In The News

Researchers develop ultra-sensitive temperature sensor using new materials derived from plant cells

While technology is often considered separate from nature, many of humanity’s most significant technological advancements mimic nature. Researchers at a Swiss engineering and technology institute developed a new temperature sensor that takes this concept a step forward, melding synthetic components with actual plant cells. Using tobacco plant cells grown in a culture containing carbon nanotubes, the researchers have created an electronic sensor module that changes its conductivity in response to temperature fluctuations. The new sensor is at least 100 times more sensitive than the most advanced temperature sensors available today. A study detailing its development was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Tire demand could grow Southeast Asia’s rubber plantations, threatening protected lands

Although vehicle ownership is decreasing in the U.S. , worldwide demand for car and aircraft tires is rising. Meeting that demand will require millions of hectares of additional rubber plantations, an expansion that could have “catastrophic” impacts on biodiversity and water availability in Southeast Asia, according to a new study from the University of East Anglia . The study projects that, within 10 years, another 8.5 million hectares of rubber plantations will be necessary to fulfill demands for natural rubber from the tire industry alone. Climate and soil conditions in Southeast Asia are ideal for rubber growth, and the researchers suggest that protected lands in the region will be cleared out for additional plantations.

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Icebergs didn’t cause 440,000 years of North Atlantic cooling

Icebergs arrived too late to cause the abrupt cooling in the North Atlantic over the past 440,000 years, according to a press release from the University of Cardiff . Some scientists had previously blamed the cooling on large numbers of icebergs influencing ocean currents, which have a large impact on the Earth’s climate. The scientists agreed with previous research which linked significant climate cooling events with glacier movements. However, they also discovered that the cooling events took place after the glaciers arrived on the scene, not before. Scientists used sediment core samples from the North Atlantic to reach their conclusions.

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