possible,”Grigory Rashkov, a junior researcher at MIPT and a programmer at Neurorobotics, said.

Of the method being non-invasive, Rashkov explained:

“Under present-day technology, the invasive neural interfaces envisioned by Elon Musk face the challenges of complex surgery and rapid deterioration due to natural processes—they oxidize and fail within several months.”

“We hope we can eventually design more affordable neural interfaces that do not require implantation,” Rashkov said.

As it turns out, the oil industry uses a similar method to find oilfields through processing frequencies that are sent to the subsurface of the earth to get an “image” of the layers of rock and fluids under our feet. That’s called Seismics.

It seems Tesla was rightwe can understand the universe (even inside our heads) using frequency (and a touch of math, too).

By Manuel García Aguilar  | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Technology

Morris Commercial Unveils The Electric Morris JE Van

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Morris Commercial Unveils The Electric Morris JE Van
Photo Credit: Morris Commercial

Morris Commercial, a UK based automotive engineering and manufacturing start-up company recently unveiled a new retro 1940s style electric van. The company has plans to start production of the vehicle in 2021. The new battery-electric light commercial vehicle (LCV) is called the Morris JE and made its debut at the Design Museum in London.

The Morris JE will be the first production model for the company since the 1960s and was made possible thanks to private investors from the UK and Europe. The price tag for the van will be approximately £60,000, it has a 200-mile range with the ability to do a fast charge of 80% in just 30 minutes.

Morris Commercial Unveils The Electric Morris JE Van
Photo Credit: Morris Commercial

It’s slated to have a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery powertrain, carbon-fibre body construction, and feature a modular chassis with a 1000kg payload. The Morris JE will have 2.5-ton gross weight, making it fall within the lightweight commercial category. That combined with the high payload will make it an attractive choice for small and large businesses alike.

“It is a delight to unveil the new Morris JE to the world and for us to show what we have been working so hard to achieve. From the outset, our vision was to bring a new concept to the LCV market, not just in terms of the battery-electric powertrain, but also to introduce a timeless design that takes the aesthetics and appeal of such a vehicle to a whole new level. What we have created is a beautiful, retro design that sits upon a cutting-edge, modular BEV platform, delivering practicality and functionality to compete with the best in its segment.”

Morris Commercial Unveils The Electric Morris JE Van
Photo Credit: Morris Commercial

Morris Commercial in a statement said they will never make a vehicle with an internal combustible engine, they are committed to electric and zero emissions. Inspired by the company’s iconic Morris-J type van the engineering will take place at a facility in Worcestershire and the production at an undisclosed location.

One thing is certain this will not only be the most sustainable commercial vehicle it will also be the coolest looking one on the streets. Be on the lookout you may even see Austin Powers driving one around town.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

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Innovation

CityTree: A Mossy Wall That Has The Same Air-Purifying Effect As 250 Trees

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CityTree: A Mossy Wall That Has The Same Air-Purifying Effect As 250 Trees
Photo Credit: CityTree

Germany is installing “mossy walls” called CityTree – the world’s first bio-tech filter to quantifiably improve air quality – around their cities, mainly Berlin. A variety of mosses are capable of binding environmental toxins such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides while producing oxygen at the same time. These CityTree’s contain nearly 2,000 pots of moss so imagine how much environmental toxins it binds!

The organic particles polluting the air get eaten (digested) by bacteria on the moss, according to the German makers of the wall. The purifying work of the 2,000 pots of moss along with their particle eating bacteria is equal to about 250 trees! A trial wall went up off Piccadilly Circus in London and it indicated that a single CityTree could remove the particulate pollution of 42 diesel cars every month.

Integrated into a wall is:

  • Solar panels to power fans for a controllable ventilation technology that allows airflow to be intensified (meaning that the filter effect can be increased as required.)
  • A rainwater catchment system to supply a fully automated irrigation system for watering the moss.
  • IoT technology which delivers comprehensive information on performance and status as well as environmental data on the CityTree’s surroundings.
An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen
An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen

These 4-meter tall slabs can improve human health by consuming ultra-fine airborne particles that can travel deep into the lungs and pass into the bloodstream, posing a serious risk to health. Research suggests that particulate pollution is linked to higher death rates from respiratory illnesses and there are numerous studies that link dirty air to higher risk of mental disorders such as dementia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and schizophrenia. One study even found that breathing polluted city air is the same as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!

A dozen CityTrees are going up in Berlin for this reason. However, Ian Colbeck, of the University of Essex argues that “the ability of moss to collect air pollutants, especially heavy metals, had been known for some time but that given the scale of the problem it would be better not to emit pollutants.”

It’s clear that it would be better if no pollution was emitted in the first place. But because the complete elimination of everything in the world that emits pollution is not going to happen any time in the near future, it’s good to see solutions popping up that can help clean the air for people in the meantime.

An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen
An earlier version of the CityTree installed in Oslo, Norway. Credit: Monica Thorud Olsen

Regardless, the mossy walls create a very pleasant ambiance and they also provide a pleasant cooling effect. Mosses store large quantities of moisture. That, combined with the considerably increased evaporation surface of the wall creates an immense cooling effect for the people around it.

The European Commission are funding Green City Solutions to install 12 CityTrees in Berlin with €1.5 million from the EU’s Horizon 2020 science fund. The initial 12 CityWalls in Berlin will serve as a pilot project to prove their effectiveness and could later be expanded throughout Germany and other EU nations.

Note: The featured image at the top is of a CityTree installed by Glasgow City Council, Scotland, mainly to help lower Nitrogen Dioxide and particulate pollution levels. It uses Siberian Stonecrop and moss.

This article (CityTree: A Mossy Wall That Has The Same Air-Purifying Effect As 250 Trees) was originally created for Intelligent Living and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Space

NASA Just Confirmed There Are Water Plumes Above The Surface Of Jupiter’s Moon Europa

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NASA Just Confirmed There Are Water Plumes Above The Surface of Jupiter's Moon Europa
West Wind NASA

A team led by researchers out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, has confirmed traces of water vapour above the surface of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.

And that’s a big deal as the tiny space rock is one of the highest priority targets in NASA’s search for extraterrestrial life, according to the agency.

While scientists have not yet detected liquid water directly, we’ve found the next best thing: water in vapour form,” lead researcher and NASA planetary scientist Lucas Paganini said in a NASA statement.

According to a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday, the NASA team discovered enough water vapour being released from Europa to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool within minutes.

But while that sounds like a lot, it was only just enough to be detected from Earth.

Out of 17 observations by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, which uses a spectrograph to detect the chemical compositions of other planets’ atmospheres by scanning the infrared light they release or absorb, the scientists only spotted water vapour in one.

We suggest that the outgassing of water vapour on Europa occurs at lower levels than previously estimated, with only rare localized events of stronger activity,” Paganini and his team wrote in the paper.

For many years, scientists have suspected that there’s water on Europa’s surface, and several observations appear to back up that suspicion.

More than two decades ago, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft found evidence of an electrically conductive fluid on the moon’s surface. Then, a 2018 analysis of the data found evidence of massive plumes of liquid. Data previously collected by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope supported the existence of the plumes.

We performed diligent safety checks to remove possible contaminants in ground-based observations,” Goddard planetary scientist Avi Mandell said of the water vapour discovery in the statement. “But, eventually, we’ll have to get closer to Europa to see what’s really going on.”

A mission to do just that is already lined up.

NASA’s upcoming Europa Clipper mission will get a much closer look at the icy moon’s surface as soon as 2023.

The spacecraft will feature a suite of cameras, spectrometers, and a radar to investigate the thickness of Europa’s icy shell during 45 flybys — and perhaps yield further insights into the water vapour above the moon’s surface while it’s there.

This article was originally published by Futurism. Read the original article.

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