No item elements found in rss feed.
bbc
No item elements found in rss feed.
No item elements found in rss feed.
No item elements found in rss feed.

Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere

An anonymous reader shares a report from NPR about ecologist Chelsea Rochman, who has dedicated her career to studying how microplastics are getting into the food chain and affecting everything from beer to fish: Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it's thrown away, it doesn't just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces. Scientists call the tiny pieces "microplastics" and define them as objects smaller than 5 millimeters -- about the size of one of the letters on a computer keyboard. Researchers started to pay serious attention to microplastics in the environment about 15 years ago. They're in oceans, rivers and lakes. They're also in soil. Recent research in Germany found that fertilizer made from composted household waste contains microplastics. And, even more concerning, microplastics are in drinking water. In beer. In sea salt. In fish and shellfish. How microplastics get into animals is something of a mystery, and Chelsea Rochman is trying to solve it. Since she started studying microplastics, Rochman has found them in the outflow from sewage treatment plants. And they've shown up in insects, worms, clams, fish and birds. To study how that happens, [researcher Kennedy Bucci] makes her own microplastics from the morning's collection. She takes a postage stamp-size piece of black plastic from the jar, and grinds it into particles using a coffee grinder. "So this is the plastic that I feed to the fish," she says. The plastic particles go into beakers of water containing fish larvae from fathead minnows, the test-animals of choice in marine toxicology. Tanks full of them line the walls of the lab. Bucci uses a pipette to draw out a bunch of larvae that have already been exposed to these ground-up plastic particles. The larva's gut is translucent. We can see right into it. "You can see kind of a line of black, weirdly shaped black things," she points out. "Those are the microplastics." The larva has ingested them. Rochman says microplastic particles can sicken or even kill larvae and fish in their experiments.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Antenna Sales Are Rising, In Another Sign of Churn In TV Watching

Rick Schumann shares a report from Star Tribune: Twenty percent of homes in the U.S. use a digital antenna to access live TV, up from 16 percent just two years ago, according to Parks Associates market research in Texas. The Twin Cities has an even higher antenna percentage. Local antenna installers say business has been rising about 20 percent to 25 percent annually for several years. It's the eighth largest broadcast-only market in the country, with more than 22 percent of homes using antennas to get local TV, according to TVb.org, a local broadcast trade association. Duane, Wawrzyniak, owner of Electronic Servicing in Silver Lake, Minnesota, cites high TV bills every month for the increased antenna sales. According to the report, "In the Twin Cities and much of Minnesota, antenna users can receive 10 to 60 TV channels, often in high-definition quality, over the air at no expense." You can check the DTV signals that are available at your location here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

After 60 Years, 1,900-Mile-Long Interstate 95 Is Almost Finished

"It has taken 60 years, but a small, strange gap in Interstate-95 is being filled," writes Slashdot reader McGruber. Bloomberg reports: Near the Pennsylvania border, drivers have long been forced off the interstate and onto other roadways, only to join back 8 miles away. Transportation officials and civil engineers spent more than two decades and $425 million to eliminate this detour off I-95, the most traveled highway in America, spanning 1,900 miles from Miami to Maine. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which oversees the I-95 Interchange Project, said the new infrastructure -- which includes the creation of flyover ramps, toll plaza facilities, environmental mitigation sites, intersections, six overhead bridges, widened highways and new connections to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania turnpikes -- will be open to the public by Sept. 24. "The benefit of completing this 'missing link' is mobility," said Carl DeFebo, the director of public relations at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The new infrastructure will reduce traffic time for north- and south-bound travelers and ease congestion on local roads that used to connect I-95 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Man Sues Over Google's 'Location History' Fiasco, Case Could Affect Millions

Last week, The Associated Press found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you've explicitly disabled the location sharing feature. As a result, Google has now been sued by a man in San Diego, who argues that Google is violating the California Invasion of Privacy Act and the state's constitutional right to privacy. Ars Technica reports: The lawsuit seeks class-action status, and it would include both an "Android Class" and "iPhone Class" for the potential millions of people in the United States with such phones who turned off their Location History and nonetheless had it recorded by Google. It will likely take months or longer for the judge to determine whether there is a sufficient class. Also on August 17, attorneys from the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote in a sternly worded three-page letter to the FTC that Google's practices are in clear violation of the 2011 settlement with the agency. In that settlement, Google agreed that it would not misrepresent anything related to "(1) the purposes for which it collects and uses covered information, and (2) the extent to which consumers may exercise control over the collection, use, or disclosure of covered information." Until the Associated Press story on August 13, Google's policy simply stated: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Summer Weather Is Getting 'Stuck' Due To Arctic Warming

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Summer weather patterns are increasingly likely to stall in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, according to a new climate study that explains why Arctic warming is making heatwaves elsewhere more persistent and dangerous. Rising temperatures in the Arctic have slowed the circulation of the jet stream and other giant planetary winds, says the paper, which means high and low pressure fronts are getting stuck and weather is less able to moderate itself. The authors of the research, published in Nature Communications on Monday, warn this could lead to "very extreme extremes," which occur when abnormally high temperatures linger for an unusually prolonged period, turning sunny days into heat waves, tinder-dry conditions into wildfires, and rains into floods. One cause is a weakening of the temperature gradient between the Arctic and Equator as a result of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The far north of the Earth is warming two to four times faster than the global average, says the paper, which means there is a declining temperature gap with the central belt of the planet. As this ramp flattens, winds struggle to build up sufficient energy and speed to push around pressure systems in the area between them. As a result, there is less relief in the form of mild and wet air from the sea when temperatures accumulate on land, and less relief from the land when storms build up in the ocean.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.