Science Briefs – March 29, 2011

Kelsey Gobroski / Sun Star Reporter
March 29, 2011

High-rise produces energy

Floridian credit union Community First changed its name to Magnify when it drafted plans for an energy-saving building to stand out against competitors. The building, which opened in 2009, is Florida’s first net-zero structure, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes. Forty-five percent of the solar panel energy goes back to the Lakeland, Fl. grid. President Obama signed the Better Buildings Initiative last month, requiring structures to consume 20 percent less energy by 2020, but companies like Magnify try to pursue net zero energy and reduce consumption by 80 percent. Magnify estimates the building should pay for itself in 15 years.

Scientific American

Oil spill coats penguins

A shipwreck on Nightingale Island in the South Atlantic Ocean covered up to 20,000 endangered penguins with oil. The British territory houses half the world’s rockhopper penguins, an endangered species. Not only penguins were affected – the spill could have devastating consequences for the ecosystem and island residents, whose economy depends on fisheries. The MS Olivia’s 22 crewmembers were rescued before the wreck. The ship carried more than 1500 tons of crude oil when it ran aground.


Algae meets dermatology

Cosmetic company Sephora introduced a new like of algae-based balms, Algenist. The skin care products use algae’s shielding alguronic acid to protect skin, executives said. The research company Solazyme supplies the algae, but this type of partnership isn’t groundbreaking. The blending of cosmetics with other industries, such as food and health care, is already common in Japan because shared ingredients and suppliers is common. Worldwide, 100 cosmetic products use algal derivatives. Algenist is the first to use alguronic acid, which Sephora purports to be more active. The line isn’t a science-approved product yet: none of the experimental results have been published in peer-reviewed journals. The preliminary results look promising, according to biochemist Tony Day of Solazyme.

New York Times

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