2107-08-01 (Mother Nature’s son)

Today, I learned that:

Regardless of what we say and think, we still respond to Her (Mother Nature). Sometimes She shares with us the most amazing scenarios, such as the one in the amazing photo below. It shows a countryside highway with bamboo trees on both sides. And if you can read Portuguese, then you understand that this place is a sanctuary for wild animals. The road sign depicts an ocelot, and furthermore there is an alert that this is a road with a high degree of crashes between cars and animals. The location is close to the city of Assis, state of São Paulo, Brazil, where there is an ecological station.

Bambu

Highway SP-333 close to the city of Assis, SP, Brazil. This area contains an ecological station with wild animals of various species, the reason why the roadsign alerts for a high degree of collisions between them and cars. The depicted animal is called jaguatirica in Portuguese, ocelot in English, and Leopardis pardalis in Latin. On both sides of the road are planted bamboo, which gives a magical touch to this sacred place. Photo taken on 2017-07-23.

It seems like a perfect coincidence that it is located in Assis, because as you probably remember, in a similarly sounding town in Italy, during the 12th century, there was born a person who later would be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. Among other things, he is known for his friendliness to the birds and in 1979 Pope John Paul II declared him the Patron Saint of Ecology. (The current Pope Francis I also honoured him by adopting his name as his own papal name.) See references #1 and #2 below.

But Mother Nature does not only present us with beauty, She is also very practical. Last Friday, I was reminded twice of that, when Radio Sweden interviewed professionals involved with creating and using practical solutions from Her in favour of humanity.

In the morning, I was told about a new kind of glue, which will permit heart surgeons to glue parts together within a beating heart. The origin of that invention is in the slime produced by a slug, which inspired scientists at Harvard. Hear and read about it in reference #3 below (Swedish), as well as read about in reference #4 (English).

Arion_vulgaris

Arion vulgaris, photo by Xauxa Håkan Svensson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11200581

Then in the evening, another sensational feat. As long as we can remember, the spider has impressed us with its production of ultra-thin, yet extremely strong threads. And now Swedish scientists have discovered a way of recreating such production without using toxic chemistry. Reference #5 contains an audio interview in Swedish with Anna Rising, one of the scientists, and reference #6 is a written interview in English, where she and her fellow colleague Jan Johansson explain more.

Then, over the weekend, I remembered a similar story from exactly 10 years ago. By using practical solutions from a gecko and a mussel, scientists at Northwestern University were able to create a glue that would stick well also under water, see reference #7 below. And in the beginning of 2017, see reference #8, was reported how the very same gecko had inspired researchers at Kiel University to invent a method of immediate grip and release.

But wait, there is more! As a bonus, look also at this article from 2010, reference #9 below, which reports about a combination of mussel glue and nanoparticles to create a proactive cover against corrosion.

To end today’s post, what could be better than listening to the fantastic song writher John Denver, so tragically gone in 1997, to describe his love to Mother Nature! See and here his poem in reference X below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Assis

2: Saint Francis of Assisi

3: Snigelinspirerat lim kan användas vid operationer

4: Slug Slime Inspires Scientists To Invent Sticky Surgical Glue

5: Forskare om att framställa artificiell spindelväv, med början vid 06:20

6: Spinning super strong synthetic spider silk

7: Design by Gecko, Plus Glue by Mussel, Yields a Powerful Adhesive

8: Scientists Can Turn This Gecko-Inspired Gripping Device On or Off With the Flick of a Light

9: Musslornas klister används som rostskydd

X: John Denver – Mother Nature’s son

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-01 (Monday)

Today, I learned that:

By entering the month of February, 2016, my blog is also entering its second calendar month. I wish to thank everyone for suggestions, compliments and even complaints, because that is the best way to progress. As you have seen from the posts from January, I like to vary the topics and hopefully there is a little something for everyone.

Although most people have not heard of it, there is a brand new material that is starting to gain space in our lives. The material, which is called graphene, is a two-dimensional atomic crystal made up of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. The first time that anyone was able to isolate graphene was in 2004, and already in 2010 the pioneers, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their research. The following fantastic video, created by the Graphene Flagship Project is a perfect introduction, so I urge you to watch it:

The Graphene Flagship Project, launched in 2013, together with the Human Brain Project, are the first of the European Commission’s Future and Emerging Technology Flagships, whose mission is to address the big scientific and technological challenges of the age through long-term, multidisciplinary research and development efforts. The Graphene Flagship is coordinated by my alma mater Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Graphene Flagship is tasked with bringing together academic and industrial researchers to take graphene from the realm of academic laboratories into European society in the space of 10 years, thus generating economic growth, new jobs and new opportunities. The core consortium consists of 142 academic and industrial research groups in 23 countries.

In 2015, I had the pleasure of participating in a MOOC ( Massive open online course ) offered by Chalmers within the EdX organization, one the most prestigious MOOC providers, founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012. It was a tough course, but it gave me very interesting information about what graphene is, how we can produce it, and what we can use it for.

ChM001x, Introduction to Graphene Science and Technology - Certificate

The references below provide further information about graphene and its applications.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: Graphene Flagship

2: Introducing Graphene

3: Introduction to Graphene Science and Technology

4: MOOC

5: The Age of Graphene and how it will transform our mobile experiences

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-01-29 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

There exists one more evidence of the negative consequencies of the American obsession to defend having a firearm for “personal protection”, instigated by the National Rifle Association. Here are excerpts from a podcast by Scientific American early this morning, stated by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center:

hemenway

David Hemenway, photo by Harvard School of Public Health

“One of the things we know for sure in the United States is that a gun in the home increases the likelihood that someone in the home will die a violent death—from gun accidents, from a woman being murdered by a man in an intimate partner violence situation and particularly by suicide.

The gun violence discussion often seems to give short shrift to suicide, even though more than 60 percent of the approximately 32,000 annual U.S. firearms deaths are suicides.

The evidence is overwhelming, from case control studies and ecological studies. For example, why do we have very different suicide rates across cities, across states, across regions in the United States. To explain the differences in suicide rates across states, turns out it’s not well explained at all by differences in mental health, it’s not well explained at all by differences in the number of psychiatrists, it’s not even explained by differences in suicide ideation among the population or even suicide attempts. What really explains the difference in the United States across the populations is the number of guns. Because it’s gun suicide which is so different.

And someone who commits suicide with a gun very likely would not have either attempted or succeeded if the gun were not available. For example, a 2013 Swiss study tracked men after the size of the army was cut in half, effectively removing guns from half that group. The overall suicide rate went down, and the researchers estimated that only 22 percent of all the men who would have killed themselves with a gun if it had been available wound up committing the act by other means. The presence of the gun just makes it significantly easier to take your own life impulsively.”

Please see references below for complete coverage.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/suicide-differences-by-region-related-to-gun-availability/

2: https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/preventing-gun-violence/

+: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VucczIg98Gw