Monday, April 16, 2018
Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles The breakthrough, spurred by the discovery of plastic-eating bugs at a Japanese dump, could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis Damian Carrington Environment editor Guardian Reporter Published: 00:30 Tue April 17, 2018 Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. “What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.” The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. “What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.” About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.” However, currently even those bottles that are recycled can only be turned into opaque fibres for clothing or carpets. The new enzyme indicates a way to recycle clear plastic bottles back into clear plastic bottles, which could slash the need to produce new plastic. “You are always up against the fact that oil is cheap, so virgin PET is cheap,” said McGeehan. “It is so easy for manufacturers to generate more of that stuff, rather than even try to recycle. But I believe there is a public driver here: perception is changing so much that companies are starting to look at how they can properly recycle these.” The new research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, began by determining the precise structure of the enzyme produced by the Japanese bug. The team used the Diamond Light Source, near Oxford, UK, an intense beam of X-rays that is 10bn times brighter than the sun and can reveal individual atoms. The structure of the enzyme looked very similar to one evolved by many bacteria to break down cutin, a natural polymer used as a protective coating by plants. But when the team manipulated the enzyme to explore this connection, they accidentally improved its ability to eat PET. “It is a modest improvement – 20% better – but that is not the point,” said McGeehan. “It’s incredible because it tells us that the enzyme is not yet optimised. It gives us scope to use all the technology used in other enzyme development for years and years and make a super-fast enzyme.” Industrial enzymes are widely used in, for example, washing powders and biofuel production, They have been made to work up to 1,000 times faster in a few years, the same timescale McGeehan envisages for the plastic-eating enzyme. A patent has been filed on the specific mutant enzyme by the Portsmouth researchers and those from the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. One possible improvement being explored is to transplant the mutant enzyme into an “extremophile bacteria” that can survive temperatures above the 70C melting point of PET – the plastic is likely to degrade 10-100 times faster when molten. Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. But bacteria are far easier to harness for industrial uses. Other types of plastic could be broken down by bacteria currently evolving in the environment, McGeehan said: “People are now searching vigorously for those.” PET sinks in seawater but some scientists have conjectured that plastic-eating bugs might one day be sprayed on the huge plastic garbage patches in the oceans to clean them up. Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists “I think [the new research] is very exciting work, showing there is strong potential to use enzyme technology to help with society’s growing waste problem,” said Oliver Jones, a chemist at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and not part of the research team. “Enzymes are non-toxic, biodegradable and can be produced in large amounts by microorganisms,” he said. “There is still a way to go before you could recycle large amounts of plastic with enzymes, and reducing the amount of plastic produced in the first place might, perhaps, be preferable. [But] this is certainly a step in a positive direction.” Prof Adisa Azapagic, at the University of Manchester in the UK, agreed the enzyme could be useful but added: “A full life-cycle assessment would be needed to ensure the technology does not solve one environmental problem – waste – at the expense of others, including additional greenhouse gas emissions.”
Sunday, April 08, 2018
This was a fight I was looking forward to since last year Tony Ferguson who is as unorthodox a fighter as possible with wicked elbows and snapjitsu and the Eagle Khabib's wrestling. Unfortunately a circuit wire stopped the fight with a freak injury to Tony. This was not to be ...so we had to settle for Max holloway though a full 10 pounds lighter everyone expected him to be a challenge for Khabib as he had more accolades than ay other previous opponents. In all of this suddenly Conor Mcgregor made his presence known by attacking the Bus carrying Khabib and the other UFC fighters which ultimately led him to be arrested. The Embedded clip below clearly indicts him for criminal behavior but makes for an interesting fight when he inevitably faces Connor. Soon after few more opponents dropped out on the Khabib fight and it ultimately fell on Al Iaquinta to lost the fight and make Khabib the undisputed 155 pound champion Thus ended a crazy week in MMA where the off-cage action overshadowed the matches. Now the stage is set for an intriguing matchup between Khabib - Connor or Khabib - Tony. Many feel that the standup deficiencies of the Eagle showed in this match but I feel that he chose to do the standup as he felt that he can handle the striking of Al Iaquinta, if he had felt uncomfotbale he would have immediately resorted to his stifling grappling.
Thursday, April 05, 2018
My family bred 'em, American quarterhorses. Those babies fetch quite the price, so we were real gentle with the product. We used teasers. Those are stallions you put into the stall with the sole purpose of making sure the mare's in heat, primed for breeding. Now, a teaser, he doesn't get to do any fucking. He's just there to get the mare ready. Take her kicks. Try to mount, take some more kicks. By God, that teaser, he's got a rager going on the whole dang time. But that doesn't matter. As soon as that dam is ready, we yank that teaser out of there, lead the real stud in, and he gets to do all the fucking. Teaser has to make do with some mangy hay and a bucket of oats. - Brutal. - Yeah, nature often is. [sighs] Well, the judge we drew is Leonard Edward Funt. Isn't that good news? Doesn't he owe you Yes, there is a debt. I once did him a kindness. But back then, during a case, I tried to allude to the favor in conference, and that man hammered me for even hinting at it. [scoffs] Seemed to grow larger as he talked, the way some men can when they're not pretending to dignity and honor but they're actually made of the stuff. You withdrew the request? I did. And I fear it would be even worse today. See, if he wouldn't return a favor back when it was fresh, why would he do so now? But that's not what happened, is it? He didn't actually refuse. He didn't say no. Not in so many words. What he did was: spare himself the question by putting a tougher one to you. It's about will, Chuck. Impose your will on him until he does what he needs to and repays the debt. Why, you are a marvel. [siren wails in distance] [door opens] There's something I always wondered: Why aren't you Charlie? - [sighs] - Feels like you would have - been a great Charlie. - No, I agree. Oh, Charlie Rhoades, yeah, that guy's yer best friend. - Yeah. - Right? Sure. Call ol' Charlie, see if he can fill in, uh, as a fourth for tennis or on a double date or just ride around smashing mailboxes. Yeah. Charlie. The best. But in our household, my father was Charles. And every now and then someone, business associate, the guy who managed one of his buildings, who would get just a little casual, accidentally let a Charlie fly. The world would stop dead. "Do I look like a fucking 'Charlie' to you?" [scoffs] And that was that. The guy would piss himself, and the day would continue. So, he was Charles, and you were Chuck. And Good Time Charlie was somewhere else out on the town having all the laughs. Christ, man. Don't I know it. The bench cannot be tainted by personal debts. Name another favor. I know that this is the biggest case that you've ever drawn. Well, that's something that you would think about in my shoes, but I don't. No, you wouldn't. And you wouldn't hide in a hallway waiting to pounce when I walked by. But I am not the man you are. Oh. You're not here to ask me to shade my rulings. You're here to ask me to step off it. It's a hard laydown. And I'm asking you to lay it down. [sighs] Ask yourself who you really are, Chuck. Are you the man that's reduced to collecting debts of the soul like like old Mr. Scratch? Well, as with all stories about that being, the debt is due, even if, especially if, it is not fair or even right to collect it. Believe me, my my insides hurt making this request. Oh, I don't believe that even a little. You like your insides just as they are. You want to be right here, making these moves. You need that feeling in your stomach to know you're alive. I really think I am sorry. Fuck you, Chuck! I'll recuse myself. My tab is clear. Well, then, I guess it's a gift. Chuck. I know his fingerprints. Are you gonna do something about this? I'm not in the habit of rejecting gifts. Do you know about White Day in Japan? Over there on Valentine's Day, women buy presents for their salarymen bosses, and those presents are displayed for all to see, so the most important thing is the size. That's how others know that the recipient is valued. A month later, on White Day, the men give a return gift of two to three times the value. So if there's a salaryman you don't respect, you get him something small but expensive. Chuck just gave you diamond cufflinks, and when White Day comes, you're gonna have to give him something that costs a lot more
Washington post article by Heather Long As the U.S.-China trade spat gets uglier, people in both countries are asking: Who has more to lose? And how does this end? China has more to lose economically in an all-out trade war. The Chinese economy is dependent on exports, and nearly 20 percent of its exports go to the United States. It sold $506 billion in stuff and services to the United States last year. In contrast, the United States sold $130 billion to the Chinese. “In a serious economic battle, the U.S. wins. There is no question about it,” said Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who has helped advise the administration on China. But this isn't just an economic fight, it's also political, and there’s a strong case that President Trump would be less able to sustain a protracted conflict than the Chinese — especially with the 2018 midterm elections coming. Chinese President Xi Jinping runs a communist country that has just granted him the ability to rule for life. He controls the media in his country and is also sitting on top of about $3 trillion in surplus cash.
Wednesday, April 04, 2018
Monday, April 02, 2018
This is what I felt after watching the movie. It is not a movie which needs to be viewed as an entertaining product but rather a very philosophical/realistic look at the other worldly genre. It started with "Arrival" which questioned the possible intentions of the close encounter of a third kind i.e aliens.This delves deeper into the same school of thoughtand makes us ponder on the possibility that science and hollywood was completely off in their portrayal of an entity from other worlds/dimensions. This is the review by Emily Yoshida of Volture The tower, which was not supposed to be there,” is not even a full opening sentence, and yet the first nine words of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation told the reader at least nine things within a second. There are obviously things you can get away with more easily in a book than in a film, but that anonymous AirDrop into the mysterious Area X, whose uncanny nature becomes the focal point for a trilogy of novels, is something Hollywood could learn from. It also sets up a trilogy in which perception, and the inevitable breakdown of something like a shared reality — as emblematized by that very tower (or staircase, if you like) plays a central role. The tower is in fact not there in Alex Garland’s adaptation of VanderMeer’s novel, both literally and in a more spiritual sense. At first this feels like a lost opportunity; how cinematically fun would it be to play with the book’s warped perspective, its narcotic disorientation? But Garland has used Area X as a jumping-off point for something like a companion to VanderMeer’s work, or a deeply personal-feeling interpretation. Whereas the book comes off as more of a portrait of an ecology in psychedelic decline, Garland’s film is about a personality undergoing the same kind of breakdown. Maybe that distinction feels traditional in the sense that Hollywood movies are financed because of movie stars, not radical biomes. But by its end Annihilation is anything but mainstream. The film opens with a fiery, asteroid-like body striking a lighthouse somewhere on the Gulf Coast, leaving not destruction and calamity in its wake, only a prismatic, oily aura. (Right then and there, Annihilation announces itself as less of an explosion movie and more of an unexplainably unsettling oily aura movie.) We then meet Lena (Natalie Portman), a biology professor miserably unaware of anything having to with lighthouses or heavenly bodies, who is grieving her missing-in-action military husband. Then, after six months with no word, he appears in their bedroom in the form of a dead-eyed Oscar Isaac. Lena grills him about where he’s been, but he’s a disoriented shell of a person; all that’s missing is a lime green jacket. Then all his organs start failing. On the way to the hospital, a squad of black cars and helicopters intercepts the ambulance, Lena is sedated, and when she wakes up, she’s in a cell with Jennifer Jason Leigh. This all sounds like a very different kind of movie than Annihilation ends up being — all black ops and missing spouses and Homeland-esque intrigue. The lengthy setup and stakes-laying is at once impressively slow and contemplatively paced and also completely lacking in any faith that we could invest our interest in a woman without some drama involving her husband. It’s portentous without seeming to know what it’s portending. Pretty soon Lena is on an expedition — the same expedition, she has learned, that her husband was on — into “the shimmer,” a slowly expanding, seemingly unsurveyable zone expanding through the swampland of Florida. She’s accompanied by Leigh’s Dr. Ventress, a psychologist whose job overseeing all prior expeditions seems to have left her shattered, to put it mildly; also Anya, a medic (Gina Rodriguez); Josie, a physicist (Tessa Thompson); and Cass, an anthropologist (Tuva Novotny). They dive into the shimmering barrier which gives the zone its name, and immediately things start to get weird. What makes a good drug movie? Can it be about nothing, or does it need to be about so much that you need to be on a controlled substance in order to think you’re accessing all its layers of meaning? Does it just need to make you feel like you’re on drugs? In another era, Annihilation would feel destined to be a dorm room classic, to reside in a realm of trippy shit alongside Jodorowsky and Gilliam. Now movies are pliable enough that it may live on as a handful of GIFs and clips of its malevolently lush visuals as a get-high-and-check-this-out spectacle. That aspect of the film is clearly in a fight with all the “why did you come here” Syd Field motivational padding between its troubling setpieces, and it’s a very studio-suit move to assume that the only way to give “meaning” to a film is to have people talk about it. (It’s also a studio-suit move to cast Portman and Leigh in films that were written, however non-centrally to the plot, as Asian and Native women respectively.) Garland is telling the story through visuals, and through a cell biology thread most producers would not have faith in an audience to follow. But to mistake Garland’s succession of haunted-house-like spectacles as Acid: The Place would be missing out on so much emotional work that he’s doing. (Although, the squeamish should be warned those spectacles range from mildly disturbing to gory and disgusting to absolutely terrifying.) The annihilation of the film’s title is the self-directed kind, and it’s working on a molecular level, even when the Hollywood narrative trappings of the film let it down. The film is drastically different from VanderMeer’s book, but it’s also about something that can’t be uttered, and, accordingly, Garland goes silent for the film’s stunning finale. Something at the intersection of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey and modern dance, it left me breathless with its unforgiving depiction of the relentless weight of depression; the impulse to self-destruct. The film has one eye on the “final girl” structure of horror films throughout its expedition, and the ending takes that phrase, turns it inside out and shatters it into a thousand refracted points of light. Like all things this cosmic, it will certainly be snickered about as “trippy shit.” But I suspect a sizable portion of the audience will see themselves there. T
Sunday, April 01, 2018
Sunday, March 11, 2018
After my infatuation with the Japanese series ,I was introduced to this German series through some favorable review in a podcast. This is an intriguing series and has some elements of Stranger things and David Lynch to it. This seems to steer away from the usual time travel logic on the screen. Here is the review from The Verge by Tasha Robinson Netflix’s mesmerizing new German-language series Dark certainly is aptly named. A great deal of the new 10-episode season takes place in dim rooms and unlit garages, in an ominously oppressive forest and a shadowy cave, or under sickly, faltering lighting that suggests a kind of heavy moral decay falling over the world. The series is conceptually dark, full of cheating spouses, ugly secrets, grotesque killings, and dead birds falling from the sky in a hail of limp, twisted bodies. But more noticeably, it’s as physically dark as an early David Fincher movie, and it carries the same level of ominous weight. It’s a series meant to be watched late at night, with the lights off, experienced like a ghost story around a campfire that’s burning down to its final embers. Netflix’s first original German series — part of a growing foray into international productions, aimed at digging deeper into local entertainment markets — comes from Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, the co-writers and director of 2014’s hacker-thriller Who Am I: No System Is Safe. It has some obvious aesthetics in common with that film. Swiss director bo Odar loves images of sleight-of-hand magic and glowering men lurking deep in the depths of giant hoods, and Dark shares Who Am I’s grimy, heavy cinematography and screaming discordant soundtrack. But Dark slows down the story from Who Am I’s more frantic pacing, using the space of a 10-hour TV series to establish an entire town of people reacting to a slow-motion series of personal disasters. In that sense, Dark is closer to the original run of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 1990s groundbreaker Twin Peaks, with a steaming nuclear power plant dominating the town instead of a lumber mill. Dark isn’t just about a murder that comes with a disturbing tinge of the supernatural. It’s about a community of people, all with their own problems, and all linked in different ways — both in the present and in the past. Dark is an ensemble series, but it starts with Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci), a police officer and father of three who’s cheating on his wife with a woman whose husband commits suicide in the show’s earliest moments. Her shell-shocked son, Jonas (Louis Hofmann), is part of a pack of rangy pack-animal teenagers who venture into the woods outside their small German hometown of Winden, hunting the drug stash of a classmate who recently disappeared. While they’re out there, Ulrich’s youngest, Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) also disappears, leading the police to wonder whether someone is targeting local youths. But the disappearances coincide with weird phenomena: animals dropping dead, lights wildly flickering and flashing. Some of the town’s older residents, including Mikkel’s grandmother, mutter about how the new disappearances recall older ones from when they were younger. And a mysterious hooded figure, looking at a newspaper clip reading “Where is Mikkel?”, crosses out the first word and rewrites the headline as “When is Mikkel?” Dark Season 1 Dark Season 1 Stefan Erhard/Netflix The answer to that first mystery comes by the series’ third episode, and it raises even more questions — about time travel, official and unofficial cover-ups, and the roles of various authority figures and outsiders. It also complicates the meaning of smaller mysteries scattered throughout the show, like the ornately carved box with the suicide victim’s last letter, which bears a warning not to open it until a specific date and time. There’s a fair bit of “What’s going on?” in Dark, but the more compelling mystery is “Who knows about it?” It’s another link to Twin Peaks: that sense that there isn’t a single murderer abroad, so much as a compelling supernatural mystery, and a web of intrigue around it. But as with Twin Peaks, Dark is more of a draw for the nightmarish aesthetics, the sense of swoony horror that hangs over this elaborately drawn little world. Dark’s characters aren’t nearly as quirky and oddball as David Lynch’s — they’re more like the dour, desperate stars of a Scandinavian TV series, slowly drinking themselves to death and seeking whatever pleasures they can to compensate for the lack of light and hope in their world. Ulrich isn’t the only one in Winden having an affair. There’s more surreptitious, frustrated lust going on in the town than honest affection. Winden feels a bit like a soap opera in progress, full of secrets and lies. A strong cast full of characters who pull off “angst-stricken and unsatisfied” well contributes to the feeling of an unsettled, untrustworthy world where time-traveling children or era-hopping murderers just seem par for the course. Dark Season 1 Dark Stefan Erhard/Netflix At least their uncertainty is set in a beautifully rendered world. The jangling nails-on-chalkboard music and the bleak cinematography are off-putting, but in a conscious, controlled way that again recalls David Fincher. And by the end of the third episode, when bo Odar and Friese take time to visually compare the modern-day Winden residents with their younger selves, the series has gone in a lyrical, longing direction that feels miles away from Fincher or Lynch. In this moment, there’s an aching sense of beauty and loneliness to Dark that places it far above the usual procedural mystery or supernatural horror story. Suddenly, it’s not a series about dead birds and dead children, and the question of what links them. It’s about what links past and present, and how easily people drop the promise and premises of youth and become old and tired. Like so much of Dark, it’s a dark and dreary message, presented with an artfulness that becomes beautiful — and inevitably, addictive. Netflix is so often looking for bingeable, c’mon-just-one-more-episode entertainment. With Dark, it has a series that’s both hard to watch, and impossible to stop watching.