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Category Archives:

Water

Sustainable Irrigation Could Help Feed More than a Billion People

Climate chaos, soaring inflation, drought, war- if you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve seen the dire predictions of a looming food crisis. And even more people will need food in the years to come. In fact, a new study from Stanford University’s Carnegie Institute estimates that the global food supply will need to double by 2050 in order to feed everyone adequately.

At the same time, we can’t meet this need by simply doubling the amount of land we use to grow crops. Deforestation and habitat destruction are among the forces driving climate change in the first place.  But according to the Carnegie Institute study, we don’t have to. We can use the farmland and technology we already have to raise crop production yields to levels that will be sufficient to meet our future needs.

One of the most powerful tools we have to do that is sustainable irrigation.

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Mussels Could Help Solve Our Microplastics Problem

Instead of shelling out for a water filtration plant, mussels’ constant filter feeding is being tested as a potential wide-scale application for microplastic clean-up in our oceans.
Belying their humble evolutionary stature, the mussel can do something that humanity could only achieve by spending millions on equipment, and that is cleaning microplastics smaller than 5mm out of the ocean.

A voracious filter feeder, mussels absorb microplastics and than excrete them, while doing no harm to the organism.

Microplastics are devilish pollutants that can come from tire wear, fracture off long-floating plastic debris, or get pulled off artificial textiles and end up in the ocean via sewage. They’re so small that often the required fineness of a net in order to collect them ensures that any marine life, even tiny ones, will be collected as well.

A trial near the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in England is looking to see how many mussels it would take to make a meaningful impact on microplastic pollution.

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Why Is Water Slippery?

Kids ask some pretty hard questions, and sometimes the answers are extremely fascinating, which is why the FiveThirtyEight blog, best known for political polling and sports prognostication, has started this gem of a series called Science Questions from a Toddler. Since the Solar One community is full of both teachers and parents (and teachers who are parents!), we thought this might be of interest for all sorts of reasons.

This week’s topic: Why is water so slippery?

The answer has to do a lot with just how peculiar water molecules actually are.

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Tiny Eels, Big $$ & Native Rights on Long Island

Native Americans of the Shinnecock tribe have been living in eastern Long Island since long before European settlers arrived in the 17th century. And while you might not expect a reservation to be located near now-trendy Southampton village, that’s exactly where David Taobi Silva lives and fishes, and he claims he has aboriginal rights to do so, even if it is against Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.

At issue are tiny glass eels that are illegal to harvest in New York, a regulation state officials call vital in protecting a depleted population. But Mr. Silva told the officers that he was free to gather the eels, citing an aboriginal right to fish locally that is based on Shinnecock tradition and ancient treaties that predate and supersede government laws.

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New Report Shows NYC Waterways Are Cleanest They’ve Been in 100 Years

Being that Solar One is physically close to the water, the condition of that water is anything but an abstract notion to us. Water quality testing is one of our Education team’s most popular field trip offerings, we have a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) pipe running diagonally under the blacktop, and we host some of the Billion Oyster Project‘s little bivalve charges. Students who come to Stuy Cove can find out exactly what’s in our water on any given day.

And while most days, we generally do find at least a little bit of bacteria, a new report from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shows that remarkable improvements have been made in recent decades.

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Back to the Future: Hydra Light and the Long History of the Electric Battery

A colleague recently brought the Hydra Light to our attention, a personal flashlight and charging station that runs on an electrolyte battery. While this design is patent pending, the basic technology behind it is as old- or older- than the pyramids. There is evidence that electrolyte batteries were known in ancient Persia and Egypt, and possibly across the ancient world. The windowless pyramids were lit with electric lights.

But how do electrolyte batteries work?

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