SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY
Giant 'Kitchen Towel' Could Be Used to Mop Up Oil Spills
from the Times (London)
Giant "kitchen towels" could replace booms, bombs and detergents as the best remedy for a catastrophic oil spill, researchers said after inventing a super-absorbent membrane.
The wafer-thin sheet, made from nanowires, acts like blotting paper on oil and has the capacity to absorb 20 times its own weight. It is impervious to water, remaining dry even when left under water for a month, but soaks up oil and other contaminants, which can then be removed and disposed of safely.
Researchers believe that it will lead to the development of huge "towels" that could be dropped into the seas or dragged through the water to soak up oil spills like those caused by the Torrey Canyon, Exxon Valdez and Amoco Cadiz.
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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays
Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.
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