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Bryan Cranston
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Chris Hadfield
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Bio-plastic made from fish scales wins U.K. James Dyson award

Bio-plastics could prove to be a suitable alternative to single-use plastics.

Lucy Hughes with MarinaTex

Dyson
  • The flexible bio-plastic, called MarinaTex, breaks down within about four to six weeks.
  • One Atlantic cod contains enough waste to produce hundreds of MarinaTex bags.
  • More than half of single-use plastics end up in the world's oceans.


Single-use plastics — among them, straws, cutlery, shopping and sandwich bags — are small, but they have a huge impact on the environment. The vast majority of these plastics end up in landfills or the ocean, where they can take hundreds or thousands of years to decompose.

And when you consider that the world consumes about 1 million plastic bottles per minute, the implications of plastics consumption are pretty staggering.

To help offset these environmental costs, University of Sussex graduate Lucy Hughes recently used fish waste to create a compostable alternative to single-use plastic. The translucent material, called MarinaTex, is made from fish scales and skin – materials that break down in food-waste bins within about four to six weeks. MarinaTex is also flexible and durable, showing a higher tensile strength than LDPE (low-density polyethylene), which is the most commonly used material in single-use plastic bags.

"This shows that the sustainable option does not sacrifice quality," said Hughes, who won this year's U.K. James Dyson Award, a prize that promotes young British designers and engineers.

Hughes conducted more than 100 experiments to devise her final design, which uses agar, a gelatinous substance found in the cell walls of red algae, as a binding agent. One Atlantic cod contains enough waste to produce 477 MarinaTex bags, according to Hughes.

Dyson

"I didn't want to use virgin natural materials so I challenged myself with starting with a waste stream," Hughes said. "For me a good design is something that bridges the gap between behaviors, business and our planet."

Hughes said many people have a disconnect about the world's oceans.

"When you see bits of rubbish in the ocean, or when you see that environment be sort of soiled by waste, it's kind of an eye-opener."

Hughes was awarded about $2,500 for winning the national contest, and she's in the running to win the international award. Last year's winners were Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani, who created the O-Wind Turbine.

Reducing waste from single-use plastics has recently become more of an environmental priority for individuals (the no-straw movement) and governments alike. In August, India announced plans to soon ban six single-use plastic products: bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and types of sachet. The move, which is the nation's most sweeping plastics regulation to date, is expected to reduce India's plastic consumption by 5 to 10 percent.

Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
  • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
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Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

Videos
  • From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
  • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
  • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

Image: metamorworks / Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
  • More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
  • SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
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Sex & Relationships

Do we really date based on our own ideals?

Do we really know what we want in a romantic partner? If so, do our desires actually mean we match up with people who suit them?

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