With all of the plastic that’s used on a daily basis comes the need to have it recycled.
Most plastic bottles produced in the United States are made from Polyethylene Terephtalate (PET). In 2005, U.S. manufacturers produced 5.1 billion pounds of PET products, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). NAPCOR has estimated that if the current rate of production remains the same, then 40 billion pounds of PET waste will be
added to landfills within a decade.
To help counteract this growth, some states offer financial incentives to consumers who bring in plastic bottles for recycling. In addition, companies are being encouraged to design bottles in ways that make them more efficient and cheaper to recycle. One of the most interesting ideas to come from this challenge is the collapsible plastic bottle.
BEGINNING OF THE COLLAPSE
In 1985, a patent was filed for a collapsible plastic bottle. According to the patent description, the bottle would be constructed with walls that would look and behave like bellows, allowing them to be squeezed together and collapse upon themselves, thus reducing the overall size of the bottle by at least half.
The technology discussed in this patent has been used over the years; however, it has been limited to products geared mostly toward outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, and for corporate promotional giveaway items.
THE CHALLENGE BEGINS
One of the greatest impacts to the environment could be if major beverage manufacturers would incorporate some form of a collapsible bottle into their product lines. For example, in early 2010, package designer Andrew Seunghyun Kim went public with a set of design
concepts aimed at repackaging 20 oz. Coca-Cola® features a square package instead of a cylindrical design. Kim’s design results in 66 percent less space being occupied than when the bottle is not collapsed. While there are many advantages to this particular
design, it is more unlikely that re-engineering the bottle in a square shape will take off due to reasons that involve engineering problems, distribution challenges and production line changes that could be too costly.
However, other companies, like Plasto Solutions, are working on further developing the idea of collapsible beverage bottles. They are staying with a cylindrical bottle design to lessen the impact on manufacturing process changes for the end user. Their design uses a complex system of ribs instead of bellows and their plastic bottle folds by slightly twisting the bottle’s body. This produces a flat circle of plastic that takes up only 10 percent of the original space.
BENEFITS OF COLLAPSE
The idea of impacting how much space is being occupied in landfills by plastic soda bottles is very appealing to those who are environmentally conscious. By reducing the amount of space that a bottle occupies, more can be placed in collection containers and thus provide a more
cost-effective means of recycling.
Written for Headline Discoveries
Why I Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree from Scratch for Pumpkin Pies and More
Several years ago I began getting interested in cooking pies around the holidays. Since I really prefer to cook from scratch whenever possible, I thought the best place to look for recipes was in a collection of cookbooks that had been handed down from my grandmother. I come from a long line of Yankees and this was reflected in the types of cookbooks I reviewed - they all featured very basic recipes from the New England area.
The beauty of recipes from that region is their simplicity - both in terms of the number of ingredients, and also in the amount of steps needed to cook something. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that sounded good except for one thing. It said to use fresh pumpkin, but it didn't tell how to prepare the pumpkin. Several years later, and after many different methods were explored, I developed a way to cook the pumpkin and then process it into a puree with a consistency that makes for a fabulous pie. Baking the pumpkin lends to the process - it keeps the flavor from being parched out as it does when you boil the pumpkin. Plus, baking the pumpkin allows the sugars to slightly caramelize - another bonus in any dessert.
In this short video, you can see how to make both the pumpkin puree and the pumpkin pie. This will give you the instructions with many pictures showing the process of making the puree plus a great pumpkin pie recipe - one that I've developed over time as well. If you'd like to see the printed how-to guides, click here for the pumpkin puree process, and this link shows how to make my Best Ever New England Deep-Dish Pumpkin Pie.
The best part about this pumpkin puree is that you can store it in the freezer for quite a long time. I put mine into small Ball or Mason jars (one-quart or smaller) and use a vacuum sealer machine to close them off. Done this way, the puree can keep for many, many months - allowing you to make fresh pumpkin goods for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even July 4th if that's what you like!
Other really good things to make from the pumpkin puree include muffins, cookies, breads, cakes, pumpkin rolls, and even soup.
Though it may initially seem like a lot of effort to bake and process the pumpkins, it really isn't. Most of the time is taken up by the baking process (about 45 minutes) and then the cooling process (another 30 to 45 minutes). Take that as an opportunity for a little "me" time!
You'll find that this method of processing pumpkin is well worth the effort and that you will end up creating pumpkin-based dishes that your family and friends will love.
Originally published on Yahoo.com, October 7, 2009
Abundantly found in the stardust that makes up the cosmos, space diamonds consist of carbon just like those found on Earth, but they differ in size and importance.
These gemstones, commonly called nanodiamonds, are roughly 25,000 times smaller than a grain of sand. Unlike regular diamonds that hold great monetary value the bigger they are, the tiny nanodiamonds have a different value—in the form of knowledge. With the adage of knowledge being power, some could argue that they are therefore worth much, much more by opening up new ways to learn about the universe.
Nanodiamonds, just like all objects in the universe, emit light over the entire electromagnetic spectrum and scientists believe that by studying the properties of this light, they can better understand the origins of the universe and learn more about how it has developed and changed over time.
HOW ARE THEY EVEN SEEN?
Given the right tools, technology and atmospheric conditions, this light could be seen by scientists on Earth. However, since the Earth’s atmosphere tends to block out certain types of radiation, the best way to study nanodiamonds is by locating a telescope outside of the atmosphere.
Enter the Spitzer.
SUPER EYE IN THE SKY
The Spitzer Space Telescope, a super-sensitive instrument launched in 2003, is the fourth and final of NASA's Great Observatories, and is best known for having a high sensitivity to infrared radiation.
Spitzer was specifically designed to house a cryogenic telescope assembly since its detectors and telescope must be cooled to only about five degrees above absolute zero (-450 degrees Fahrenheit, or -268 degrees Celsius).
When light from nearby stars hits the molecules that make up the nanodiamonds, energy is absorbed from infrared radiation and then excites the bonds in the molecules to a higher state of vibration. This causes the bonds to either bend, twist or stretch, resulting in distinctive wavelengths of infrared light being produced.
Spitzer’s super-sensitive infrared spectrometer then breaks that light into its component parts. Data collected is shown as an infrared spectrum, with the resulting image indicating wavelength patterns helping to identify what elements and molecules the object is made of, thus uniquely identifying the nanodiamonds based on their “infrared fingerprint.”
Considered a technological marvel, Spitzer includes many innovative features never used on previous space missions, yet the telescope’s fully functioning lifespan is limited. Its cooling system has been exhausted, allowing some components to overheat and not function. Still operable are the two shortest wavelength modules of the IRAC camera that will continue to be used, allowing further data discovery based on nanodiamond composition, but to a more limited degree.
NANODIAMOND DATA PROSPECTING
Recently astrochemists have focused their efforts on Elias 1, the Orion Bar, the CS region of HD 44179 and the Red Rectangle nebula where the unique infrared emission from nanodiamonds has helped identify the chemical form of interstellar matter. This provided new knowledge about the physical properties of celestial objects and their interactions over time and is helping scientists to better understand the universe.
Mythbusters: MacGyver Myths,The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek. These popular movies and television show have something in common–but what is it?
Each relies heavily on some form of illusion to tell a story. No matter what medium is used, special effects of varying types are a big part of today’s entertainment. Especially in the film industry, what looks to most people like cinematic magic is often entirely explainable, be it huge explosions, snowy sets, creepy makeup and the like.
On Mythbusters, the cast frequently employs various chemical reactions to figure out what’s real and what’s not. On their 100th episode, they tackled television’s MacGyver by attempting to blow a hole in a wall with pure sodium metal dropped into water and they also tried to develop film using common kitchen liquids.
Snow can be created entirely artificially. Snow Business is an award-winning United Kingdom–based company that uses several methods to create the illusion of snowy sets via processes that are chemically dependent.
In sci-fi movies like Star Trek, actors are typically outfitted with extensively detailed life-like masks designed to dramatically transform their appearance. These masks are made of latex, which is derived from rubber that is harvested from trees. Because environmental conditions can affect its quality, it needs to undergo several chemical processes to ensure that the workability of the final latex material remains consistent.
The science behind this fun, intriguing and harmless type of deception is the topic addressed by this year’s National Chemistry Week, scheduled to take place October 17-23, 2010.
A DEEPER LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES
Sponsored by the American Chemical Society (ACS), National Chemistry Week is a community-based outreach program that unites ACS local sections with schools, businesses and individuals to emphasize the importance of chemistry in everyday life. The focus has traditionally been toward elementary and secondary school students; however, colleges and universities do get involved, often providing programs for younger students.
Events are held on both national and local levels and are centered on ideas presented by ACS.
This year’s theme “Behind the Scenes with Chemistry!” was chosen to help students learn that often what looks like magic or trickery is really a good example of chemistry in use. Events suggested by ACS include the following:
Originally Published in Headline Discoveries
Because of recent activity in Iceland, there have been many news reports done on volcano eruptions and the damages that can be caused by volcanic ash. So, just what is “volcanic ash?
It’s not what most people may envision. Typically, when most people think about ash, they picture something light and fluffy—like ashes in the fireplace or barbecue. So, when they hear that a volcano has erupted and everything is covered in ash, the natural assumption is that it is relatively harmless and can be easily swept away. Not true.
THE BLAST AND ITS COMPONENTS
Volcanic eruptions occur when gases in magma, or molten rock, expand and escape into the air. They also occur when water that is super-heated by magma abruptly flashes into steam, or when thermal contraction from chilling occurs after contacting water. Each
scenario leads to eruptions that occur with explosive force, causing escaping gases to shatter surrounding rock layers of the Earth. When eruptions occur in areas covered by glaciers, the resulting plume can contain glass-rich deposits that were created when melted ice quickly chilled lava prior to its explosion.
Material expelled from the volcano at this point is called ‘”tephra.” To better study components of a volcanic eruption, scientists have broken tephra into classifications based on size:
While the size of a volcanic bomb doesn’t seem so large, some perspective is needed. Take, for example, a storm producing hailstones of roughly the same size. They can
cause excessive damage to car windshields and even slate roofs. To a person struck by a volcanic bomb, the impact would feel something like getting hit with a baseball thrown by a major league pitcher due to the high rate of propulsion.
Volcanic bombs and lapilli do cause problems but, because they settle to the ground at a much quicker rate than ash, the extent of their damage is often not as far reaching. The tiny size of ash and its ability to readily travel everywhere means it can be a lot less apparent to ascertain the damages it can cause.
Much has been written about the damage to people, animals, air, soil and water, but less so the damage and chaos that ash can cause to other things, especially those that are technologically and/or mechanically based. Following are just a few things that could be heavily impacted:
These examples show that volcanic ash is dramatically more devastating than it appears and has a great potential to leech its way into so many things that are important to the day-to-day operation of life for everyone in areas affected by volcanic eruptions.
Getting to the Bottom of It
The words "tephra" and "pyroclast" both derive from the Greek language.
Properties of Volcanic Ash
Originally posted in Headline Discoveries, Fall 2010
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!