Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Pam Burke 

Science news in all its awesomeness


March 21, 2014

It is quite possible that, since the age when mankind invented ways of making fire on demand, science exists solely to make life more awesome.

Carrying stuff around on your back? A big drag. The wheel? Awesome. A four-wheel drive pickup? Awesomer, of course.

That fire? It not only cooked the food to bacteria-killing temperatures, but it also kept you warm. And you could stay up after dark. Aaaawesommme.

Electricity? Awesomer.

It’s fire in a light switch. How can you possibly beat that?

With science.

Pierre Calleja, head of a team of researchers at FermentAlg, gave a presentation at the TEDX Lausanne Change convention about how his team invented algae-powered street lamps. Yes, lights powered by pond scum.

I don’t want to bore you with details I don’t fully understand, but it boils down to this: Algae lives on photosynthesis, converting sunlight into energy, using carbon dioxide as it’s own fuel — that means it cleans the air like a tree. A microscopic tree. In Calleja’s process the lamps store the energy produced by the CO2-scrubbing algae during the day and dispense this light at night.

Totally awesome.

But science isn’t just about cool material things. No, science is about ideas, too. Science can take a wild belief, passed on from generation to generation without concrete proof of its validity and, through relentless study, actually prove what is already known.

Yes, science says, dogs do have human-like personalities and feelings.

Ohmigawd, of course, but awesome!

And, yes, sometimes science proves these “known facts” to be false. No, pulling out a gray hair does not cause six more to grow back in its place. Think about it and you could’ve figured it out on your own. If that were true, every aging guy in America would be plucking hairs from his head to fill in those bald spots, ’cause when you don’t have any hair, even the gray stuff seems awesome.

However, scientists have discovered — and you may want to sit down for this — that the 5-second rule for dropped food is true. Now, how awesome is that.

I don’t want to bore you with a bunch of science-y words, facts and diagrams, that I don’t fully understand, so I’ll just skip to the high-points of the story.

A completely not peer-reviewed study by researchers at Aston University, led by microbiology professor Anthony Hilton, discovered that food contacting a floor for 5 seconds or less had some bacterias and other general gicky things, but unless the floor surface was particularly nasty or the food highly sticky, the food had safe levels of said gickies and could be consumed immediately.


And better yet, when researchers asked people if they would eat food off the floor, 87 percent of them yes, and most of those people also said timing was everything.


I don’t even have to feel guilty about doing it because, statistically, they’ve proven you probably follow the 5-second rule, too.

Even awesomer.

(Just trust me on this: if your feet are already sticking to the floor, the 5-second rule does not apply. I repeat, does not apply at pam@viewfromthenorth40.com.)


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