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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VIDEO: The Promise and Peril of Drones
The automation of tasks at work and at home is just around the corner, including driving cars, piloting planes, delivering packages, and transporting weapons. Unmanned aerial vehicles are rapidly evolving to meet both society’s and the military’s needs in automation and better efficiency.
During her time as one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy, Dr. Missy Cummings observed that computers could take off and land a plane more precisely than humans. Because of this breakthrough and her fascination with this growing technology, she began human–drone interaction research.
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