Discovered: The horrible earth ruining effects of spilled milk, a reason to keep on breast feeding, an iPhone that runs on you, and a new bionic body part.
- A reason to cry over spilled milk. Every wasted drop of milk increases humanity's carbon footprint. Maybe you're not the type to cry over that sort of thing. But the sensitive types might care enough to squeeze out a tear or two. In the United Kingdom alone, 360,000 tons of milk are wasted each year, which creates the equivalent of 100,000 tons of CO2. That's like 20,000 cars worth. The research goes into all sorts of wasted foods and how they effect the climate. Upshot: Waste not, want not. "Eating less meat and wasting less food can play a big part in helping to keep a lid on greenhouse gas emissions as the world's population increases," explains researcher Dr David Reay. So you should actually start crying over all wasted food. [Nature Climate Change]
- A reason to keep on breastfeeding. For those on the pro-side of last week's alarming Time cover story -- the one that featured a not-baby sucking on his mother's breast -- here's a little science to back that unconventional practice up. The hormones and enzymes found in breast milk, which the study calls HMOs, helps children develop healthy bellies. "When the HMOs were introduced, the bacteria produced short-chain fatty acids, at some cases at higher levels than other prebiotics now used in infant formula," explains researcher Sharon Donovan. "The short-chain fatty acids can be used as a fuel source for beneficial bacteria and also affect gastrointestinal development and pH in the gut, which reduces the number of disease-causing pathogens," she continues. So keep on sucking, kids. [University of Illinois]
- An iPhone that runs on you? It's something that a Berkeley lab is working on, at least. "In near future, we believe that we can develop personal electric generators. Basically, all of our daily activity related to mechanical movement (or vibration): walking, jogging, typing, etc.," researcher Seung-Wuk Lee explained. "For example, by installing our piezoelectric thin films on your shoes, we can convert our walking energy to electric energy. Therefore, with a phone in our pocket connected to our shoes, we can charge our phone," he continues. These films, which are coated in viruses, use mechanical energy -- like walking -- into electrical energy. It sounds futuristic, because is. There's still a lot of work to be done. "More research is needed, but our work is a promising first step toward the development of personal power generators, actuators for use in nano-devices, and other devices based on viral electronics," he adds. [Berkeley]
- Another bionic body part. We're now another step closer to building a bionic human. Science already created a sort of bionic eye, actually -- a digital chip. But, this one works like solar panel. After an implant is placed in the back of the eye, the fresh-eyed subject wears a pair of glasses, which use light to send signals to the retina implant, which stimulates the nerves. And, here's why it's better than its predecessors. "Because the photovoltaic implant is thin and wireless, the surgical procedure is much simpler than in other retinal prosthetic approaches," explain the researchers. "Such a fully integrated wireless implant promises the restoration of useful vision to patients blinded by degenerative retinal diseases," he continues. There is one caveat, however: This has not yet been tested on real people and so far has only worked on rats. [BBC]
Image via Shutterstock by Christopher van Schaik Muir