With experiments, comes waste: Scientific waste and where it ends up

Written by: Lirong Shi and Manaswini Sarangi

Editor: Sarah Kearns and Alyse Krausz

Introduction

As a scientist working around scientists, we may not realize how much scientific waste we and our colleagues produce every day, just like everyone else who may not pay attention to how much household waste we produce in our kitchen. We are so used to the waste in the lab, and compared to the large garbage bin outside, we might think the small plastic bucket in the lab should be negligible. But that is not true. Accounting for only 0.1% of the population, scientists create approximately 5.5 million tons of plastic waste annually in life science alone, which accounts for approximately 2% of the plastic waste produced worldwide [1]. The large amount of plastic waste wandering around the oceans can disrupt carbon balance, poison fish, and end up on humans’ tables. Through experiments, scientists are attempting to improve everyone’s life while also literally contributing to the detriment of the world.

Continue reading “With experiments, comes waste: Scientific waste and where it ends up”

MARVELous Solar Cells

Author: Kristina Lenn

Editors: Christina Vallianatos, Andrew McAllister, and Sarah Kearns

Spoiler: For a better reading experience, make sure to see the amazing Doctor Strange!


I love Marvel movies, and they’re even more fun to watch as a scientist. In many of them, some energy source is at risk of falling into the wrong hands. Lest the source destroy not only the planet but also the entire galaxy, a bunch of unlikely misfits band together to ensure the energy source’s safety and security. The power source in question is something that has the paradoxical capability of both sustaining and destroying life, like the sun. Extraterrestrial battles take place with the brutish Hulk and the witty turbo-powered Iron Man. (Or, if you prefer Guardians of the Galaxy, you can fight with the smart-aleck Rocket and the cute-yet-somewhat-airheaded Groot.) The bad guys want to use this energy to have unlimited power; the good guys want to harness the energy in a more controlled manner.

Continue reading “MARVELous Solar Cells”

La separación de agua: Una manera para almacenar energía solar

Escrito en inglés por Jimmy Brancho, traducido al español por Jean Carlos Rodriguez-Díaz y editado por Thibaut R. Pardo-García

La fuente de energía del futuro puede ser mucho más familiar de lo que piensas.

Muchas personas están emocionadas por el remplazo de combustibles fósiles por energía solar.
La recolección, tratamiento y quema de combustibles fósiles es uno de los mayores contribuyentes a la contaminación ambiental y conflictos políticos. ¿Podremos reducir estos problemas al usar energía solar? Al parecer, eso es lo que piensa la industria. La estadística más reciente del National Renewable Energy Laboratory Data Book demuestra que la cantidad de energía producida por instalaciones solares ha estado creciendo continuamente en la última década- casi un 75% de 2011 a 2012.

¿Qué se hace cuando el sol se acuesta? ¿Se supone que dejemos de ver Netflix por la noche?

Continue reading “La separación de agua: Una manera para almacenar energía solar”

Water splitting: One way to store solar energy

By Jimmy Brancho

The fuel source of the future might be a lot more familiar than you think.

Plenty of people are excited about solar energy’s replacing fossil fuels. Harvesting, processing, and burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to environmental pollution and political conflict. Could we reduce those problems by using solar energy instead? Industry seems to think so; the most recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory Data Book statistics show that electricity output from solar installations has grown continually throughout the last decade – nearly 75% from 2011 to 2012 alone.

But what happens when the sun goes down? Are you just supposed to not binge Netflix at midnight? Continue reading “Water splitting: One way to store solar energy”