Biology + Fashion = Green Chic Biomaterials

Natsai Audrey Chieza is a designer on a mission — to reduce pollution in the fashion industry while creating amazing new things to wear. In her lab, she noticed that the bacteria Streptomyces coelicolor makes a striking red-purple pigment, and now she’s using it to develop bold, color-fast fabric dye that cuts down on water waste and chemical runoff, compared with traditional dyes. And she isn’t alone in using synthetic biology to redefine our material future; think — “leather” made from mushrooms and superstrong yarn made from spider-silk protein. We’re not going to build the future with fossil fuels, Chieza says. We’re going to build it with biology.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Natsai Audrey Chieza · Designer

Natsai Audrey Chieza is a trans-disciplinary design researcher whose fascinating work crosses boundaries between technology, biology, design and cultural studies.

This talk was presented at a TED Institute event given in partnership with BCG. TED editors featured it among our selections on the home page. Read more about the TED Institute.

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Learning From Data: An Intiguing Link between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration

To understand how black Americans are impacted by fatal police shootings in each state, we defined an “over-representation ratio”: the percentage of fatal police shootings in which a black American was killed divided by percentage of black Americans in a state. The number one determinant of over-representation in fatal police shootings is the percentage of eligible black Americans registered to vote.

WIRED/MAIMUNA SHAHNAZ MAJUMDER

I found a very interesting piece in Wired Magazine, demonstrating a link between police shootings and voter registration, written by an equally interesting person.  I encourage you to read more about Maia Majumder and her article.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaahxaaaajdiwndc5yzixltyxztitndy4my05mdm2lwnlyjy3zju2ntmwzgMaimuna (Maia) Majumder is an Engineering Systems PhD candidate at MIT and computational epidemiology research fellow at HealthMap. Before coming to MIT, she earned a Bachelors of Science in Engineering Science and a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Tufts University. Her research interests involve probabilistic modeling, Bayesian statistics, and “systems epidemiology” in the context of emerging infectious diseases. She also enjoys exploring novel techniques for data procurement, writing about data for the general public, and creating meaningful data visualizations. When taking a break from work, Maia moonlights as a jazz vocalist, budding chef, and primal wellness enthusiast who loves Bikram yoga, Zumba, & lifting heavy objects with her awesome husband, Imran Malek.

An Intriguing Link Between Police Shootings and Black Voter Registration

Since January 1, 2016, there have been 714 fatal police shootings in the United States. That comes to 79 deaths a month, 18 a week, and three a day. For context, the US recorded 43 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus and 25 deaths from West Nile in the same time frame.

For most, if not all, public health issues, some segments of the population are more vulnerable than others. Americans who engage in unprotected sex are more likely to contract Zika virus, while older people are more likely to die from West Nile.

Read the full article here


 

 

MIT engineering protective barrier that mimics skin

Interesting article from the American Ceramic Society regarding MIT’s development of a synthetic second skin that has potential to transform lives with medical and cosmetic applications.

Video: Scientists engineer ‘second skin’ with potential for superior topical UV protection  Published on June 1st, 2016 | By: Stephanie Liverani

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Living Proof, and Olivo Labs have developed a new material that can temporarily protect and tighten skin and smooth wrinkles, according to an MIT News article.

Even better? The team plans to develop the material further for use in transdermal drug delivery and treatment of skin conditions, such as eczema and other types of dermatitis, and also adapt it to provide long-lasting ultraviolet protection.

Credit: MIT; YouTube

Read more here:  http://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/video-scientists-engineer-second-skin-with-potential-for-superior-topical-uv-protection

http://news.mit.edu/2016/polymer-temporarily-tightens-skin-drug-delivery-0509

 

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

From The Scientist:  http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45741/title/New-Gecko-Inspired-Adhesive/

By Jef Akst | April 6, 2016

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.

For years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.

Read more of Jef’s article in The Scientist here:

 

Were the Japan and Ecuador earthquakes related?

 

They may have happened within days of one another, but the devastating earthquakes in Japan had nothing to do with the strong temblor that struck Ecuador over the weekend, experts say.

Both Japan and Ecuador are located along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which spans the coasts lining the Pacific Ocean. The regions along the Ring of Fire are prone to earthquakes, but it’s extremely rare for an earthquake on one side of the world to trigger earthquakes on the other, said Ross Stein, CEO and co-founder of Temblor.net, a free website and smartphone application that helps people understand locations’ seismic risk.

For one thing, the earthquakes that hit Japan are a completely different type of quake than the one that struck Ecuador, Stein said. On April 14, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake hit southern Japan, and a day later, on April 15, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck the same region, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). [The 10 Biggest Earthquakes in History]

Both of these earthquakes were strike-slip earthquakes, Stein said, which occur when two parts of the Earth’s crust slide against each other. The best way to imagine this is to place your hands together, with your fingers pointing away from your body, and slide your left hand forward and your right hand backward.

Both of these strike-slip earthquakes were shallow — about 6 to 8 miles (10 to 12 kilometers) deep — and both were destructive, killing more than 40 people in total, according to news sources. But the second quake was about 20 times stronger than the first, and released about 400,000 times more energy than the amount unleashed by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, Stein and Volkan Sevilgen, the other Temblor.net co-founder, wrote in a blog post.

These two earthquakes in Japan were likely related, Stein said. However, it’s unclear whether the magnitude-6.2 earthquake was a foreshock of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake or the magnitude-7.0 earthquake was an aftershock of the magnitude-6.2 earthquake, Stein said.

“So far, the evidence suggests that both are true,” the experts wrote in the blog post. Though it’s rare for an aftershock to be larger than the main shock, it does happen, Stein told Live Science.

Regardless, the first earthquake made the faults near it more likely to rupture, which likely helped to trigger the second, larger earthquake, Stein said.

Ecuador earthquake

On Saturday (April 16), merely a day after the second Japanese earthquake, a massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake rocked Muisne, Ecuador, the USGS reported. [Image Gallery: This Millennium’s Destructive Earthquakes]

Unlike the strike-slip earthquakes in Japan, this one was a so-called megathrust quake, which occurs when one tectonic plate jams under another. In this case, the Nazca Plate is moving under the South American continent at a rate of about 2.2 to 2.4 inches (55 to 61 millimeters) a year, Stein and Sevilgen wrote in another blog post.

More than 400 deaths have been reported from the Ecuador quake so far.

This isn’t Muisne’s first large earthquake. Another magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit almost the exact location in 1942, Stein said. In fact, given that the subduction rate is about 2.3 inches (60 mm) a year, and nearly 75 years have elapsed since the last large earthquake, it makes sense that this is a “repeat earthquake,” Stein said.

Read more at the following site… cbsnews.com

Deadly superbugs from hospitals get stronger in the sewers and could end up in the Pacific Ocean

latimes

A worker at L.A.’s Hyperion sewage treatment facility removes trash that has been separated from incoming wastewater. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

very day Southern California hospitals unleash millions of gallons of raw sewage into municipal sewers.

The malodorous muck flows miles to one of the region’s sewage plants, where it is treated with the rest of the area’s waste and then released as clear water into a stream or directly to the Pacific.

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced they had discovered a lethal superbug — the same one that caused outbreaks at UCLA and two other Los Angeles-area hospitals — in sewage at one of those plants. They declined to name the facility.

EPA scientists did not test treated wastewater flowing out of the plant to determine whether it still contained CRE, or carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae.

NEWSLETTER: Get the day’s top headlines from Times Editor Davan Maharaj >>

But a growing number of studies show sewage plants can’t kill the superbugs. Instead the facilities serve as “a luxury hotel” for drug-resistant bacteria, a place where they thrive and grow stronger, said Pedro Alvarez, a professor of environmental engineering at Rice University, one of the scientists studying the problem.

Alvarez and other researchers say the failure of sewage plants to eliminate the dangerous bacteria is one way they may be spreading from hospitals to the environment.

“Chlorine is just not doing it,” Alvarez said of the treatment used by most plants.

The fear is that healthy people otherwise not at risk from the bacteria — including swimmers at the beach — could be infected.

Already officials are worried about the surprising number of people sickened with CRE who have not recently visited a medical facility: 8%, according to an October study.

Hospitals are not breaking laws by releasing the sewage. Laws regulate the overall level of disease-causing bacteria in the nation’s surface waters, but there is no specific regulation of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Deemed the “nightmare bacteria” by federal officials, CRE survives nearly all antibiotics. It kills as many as half its victims.

Government officials, including those at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say they are monitoring the wastewater studies but have so far made no recommendations to hospitals about the treatment of sewage that may harbor CRE.

“The prevention and control of CRE is an evolving process,” said Melissa Brower, an agency spokeswoman. “CDC will continue to assess the appropriateness of this as new information becomes available.”

Continue to read the full article by clicking on the link : http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-superbug-sewers-20160307-story.html

Food for Thought

“The Dirty Dozen” – (High Risk Produce):

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has studied and compiled a list of 12 types of produce that are most likely to contain pesticide residue. These are the least safe types of produce to purchase from a grocery store setting (when you don’t know exactly where they came from). If purchased, they must be washed very thoroughly. They are:

1.     Apples

2.     Celery

3.     Cherry tomatoes

4.     Cucumbers

5.     Grapes

6.     Nectarines

7.     Peaches

8.     Potatoes

9.     Snap peas

10.  Spinach

11.  Strawberries

12.  Sweet bell peppers

Also of note: hot peppers and kale/collard greens

“The Clean 15” – (Low Risk Produce):

The EWG has studied and compiled a list of 15 types of produce that are least likely to contain dangerous pesticide residue. As you’ll see, many of these fruits and vegetables are protected by naturally durable and thick outer surfaces. They are as follows:

1.     Asparagus

2.     Avocados

3.     Cabbage

4.     Cantaloupe

5.     Cauliflower

6.     Eggplant

7.     Grapefruit

8.     Kiwi

9.     Mangoes

10.  Onions

11.  Papayas

12.  Pineapples

13.  Sweet Corn

14.  Sweet Peas

15.  Sweet Potatoes

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/02/17/well-culture-organic-101-163455

 

‘Lost Caravaggio’ found in French attic causes rift in art world

paintitng

The painting Judith Beheading Holofernes at its presentation in Paris. It may have been painted by Caravaggio (1571-1610) and could be worth €120m. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters.

It could turn out to be an Italian Renaissance masterpiece by one of history’s greatest painters; yet the mysterious 400-year-old canvas was only found by accident when the owners of a house near Toulouse went to fix a leak in the ceiling.

The large, remarkably well-preserved canvas of the beheading of the general Holofernes by Judith, from the apocryphal Book of Judith, was painted between 1600 and 1610, specialists estimate. And many experts believe it could be a work by the Milan-born master, Caravaggio.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/apr/12/lost-caravaggio-causes-rift-in-art-world

Piece Of Africa Found Under Alabama

Continental breakups are proving to be just as destructive as some human separations. Geologists say they have found a fragment of Africa embedded in the southeastern U.S., a remnant of the rift that occurred between the two continents some 250 million years ago.
Scientists have known for some time of the presence of a strange band of magnetic rock that stretches from Alabama through Georgia and offshore to the North Carolina coast, but its origin has been debated. The ribbon of rock is buried about 9 to 12 miles below the surface. According to a new study published in the journal Geological Society of America, the fissure, known as the Brunswick Magnetic Anomaly, was created hundreds of millions of years ago when the crusts of Africa and North America were yanked apart like stitches in a piece of cloth.

“There was an attempt to rip away Florida and southern Georgia,” geologist Robert Hatcher, of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, told Discovery. “So you have a failed rift there … There are pieces of crust that started in Africa.”