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Jumping Kangaroos: 1 – Autonomous Cars: 0

As The Verge reports, self-driving, i.e. “autonomous cars” (ACs) have a problem, at least in Aussie-land. They can’t figure out whether the kangaroos are going to jump or not or, if so, where to.

At least the Volvo company engineers recognized the kangaroo problem and admitted to it. Other AC proponents appear to be less cognizant or forthcoming at this time.

Perhaps the problem is even worse than you may have thought. The autonomous cars’ computers may not be able to differentiate between kangaroos, jumping mice, or any other “small animal” species with a tail—or even between some without a tail.

By Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser - Thursday, July 6, 2017 - Full Story

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

Versatile, light-weight materials that are both strong and resilient are crucial for the development of flexible electronics, such as bendable tablets and wearable sensors. Aerogels are good candidates for such applications, but until now, it’s been difficult to make them with both properties. Now, researchers report in ACS Nano that mimicking the structure of the “powdery alligator-flag” plant has enabled them to make a graphene-based aerogel that meets these needs.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - Full Story

Swimming microbots can remove pathogenic bacteria from water (video)

The lack of clean water in many areas around the world is a persistent, major public health problem. One day, tiny robots could help address this issue by zooming around contaminated water and cleaning up disease-causing bacteria. Scientists report a new development toward this goal in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - Full Story

Real-time vapor analysis could improve training of explosive-detecting dogs

With a sense of smell much greater than humans, dogs are considered the gold standard for explosive detection in many situations. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. In a study appearing in the ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry, scientists report on a new, more rigorous approach to training dogs and their handlers based on real-time analysis of what canines actually smell when they are exposed to explosive materials.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - Full Story

Deveron UAS: First Mover Advantage in $32B Ag Market for Drones

A Brief History of Drones

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have been around for the better part of a century, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that drones entered the popular lexicon, mostly through their use in stealth military applications.

The first “drone” (named for making a sound similar to a male bee) was actually a boat. Introduced at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden in 1898, inventor Nikolas Tesla used voice commands (actually radio frequencies) to make the unmanned small vessel change direction, to the delight of the audience. Unmanned aircraft was subsequently used by the United States during World War Two, to train anti-aircraft gunners, and Germany, which invented a 2,300-pound bomb called “Fritz X” with four small wings and a radio controller.

By Rick Mills - Saturday, July 1, 2017 - Full Story

American Chemical Society files suit against Sci-Hub

WASHINGTON,  On June 23, 2017, the American Chemical Society (ACS) filed suit in the United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia against unnamed confederates of Sci-Hub, a self-proclaimed web pirate organization that steals and then illegally reproduces and disseminates copyrighted scientific research articles on the internet. The suit asserts infringement of the professional Society’s copyrights, as well as counterfeiting and infringement of its trademarks.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - Full Story

The Statue of Liberty’s true colors (video)

WASHINGTON — The Statue of Liberty is an iconic blue-green symbol of freedom. But did you know she wasn’t always that color? When France gifted Lady Liberty to the U.S., she was a 305-foot statue with reddish-brown copper skin. Her color change is thanks to about 30 years’ worth of chemistry in the air of New York City harbor. See how this monumental statue transitioned from penny red to chocolate brown to glorious liberty green in this Reactions video, just in time for Independence Day:  .

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - Full Story

Our Sense Of Smell Is Better Than Originally Thought

Biology textbooks are riddled with passages relating how bad humans are at perceiving odors. As the oft-quoted statistic goes, humans can only perceive ‘10,000 odors’, a number that sits particularly well with some dog-lovers, who like to remind us that canines have 300 million odor receptors, while humans only sport 6 million. But a study in 2014 revealed that humans might not be as olfactorily challenged as we once thought because, as it turns out, we can perceive more than 1 trillion odors—and that’s a conservative estimate. 1

The original belief that humans’ sense of smell is worse than that of other animals—dogs, mice, moles and even sharks was based on a 19th century hypothesis about free will that has more in common with phrenology than with our modern understanding of how brains work. John McGann, a neuroscientist who studies olfaction at Rutgers University, recently revealed how we ended up with this myth. The truth is humans are actually pretty good at smelling our world. 2

By Jack Dini - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - Full Story

The chemistry of olive oil (video)

WASHINGTON—Whether you sop it up with bread or use it to boost your cooking, olive oil is awesome. But a lot of chemistry goes on in that bottle that can make or break a product. Extra virgin olive oil is the most expensive (and most delicious) variety, in part thanks to its low acidity. Check out the latest Reactions video for more olive oil chemistry, including how to keep yours fresh and how to best use it to give your food a flavor boost

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - Full Story

Building a Real Monorail System for Los Angeles

Fellow Angelenos:

As we know, President Trump has proposed a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan for rebuilding the United States toward making it great again, and Los Angeles leads the way in serious need for rebuilding our freeways and public transportation system. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti was recently in Washington D.C. hustling money for completing former mayor Villaragosa’s unfinished “subway to the sea” scam, which is nowhere near to Westwood where Garcetti is proposing, never mind the sea.

By Robert L. Rosebrock - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - Full Story

Beetles spark development of color-changing nanoparticles for commercial use

Inspired by the varying colors that gleam off of beetle shells, scientists have developed color-shifting nanoparticles that can change hue even after being embedded into a material. A report on the new, inexpensive technique, which could lead to the production of easier-to-read sensors and anti-tampering tags, appears in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

By American Chemical Society - Thursday, June 15, 2017 - Full Story

New fabric coating could thwart chemical weapons, save lives

Chemical weapons are nightmarish. In a millisecond, they can kill hundreds, if not thousands. But, in a study published in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials, scientists report that they have developed a way to adhere a lightweight coating onto fabrics that is capable of neutralizing a subclass of these toxins — those that are delivered through the skin. The life-saving technique could eventually be used to protect soldiers and emergency responders.

Since their first use in World War I, dozens of chemical weapons with devastating potential have been developed. For example, just a pinprick-sized droplet of the nerve gas sarin on the skin is lethal. Recently, scientists have begun exploring the use of zirconium-based metal-organic framework (MOF) powders to degrade and destroy these harmful compounds. MOFs are miniscule, porous structures that have large surface areas that allow them to absorb vast amounts of gases and other substances. The zirconium within them helps neutralize toxic materials. But making MOFs can be tedious, requiring high temperatures and long reaction times. Plus, most MOF powders are unstable and incorporating them onto clothing has proven challenging. Dennis Lee, Gregory N. Parsons and colleagues wanted to see if they could “grow” MOFs onto fabric at room temperature, potentially creating a lightweight shield that could be used on uniforms and protective clothing.

By American Chemical Society - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Full Story

Building ‘OLEDs’ from the ground up for better electronics

From smartphones to TVs and laptops, light emitting diode (LED) displays are ubiquitous. OLEDs (where the O denotes they are organic, or carbon-based) are among the most energy efficient of these devices, but they generally have higher production costs due to the laborious fabrication processes needed to arrange them properly. Today in ACS Central Science, researchers introduce a new way to efficiently create patterns of OLEDs.

In an LED display, the emissions from red, green and blue diodes are blended to create the white and colored light necessary to render images. It is crucially important to precisely position the different types of diodes in relation to one another. And although many fabrication methods exist, they all have limitations with regard to scalability, pattern control, or feature resolution. Solution-based protocols are attractive because they are inexpensive and well-suited to large scale manufacturing. However, current techniques do not meet the demands required for commercial OLED display technology. Zak Page, Craig Hawker and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Dow Chemical Company sought to overcome this barrier by adopting a bottom-up approach for patterning emissive polymers.

By American Chemical Society - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Full Story

Turning car plastics into foams with coconut oil

End-of-life vehicles, with their plastic, metal and rubber components, are responsible for millions of tons of waste around the world each year. Now, one team reports in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering that the plastic components in these vehicles can be recycled with coconut oil and re-used as foams for the construction, packaging and automotive industries.

Recycled polycarbonate (PC) and polyurethane (PUR) are ideal for building insulation, refrigerators, cushions and packaging products. But it can be challenging for plastic car components to get to that point. Some plastic wastes from vehicles can be easily reprocessed; however, PC and PUR materials require a more arduous chemical recycling method. In addition, paints and coatings on PC and PUR plastics from cars typically interfere with the process, causing the recycled product to deteriorate. And simply adding some types of recycled PC and PUR materials to existing insulation foams, for example, can make the foams too dense or brittle. Although researchers have developed various chemical recycling techniques, very few have tried to make useable products with them. Hynek Beneš, Aleksander Prociak and colleagues wanted to take a new approach to converting PC and PUR into recycled materials, with the hopes of increasing their applications.

By American Chemical Society - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Full Story

Chemistry life hacks: Food edition (video)

WASHINGTON — Reactions is back with another round of chemistry life hacks. Our latest episode brings chemistry to the kitchen, and features science-backed tips to cook rice with fewer calories, get extra juicy chicken (when you don’t have time to marinate) and keep sliced fruit from browning too quickly. Watch the video and find out how to use chemistry to give your food a flavor boost.

 

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - Full Story

Searching beyond graphene for new wonder materials

Graphene, the two-dimensional, ultra lightweight and super-strong carbon film, has been hailed as a wonder material since its discovery in 2004. Now researchers are going beyond graphene and preparing other 2-D films with extraordinary properties for applications in wearable electronics, sensors and energy storage. The cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, surveys this expanding landscape.

Mitch Jacoby, a senior correspondent at C&EN, notes that most 2-D materials have certain features in common: They tend to be flexible, transparent, and can be tuned more easily than their bulk counterparts. Some are electrical conductors, and others are insulators or semiconductors. However, there are some gray areas about what 2-D means. How many layers thick can they be? Do the materials need to be free standing?

While those questions are not fully resolved, researchers have forged ahead with the creation of new ultrathin films with varying properties. They largely fall into five major groups: MXenes, Xenes, organic materials, transition metal dichalcogenides and nitrides. The materials are in differing stages of development, from laboratory curiosity to demonstration devices.

2-D materials go beyond graphene

By American Chemical Society - Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Full Story

How the Nazis invented nerve agents like sarin (video)

WASHINGTON — Nerve agents are arguably the most brutal chemical weapons. These infamous compounds, which include sarin gas and VX, originated in Nazi Germany when a chemist was trying to develop a more effective insecticide. Marrying the element phosphorus with cyanide derivatives resulted in a poison so deadly it was named “Tabun,” derived from the German word for “taboo.”

By American Chemical Society - Thursday, June 1, 2017 - Full Story

What bone proteomics could reveal about the dead

Studying bones has helped scientists reconstruct what dinosaurs and other extinct creatures looked like. Taking this further, scientists recently started identifying proteins from bones to glean more information about remains. But one team has found that the reliability of this approach can depend on which bone is analyzed. Additionally, they report in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research a forensic use for bone proteomics: potentially determining from bone proteins how old someone was when they died.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - Full Story

Sorghum: health food, sweetener and now, clothing dye

Sorghum has long been a staple food in many parts of the world, but in the U.S., it’s best known as a sweetener and livestock feed. As demand for the grain soars, so does the amount of waste husks. To reduce this waste, scientists report in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering a new use for it: a wool dye that can add ultraviolet protection and fluorescence properties to clothing.

Sorghum, which looks like pearl couscous, is a hardy, drought-tolerant crop that is gaining popularity as a health food, livestock feed and source of bioethanol. Additionally, scientists are working on transforming the crop’s waste for a range of applications, including food coloring and waste water purification. Building further on the colorant possibilities, Yiqi Yang, Xiuliang Hou and colleagues wanted to see if they could develop a practical clothing dye out of sorghum husks.

By American Chemical Society - Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - Full Story

Should you pee on a jellyfish sting? (video)

WASHINGTON — Sure, jellyfish look pretty serene, but we all know the evils that come from a run-in with those tentacles. You’ve probably heard the rumor that peeing on a jellyfish sting can make the pain go away, but does this icky old wives tale stand up to science? Filmed at San Francisco’s Aquarium of the Bay, the latest Reactions episode explains the fearsome chemistry of jellyfish stings, and debunks this age-old beach myth.

By American Chemical Society - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - Full Story