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After analyzing the microbes with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and next-generation genetic sequencing, the researchers discovered a diverse community of heterotrophs (organisms that feed off of complex organic substances), autotrophs (organisms that feed off simple inorganic substances like carbon dioxide), predators, and symbionts. It’s a a rich and dynamic ecosystem they’re now calling theplastisphere.
And in fact, the plastic communities were more diverse — and isolated — from those in other seawater samples (which are typically dominated by only a few species). Over 1,000 species were discovered, including plants, algae, and bacteria (some of which are still unidentified).
The researchers say that the plastic is acting as a veritable reef onto which the microbes are clinging. These “microbial reefs” are offering a distinct place that selects for and supports advantageous microbes to settle, succeed — and evolve.
Now I want to see the low budget Syfy movie about plastic-eating sharks (from the future!!) wreaking havoc on kayakers. And of course a tornado to bring the sharks on land so they can slowly degrade all of our plastic cartons and spill our juice everywhere.
Physics in Ferroelectrics Hint at Brain-like Computing
Unexpected behavior in ferroelectric materials explored by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory supports a new approach to information storage and processing.
Ferroelectric materials are known for their ability to spontaneously switch polarization when an electric field is applied. Using a scanning probe microscope, the ORNL-led team took advantage of this property to draw areas of switched polarization called domains on the surface of a ferroelectric material. To the researchers’ surprise, when written in dense arrays, the domains began forming complex and unpredictable patterns on the material’s surface.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/physics-ferroelectrics-hint-brain-computing
10 Ingenious Bike Hacks
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New York City, 1958
Research Finds Black Hole in Another Star Cluster
Last year, when a team of astronomers led by a Michigan State Univ. professor discovered two black holes in a collection of stars known as a globular cluster, they weren’t sure if the black holes’ presence was a common occurrence or a unique stroke of luck.
Researchers are now thinking it was the former, as evidence of yet another black hole has been found in a globular cluster by an MSU-led team of researchers.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/research-finds-black-hole-another-star-cluster