Run clean: making sure you have a litter-free race

ar

The London Marathon provides 750,000 bottles of water for runners across 23 water stations. Penny Dain, head of communications for the London Marathon, explains that any pallets of unused water are collected and brought back to their storage depots for use at future events. So, no waste there. And “all used bottles, and other waste items from the London Marathon, are collected by waste service teams from the relevant London Borough. All the bottles (together with other recyclables) are split out and recycled.” Gel wrappers are another all-too-common form of litter left lying around by runners and cyclists.

It’s very common for European ultras to require runners to bring their own cup as part of their mandatory kit. This obviously negates the use of plastic cups and bottles altogether. At the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB), it is estimated that this saves the organizers 100,000 disposable cups a year. The Montane Lakeland 100/50 and Centurion Running races have adopted this policy and it would be great if more in the UK started doing it. The only downside is that, towards the end of a long race, your drink may start to taste of a mix of coke, squash and soup – but by that point you won’t be very discerning and all calories are gratefully received. The UTMB also uses tap water as much as possible, which saves around 8,000 plastic bottles per year. It even has special containers at aid stations in which to deposit your used batteries from head torches for recycling.

Source: The Guardian

ELECTRIC TEARS

Your Tears Can Produce Electricity

1665

Fantasy is replete with examples of tears possessing magical powers, from the Brothers Grimm to Harry Potter. Yet a new study from the Bernal Institute of theUniversity of Limerick (UL) in Ireland discovered a use for tears stranger than fiction: producing electricity.

According to the research, led by Irish Research Council EMBARK postgraduate fellow Aimee Stapleton, tears are abundant in lyzosome crystals, which are also found in egg whites from birds and in the saliva and milk of mammals. These crystals of lyzosome can generate electricity when put under pressure, a property called direct piezoelectricity that is common in materials like quartz. It works by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa.

Source: Futurism

Longer Springs Might Hurt Bees, Not Help Them

qe

Nothing signals the start of spring quite like the emergence of the first fuzzy bumblebees. But as Earth’s temperatures continue to warm, spring is coming earlier and earlier in some places—and scientists are worried about how these changes could affect bees.

It may sound counterintuitive—after all, earlier springs mean longer growing seasons for flowering plants, which should be a boon for the bees that rely on them for food. But the study suggests that longer springs also come with certain risks, such as frost events early in the season or droughts later in the summer. These events can cause flowers to decline at certain points throughout the season. That’s bad news for bees, which need constant, abundant resources to keep their colonies alive until winter.

If flowers come out too early in the season, for instance, they may still be vulnerable to cold snaps or frosts. And if the snow melts and begins to run down the mountain too soon, freshwater resources may also begin to dwindle earlier in the summer, causing droughts.

Over the winter, all the bumblebees in a colony die except for the queen bees, which hibernate through the cold season. At the start of spring, the queens emerge, lay their eggs, and spend the majority of their time foraging and bringing back food for their new families.

Eventually, the eggs hatch and a new colony is born. Throughout the rest of the warm season, the female offspring, or worker bees, take over the foraging responsibilities. Each day, they must bring back enough food to sustain the colony, which is why abundant floral resources are so important. Even a temporary dip in flower density can threaten a colony’s survival.

The researchers worry that a continued trend in earlier springs—accompanied by more “low” floral resource days—could seriously hurt the bees in the long term.

Source: Scientific American

Creating Hydrogen Fuel From Seawater

12SEA-FUEL

There exists a wide range of renewable energy sources support the increasingly energy-intensive lives as fossil fuels are ultimately phased out. One of these new potential sources of energy is as promising as it is strange. University of Central Florida (UCF) researcher and assistant professor Yang Yang has developed a breakthrough hybrid nanomaterial that uses the power of an existing green energy source, solar energy, to turn seawater into hydrogen fuel.

To create hydrogen fuel, however, you need a photocatalyst — a material that triggers a chemical reaction when exposed to light. But considering the corrosive and difficult nature of seawater, Yang needed a photocatalyst that was uniquely durable, which is where the hybrid nanomaterial came in. The nanomaterial began with an ultrathin sheet of titanium dioxide, into which nanocavities were carved. Nanoflakes of molybdenum disulfide, a 2D material as thick as a single atom, then coated these cavities. This material is nearly twice as effective as most other photocatalysts because instead of converting a limited range of light into energy, it can turn ultraviolet visible to near infrared light wavelengths into energy —a much wider range.

CREATIVE ENERGY

Hydrogen fuel, like everything, has its pros and cons. On the positive side, it’s only emissions are water vapor, a drastic difference from what is produced by fossil fuels. In terms of vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells have about double the fuel economy of traditional gasoline. Additionally — and most obviously — hydrogen fuel is renewable and can be created in abundance.

Source: Futurism

Richard Thaler Wins Nobel Prize in Economics

2

Richard H. Thaler won the Nobel Prize for Economics, a reward for 40 years of work spent studying human bias and temptation when many fellow economists preferred to view people as rational actors.

Thaler, 72 and a professor at the University of Chicago, is one of the founders of behavioral economics and finance, a field which once drew derision from some academics before entering the mainstream over the past decade. He was made a Nobel laureate for shedding light on how human weaknesses such as a lack of rationality and self-control can ultimately affect markets.

The co-author of the 2008 best-seller “Nudge” has “built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

Thaler developed the theory of mental accounting, explaining how people simplify financial decision-making by creating separate accounts in their minds, focusing on the narrow impact of each individual decision rather than its overall effect. He also showed how aversion to losses can explain why people value the same item more highly when they own it than when they don’t, a phenomenon called the endowment effect. Thaler was one of the founders of the field of behavioral finance, which studies how cognitive limitations influence financial markets.

wd

Thaler’s theoretical and experimental research on fairness has been influential. He showed how consumers’ fairness concerns may stop firms from raising prices in periods of high demand, but not in times of rising costs. Thaler and his colleagues devised the dictator game, an experimental tool that has been used in numerous studies to measure attitudes to fairness in different groups of people around the world.

Thaler said on the call that he will try to spend the money “as irrationally as possible.”

“Anytime I spend any money that’s really fun, I’m going to say, ‘That came from the Nobel prize,”’ Thaler said at a Chicago Booth press conference. He’ll also be collecting his award in person.