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Science

New Sponge Can Soak Up and Release Spilled Oil Hundreds of Times (newscientist.com) 53

Seth Darling and his colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have created a new material that can absorb up to 90 times its own weight in spilled oil and then be squeezed out like a sponge and reused. This is compared to most commercial products used for soaking up oil, called "sorbents," which act like a paper towel and are only good for a single use. Once the sorbents are used, they get incinerated along with the oil. New Scientist reports: The oil sponge consists of a simple foam made of polyurethane or polyimide plastics and coated with "oil-loving" silane molecules with a sweet spot for capturing oil. Too little chemical attraction would render the sponge useless as an absorber, whereas too much would mean the oil could not be released. In laboratory tests, the researchers found that when engineered with just the right amount of silane, their foam could repeatedly soak up and release oil with no significant changes in capacity. But to determine whether this material could help sort out a big spill in marine waters, they needed to perform a special large-scale test. To do this, the team made an array of square pads of the sponge material measuring around 6 square meters. "We made a lot of the foam, and then these pieces of foam were placed inside mesh bags -- basically laundry bags, with sewn channels to house the foam," Darling says. The researchers suspended their sponge-filled bags from a bridge over a large pool specially designed for practicing emergency responses to oil spills. They then dragged the sponges behind a pipe spewing crude oil to test the material's capability to remove oil from the water. They next sent the sponges through a wringer to remove the oil and then repeated the process, carrying out many tests over multiple days. This so-far unpublished test was conducted in early December at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in Leonardo, New Jersey. Here's a video showing the sponge in action.

Comment systemd is just a step. (Score 1) 282

Looks like the submitter has trolled everything from windows to java to systemd.

systemd is a large experiment many hope goes poorly. But its there because there was a gap that applies to servers as well as desktops. Do better and you can kill systemd.

The days of pure desktops are coming to an end but it's issues are actually much like those that servers run into. systemd is objectionable but not because of desktop vs server.

Comment Re:Not that bad (Score 1) 85

I'm not in Colorado now but I was there in the 70's when they had the Big Thompson flood which oddly enough was the 'other' 100 year flood that took almost 150 lives not 4. They are starting to have quit a few 100 year floods :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Thompson_River#Big_Thompson_Canyon_Flooding_of_1976

Mountains are neat to visit but if you don't respect them, they can take you out in many ways. It's not Disney world.

But the nature of the floods is much different than say the Mississippi or other areas away from the mountains. What happens is you get significant rainfall in a mountain valley that comes down the valley as a wall of liquid concrete taking out roads bridges, houses and anything else in the way with incredible force. Impressive and dangerous. But it passes in a couple days without more rain. The towns like Boulder, Colorado springs, Lyons and fort Collins just see high water levels for a short period of time. There is no drainage problem at 1 mile above the sea.

Comment Nice technology, bad laws (Score 2) 271

The technology is great stuff. The real valid reason Europe and others complain goes back to the laws around these innovations - it really is innovation not round corners on a dumbed down interface.

Lets say the innovation results in a 20% increase in production. A farmer producing crops by traditional technology becomes a cash loss as prices decline. A farmer producing with the new technology does not own the seed and perhaps the product as they sign contracts to work for monsanto. The IP owner dictates what the cash crop worker does, how much they are paid and if they get to be viable next year.

That's markets, right? more efficient things come and less efficient things go. The measure of success of the market is the price we pay for food.

So we move to a contract mentality and family farms go away. You get short term goals with no concern about the productivity of the land from one generation to the next. Land does not work that way. You can do a decades worth of damage very quickly.

But what stake does Monsanto have in this game? So total productivity drops 30% due to short term corporate farming practices. It applies to farms moving back to traditional technology as well and Monsanto has a 20% advantage. Small farmers go away. Monsanto wins. We lose.

I have no fear of eating GMO agricultural products other than the damage it does to our future.

Comment Re:get real (Score 1) 279

Am I misunderstanding a couple basic concepts here?

          A person did nothing illegal but did expressed views some consider abnormal.
          A person was detained for expressing what was considered abnormal views.

How many opinions on /. are considered society norms? There are some crazy posts here but who do they harm?

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