These hungry superworms happily munch through plastic

 

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A superworm can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects.

Recycling seems like a simple cure for our plastic addiction: just take the plastic we have and make it into new items. But problems abound. Current technology mostly creates plastic of a lower quality than it was before, many types of plastic aren’t recyclable at all, and much of the plastic is floating in the ocean, not even in the recycling stream. So it’s vital that we find new ways to break down plastic, and scientists have just discovered one: a superworm that can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects like mealworms.

Superworms are actually beetle larvae, and commonly sold at pet stores as food for reptiles and fish. In a paper recently published by the American Chemical Society, researchers Jiaojie Li, Dae-Hwan Kim, and their team detail how they placed 50 superworms in a chamber with two grams of polystyrene. After 21 days, the superworms had consumed about 70% of the polystyrene.

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How mosquitoes changed everything

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They slaughtered our ancestors and derailed our history. And they’re not finished with us yet.

The insects are estimated to have killed more people than any other single cause.

In 1698, five ships set sail from Scotland, carrying a cargo of fine trade goods, including wigs, woollen socks and blankets, mother-of-pearl combs, Bibles, and twenty-five thousand pairs of leather shoes. There was even a printing press, with which the twelve hundred colonists aboard planned to manage a future busy with contracts and treaties. To make space for the luxuries, the usual rations for food and farming were reduced by half. But farming wasn’t the point. The ships’ destination was the Darien region of Panama, where the Company of Scotland hoped to create a trading hub that would bridge the isthmus and unite the world’s great oceans, while raising the economic prospects of a stubbornly independent kingdom that had just struggled through years of famine. The scheme was wildly popular in the desperate country, attracting a wide range of investors, from members of the national Parliament down to poor farmers; it has been estimated that between one-quarter and one-half of all the money in circulation in Scotland at the time followed the trade winds to Panama.

The expedition met with ruin. Colonists, sickened by yellow fever and strains of malaria for which their bodies were not prepared, began to die at the rate of a dozen a day. “The words that are repeated to the point of nausea in the diaries, letters, and accounts of the Scottish settlers are mosquitoes, fever, ague, and death,” the historian Timothy C. Winegard writes in his sprawling new book, “The Mosquito: A Human History of Our Deadliest Predator” (Dutton). After six months, with nearly half their number gone, the survivors—except those too weak to move, who were left behind on the shore—returned to their ships and fled north. Still, they kept dying in droves, their bodies thrown overboard. When a relief mission arrived in Darien, they found, of all the wigs and combs and shoes and ambition that had left Scotland, only a deserted printing press on an empty beach.

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The fascinating reason why there are no mosquitoes at Disney World

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There are no mosquitoes in The Most Magical Place on Earth. That’s right, Disney World is so dedicated to making sure you have the time of your life that they’ve made the bugs practically disappear. How do they pull that off? No, the answer isn’t magic. Vlogger Rob Plays delved into the answer in a video spotted by Neatorama.

It would be a feat to get rid of pesky mosquitoes anywhere, but Disney World is in Florida, a.k.a. swamp territory, where insects are more abundant than other places. Bugs are annoying, but they’re also dangerous if they’re carrying diseases like Zika, and Disney has a responsibility to protect its guests. In short, Disney gets rid of the pests by employing a comprehensive program that includes spraying insecticides and maintaining natural predators, and they do all of this with a level of vigilance that’s fearsome to behold.

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Flying robot insect ditches wires, embraces freedom

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RoboFly is slightly heavier than a toothpick (via Mark Stone/University of Washington)

Humanoid robots can’t take over the world alone: Insect-esque androids are a great distraction, their tiny mechanical bodies crawling or flying to divert attention from the cyborg uprising.

Or, I suppose, they could be better used for time-consuming tasks too challenging for larger drones.

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‘Suddenly it was total mayhem’: Australian inventors celebrate success of revolutionary bee hive

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Stuart Anderson and his son Cedar have invented a new bee hive which collects honey via taps and without having to disturb the bees.

Three years ago, a father and son in Australia finally unveiled a device they had spent a decade inventing: a beehive that releases honey via a tap, without needing to handle the bees.

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Genetically engineered bacteria—spread by mosquito sex—could spell the end of malaria

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The mosquito is a delicate insect, with spindly legs and a graceful proboscis. The parasitic, single-celled organisms that spread malaria are even smaller and more fragile, and scientists are trying their hardest to remove them from the planet. More than 400,000 lives every year are at stake—that’s more people than die of international terrorist attacks, lightening strikes and shark attacks combined.

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Mosquito wars – introducing one million non-biting sterile male mosquitoes weekly into the wild

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Last October, we announced the Debug Project, an initiative at Verily to reduce the devastating global health impact that disease-carrying mosquitoes inflict on people around the world. Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Debug Fresno, our first field study in the U.S. to test a potential mosquito control method using sterile insect technique in collaboration with MosquitoMate and Fresno County’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District (CMAD).

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“Brain Malware”: How Hackers could get inside your brain

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Hackers have spyware in your mind. You’re minding your business, playing a game or scrolling through social media, and all the while they’re gathering your most private information direct from your brain signals. Your likes and dislikes. Your political preferences. Your sexuality. Your PIN.

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3D Breakthrough: Printed Tiny Cameras

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Another breakthrough has been made in the world of 3D printing as new tiny cameras have now been developed using this technology that is small enough to be injected into the human body with just a standard syringe.  That is pretty impressive!  These tiny, microscopic cameras are the size of a grain of salt, but they could transform the world of healthcare as we know it.

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RoboBees will pollinate crops instead of real bees

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As soon as 10 years from now these RoboBees could artificially pollinate a field of crops.

Honeybees pollinate nearly one-third of the food we eat but they have been dying at unprecedented rates because of a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). The situation is so dire that in late June the White House gave a new task force just 180 days to devise a coping strategy to protect bees and other pollinators. The crisis is generally attributed to a mixture of disease, parasites, and pesticides.

 

 

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Mutant worm created that can’t get drunk

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Genetically engineered worms could ultimately lead to anti-drunk pills for humans.

A team of researchers recently made a genetic tweak to worms’ brains that made it impossible for them to get drunk. More specifically, the scientists modified the worms’ genes so that a molecular channel that binds alcohol to their brains would no longer work. And humans have a similar molecular channel.

 

 

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