s National Ocean Service Education: Nonpoint Source Pollution The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines point source pollution as “any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollutants are discharged, such as a pipe, ditch, ship or factory smokestack” (Hill, 1997). Factories and sewage treatment plants are two common types of point sources. Factories, including oil refineries, pulp and paper mills, and chemical, electronics and automobile manufacturers, typically discharge one or more pollutants in their discharged waters (called effluents). Some factories discharge their effluents directly into a waterbody. Another way that some factories and sewage treatment plants handle waste material is by mixing it with urban runoff in a combined sewer system. When it rains excessively, a combined sewer system may not be able handle the volume of water, and some of the combined runoff and raw sewage will overflow from the system, discharging directly into the nearest waterbody without being treated. (top)
Backyard Brains » Insane in the Chromatophores During experiments on the giant axons of the Longfin Inshore Squid (loligo pealei) at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA; we were fascinated by the fast color-changing nature of the squid’s skin. Squids (like many other cephalopods) can quickly control pigmented cells called chromatophores to reflect light. The Longfin Inshore has 3 different chromatophore colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. We tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol on the squid’s chromatophores. We’d like to give a shout out to our gracious and brilliant hosts for making this possible: the Methods in Computational Neuroscience and the Neuroinformatics Courses at the MBL. Update: There are some questions as to what is happening and how this works. Since this is the same electrical current that neurons use to communicate, we cut off the ear buds and instead placed the wire into the fin nerve. A better explanation as well as a few more demos can be found on our TED talk:
Components | Chemical Pollution | Ocean Health Index Metals are chemical elements that are typically hard, shiny, malleable, fusible, and ductile, with good electrical and thermal conductivity. Metals are toxic if they change the structure and function of proteins and enzymes (GESAMP 2001). Metals found in the ocean that are highly toxic on their own include mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, tin, copper, nickel, selenium, and zinc. Mercury, cadmium, and lead can become even more highly toxic in combination with organic compounds. For example, mercury can form neurotoxic compounds such as methylmercury (CH3Hg), when combined with carbon. Arsenic, copper, nickel, selenium, tin, and zinc are not highly toxic by themselves but are able to react with organic materials, creating very toxic compounds (UNEP 2006). Many metals occur naturally in the environment, but anthropogenic emissions from industrial and mining activities can increase concentrations of many to toxic levels. 96% of mercury enters the ocean via atmospheric input (GESAMP 2001).
Mosaics Created from Thousands of Hand-Cast Resin Flowers and Candy What Remains, 35,000+ hand cast urethane flowers What Remains, detail A Rose By Any Other Name, 15,000+ individually hand cast urethane pieces of candy, 75 pounds A Rose By Any Other Name, detail New York artist Kevin Champeny merges aspects of painting, sculpture and mosaics with his large-scale images of skulls, flowers, and other objects. While the idea of creating images using thousands of components like this might not be particularly new, Champeny challenges himself by creating each tiny element by hand.
untitled Japan: record high radiation levels found in Fukushima fish, more than a year after nuclear accident Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in Japan said Tuesday its monitoring efforts have recorded record high radiation levels in local seafood: 25,800 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in fish sampled within a 20-kilometer range of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The photo shows fish caught Aug. 1, 2012 within 20 kilometers of the crippled nuclear power plant. The findings indicate that radioactive contamination remains at unsafe levels in the area's food supply more than a year after the nuclear crisis. From Kyodo News: The level of cesium found in greenling is 258 times that deemed safe for consumption by the Japanese government, suggesting that radioactive contamination remains serious more than a year after the nuclear crisis. Fishing in the sea off Fukushima Prefecture is voluntarily restricted except for trial fishing of certain octopuses. CNN has more.
untitled NOTCOT.ORG Landscape Abbreviated by Nova Jiang is a kinetic maze consisting of modular elements with rotating planters, which form a garden that is simultaneously a machine. August 18th, 2012 "I am interested in the way that simple interventions can make the experience of space dynamic and unpredictable. The planters are controlled by a software program that continuously generates new maze patterns based on mathematical rules; they rotate to form shifting pathways that encourage visitors to change direction and viewpoints as they move through the space. The planters contain live moss collected from the sides of buildings, cracks in the pavement, subway grates and other urban nooks and crannies in New York City’s landscape.
Mercury poisoning Symptoms typically include sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech), disturbed sensation and a lack of coordination. The type and degree of symptoms exhibited depend upon the individual toxin, the dose, and the method and duration of exposure. Signs and symptoms Common symptoms of mercury poisoning include peripheral neuropathy (presenting as paresthesia or itching, burning or pain), skin discoloration (pink cheeks, fingertips and toes), swelling, and desquamation (shedding or peeling of skin). Mercury irreversibly inhibits selenium-dependent enzymes (see below) and may also inactivate S-adenosyl-methionine, which is necessary for catecholamine catabolism by catechol-o-methyl transferase. Thus, the clinical presentation may resemble pheochromocytoma or Kawasaki disease. An example of desquamation (skin peeling) of the hand and foot of a child with severe mercury poisoning acquired by handling elemental mercury is this photograph in Horowitz, et al. (2002). Causes
Can nasal spray help prevent military suicides? Could the solution to increasing suicide and depression rates among members of the U.S. military lie in a nasal spray? The Army hopes so. In the midst of a crisis that saw its highest rate of suicide in July, the Army has greenlighted a grant for Dr. Michael Kubek, an Indiana University of Medicine professor, to dig deeper into whether a nasal spray could be a safe and effective way to administer a specific antidepressive neurochemical to the brain and help calm suicidal thoughts. The Army counted 38 confirmed or suspected suicides in July, a tally that took into account both active- and non-active-duty members of the Army National Guard or Reserve. Kubek helped discover thyrotropin-releasing hormone, or TRH, which is known to have antisuicidal and antidepression effects. Kubek's research was spotted by Navy physician Capt. The Army has confirmed 120 suicides for both active- and non-active-duty soldiers in 2012, with 67 other deaths suspected as suicides but still under investigation.
Mercury Causes Chronic Disease The association of mercury to chronic diseases is well documented in the didactic scientific literature. The search for the association between mercury and cardiovascular disease reveals 358 scientific papers exemplifying the relationship; between mercury and cancer we find 643 scientific papers. The association of mercury with neurodegenerative diseases is the most significant, with the references numbering 1,445. If mercury is the primary source of autism, it may befor Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes as well asa long list of other neurological disorders. Levels of mercury currently regarded as safe for adults could be impairing brain function without doctors and health officials diagnosing acute or chronic mercury poisoning. The main areas of anxiety in regards to mercury are dental, medical, and environmental. One thing to always remember about mercury is that it is an accumulative poison so one area of contamination is not separate from another.  Buttar, Rashid.
3D Printing Plastic Fisher-Price Records Many of us born in the '70s grew up with these Fisher-Price Record Players, which used plastic discs to play music-box-sounding analog music. I was surprised to see they had recently been re-released—and disappointed to learn the new ones aren't the same as the old, but instead play the music electronically. Earlier this year a UK-based tinkerer named Fred Murphy got his hands on some of the original units—you'll see them pop up on eBay now and then—and decided to make his own records. Using a CNC mill and sheets of acrylic, Murphy successfully produced workable discs. For his first effort, Murphy mapped Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" on one and the "Star Wars" theme on another. Have a listen: Murphy wrote up an Instructable on how he managed it. Check it out here.