‘A whirlwind tour through thehistory and the future ofAI – and why it matters to all of us. A must-read.’ Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity, a Google Fellow and VP, and a Research Professor at Stanford University.
EDITORIALIssue #55 (23rd November 2017) At Home in a Changing UniverseEDITORIAL Our cover this issue We make observations that give rise toEditor Anthony Fordham isn’t really a bold questions. We develop a theory, and [email protected] proclamation that “dark the theory with more observations. New matter is dead”, because observations challenge the theory, we adjustDESIGN of course it isn’t. It’s just the theory until it can reliably predict the nextArt Director Malcolm Campbell that there is a possibility it set of observations. might not adequately solveADVERTISING ENQUIRIES the problems we hoped it Then scientists publish the theory, and otherGroup Advertising Manager would solve – namely that galaxies appear to scientists immediately start trying to tear itTech, Gaming & Science rotate “too fast” to both contain the number of apart. If the theory holds, it becomes slowlyCameron Ferris stars they seem to contain, and not ﬂing those accepted as “true”. Right up until the point [email protected] stars outwards like a bunch of drunken uni observations contradict or challenge it. Thenph: 02 9901 6348 students getting hurled off a merry-go-round. the process repeats. Dark matter could help our understanding ofNational Account Executive the universe, but for an enduring problem. We’re Is this the most efficient and effective wayTech, Gaming & Science yet to conﬁrm the stuff exists, and in any case, to develop a deeply true understanding ofSean Fletcher we only “need” dark matter if our other ideas what the universe really is and how it [email protected] about how far away galaxies are, how gravity Probably not. But it has allowed us to unlockph: 02 9901 6367 works, and various other things, aren’t in some far more of our potential than any other way ﬂawed. system so far.Advertising Director And they may be. That’s something you shouldB2B & B2C Technology Group always keep in mind about this big, big picture Right now, one of the most exciting thingsLee De La Rue Browne stuff. The science of the extremely large is still, about fundamental physics is the way [email protected] if not in its infancy, then at best adolescent. our “standard model” is incredibly good asph: 02 9901 6308 It seems incredible, but humans did not predicting say, what gauge steel we need to realise there was more than one galaxy in ensure a bridge doesn’t fall down. And it canProduction Manager Peter Ryman the universe until Edwin Hubble (and others) predict how fast the bridge will fall, based onCirculation Director Carole Jones conﬁrmed their observations in the 1930s. the gravitational ﬁeld the bridge ﬁnds itself in. Why incredible? Because for all of humanINTERNATIONAL EDITION history (and prehistory), we’ve been able to see Yet the standard model cannot adequatelyEditor-in-Chief Sebastian Relster the galaxy we call Andromeda with the naked explain what gravity actually IS. It can’t explainInternational Editor Lotte Juul Nielsen eye. But it was barely a century ago that we why ever other part of our “system” ﬁts understood it isn’t a little smudgy nebula, but together neatly, but gravity is out on its own,BONNIER INTERNATIONAL rather a vast galaxy, bigger than the Milky Way, weirdly different.MAGAZINES 2.5 million light-years away and, as it happens,International Licensing Director getting closer. A proper theory of gravity that links it to theJulie Smartz Why mention this? Because it highlights how rest of fundamental physics, is the rocket fuelArt Director Hanne Bo much we have left to learn, not just about how our science needs to launch us into the nextPicture Editors Allan Baggesø, the universe works, but what it even looks like. orbit of understanding. Dark matter theoryLisbeth Brünnich, Peter Eberhardt From the very small to the very large, our exists because our understanding of gravity understanding is constantly changing. This doesn’t ﬁt with our observations of how fastChief Executive Officer David Gardiner might seem nonsensical or ridiculous, but it’s distant galaxies rotate.Commercial Director Bruce Duncan one of the strengths of science. Fix gravity, and we ﬁx our understanding ofScience Illustrated is published the universe. What happens after that? Who7 times a year by nextmedia Pty Ltd knows. But I can’t wait to ﬁnd out.ACN: 128 805 970Building A, 207 Pacific Highway Anthony FordhamSt Leonards, NSW 2065 [email protected] license from Bonnier InternationalMagazines. © 2014 Bonnier Corporation THINGS WE LEARNED IN THIS ISSUEand nextmedia Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved.Reproduction in whole or part without writ- + There are CATERPILLARS THAT EAT PLASTICten permission is prohibited. Science Illustrat- who could help us with our... problem.ed is a trademark of Bonnier Corporation and + If we just CHANGE THE RULES OF GRAVITYis used under limited license. The Australian then we don’t need Dark Matter anymore.edition contains material originally published + Pretty soon the idea of unwrapping foodin the US and UK editions reprinted with MAY BE OBSOLETE. Just eat the packaging!permission of Bonnier Corporation. Articles + When you remove top predators from anexpress the opinions of the authors and are environment OTHER SPECIES DIE OUT TOO.not necessarily those of the Publisher, Editor + You can MELT STYROFOAM to make your ownor nextmedia Pty Ltd. ISSN 1836-5175. Christmas decorations. We show you how!Privacy NoticeWe value the integrity of your personal infor-mation. If you provide personal informationthrough your participation in any competitions,surveys or offers featured in this issue of Sci-ence Illustrated, this will be used to provide theproducts or services that you have requestedand to improve the content of our magazines.Your details may be provided to third partieswho assist us in this purpose. In the event oforganisations providing prizes or offers to ourreaders, we may pass your details on to them.From time to time, we may use the informationyou provide us to inform you of other products,services and events our company has to offer.We may also give your information to otherorganisations which may use it to inform youabout their products, services and events,unless you tell us not to do so. You are welcometo access the information that we hold aboutyou by getting in touch with our privacy officer,who can be contacted at nextmedia, LockedBag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590www.scienceillustrated.com.auTo subscribe, call 1300 361 146 or 9901 6111or visit mymagazines.com.auTHE SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED CREDOWe share with our readers a fascinationwith science, technology, nature, cultureand archaeology, and believe that througheducation about our past, present and future,we can make the world a better place.Cover: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/Yale/CNRS scienceillustrated.com.au | 3
CONTENTS 36ISSUE #55 SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED AUSTRALIAN EDITION PLASTIC IS FANTASTIC PUBLISHED 23RD NOVEMBER 2017 Plastic causes many problems, it’s true. But the answer isn’t to ban all plastic. The answer is to change it, so it’s not a problem anymore. 64 FUTURE OF PACKAGING Is packaging boring? Probably, but you use it every day. It’s important, so we’re taking a look at the cutting edge of, well, packets.30 SCTOOVREYRNO MORE DARK MATTER?It explains strange observations atthe galactic scale, but could there bean easier way to understand the uni-verse? One without Dark Matter?4 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
46 58 REGULARS AND OTHER THE ANCESTORS OF THE ANCESTORS LOUIS PASTEUR SAVED YOUR LIFE FEATURES Egypt is one of the world’s first great With his radical idea that keeping everything 6 civilisations, but even the Ancient sterile (super clean) would stop people dying, Pasteur changed medicine forever... MEGAPIXELEgyptians had to come from somewhere... Gravity-defying dinosaurs! 10 SCIENCE UPDATE Some bees might be... autistic? 68 74 18 NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE FLU MOST IMPORTANT SPECIES ASK US Just a part of life, a regular seasonal Every animal deserves a chance, but the fact is, Should I let this crawl on my face?experience? No, influenza is a lot more some species are more vital than others. Let’s meet the beasts we can’t lose. 78 dangerous than that. We investigate. HOME CHEMISTRY Make decorations from styrofoam! 80 TRIVIA What is a why is a where? 82 BIODIVERSITY Corals are doin’ it by the full moon SUBSCRIBE NOW! 70 Get Australian Science Illustrated delivered to your door and save $$$! scienceillustrated.com.au | 5
MEGAPIXEL DINOSAURS6 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
REUTERS/SCANPIX Dinosaur Footprints Defy Gravity Sixty-eight million years ago, dinosaurs were able to walk up a vertical rock wall. Or so it seems. Today, the 100-m-high and 1.5-km-long limestone wall of Cal Orcko in Bolivia is covered in dinosaur footprints left by at least eight different dinosaur species on a lake shore. Alternating dry and wet weather subsequently dried them out and covered them in new mud. Finally, geological forces pushed the prints upwards, so a baby Tyrannosaurus rex and others are now “climbing” the wall. Photo // Sixto Valdez scienceillustrated.com.au | 7
GETTY IMAGES MEGAPIXEL HUNTING Lucky Croc Gets Two For the Price of One The big fish eat the little ones - and while there might not always a bigger fish, in this case there's a bigger something. The South American Caiman is an efficient hunter, but this Brazilian male has an extra lucky day. The Caiman lies in waiting for prey, and as a fish swims by, it shoots forward with its mouth open. Using its legs to take off and its tail for acceleration, the croc lifts its upper body out of the water to capture the prey in the air. Males grow 2-2.5 m long, and as well as fish, they also eat birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Photo // Sergio Pitamitz 8 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
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ANTARCTICAVolcanoes FoundUnder AntarcticaIf the volcanoes begin to erupt, they could melt theice from beneath, triggering a vicious spiral.GEOLOGY A surprising number of of meltwater would make ocean SCIENTISTS FIND 138big volcanoes are hiding beneath the water levels rise. Active volcanoes VOLCANOES UNDER THE ICEWest-ern Antarctic ice sheet. 2 km could also trigger a vicious spiral.under the ice, geologists from the Melting ice would ease the ice Scientists have discovered 91University of Edinburgh, Scotland, pressure on the volcanoes, new volcanoes under the ice ofhave discovered 91 volcanoes, which increasing the risk of eruptions. The Antarctica. 47 volcanoes wereare 100m - 4 km high. Nobody knows most active volcanoes such an the already known, and according toif they are active, but if just one of Icelandic ones were once covered by scientists, there are even more.them started to erupt, melting the ice. Scientists aim to find out So, the coast could be the regionice from beneath, the ice sheet could whether the volcanoes are extinct, of the world with the highestbe destabilised, and huge quantities dormant, or active. concentration of volcanoes.Ice meets fire byMount Erebus,the southernmostactive volcanoin the world. DOCTORS GET A WINDOW JACOBS SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING/UCSD ON THE SKULL A newly developed ceramic material allows doctors to treat brain tumours with ultrasound, which other- wise has difficulties penetrating the skull. Doctors replace a small piece of skull the size of a 20 cent coin with the material, obtaining a small window on the brain, through which ultra-sonic waves can enter.
NEW THEORY Editors: Michael Friislund & Rikke Jeppesen Thin ice could trigger volcanic eruptions 5.7-million If the ice becomes thinner, the pressure on the volcanoes will ease, year-old footsteps from possibly making them erupt. The new outbreaks could also make the a hominin, which have ice even thinner. been discovered in Crete, raise questions about ICE SHEET mankind's African origin. THE ICE BECOMES THINNER 1 If global warming continues, the ice of Antarctica will become thinner, and the pressure on the volcanoes will ease. MAGMA VOLCANIC ERUPTION 2 The reduced pressure NASA can make one or more of the 138 volcanoes under Voyager 1 brings eight gold-plated records with data about Earth and the ice erupt, speeding up humans. the melting process. NASA Sends New Message VICIOUS SPIRAL BEGINS to Aliens 3 The warm temperatures ASTRONOMY “We offer from below can make the friendship across the stars. You are not alone.” This is the an- ice sheet even thinner, causing a nouncement, which is to be added to the messages printed vicious spiral, by which other on golden records and launched into space aboard the Voyager 1 volcanoes also start to erupt. 40 years ago. JOSH LANDIS/NSF NASA sends the signal with radio waves, which travel at theVitamin prevents miscarriages speed of light. During its 40 years in space, Voyager 1 hasMEDICINE One in five pregnancies end in a ALL OVER travelled 20+ billion km or al- most 140 astronomical units (1spontaneous miscarriage, which is often inexplicable, but AU is the distance between Earth and the Sun). Consequent-now, Australian scientists have discovered that vitamin ly, it takes 19 hours and 22 min- utes for the message to travelB3 can prevent some of these. from Earth to Voyager 1.They studied the genes of families which have The new signal was found by open vote, as NASA asked socialexperienced many miscarriages and foetal malformation, media users which message they would like to be sent into space.only to discover that they had mutations of genes, which Voyager 1’s mission is to inform intelligent alien life, should suchcode for the NAD molecule. NAD is important to all body exist, about Earth and the exist- ence of the human race.cells, as it ensures that they have energy, can repair scienceillustrated.com.au | 11genes, and are able tocommunicate. Vitamin B3 ENCYCLOPEDIAcontributes to producing the Vitamin Bs are a group Vitamin B9 is already recommended formolecule, and experiments of water-soluble pregnant women, and scientists are thinkingshow that it has a positive vitamins including B1,effect on mice, helping them B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9,have healthy babies. and B12. about recommending vitamin B3 as well.
SCIENCE UPDATE Gene therapy EFFICIENT IN 52 OUT OF against leukaemia 63 SICK CHILDREN MEDICINE The US health authorities have In the experiment, 63 children just approved a new method for treating a and adolescents with cancer were fatal type of cancer, which particularly affects treated with the new method, which children. It is a historical breakthrough, as it is had an effect on 52. The method has the first gene therapy to come out in America. been approved for people of up to 25 years of age with childhood The new method can save some of the leukaemia, if nothing else helps. children and young people, who develop childhood leukaemia – a very aggressive type Reprogrammed T cells attack cancer cells in of blood cancer – annually. When doctors use patients with childhood leukaemia. the new treatment, they extract blood with immune cells from the patient and select T cells, which are supplied with a new gene, CAR. The gene allows the T cells to identify leukaemia cells in the blood, and when they are injected back into the blood vessels of the sick patient, the T cells kill the cancer cells they encounter.SPL 100,000 FABIO MANUCCI HÉCTOR MONTAÑO / INAH solar masses is the size of the black hole, which astronomers have discovered in our own galaxy. LOCAL FOCAL POINT – Aztec women and children sacrificed RIVER TOWER OF HUMAN SKULLS DISCOVERED IN MEXICO // GIANT 650+ carefully piled human skulls have been discovered by archaeologists in HAD T. REX Mexico City. The skulls are 500 years old, indicating that the Aztecs did not only TEETH sacrifice male warriors as previously believed, rather also women and children. The world’s biggest and oldest Notosuchian, a huge, prehistoric crocodile, has been discovered in Madagascar. The predator had teeth like those of a T. rex and immense jaw strength, which allowed it to crush and consume entire animals, including tendons and bones. 12 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
astron gps solar. the watch that keeps you on perfect time. worldwide. Using just the power of light, Astron adjusts to any time zone on earth at the touch of a button. With a precision of one second every 100,000 years, you will never be late again.*If there are changes in the region / time zone, manual time zone selection may be required. seiko.com.au
TAKAYUKI HIROTA/THE FRANCIS CRICK INSTITUTE SCIENCE UPDATE Australia Builds World’s Largest Solar Plant Sterile male mice can father offspring by using artificial sperm A 227-m-high tower surrounded by huge mirrors is produced by their ears. to generate power for 5 % of South Australia in 2020. Making Silk CLIMATE North of Port generates electricity. The salt Huge mirrors rotate two Sperm from a Augusta, the SA government is can store the energy for up to axes to be able to reflect the Mouse's Ear building the world’s largest eight hours. sunlight towards the tower. solar tower. Named Aurora, it MEDICINE Artificial sperm consists of thousands of Aurora has a capacity of cells from tissue from the ears of mirrors located in a 10 km2 135 megawatts, but could sterile mice? That's the result of area around a tower that is to reach 150 at night, when the an experiment with mice born capture the sunlight. The plant has stored large with either an extra X or Y energy is stored in liquid salt. quantities of energy. chromosome, which means that they cannot have offspring. The When the sun sets, the Once Aurora is completed scientists converted skin cells plant continues to generate in 2020, 90,000 homes can into a special type of stem cells, power. The heated salt gives use hair dryers, electric which can theoretically be off water vapour, which is kettles, and washing converted into any type of body used to power a turbine, that machines around the clock cells. In the process, one third of without emitting any CO2. the cells lost their extra chromosomes. The new cells Salt stores energy for the night were subsequently converted into sperm cells, which could be The sunlight is reflected to the tower, where liquid salt is heated. The salt used to breed mice. retains the heat for most of the night and so functions as an energy store. If the same thing can be done SALT CONTAINER with humans, the method could be used to cure male infertility. 2 Liquid salt located in a container is heated NEWS FLASH! SUNLIGHT to a temperature of 500 Zombie ants can infect degrees by the solar energy. people MIRRORS A small parasite can plant itself in the brains of ants 1 Huge mirrors, which to control their behaviour can rotate two axes, and kill them over time. New research shows that concentrate the light and in rare cases, the parasite can also infect humans – if send it to the tower. SALT STORE it is eaten raw. 3 The hot, liquid salt 14 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED is sent to a large tank. The molten salt retains the heat efficiently inside the tank. HEAT EXCHANGER 4 The hot salt is sent to a heat exchanger, producing vapour in the encounter with cold water. SOLARRESERVE CONDENSER TURBINE 6 From the turbine, the 5 The vapour powers a vapour is directed to steam turbine, which a condenser, which powers a generator, which converts it back into water. generates power.
SCIENCE UPDATE SHOOTING STAR – Huge Solar Eruption ObservedNASA/ESA Sunspots produce spectacular show // A large region with sunspots be- came visible to NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory space probe on 5-17 July. The region is known as AR12665, and its complex magnetic fields produced several huge solar eruptions. Various NASA satellites managed to take photos of the phenomenon. 56,000,000 And talking of bees ... years ago, global temperatures suddenly rose by up to 8 degrees. The Varroa mite is bees' The cause has long been a mystery, but now, scientists have found worst enemy. The small out that it was likely due to an erupting supervolcano. parasite attacks the bees, which typically die within 1-3 Legendary Aeroplane to Fly Again years. The mite originated in Asia, where bees are more HISTORY A British engineer knew that he up the only complete collection of resistant. had discovered a historical treasure, when he construction drawings of the Mosquito found more than 20,000 technical drawings aircraft, which the UK used during World War A few months ago, the on microfilm cards hidden in a corner of an II. The drawings include technical details, honey bee's relative, the old factory in Chester, England. The engineer which are required to recreate the plane in a bumblebee, ended up on the only just managed to save the material, historically correct version. The People’s list of endangered species in before the factory was demolished a few days Mosquito organization will use the drawings the US, after a 87 % later, and that was very lucky. The plans make to make the legendary aircraft fly again. population reduction in only two decades. The British WW2 Mosquito plane FASTEST PLANE will fly again following the discovery OF 1941 About one third of of drawings of the aircraft. the food sold in Crew: Two. supermarkets is dependent onALL OVER bee pollination. Without bees, Speed: 550+ km/h, the we would no longer be able to fastest aircraft of 1941. enjoy favourites such as apples, coffee, and strawberries. Load capacity: 454 kg. Active service: Was primarily used by the UK during World War II. Manufactured 1940-1950, but used until 1956. 16 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
Chip Can Heal BEFORE Damaged Tissue A new chip can reprogramme skin cells into another type of cells, AFTER which can heal wounds, etc. In mouse experiments, the chip MEDICINE It seems like magic. A new with a chip developed by scientists from the reestablishes the blood flow, so the patch allows doctors to reprogramme skin Ohio State University in the US. The chip mice’s wounded legs can heal. cells. A leg wound can be cured by contains liquid with genetic material, which reprogramming skin cells to produce blood makes the skin cells change their identity. An vessels to ensure oxygen and nourishment. electric current makes the cell membrane of The patch can also repair brain injury, as skin the skin cells open up, as the chip shoots cells can be converted into neurons, which liquid directly into the cells. The method has can be harvested and injected into the brain. been tested on mice and will be ready to be Those are the prospects of a silicone patch tested on humans next year. Genes and electricity convert cells CURRENT A patch with small needles and an electric impulse sends genetic material into OPENS CELLS cells. Subsequently, DNA and RNA convert the cells into a new type of cells. 2 An electric pulse makes the cell membrane of the subcutis open up, allowing GENES PENE- the genetic material to TRATE THE SKIN PATCH enter. Subsequently, DNA and RNA 1 Genetic material GENETIC reprogramme the with specific MATERIAL cells into nerve DNA and RNA cells. penetrates the skin via microscopic injection needles in the chip. CURRENTTHE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY SKIN CELLS NERVE CELLSLUIZ MENEZES DATA MODELS SHOW THE WAY TO GOLD According to a new study, large data volumes can be used to find new deposits of precious minerals such as gold and copper. By analysing the large volumes of data concerning existing mineral deposits, scientists can predict, which minerals are lacking and where they can probably be found. scienceillustrated.com.au | 17
SCIENCE UPDATE Permafrost SCIENTISTS FEARED LEAK Leaks Methane The permafrost of the world CLIMATE Major regions of the world are contains trillions of tonnes of organic material such as plants, covered in permafrost - permanently frozen soil bacteria, and small animals, which are only slowly converted into CO and ice. The frozen ground resembles a huge 2 membrane, which covers ancient reservoirs of in the cold. In some places such as greenhouse gases such as methane. Siberia and the Arctic, the permafrost is up to 700 m thick. Methane is estimated to be at least 20 times SIBERIA as active as CO , when it comes to intensifying 2 the greenhouse effect. Climate researchers fear that the methane reservoirs will escape to the atmosphere, as the permafrost thaws due to increasing temperatures. German scientists have collected air samples above 10,000 km2 of permafrost in the Mackenzie Delta of Northern Canada, which show that methane emissions are 13 times higher in areas with thinner, The air above the Mckenzie Delta in Canada is full thawing permafrost. of greenhouse gases, according to new research.NASA WORM SHUTTERSTOCK 20 km/h DEVELOPS TWO GBO/AUI/NSF HEADS IN SPACE – was the top speed of a T. rex, according to a new computer A flatworm has simulation developed by English palaeontologists. returned with two heads after spending SHOOTING STAR – Orion's clouds five weeks at the International Space RADIO TELESCOPE REVEALS AMMONIA CLOUD IN ORION // Station (ISS). The Thanks to the Green Bank Observatory radio telescope in West Virginia, astronomers creatures' space have managed to put together an image of a 50-light year-long ammonia cloud, voyage was a part of which zigzags across the northern Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. a research project, by which American biologists aimed to find out how weightlessness and Earth’s magnetic field affect flatworms' ability to regenerate. 18 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
Molar Might Alter Our Ancestral OriginsNASATUTE Africa or Europe? New studies of a 7.2-million-year-old tooth raises questions about where the first human came from. The KIC 8462852 star once again EVOLUTION About seven million years have tried to classify for years. CT scans and produces mysterious light fluctuations. ago, humans first left Africa, according to 3D reconstructions show, how much the the dominant theory about our origin, which tooth resembles ours. While the hominids of Star Produces is now challenged by an international team the time had separate tooth roots, the tooth Odd Light of paleoanthropologists. root of the Graecopithecus freybergi was Fluctuations partly united like in modern man. So, The development is due to new scientists believe that the Graecopithecus ASTRONOMY A large object examinations of a 7.2-million-year-old freybergi is one of the earliest relatives of could once again have passed in fossilised tooth discovered in Bulgaria in man, and that might mean that man front of the enigmatic KIC 2012 and a lower jaw excavated in Greece in originated in Europe 200,000 years earlier 8462852 star. That is the 1944. These are the only existing remains of than previously believed. conclusion of scientists following Graecopithecus freybergi, which scientists a series of new observations, which show how the star’s light Tooth roots reveal relationship has been blocked out by a large, inexplicable object. The same The Graecopithecus had united tooth roots, thing happened several times in and so, scientists believe that it was an early 2011-2013, when the Kepler relative of modern man. Telescope observed decreases in the star’s brightness of about OU T O OENTDOHOP NIFTIREHONEMSC US 20%. Even major planets cannot M R A IS cause such light reductions. If A C Jupiter were to pass in front of the Sun, our star would only lose T O ROMLTYOHDRFEERRLONAMTMIAAVNNE 1 % of its brightness. Back then, E A the controversial theory was that O F the light reductions could be huge clusters of solar power stations built by intelligent life. NEWS FLASH! J. FUSS ET AL. United Separate Malaria drug Scans of a CT scans of a kills Zika Graecopithecus jawbone from a jawbone allow Sahelanthropus Scientists have scientists to make tchadensis reveal discovered that hydroxy- out a tooth root that the early chloroquine, which has outlines. They can species' tooth been approved for the clearly see that the roots were treatment of pregnant Graecopithecus had completely women with malaria, also partly united roots. separate. eliminates Zika. It stops the virus spreading to the scienceillustrated.com.au | 19 unborn baby.
SCIENTISTS ANSWER Ask Us Where Does The Surface QUESTIONS FROM OUR READERS Of A Gas Planet Begin? SHUTTERSTOCK Gas planets have no surfaces, so astronomers have found an alternative method for determining where it begins. Saturn is one of the four large gas planets in the hydrogen changes state again, becoming outer Solar System. It almost only consists of electrically conductive (metallic hydrogen). hydrogen and helium and so has no solid surface as we know it from the inner planets such as Astronomers are not so sure what things look Mercury, Venus, and Earth. An attempt to land like at the centre of Saturn, but they agree that on Saturn would mean that the spacecraft conti- the planet’s core is solid, consisting of rock and nued to sink, until it was shattered due to the different types of ice. In spite of temperatures in pressure or melted in the heat. the core of up to 10,000 degrees, the ice remains frozen, because the pressure is 10 million times In a gas planet, pressure and temperature higher than at Earth’s surface, compressing the increase as you approach the centre. En route, water molecules into a solid state. the gases become ever thicker, and at a \"depth\" of about 1,000 km down, the hydrogen gra-dually However, to be able to determine the planet’s becomes liquid. About half way towards the core, circumference, etc., astronomers often define the pressure becomes so high that the liquid Saturn’s surface as the place where the pressure is the same as at sea level on Earth. Lightning Produces Diamonds In Saturn’s Interior In 2013, US scientists discovered that diamonds measuring several cm can be produced in Saturn’s interior. When lightning in the upper atmosphere strikes methane molecules, carbon atoms are produced, which combine into soot particles. They fall towards the core, and after about 6,000 km, the pressure is so high that the carbon turns into diamond. Further down, they melt again at temperatures above 8,000 C. HOW MUCH ENERGY DOES GOOGLE SEARCH REQUIRE? When we surf the Internet, the content must be retrieved from search engine servers. In 2009, Google calculated that one search session consumes an average of 0.0003 kWh, corresponding to making a 60 watt incandescent bulb light up for 20 seconds. Since 2009, Google has made its servers much more efficient.
The upper atmosphere SHUTTERSTOCKEditor: Morten Kjerside Poulsen consists of gaseous hydrogen with clouds of ammonia. TOP 5 Some 1,000 km down the Which waterfall has atmosphere, the hydrogen the highest fall? begins to turn liquid. 1 ANGEL FALLS Close to the core, the Canaima National Park, hydrogen changes state again, Venezuela becoming metallic hydrogen. Height: 979 m Source: The Caroní river The innermost core consists of rock. The 2 TUGELA FALLS diameter is 25,000 km – Royal Natal National Park, twice as much as all South Africa of Earth's. Height: 947 m Source: The Tugela river Highly compressed ice surrounds the planet's core. 3 UTIGARDS FALLS Sogn & Fjordane county, The Majority Norway Of The Gas Giant Height: 800 m Is Liquid Source: Ramnefjellbreen glacier Saturn is known as a gas 4 MONGE FALLS giant, but the designation is Møre & Romsdal county, misleading. The majority of Norway the planet is liquid, as the Height: 773 m huge pressure in Saturn’s Source: The Mongebeck river interior compresses the gases. 5 MUTARAZI Mutarazi National Park, Zimbabwe Height: 762 m Source: The Mutarazi river SHUTTERSTOCKP H Y S I C S - S AV V Y ? Who Has The Most Sophisticated Eyes? CLAUS LUNAU? What makes a Human eyes are excellent organs of vision, but magnet magnetic? they are not exceptional in any way. They have four different types of light-sensitive cells, whichAll atoms are surrounded by weak allow us to capture light in the visible spectrum. Many animals have an extra type of light-sensi-magnetic fields. In a magnet, they tive cell or another combination, so they can see ultraviolet and infrared light, i.e. light ofall point in the same direction, wavelengths that are invisible to the human eye.reinforcing each other, so the entire The most sophisticated eyes in nature belong to the mantis shrimp. The marine crustacean hasmaterial becomes magnetic. If the no less than 16 different types of light-sensitive cells in its eyes. Apart from infrared and ultravioletorder is disturbed – by heating or light, scientists now know that the spectacular mantis shrimp eyes also capture circularlyby the influence of an exterior polarised light, which no other life forms can.magnetic field – the magnet loses The mantis shrimp has nature’s most sophisticated eyes. It can see more details than humans.its magnetic properties. scienceillustrated.com.au | 21
ASK US Does Space Junk Fall Down On Earth? Space junk orbiting a few hundred km above ALTITUDE DETERMINES Earth’s surface could collide with small THE LIFE SPAN OF SPACE quantities of air molecules, and the friction can JUNK slow down the objects, so they will finally fall down on Earth. Less than 600 km above Earth: The space junk will fall down in In November 2008, an astronaut lost a tool a matter of a few years. bag during a space walk at the International Space Station, which orbits 400 km above 600-1,000 km above Earth: NASA Earth. The bag orbited Earth, coming ever The space junk takes several closer, until it burned up in the atmosphere decades to fall down. 258 days later. 1,000+ km above Earth: The During a space walk in space junk takes several 2008, an astronaut lost a bag of tools. centuries to fall down. ? HOW THINGS WORK As only exterior noise frequencies are How Do Headphones With neutralized, the music Noise Reduction Function? is not affected. Noise reduction takes advantage of an acoustic phenome- non known as destructive interference. By displacing two identical sound waves, so they are in opposition, they can destroy or “cancel out” each other, causing silence. ELECTRONIC + CIRCUIT MICROPHONE = SPEAKER 1 Exterior noise affects a 2 The sound bit is sent on to a chip, 3 The opposition makes the two microphone, which is located which analyses the sound wave, sound waves neutralize eachSHUTTERSTOCK on the outside of the headphones. producing an identical sound wave in the other. If the two waves were not in The mike records a brief bite of the speaker, only reversed, so the two sound opposition, the headphones would background noise. waves are in opposition. have doubled the exterior noise. 22 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
Weak air flows in a room make dust collect into dust bunnies. Dust particles typically come from skin cells, textile fibres, and cooking fumes. Where Does Dust Come From?EYE OF SCIENCE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY & SHUTTERSTOCK What does dust consist of, and why settles again, it is not always in an even MITES THRIVE IN does it collect into large dust bunnies layer. Some surfaces attract more dust YOUR SHEETS in corners? than others – weak electrical charges of stereos, TV screens, and computers attract The bedroom is one of the rooms Dust consists of tiny particles, which occur extra quantities of dust. that produce the most dust, as a result of ordinary activities in our primarily skin flakes, which is homes. Some of the most important When dust particles are affected by air yummy for house dust mites. In 24 sources of dust are cast off skin cells, sand, flows, they collect into dust bunnies, which hours, a human being sheds 0.5-1 g animal hair, crumbs, pollen, textile fibres \"move\" across the floor, collecting more of skin flakes, which is sufficient to from clothes, furniture, and carpets plus dust. Dust bunnies accumulate in places, feed thousands of house dust mites particles from cooking fumes, cigarette where neither people nor air flows can for a year. smoke, etc. remove them such as in corners or under beds. In rooms with ordinary activity, the Dust can hover in the air for long or quantity of dust varies from 0.05 to 1 mg/ short periods of time, and it is easily m3. In rooms with much activity and stirred up from the floor, etc. When it smoke, there is much more dust. WORLD RECORDS Which country is the tallest? HEIGHT RECORD The height of a population depends on Where: The Netherlands factors such as the state of nutrition and What: The average health in the country. You will find the height record for world's tallest women in Latvia (170 cm) men in the world. and men in the Netherlands. They measure182.5 cm SHUTTERSTOCK scienceillustrated.com.au | 23
ASK US Why Do Some People DEHAENE ET AL. Maths statements ISTOCK Find Maths Difficult? Other statements By means of brain scans, neuroscientists have spotted Scans revealed that specific parts of the the small brain area dedicated to learning maths, brain were activated, when test subjects counting, and making calculations. were introduced to maths statements. The “maths centre” is located in the parietal lobe. Due to genetic mutations, it is not equally well- developed in all people, resulting in maths seeming like nonsense to some. According to scientists, about 6 % of the population find numbers and maths difficult. Moreover, scientists have discovered a statistical link between word blindness and number blindness. However, the question of why maths is more difficult for some people than for others has by no means been fully investigated. The first plastic saw the light of day 110 years ago, but mass production of the material did not seriously begin until the 1950s. Since then, the production has amounted to 8.3 billion tonnesPETER MENZEL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY WHAT IS THIS? A fulgurite is produced, when lightning FULGURITE discharges into ground, making sand grains fuse. 24 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED In mountain regions, rock fulgurites made of glass also exist. 1 A thunderstorm discharges lightning into the ground. The most intensive examples of lightning are up to 250 kA, and their temperature can reach 30,000 °C. 2 Due to the high amperage, billions of watts are deposited in the upper layers of the ground, where lightning strikes. 3 If lightning strikes in sand, the result is sintering. Sintered sand grains produce a tube – a fulgurite – which exhibits the electricity’s path into the ground.
SPECIAL EFFECTS Given time and favourable Can Monkeys conditions, monkeys would Develop Into theoretically be able to Humans? become just as smart as us. If chimp genes are 99 % identical to ours, can monkeys develop into humans? Theoretically, there is nothing to prevent that under the right circumstances and with lots of time at their disposal, monkeys would be able to develop intelligence comparable to that of humans. That is the scenario which unfolds in the science fiction novel “Planet of the Apes”, on which several films have been based. However, evolutionary biologists do not consider it realistic that chimps, which are the closest relatives of humans in the animal kingdom, would be able to develop into humans. Although chimp DNA only differs from that of humans by about 1 %, it would require major changes of the genetic material. Not only would the body shape of monkeys have to be changed into something similar to ours. The DNA would also have to be so close to ours that mating would result in viable offspring. Biologists have not yet found evidence that two species, which parted evolutionally at some point, have reunited. Evolution Cannot Be Rolled Back If our closest relative, the chimp, were to develop into a human being, it would require a series of unlikely evolutionary steps. ORANGUTANG GORILLA CHIMPANZEE HUMAN 1 Six million years erased To become human, the first 1 2 step of chimps need to roll back about 6 million years of evolution to the common ancestor of the two species. Sometimes animals are born with traits from the species' evolutionary history. 2 Monkeys mutate into people Then they must chance HUMANS' AND across the same mutations, CHIMPS' COMMON which have been passed on to ANCESTOR humans. This includes a series of highly unlikely gene copies,20TH CENTURY FOX APES which have contributed to developing our brains. scienceillustrated.com.au | 25
ASK US How Are Pills Made? The correct pharmaceutical designation of TESTS ENSURE EVEN SHUTTERSTOCK most drugs manufactured today is not \"pills\", DRUG DISTRIBUTION but rather \"tablets\". Tablets which can be halved must have Random check: 10 tablets the same quantity of active ingredient in both halves. Tablets start with a homogenous mixture, are selected from a new compressed in a mould. The European batch. If the contents of all 10 pharmacopoeia, helps ensure that the tablets deviate less than 15 % quantity of active ingredients in all the from the average, the batch tablets of a pill bottle is highly similar. In can be approved. practice, it is not possible to include the exact same quantity of the drug in all tablets. Two Weighing: 20 tablets are important tests are made to make sure that weighted separately. No more the difference is as slight as possible. than two of the tablets can weigh 10 % more than the av- erage of all 20 tablets. How Are Plastic Bricks Made? Answer: Plastic bricks for toys, etc., must match, and so, they have to be manufactured very accurately. LEGO uses moulds, which are designed with a degree of accuracy of 0.005 mm or less than 1/10 of the width of a human hair. PLASTIC GRANULATE MOULD 230- 310 °C Plastic granulate – large “grains” of plastic of the The soft plastic is placed in moulds and subjected 1 same colour – is heated to 230-310 °C. The hard 2 to a pressure of up to 150 t. The pressure varies plastic grains fuse into a coherent mass with a according to the type of brick. The brick cools for texture like that of dough. about 10 seconds, after which it is forced out of the mould. COMPLETE BOXJØRGEN STAMP Some LEGO bricks such as the legs of a figure are The boxing of different elements is computer- 3 made of several separate parts, which must be joined. 4 controlled. A conveyor belt carries boxes to Machines apply very accurate, variable pressure. At containers with different elements, which release the same time, the face of the figure’s head is printed. the correct number of elements into the boxes. 26 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
Mount Roraima is flat, tr because it is made up of the Toarhifbsle2oeemvv,s8eea0ols.u0teonamttaalin remains of land which was pushed upwards 180 million years ago. Why Are Some Mountains \"DIVORCE\" PRODUCED Flat At The Tops? A MOUNTAINROBERT HARDING/GETTY IMAGES Mount Roraima in Venezuela is one of the its kind in South America with a top covering The mountain consists of most famous examples of a mesa (Spanish for an area of 31 km2 and a vertical dip of 400 m 1.8-billion-year-old table) with a flat top and vertical sides. In the to all sides. sandstone, which was lifted local language, the mountain type is known by geological forces, when as “tepui”, house of the gods, and Mount The top is flat, as it consists of former land Africa and South America Roraima is not by far the only one. surface, which was forced upwards, when parted 180 million years ago. South America left the African continent 180 Mount Roraima and the other table-top million years ago. The flat top is the remains mountains in the region are erosional of the ancient land surface, remnants, i.e. they hover above the Roraima is a major tourist attraction. which has been preserved, landscape, because the material around them Though the steep sides make much of the because it is the hardest part of has eroded. Mount Roraima is the largest of mountain impassable, it is possible to hike to the sandstone. the top via a natural ramp. The lowlands surrounding Mount Roraima consist of softer sandstone, which has been eroded by frequent, heavy rain. WORLD RECORDS Which treasure is the most valuable? SHIPWRECK The most valuable shipwreck treasure Where: Key West, Florida so far was discovered aboard the When: 1622 Spanish galleon of Nuestra Señora de Casualties: 265 Atocha. The ship carried gold ingots, jew- Discovered: 1985 ellery, and other treasures worth$529 million scienceillustrated.com.au | 27
ASK USWould it be To cross lakes and otherpossible to shallow water, rigs like thisdestroy the are sufficient to lay cablesInternet? BIGTHESHORT ANSWER: QUESTIONNot the whole Internet, but yourcountry’s Internet could be disrupted,with a bit of effort…LONG ANSWER: These days, we take the able to request information from a server (aInternet for granted. It’s just sort of type of computer) that stores all thethere. Where? Everywhere. pictures and text on our website, and also which runs various programs to organise From top-secret military and label that content in such a way so,communications system in the 1960s, to when the information reaches your websemi-academic geek passion project in browser, it gets automatically laid out intothe 1980s, to lame “cyberspace” and a nicely designed page you can read. Phew!“information superhighway” TV ads inthe 1990s, the Internet has since evolved Opportunities to disrupt that processto nothing less than an essential service. occur in several places. Your personalLike electricity, or running water. Lifewithout an Internet connection today, is Destroying just two pointsgetting increasingly inconvenient. could sever our undersea So you’d be right to worry about the cable links to the USInternet being destroyed, or switchedoff, or in some way disrupted so hard connection to the Internet – your phone linethat you couldn’t get access to your or cable – could stop working for somebank account. Which is probably the reason. Or your ISP could have a disruption,most significant concern for most of us. since its job is to take a giant stream of data and split it up into thousands or even And yet we’re told not to worry, millions of individual streams which send thebecause part of the whole point of the information requested by its customers, toInternet was to create a their personal computers, tablets or phones.communications network that couldsurvive, well, a nuclear attack. If your ISP lost its big pipe to the Internet at large, you might not be able to use theSO MUCH INTERNET Internet for a while. Various versions of this“The Internet” as a thing, basically kind of disruption happen from time toconsists of millions of computers all time, and usually get fixed within hours.connecting to and requestinginformation from millions of servers. Finally, the system that allows us toConfusingly, your desktop PC can be a actually request information, or webpage –(very slow) server, so it’s less about the Domain Name System – could behardware and more about how things disrupted. The DNS is important becauseare configured. actual servers don’t have easy to remember names like www.scienceillustrated.com.au, Anyway, the point is that to get toyour favourite website – www.scienceillustrated.com.au – yourInternet service provider needs to be28 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
This specialised \"cable layer\" ship keeps kms of cable in a spool on the deck amidships...they have Internet Protocol (or IP) American website, we send a request viaaddresses, which currently take the undersea communication cables. (It'sform of four numbers 0-255, like actually a bit more complex than this,220.127.116.11. That’s not very easy to but it's true at a fundamental level.)remember, so the Domain NameSystem turns the addresses we know One of the major links is operated byinto the IP numbers so servers can give a company called Southern Cross Cable.us our information. DEEP PIPES of physical damage. But the system is Disruption or destruction of the This massive, 28,900 km “triple-ring” designed to handle this too. When anDomain Name System would cause a lot undersea cable connects Australia and earthquake destroyed part of the cable inof problems actually browsing, but it the US, from Oregon and California, via 2008 – we’re talking tonnes of rock andwouldn’t actually destroy the Internet. Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand. mud smooshing a component called a “shunt” - backup systems and “spareSUPER ANTI-FRAGILE LINKED On our end, it has “landing points” in capacity” meant that people at homeELECTRIC DATA LOCUS Alexandria and Brookvale in Sydney. using the Internet didn’t even notice!At the local level, a cut cable will take That’s just two points which, if bombedyou off the Internet until Telstra, or to bits by some enemy, would severe a The real threat to the Internet todaywhoever, comes out and physically fixes huge chunk of our bandwidth to the US. is having the system clogged up oror replaces it. At the international level gridlocked by some kind of maliciousthough, the Internet is designed to Of course, there are contingency software or other “virus”.automatically route itself around any plans in place for this. Yet even withoutphysical disruptions. war or terrorism, the cable does get Actually physically severing our data damaged from time to time. connection to the rest of the planet is For instance, when a major server getting harder, and harder. And that’s anetwork was physically destroyed in The most common cause: an undersea great thing.New York during the 9/11 attacks, the earthquake or volcano deals some amountInternet in Manhattan was onlydisrupted for 15 minutes while the Cables near the coast can be repairedsystem (and the diligent technicians using simple SCUBA gear. Deep seawho work on it) rerouted. cables need submersibles and ROVs. That said, there are points that mustmaintain 24/7 operation, to ensureindividual countries can maintain trulyglobal access to the Internet. Here in Australia, we can use awhole bunch of different physicalnetworks to access national-levelinternet. There’s ADSL over old phonelines, there’s fibre-optic cable (bothNBN and pre-NBN systems), and ofcourse all the mobile phone towersproviding 4G signals. But to get information from an scienceillustrated.com.au | 29
SOLAR SYSTEM DARK MATTERIs Dark Matter Just aBig Misunderstanding? For decades, scientists have been trying to find definitive evidence ofdark matter and dark energy, to explain some of the weirder behavioursof the universe. But what if dark matter doesn't even exist?In a side gallery of a road tunnel about radiation, but does not halt the dark particles, the first results were published in May 2017, 1,500 m under Italy's Gran Sasso which only very rarely react with visible matter. they were discouraging: the detector had not mountain, physicists are working with identified one single dark matter particle. a huge detector. The machine is The detector contains 3.5 tonnes of pure, designed to capture the mysterious dark liquid xenon. Scientists hope that a dark The physicists in Italy are not the only ones matter, which, according to cosmology, could particle will collide with the nucleus of a xenon searching for the dark component of the exist anywhere, in any (maybe every) galaxy. atom, causing it to move and emit light that universe. For decades, astronomers have been The location under the mountain is ideal for the can be recorded. The detector is extremely observing close and remote galaxies, hoping to task, because the rock above the lab protects sensitive: the machine records as much data reveal the existence of dark particles. And since the detector against interrupting cosmic in one single day as previous generation 2010, the LHC accelerator of the CERN research detectors could collect in a year. But when facility in Geneva has been colliding protons atexDpAaRndKsEthNeERunGiYverse.68 % MIKKEL JUUL JENSENew5xipatNhlnaEodiWundttaTdhrHaekrEumkOneaRivntIteEeerSrrsg.ey 27 %DgAaRlaKxMieAsTtoTgEeRthheor.lds 5%30 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED VISIBLE MATTER
By Mikkel Meister THEORY 1 New Law of Gravity Could Mean No Dark Matter XENON1T.ORG Dark matter was postulated in the invisible matter, which could make the 1970s, as astronomical observations equation of the universe apply.About 1.5 km beneath the Gran Sasso mountain in revealed that the behaviour of stars inItaly, physicists are using the Xenon detector to try galaxies did not agree with Newton’s However, scientist Mordehaito capture dark matter. law of gravity. Milgrom has invented the MOND theory, according to which Newton’sspeeds close to that of light, trying to produce According to Newton, the law only applies to small systems. Ifdark matter. But both in the galaxies of the attraction exerted by a large body on a gravity decreases less across longuniverse and in the underground accelerator, smaller, orbiting body decreases very distances, galaxies do not need darkresults remain... indeterminate. quickly with distance. This means that matter to remain intact. the stars the furthest away from Much has been learned, but cosmology, as galactic cores should be flung into PROOF: The new law of gravity cannota science may soon have to make a tough space due to the high rotational speed be proved by experiments, as the changesdecision. Astronomers need the \"darkness\". of the galaxy, if just the mass of visible only make an impact across distances ofGalaxies are rotating so fast that their matter held on to them. So, scientists thousands of light years. The theory mightoutermost stars would be flung in all directions, added a force exerted by unknown, be supported by astronomical observations.if not considerable, invisible mattersupplemented the mass of the galaxies’ visible NEWTON'S LAW OF GRAVITY NEW LAW OF GRAVITYmatter, keeping the stars in their orbits by The graph shows how fast stars should be If gravity is not reduced as muchmeans of gravity. And mysterious, repulsive, able to rotate without being flung into the across distances as predicted bydark energy is necessary to explain why the universe, when there is only the mass of Newton's law of gravity from 1666,expansion of the universe is accelerating. stars and gases at the centre of the galaxy stars can be held on to without dark to maintain the stars in their orbits. matter – in spite of the high speed. But as nobody has yet managed to provethe existence of the darkness, new theories Speed of ro- ACTUAL SPEED OF ROTATIONemerge. The secrets of the universe may have tation (km/s)to be explained in a different way. THEORETICAL SPEED OF ROTATION 200DARK MATTER FILLS THEORETICAL HOLE 50,000 100,000The concepts of dark matter and dark energy 100were invented and introduced into cosmology Distance from galaxy centreto save Einstein’s general relativity theory. Centre as measured in light years The complex theoretical work from 1915 RESULTdescribes how the matter of space created themodern universe along with gravity. The theory tIhf edaurnkivmearstteecrodnoseisstnsootfe: xist,embraces developments all the way back fromthe Big Bang, which started the expansion of 93 % dark energythe universe, to the present. It explains the 7 % visible matterformation of the first stars and dwarf galaxiesand describes how individual galaxies have NASA/SPLgrown over time via collisions and subsequentlycollected into galaxy clusters on the surfacesof huge bubbles of empty space. scienceillustrated.com.au | 31
SOLAR SYSTEM DARK MATTER The Big Bang Punches Holes Small Holes Unite The second after the Big Bang, the During the first billion years 1 universe is expanding faster than 2 after the Big Bang, the major the speed of light. The explosive black holes unite due to their development causes density irregularities, reciprocal mass attraction. In the process, and small black holes occur in space, where the superheavy black holes, which are the most matter is accumulated. now the centres of galaxies, are formed.IRREGULARITYIN THE UNIVERSEBig Bang SEEDS UNITE INTO A 1 second SUPERMASSIVE BLACK HOLE. 1 billion yearsOld Black Holes GALAXYReplace Dark Matter BLACK HOLEThe attractive force of dark matter really derives from hordesof small, black holes, which were produced in the Big Bang.T he universe may contain billions of solar masses were produced immediately PROOF REQUIRED: black holes. According to a new theory, after the Big Bang. The smallest black holes Supernovas only produce black holesold - ancient, really - black holes could make gathered around the galaxies, where they that weigh 5-15 solar masses. Ifup the universe’s unknown dark matter. are orbiting in a disc. The attractive force of astronomers find a black hole, whichPossibly, billions of black holes with masses the holes is what we know as the effect of weighs less than five solar masses, itranging from 1/100 of the Sun’s to 10,000 dark matter. must date back from the Big Bang.Repulsion Pushes the Limits of the UniverseA new theory replaces dark energy produced antigalaxies, which will Big Bang Proton Galaxywith another matter to explain never unite, as that would cause REPULSIONwhy the universe is expanding a collapse. The repulsion between REPULSIONever faster all the time. According them drives the accelerating Antiprotonto the theory, two types of matter expansion of the universe – 1 second Antigalaxywere produced in the Big Bang: without any need for dark matter. Presentantimatter and ordinary matter.The two were already separated PROOF: Since 2011, a space stationafter one second, because the detector has been searching forparticles repel each other. anticarbon and heavier antiatoms, which can only have been produced in The matter united into antistars in antigalaxies.galaxies, and the antimatter32 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
Now THEORY 2 The relativity theory has even been confirmed always involves the same quantity of repulsive via several astronomical observations of how energy. As the universe expands, so does theMany Holes Emerge MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN the universe is behaving. So, scientists do not void, and consequently, the dark energy has dismiss Einstein’s extensive work. gained more strength. According to modern Many small black holes remain SHUTTERSTOCK/MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN cosmology, the repulsion became so strong six The first problem emerged as early as 1933. billion years ago that the dark energy defeated 3 independent, gathering in a Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky discovered that gravity’s attempt to make the universe shrink, disc around the galaxies, where the Coma galaxy cluster is rotating so fast that accelerating the expansion.they function as dark matter. the gravity of the visible stars and gases in the galaxies could not possibly hold the cluster UNIVERSAL DARKNESS IS A... LIE? GALAXY WITH together by itself. Hence, he believed that The concepts of dark matter and dark energy BLACK HOLES invisible matter existed in the galaxy cluster, filled the gaps of relativity theory – but major preventing the galaxies from being flung in all corrections of modern cosmology are required RESULT directions. In the 1970s, more observations to make the calculations come out right. cdIofanbrkslaimsctkasthotoef:lre, sthreepulnaicveerse showed that the same problem goes for According to the theories, dark energy makes 93 % dark energy individual stars in individual galaxies. The up 68 % of the total matter of the universe, while systems are rotating too fast to be able to 27 % of the universe consists of dark matter. 7 % visible matter maintain the outermost stars in their orbits. 13.5 THEORY 3 So, scientists decided to introduce a comprehensive addition to cosmology, which % of the universe could be RESULT could make theory and reality correspond. They antimatter that speeds up teIhfnetehuregnyfiovirescrdesuekenctooonwasninsattissmdoaaft:rtker, invented dark matter. 73 % dark matter the expansion of the DARK ENERGY EXPANDS RELATIVITY universe. 13.5 % visible matter With dark matter in the equation, the relativity theory applied again – until 1998, when Only 5 % of the matter is ordinary, visible atoms 13.5 % antimatter astronomers discovered that the expansion of such as stars, gases, Earth – and humans. the universe is accelerating. Until then, scientists believed that the pace of the expansion had to Such a far-reaching assertion requires proof, be constant or decreasing, but astronomical but in spite of decades of persistent attempts, observations showed that remote, exploding neither astronomers nor physicists have stars shone unexpectedly weakly as compared managed to shed light on the dark side of the to supernovas close by. The best explanation universe. So, several scientists are now rejecting was that the remote supernovas are further 95 % of the universe as an unsupportable away from Earth than scientists expected, as theory, trusting in other theories instead. the expansion of the universe had increased. Scientists explained the ever faster expansion Several alternatives to dark matter and dark with dark, repulsive energy. energy exist. The most radical one, known as MOND, originates from Israeli scientist Mordehai Dark energy is immediately consistent with Milgrom, who thinks that the unknown matter the relativity theory, as Albert Einstein of the universe does not exist. introduced a type of repulsive energy in his work. When the theory was published in 1915, Instead, the problem in explaining fast astronomers still believed that the universe was galaxy rotation is due to an error in Newton’s static and galaxies standing still. law of gravity from 1666. According to Milgrom, the strength of gravity does not So, Einstein introduced a theoretical, decrease as much across long distances as repulsive force, which could resist gravity’s the theory predicts. attempts at attracting galaxies to each other. However, Einstein considered the invention of According to Newton, the attractive force the repulsive force the major mistake of his of a body depends on its mass. But the attractive career in 1929, when Edwin Hubble proved that force of a large body such as the concentration the universe is not static, but rather expanding of stars at the centre of a galaxy on smaller, in all directions. orbiting bodies like the outermost stars of a galaxy is very quickly reduced with distance. Einstein integrated the repulsive force in a wrong way – as a counterweight to gravity – but his theory has many similarities with the dark energy, which scientists later used to explain the accelerating expansion of the universe. The repulsive energy is believed to derive from the void between galaxy clusters. According to relativity theory, a void of certain dimensions scienceillustrated.com.au | 33
SOLAR SYSTEM DARK MATTER In practice, this means that the stars at the MAXIMILIEN BRICE/CERN of the universe all the way back to the Bigcentre of the galaxy cannot hold on to the Bang. However, US astronomer Stacyoutermost stars of the galaxy. At the CERN research centre in Geneva, McGaugh’s observations of 153 galaxies physicists are searching for dark matter in the support MOND. The theory is perfectly According to MOND, the theory applies to 27-km-long LHC particle accelerator. consistent with the galaxies' behaviour andsmall systems such as the Solar System, but can explain their rotation without the needin large ones such as a galaxy stretching for dark matter.100,000 light years, Newton’s law of gravityonly applies to a certain extent, depending According to another alternative theory,on the matter of the system. the unknown dark matter of the universe does not consist of particles, but is rather a huge From there, gravity does not decrease as quantity of dark holes, which formed in themuch as Newton says. Hence, the gravity of first second following the Big Bang.the visible matter of the galaxy is still enoughto hold on to the outermost stars. The idea is not a new one, and it has reemerged after detectors last year recorded Most scientists immediately rejected gravitational waves from a collision betweenMilgrom’s theory. He does not explain why two black holes. Ordinary black holes fromgravity behaves differently, and his new law a supernova explosion can weigh 5-15 solarof gravity does not describe the developmentsAccelerating Expansionis an Optical Illusion 6 billion years: expansion begins.The universe is expanding – but the process is not get-ting faster all the time. The accelerating expansion is LIGHTan illusion created by the universe itself. Huge void producedA ccording to traditional cosmology, Big Bang dark energy made the expansion of 1 billion years Eight billion years after the Bigthe universe accelerate about six billion 12years ago. The physicists behind the theory 3 Bang, galaxy clusters havebelieve that neither dark energy nor MATTER collected around huge regions ofaccelerating expansion exist. empty space. The very uneven distribution Matter is scattered of matter and void bends the universe in According to classic astronomy, the such a way that it causes light beams to beuniverse geometry is flat, and the After the Big Bang, the geometry spread, as they travel through the void. Theuniformity means that parallel light beams spread causes an optical illusion: thewill always remain parallel. The theory 1 of the universe is flat with evenly universe seems to be expanding ever faster,means that the beams will never cross each distributed matter, where light but it is really a more even expansion.other nor spread. beams do not spread. But according to the new theory, the First galaxies gathergeometry changed six billion years ago.Matter had collected in galaxy clusters A billion years later, the first largearound large empty voids, so the matter ofthe universe was very unevenly distributed. 2 galaxies have formed, but theThis bent space in a way, in which the matter remains evenly distributed,parallel light beams began to spread across so parallel light beams do not spread.long distances. So, the present universeseems larger than it really is.PROOF: To support the new theory, the expansionof space during the history of the universe must bemapped out in great detail. Astronomers' best toolwill be the Euclid satellite, which is launched in 2020.34 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
masses, but the colliding black holes’ weigh smaller than the smallest ones from a accelerating expansion could be due to the29 and 36 solar masses. The large black supernova explosion, the holes can only have repulsion between galaxies and antigalaxies.holes could have originated from collisions originated in the Big Bang. A CERN experiment is checking the theory bybetween smaller holes, but according to testing if floating antihydrogen atoms areseveral theorists, they probably derive from TIME TO FIND OUT attracted by Earth’s gravity to fall down likethe Big Bang. If so, the galaxies could be Other theories \"kill\" dark energy. According to ordinary hydrogen atoms – or if they aresurrounded by old black holes of less than one, the need for dark energy to drive the repelled by Earth, falling upwards. If so, the5 solar masses, which exert the same force expansion of the universe is due to simple theory of repulsive antigalaxies could beas dark matter. calculation errors. The relativity theory correct, killing off dark energy. equations are so complex that scientists must The idea can be tested via astronomical work with simplifications, arriving at very We will soon find out. In the tunnel underobservations. Black holes are invisible, but different results. Scientists from the Eötvös Gran Sasso mountain, physicists havescientists can reveal them and their sizes, Loránd University have used a new simplification, restarted the large Xenon detector for newbecause the holes have such major masses which makes the universe’s accelerating experiments. If the machine does not find thethat they function as gravitational lenses, expansion apply without dark energy, and dark particles of the universe within five years,bending and increasing the light of stars hence, they believe that it does not exist. physicists must give up the theory of darkbehind the holes. matter to find other explanations of the According to other astronomers, the behaviour of the universe. If scientists can find black holes that are THEORY 4 Shadow matter must be located THEORY 5 in a disc around the stars, whichOPTICAL ILLUSION is consistent with new observations. Spiral galaxy of visible matter8 billion years The universe has an Unlike dark matter, shadow Now active shadow world particles have a charge much like3 that of ordinary particles. They Physicists may not yet have discovered exist in heavy and light versions, RESULT dark matter, because they are looking for corresponding to protons andtIhf edaurnkiveenresregcyodnoseisstnsootfe: xist, the wrong type of particles. Dark matter electrons.85 % dark matter is supposed to be particles without a charge. So, they only react with other The particles can unite into 15 % visible matter particles via gravity. But the darkness of shadow atoms. the universe might instead be made up of an invisible shadow world, which behaves Shadow particles and atoms can just like visible matter internally, also affect each other by exchanging reacting via gravity. light in the same way as visible particles and atoms. Exchange PROOF: Shadow photons might be produced of shadow photons spreads the by making electrons collide with metal and decay matter to the entire universe. into a pair of electrons and positrons. RESULT tuIhfpetthuhenesiuvhnearkdsnoeowcwomnnasdtiatsertkrs makes matter, 27 % shadow matter of: 5 % visible matter SHUTTERSTOCK MIKKEL JUUL JENSEN 68 % dark energy scienceillustrated.com.au | 35
Crelesator rpelsasvtiiscion LARGE THEME By Mikkel Meister Aoorfptctiflieiccaaialr,pl scrooofprtneperltaaisestsai.crewniothwemxcaedlleent 1. NEW PROPERTIESPlastic makes Scientific research has resulted in newpills targeted plastic types with emotions. Puclonartsritleitcchtpepilldlarccuaegpissnuhtlahevseewbroeildal ycn.hoetdditshseolve, 2. SMART TECHNOLOGY The wonder material's many qualities make itindispensable in raincoats, hydrogen cars, etc. 3. INFINITE RECYCLING Scientists aim to rid the oceans of plastic waste and create biodegradable alternatives. Sbmecaormtpehoflneexidbilseplays Tomofuagcklhaesspsch,robenueetnssnleaiwgrehpttelraarsdatiintcidodnuisanplbllyareymaskacadabenle.Pslwaesatitcffriolmm sraeipnadrraotpessAtahnnadutlcntoreamwthprilaneitnpecllaoysawttiscatamerreepmbroobotrhaf.nbereeantshuarbelse scienceillustrated.com.au | 37
TECHNOLOGY PLASTIC Two Families of Plastic PRODUCTION All plastic can be dividedPlastic With into two types:Emotions remeltable and non- remeltable.The plastic of the future will be a living material,which can change shape and move by means of light.Ateam of scientists from the the strip was even able to carry objects of THERMOPLASTIC Eindhoven University of several times its own weight up a hill. Thermoplastic molecule chains Technology in the Netherlands and the US Kent State The plastic caterpillar is just one of many are linked by strong bindings, but University are staring examples that a new generation of plastic between the chains, there is onlyintensely at a 2-cm-long, transparent plastic with a wealth of new properties is coming up. entanglement and weak physicalstrip, which is lying on a table in front of them The fantastic plastic of the future will be able bindings. When heated, thein their lab. Bathed in ultraviolet light from a to change its own properties according to the chains hence lose contact, makinglamp, it wriggles along like a caterpillar at a temperature and help dose medication in the material melt.speed of 5 mm/second. wound dressings. THERMOSET PLASTIC Although the motions of the plastic strip PIONEER FACED WITH SCEPTICISM In thermoset plastic, theare slow, they are ground-breaking, as The small plastic caterpillar enters the scenescientists have for the very first time 110 years after the beginning of the era of molecule chains are linked bymanaged to create a plastic material, which modern plastic. In the summer of 1907, strong, crisscross, chemicalconverts light into motion without the Belgian-American chemist Leo Baekeland bindings. Thermoset plasticassistance of springs or other mechanics. created the world’s first synthetic plastic – cannot be remelted, as the energy phenolic plastic – which was named bakelite: required destroys the material. The light-sensitive plastic can be used in a sturdy material, that does not conductlarge solar cell parks, which generate power electricity. Bakelite soon became thein remote places such as deserts. When the favourite material for new electronic devicessolar cells become covered in sand and dust, such as sockets, telephones, and radios. In athe sunlight is blocked out, reducing power matter of a few years, the success ofgeneration. But when the solar cells are bakelite had caused a global plastic revolution. coated with transparent, flexible plastic film, they become self-cleaning. However, chemists still disagreed about Scientists tested the system the basic structure of plastic. In a scientific by sprinkling the strip article, German chemistry professor Hermann with sand grains, Staudinger in 1920 introduced his theory about which were macromolecules. He believed that huge shaken off, and7 1844 Charles Good- 1862 Alexander Parkes 1870 John Wesley Hyatt year invents of the UK invents of the US creates Rubber vulcanisation, making cellulose nitrate – clear plastic, celluloid – strong, but flexible plastic, the material more durable. which can be cast into a shape. which is used in early film rolls, etc.MILESTONES FROM THE SSPL/GETTY IMAGESCHILDHOOD OF PLASTIC SHUTTERSTOCK MUSEUM OF THE BROOKLYN INSTITUTE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
CARBON ATOM The majority of the plastic that we use in our everyday lives HYDROGEN ATOM begins its life as crude oil, which contains the ingredients for the chemical base constituents of plastic – monomers.OIL TURNS INTO PLASTIC CLAUS LUNAU 800 °C degree water More ethene molecules vapour splits up the chains. are combined.600 °C NAPHTHA Ethene is the most simple plastic building block. INGREDIENTS EXTRACTED FROM CRUDE OIL VAPOUR SPLITS UP BUILDING BLOCKS THE CHAINS ARE COMBINED The crude oil is heated to a 800 °C water vapour The ethene molecule is 1 temperature of 600 °C, by which naphtha evaporates. 2 breaks the chain 3 made reactive, so other Naphtha consists of alkanes – bindings, producing tiny ethene molecules can bind carbon and hydrogen atoms linked molecules such as ethene to it in a long chain of thousands of in long chains. (ethylene), which are known as molecules. A monomer chain is plastic monomers. known as a polymer.H O M O P O LY M E R C O P O LY M E R Butadiene offers sturdiness Polyethylene and high impact strength.MIXTURE PRODUCES SIMPLE CHAIN,MORE QUALITIES Styrene offers gloss SIMPLE PLASTICPlastic can also be made up of and density.different monomers, which The combined ethene chain makesprovide it with other qualities,resulting in a more versatile 4 up simple polyethylene plastic. Ascopolymer such as a Lego brick. the polymer only consists of one type of monomer, it is called a homopolymer. Acrylonitrile offers high breaking strength.1907 Leo Baekeland 1926 Chemist Waldo 1935 Chemist Wallace 1948 invents the first Semon makes Carothers from thefully synthetic plastic, bakelite, for PVC, which is so sturdy that it is Dupont company manages to Robust ABS plastic,use in consumer electronics. used in the construction industry. produce nylon for the first time. which consists of the monomers ofSHUTTERSTOCK acrylonitrile, ARCHIVE butadiene, and SHUTTERSTOCK styrene, is ALAMY/ALL OVER patented. ABS is used in Lego bricks, but its strength also makes it usable in gear wheels. scienceillustrated.com.au | 39
TECHNOLOGY PLASTIC2D plastic can be used to make extremely molecules – or polymers – were formed by molecular structure much more accurately,efficient membranes, which can filter salt linking up many small molecules – or monomers. they can provide the new generation ofand impurities out of ocean water, etc., Staudinger was convinced that the polymer plastic with customized properties.making it drinkable. chains were the basic elements of plastic. PLASTIC BECOMES SENSITIVESHUTTERSTOCK However, the leading chemists of the world Chemists are particularly interested in were sceptical of the theory, maintaining that developing plastic, which can react to molecules of such size were chemically external influences such as temperature, air impossible. But over time, it became clear that moisture, or pH value. This type of plastic the polymers did not only exist, rather the large can be used to make clothes, which react to molecules also existed anywhere in nature. the surroundings, etc. Among nature’s most sophisticated In 2017, scientists from the US University polymers are DNA molecules, which consist of California, San Diego, and the Harbin of two twisted chains composed of smaller Institute of Technology in China showed how molecules – nucleotides. The succession of the nafion polymer can be used to make nucleotides determines the genetic code, clothes that function in the same way as skin which forms the basis of our appearances pores and are able to regulate body and all bodily functions. temperature according to the surroundings. Though DNA is a polymer, it is not a type The scientists take advantage of the fact of plastic, as that designation is only used that nafion’s polymer chain has a side group of about synthetic polymers. But now, chemists sulphur trioxide, which can easily react with have begun to copy nature. By controlling the water molecules. When the temperature rises, and the person begins to sweat, the polymer fibres on the inside of a sweater absorb some of the water. On the outside of the clothes, the air moisture level is lower, and so, the outside will not absorb as much water. The result is that the inside swells more, producing a slight bend, which makes flaps on the surface of the material open like tiny windows, letting in fresh air. The scientists imagine that plastic types 2D Plastic Ensures Pure Drinking Water Scientists from the ETH Zürich in Switzerland have made ultrathin membranes which are only one molecule thick. Known as 2D membranes, they are structured, so tiny holes in the material are shaped exactly according to the molecules allowed to pass through. This could improve the filtration of impure drinking water, etc.
BART VAN OVERBEEKE/TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITEIT EINDHOVEN Scientists have produced a tiny strip of plastic, which can move only by means of ultraviolet light.such as nafion will soon be used to make Today, scientists have taken one step further, make a patch with integratedclothes with improved temperature regulation. trying to control the order and type of antibacterial qualities, which monomers in the polymer chain with complete liberated the antibiotics little by little over“CLICK CHEMISTRY” DRUG DOSAGE accuracy. In the same way as DNA nucleotides five days. Such a patch could particularlyChemists have always tried to control the ensure specific properties in the body, plastic benefit patients with diabetic ulcers, whichprocess by which monomers are linked into molecules can be placed in specific sequences. heal slowly. The ulcers are difficult to treatpolymers: the very process in which the most efficiently with antibiotics pills, as the entireimportant properties of the end product are Using the “click chemistry” method, dose is liberated at the same time.determined. If the plastic is to be soft and scientists can place molecules whichflexible such as a plastic bag, other chemical normally have nothing to do with plastic in Together with other polymers, which helpbindings are required between the monomers carefully selected places of the polymer cardiac patients recover more quickly, etc.,than in hard plastic types such as Lego bricks. chain via chemical reactions. Scientists from we can look forward to a new heyday for the the University of Nottingham made plastic wonder material of plastic. This time, plastic INDIVIDUAL based on spider silk and clicked antibiotics will not only ease our everyday lives, but also MONOMER molecules onto the chain. So, they could improve our health. EXFOLIATION CLAUS LUNAU 2D POLYMER CRYSTALLIZATION LIGHT P H O T O P O LY M E R I Z AT I O N MONOMER BINDING CRYSTALCRYSTAL STRUCTURE CREATES ORDER P O LY M E R 2D MEMBRANE IS REMOVED CRYSTAL Tiny, individual molecules, monomers, With the top layer linked by strong LIGHT HOLDS LAYER TOGETHER 1 collect into a 3D crystal. The monomers Through a process of photo- 3 bindings, chemists can remove the of the crystal are neatly arranged – with 2D plastic membrane from thetiny holes in between them. 2 polymerisation, the individual monomers of crystal via a process known as exfoliation. the crystal bind to each other, turning into a polymer. The bindings are only made in the top layer. scienceillustrated.com.au | 41
TECHNOLOGY PLASTIC PRODUCTSPlastic Saves Lives AndBoosts Hydrogen CarsFrom flexible mobile phone displays to hydrogen car fuel cells and improvedcardiovascular disease treatment. The fantastic properties of syntheticpolymers make them usable in more new ways than ever before.Flexible Plastic Ensures LGNo More Flat Tyres BRIDGESTONE In an OLED display,Tyremakers such as Bridgestone are developing two types of glassa new type of tyres for cars and bikes, which can encapsulate the light diodesnever be punctured. The wheel has no air in its that make the screen light up.tyre, rather it uses the properties of plastic toproduce a pleasant riding experience. Glass Instead of a wheel with a metal rim, a tyre, and In a flexible display,a tube around it, Bridgestone’s idea of a bicycle both glass layers havewheel consists of a hard inner rim and a more been replaced by a thin,flexible outer rim made of softer thermoplastic. flexible polymer film.The resilient plastic spokes ensure that it is notuncomfortable to ride on the completely solid tyre. FilmA sturdy inner rim of hard A softer outer rim of flexible Flexible displays involve no glass, so they will not easily break.plastic is the core of the wheel. plastic functions as suspension. Plastic Displays Make A solid tyre, which does not contain air nor a tube and is The Screen Bendable hence puncture-proof, makes up the external layer. I n the future, smartphones and tablets can be folded or rolled up42 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED like a sheet of paper. Bendable screens will be the next big thing from electronics makers, and plastic plays a key role in technology. Ordinary displays include two types of glass, which are rigid and vulnerable to blows. So far, the glass has been necessary to protect the thousands of electronic circuits behind the screen against twists, but now, scientists have managed to print circuits on flexible plastic, which is thinner than a human hair. By lining the electronics with two layers of protective plastic film, technology giants can now make bendable displays.
HYDROGEN CAR GETS STARTING AID FROM PLASTIC CLAUS LUNAUMANY CELLS = EXTRA POWER HYDROGEN ANODE CATHODE OXYGEN A fuel cell consists of many small PLASTIC MEMBRANE 1 cells united in a stack. The more cells, the more powerful the car. 5 WAT E R H+ 3 2ELECTRON 4 SEPARATORHYDROGEN MOLECULES ARE SPLIT UP Hydrogen from the fuel tank (H2) is directed to 2 the cell's positive pole (anode). The molecules are split up into ions (H+) and electrons.IONS PASS THROUGH PLASTIC PLASTIC SENDS POWER TO MOTOR HYDROGEN CAR EXHAUST IS WATER A special plastic membrane only allows As the plastic membrane does not In the cathode, the hydrogen ions 3 the Hydrogen ions to pass through the fuel 4 conduct electrons, they are forced 5 and electrons react with atmospheric cell to the cell's negative pole (cathode). through the car motor, powering it. air, producing water as exhaust.Plastic FilterPowersHydrogen CarsFuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity, Hydrogen cars are not powered bywhich can power an electric motor. But without batteries, rather by fuel cells.a thin plastic membrane at the centre of the fuelcell, a hydrogen car would never be able to start. SHUTTERSTOCK scienceillustrated.com.au | 43
TECHNOLOGY PLASTIC Sweat And LUKASZ WARZECHA/LWIMAGES.CO.UK Water Drops Separated An ultrathin plastic film is the secret behind the popular Gore-Tex membrane, which makes hiking boots and raincoats breathable and water-repellent at the same time. The membrane consists of a thin layer of the polytetrafluorethylene polymer. The thin plastic film has about 1.5 billion microscopic holes per cm2 of surface, which allow the tiny molecules of water vapour from sweat, etc., to escape into the air, blocking out the large molecules of rain drops at the same time. WAT E R MEMBRANE VA P O U RThe pores of the membrane are 700 On the other hand, the porestimes bigger than the water vapour of the membrane are 20,000molecules, which derive from sweat. times tinier than a rain-So, they allow the body to get rid of drop, and so, the membranethe moisture during physical activity. can keep out rainwater.Leg Amputees Get New plastic prothesesExtra Elasticity From imitate the musculature ofFlexible Plastic feet and lower legs.Athletes with amputated legs often ROBERT DAEMMRICH/GETTY IMAGESuse a special type of prostheses madeof a carbon fibre-reinforced polymer,which looks like a bent ski. Whenthe runner lands on theprosthesis, the “bend” gives in,absorbing some of the energy,which is used again duringtake-off. The principle is similarto the way in which foot andlower leg muscles andtendons function.44 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
Self-DissolvingPlastic Grid LetsBlood Flow FreelyA new plastic grid improves the blood flow inpatients with constricted heart arteries. Unlikeearlier solutions, the plastic grid dissolvesitself after a few years in the body.Constricted heart blood vessels are among expanded, particularly limiting the mobility CDOIS2 SAONLDVWEDATINETRO the most frequent causes of death of the blood vessel, which could cause IN THE BODYworldwide. The condition is often treated complications such as blood clots.with balloon angioplasty, by which the bloodvessel is expanded by means of a metal grid, Scientists from the Abbott healthcare firma stent, placed in the heart by means of a have developed a new type of stent made ofsmall balloon. But the metal grid remains in biodegradable plastic, which is automaticallythe body, even after the blood vessels have broken down into harmless materials after three years.PLASTIC GRID DISSOLVES ITSELF CLAUS LUNAU BEFORE ANGIOPLASTYBLOOD VESSEL CONSTRICTION AFTER ANGIOPLASTYFAT AND CALCIUM BLOCK BLOOD VESSEL Deposits of fat, cholesterol, and calcium BALLOON FILLS UP BLOOD VESSEL A stent fastened to a balloon goes into 1 in the innermost layer of the blood vessel wall constrict the artery. The deposits 2 the blood vessel. The balloon isreduce the inflow of oxidized blood to the heart. expanded, making the stent fill up the entire blood vessel in the constricted area. INFLATED STENT D I S S O LV E D STENTSCAFFOLDING KEEPS VESSEL OPEN BIOPLASTIC IS DISSOLVED Cardiac patients can have constricted blood vessels The balloon is removed, leaving only The stent is made of expanded by plastic. 3 the stent. The stent is lined with a 4 biodegradable plastic material that prevents inflammation of consisting of plant starch. ABBOTT & SHUTTERSTOCKthe vessel and impedes tissue growth, so the The body completely absorbs itvessel will not grow into the grid. within three years. scienceillustrated.com.au | 45
of all plastic in Europe is used in building 5,000 km ofmaterials. roads in India are held together by molten down plastic waste. Plastic roads have proved extremely durable. Europe Russia 27.8 % 18.5 % 2.6 % of all plastic worldwide is made in China, which is the major plastic manufacturer in the world followed by theNAFTA nations China Japan EU and the NAFTA nations (USA, Canada, and Mexico).18.5 % 27.8 % 4.3 % Latin America Middle East, Africa 4.4 % 7.3 % The rest of Asia 7.3 %15 M 322 millionis the height of the five-storeyEyecatcher Building in Basle, T OF PLASTIC IS MADESwitzerland. The structure's ANNUALLY IN THE WORLD:load-bearing beams are madeof fibreglass-reinforced plastic, PLASTIC (MILLIONS OF T) 2015: 322making the building lighter 350 2011: 280and more resistant tocorrosion. The structure 300is the highest one ofits kind in the entire 250 2009: 250world. 200 2002: 200FIBERLINE COMPOSITES 15046 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED 100 1989: 100 50 1977: 50 1950: 1.5 0 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020
1,000,000,000,000toortohneeUtSriEllniovinropnlamsetinctbaalgPsroatreecetisotnimAagteendctyo,be used wUSoraldccwoiudnetasnfnorua3l8l0y.bAicllcioonrd. ingEPA, the39.9 % 1965aocfcaolulnptlsasfotirc8u0s+e%d aonf nthueatlloytainl qthueanEtUitygooefsplinastoticpraecckyacgleindgi.nLEuuckroilpy,ep. ackaging also awmfwnsarIeAuieandvosiBpptogrsaetleluhtphadrmrrrtiace,emai,ettabnlwyeeadtegdentrapcttuekatthhoaeerere.cmed,tortkstipofitaninthagaghigwtpehifrsneettohpnghlrwuiolceeabgwhsysahstegC,oiaceuirnlbstlo,atgipht.least180 csiboanmctiasnaoudnptacagnsucirclinrluateelrilehulinestamnemcladtrsntestiepteilac,osseycdps,lentw,aoesabstmewdn.acnpcisr.sTsciho,edcduthToefwcresihmerornia,deheefpnfirlijscinineloaacustagalhrbmghlmlsygbys,athteobsf–itsocaipohreesf.svblirehrausaebthsc–iotheioncaarts MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION50 % 260 of the Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft projects have been initiated since consists of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic and 2011 to remedy the problem of other composite materials, contributing to plastic in the oceans. 34 nations and reducing the plane's weight by about 20 % 65 organisations have undertaken to as compared to aluminium. try to reduce the quantity of plastic waste in the world 1.8 MILLION t of bottles of the soft PET plastic type were collected and recycled in Europe in 2015; a 5 % increase over the previous year. In the US, the recycling rate of plastic bottles is now twice as high as in 2003.
TECHNOLOGY PLASTIC RECYCLINGScientists Clean Up TheOceans' Plastic CemeteriesKilometres of containment booms collect ocean plastic waste,while engineers on the shore convert the waste into new products.With its spectacular estimate that about eight million t of plastic loads in 2030 and four truck loads per minute mountain setting, the end up in the oceans annually, corresponding in 2050. wide sandy beach of to one truck load per minute. The plastic Kvalvika in Northern particularly derives from the shore, where The problem will not go away by itself, as Norway attracts many bottles, bags, and other waste are left on the it takes hundreds of years for the plastic totourists every year, but the view is scarred by ground. Wind and weather carry the waste be broken down. So, some scientists areempty bottles and heaps of plastic. into streams and rivers, which take the developing new methods for ridding the plastic all the way to the oceans. If nothing is oceans of plastic contamination, while others Ocean plastic is a growing problem done, the quantity will grow to two truck aim to prevent it from finding its way to thethroughout the world. American scientists oceans. Both efforts are crucial for beaches 8 millon t of new ocean plastic is produced annually, corresponding to one truck load per minute. ALISONS ADVENTURES/CATERS NEWS/RITZAU48 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED
PLASTIC WASTE COLLECTED BY FLOATING SAUSAGES Bubble Bath Sends PlasticFLOATING BARRIER FLOATING CLAUS LUNAU To The SurfaceCAPTURES WASTE BARRIER A ship equipped AIR TUBE 1 with powerful air WASTE PLANT compressors sailsin parallel with an auxiliaryvessel. The two ships tug anair tube between them anda floating barrier behindthem, directing the plasticinto a waste plant.MICROBUBBLES MICROBUBBLES The same principle that makes a strawLIFT THE WASTE leap out of your soda pop is applied to scoop plastic junk out of the oceans. The compressors Not all ocean plastic is floating on the surface, ready 2 direct compressed to be picked up. Ocean plastic is distributed across air into the air the entire water column, complicating large-scale pick-up.tube, which is located at adepth of 40-50 m. The tube is Consequently, a Norwegian company, PGS, hasperforated by small holes, invented a solution inspired by a familiar phenomenon.which produce a dense cloud When a straw is immersed into freshly poured soft drink,of microbubbles, that lift it will often exit the glass due to all the bubbleswaste to the surface.WASTE IS SCOOPED SCOOP WHEEL produced by the carbonic acid. PGS aims to lay out aOUT OF THE OCEAN tube with air holes at a depth of 40-50 m and pump air through the tube, converting the ocean into a huge As the ships bubble bath, which will carry plastic pieces to the surface. A scoop wheel directs the waste into a press, 3 continue forwards, which compresses it into small, yellow \"sausages\", that the waste is taken can float on the surface, until they are collected andtowards the waste plant, in carried ashore for further processing.which it is directed into asluice, where a scoop wheel THE PLANT COVERSlifts it out of the water and AN AREA OF 200into a waste press, which KM2 A DAY.compresses the waste. WASTE PLANTWASTE IS COMPRESSEDINTO \"SAUSAGES\" Just like sausage 4 contents, the compressed waste isforced into very durable sacks,which are left floating on thesurface of the water. Each sackis equipped with a GPS chipand an AIS transmitter,allowing another ship to pickthem up later. scienceillustrated.com.au | 49
TECHNOLOGY PLASTICThe Adidas apparel company has designed plastic by 2050, if things do not change. In a coast could remove 31 % of the microplastictrainers, whose tops partly consist of plastic 2016 study from the Technical University of over a period of 10 years, as compared tofibres made of reclaimed ocean plastic. Denmark, scientists discovered that almost only 17 % in deeper waters. one in four of the cods and herrings of theADIDAS North and Baltic Seas had microplastic in One example of a near-shore solution is the their stomachs. The plastic is a problem, as it Seabin, which is placed at the surface of the such as Kvalvika not ending up as swelling blocks out the fishs' natural food. At worst, water in marinas and other areas near thecemeteries for the plastic waste of the world. the fish starve to death. coast. Seabin is equipped with a pump, which sucks the water – and the plastic waste – intoMICROPLASTIC AGGRAVATES PROBLEM OCEANS MUST BE CLEARED OF PLASTIC a fibre bag. The water passes through the fibreSeveral places in the oceans such as in the The plastic problem of the oceans could grow bag, while the waste accumulates inside it. OnePacific, there are huge waste islands, where much worse in the future, and that has Seabin can collect about 1.5 kg of plastic a day.plastic waste collects due to ocean currents. boosted the development of newHowever, the islands are not visible to the technologies which can remove ocean plastic. PLASTIC USED OVER AND OVER AGAINnaked eye, as they primarily consist of When the ocean plastic has been carriedincreased concentrations of microplastic, The Dutch Ocean Cleanup project aims to safely to the shore, it is important that itscattered from the surface and all the way to use 1-2-km-long containment booms to does not return to the waste system, whichthe ocean floor. Microplastic is plastic smaller collect about 50 % of the ocean plastic in the cannot handle the plastic, as it is difficult tothan five mm. It occurs, when larger plastic Pacific. The floating barriers are to be placed break down. So, circular economy is the keyproducts are broken down into smaller parts in gyres, i.e. major ocean currents which to solving the problem of our unhealthyby sunlight over time. make the waste unite into large islands. plastic consumption. The model involves that Under those, a vertical barrier captures new products will be made of recycled and The slight size of microplastic does not pieces with diameters measuring from about renewable materials, if possible, and once themake the problem any easier, and the one cm to up to several m. Though the Ocean products are one day worn out, they will beconsequences reach much wider than the Cleanup project does not capture recycled into new products. Luckily, thisNorwegian tourism industry. According to UN microplastic, the method can capture larger tendency is already here. Adidas has createddata, 99 % of all sea birds will have eaten elements, before they turn into microplastic. trainers, which are partly made of fibres deriving from ocean plastic. If more plastic is To remove the tiniest of plastic pieces, recycled, and the major plastic spill to the scientists from the Imperial College London oceans is halted, the material’s have calculated that it is more efficient to environmental drawbacks might one day be a place the cleaning technologies closer to the thing of the past, and the only thing that coast instead of in the large gyres. The remains will be the fantastic plastic. plastic comes from the land, and according to the scientists, cleanup efforts close to the Caterpillar Eats Plastic Bags Scientists have discovered that the small wax moth caterpillar can consume one of the most common plastic types, which is very hard to break down: polyethylene. The plastic type is used in plastic bags, etc., and scientists concluded that the creature both eats and digests the plastic. About 100 caterpillars can break down 92 mg of plastic in 12 hours. The next step is to find out how the caterpillar does it. The caterpillar is used to eating the wax of beehive interiors, but it also likes plastic. CSIC COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT50 | SCIENCE ILLUSTRATED