Science Briefs – April 26, 2011

Kelsey Gobroski / Sun Star Reporter
April 26, 2011

Gulf restoration kicks off

BP agreed to provide $1 billion to the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico a year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, though the company may be responsible for up to $21 billion. The oil spill pumped nearly 5 million barrels of oil over 87 days in 2010. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, the Department of the Interior, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will receive $100 million, with the remaining money used for other federally-selected projects. Because the entire gulf was impacted, the cleanup will encompass many different aspects of the ecosystem to guarantee restoration of wildlife and habitat.

– New York Times

Plastic heals itself

Swiss researchers invented a new rubbery plastic that self-heals under ultraviolet light. Up until now, some plastics can be melted to form a smooth surface again, but this old approach may be impossible if the material cannot be removed from the device. Ultraviolet light heats only the scratch. The plastic responds to ultraviolet light because metal ions are interspersed into polymer chains, plastic’s backbone. The metals heat up under light and the chain melts, filling in the scratch. The plastic could be used in cell phone covers or paints.

– Nature

Malaria-resistant mosquitoes reproduce effectively

A new study describes how to quickly disseminate a gene in a mosquito population as scientists continue trying to genetically modify mosquitoes to be less likely to carry malaria. Mosquitoes have already been modified to be resistant to malaria, but until now, there has been no way to ensure the resistant genes will spread through wild populations. The new gene appears in all the male mosquito’s sperm, and thus passes on to its entire offspring. Half the experiment’s mosquitoes had the gene after 12 generations.


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