We Can Use Nanotechnology to Scrub CO2

Scientists working with nanotechnology to try and create methanol from CO2 accidentally discovered that they made ethanol. Happy accidents are always welcomed – particularly when it can help the environment in multiple ways. The electrochemical process uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol. This is fantastic news if it can be scaled up as it’s a way to something bad for the environment into a fuel source. The team that worked on the project is hoping that it can be used to store energy from renewable sources.

“A process like this would allow you to consume extra electricity when it’s available to make and store as ethanol,” said Rondinone. “This could help to balance a grid supplied by intermittent renewable sources.”

The researchers plan to further study this process and try and make it more efficient. If they’re successful, we just might see large-scale carbon capture using this technique in the near future.

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If You’re a Nice Person You Likely Have More Fun Than Others

Some people think that the way to get ahead in life is to be a pushy jerk, and those people are wrong. What you should be is nice. Yup, that’s all it takes. Don’t be like that stereotypical Gordon Gecko wannabe, instead just be.

There is now more research that being a nice person can make your life happier and even more productive.

Notwithstanding the prominent examples today in political and popular culture, the best available research still clearly shows that in everyday life the nice people, not the creeps, do the best at work, in love and in happiness.

Let’s start with the job market. This has been another brutal year in which to graduate. Research from the Economic Policy Institute finds that young college graduates’ underemployment rate is nearly a third higher today than it was in 2007. Everyone is looking for an edge.

That edge is being pleasant and friendly. In one 2015 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, a team of scholars from France and the U.S. looked at the impact of civility and warmth to colleagues on perceived leadership and job performance. In addition to being seen as natural leaders by co-workers, nice employees performed significantly better than others in performance reviews by senior supervisors. For those who make it to leadership, niceness is also a key to success. A 2015 NBC poll found that most people would take a nicer boss over a 10% pay increase.

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Buying Recycled Products is Good for Everything

Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a mantra heard time and time again. Yet, not everyone follows it (remember that they are in that order for a reason: reduce what you consume in the first place, then reuse what you can, and recycle the rest). It can be easy though. When you do buy stuff (remember that you should try not to buy things – reduce) buy recycled because there are a ton of reasons from energy consumption to sending a message. Over at Grist they compiled a compendium of reasons to buy recycled.

Still, I’d encourage you to continue buying the 100-percent recycled stuff if you can — for foil as well as any other product — for so many reasons. Recycled content saves natural resources, so we can mine fewer metals, cut down fewer trees, and tap less petroleum. It uses less energy to produce, sometimes dramatically so; recycled aluminum can be whipped up with 95 percent less power than virgin aluminum. Recycled material slashes pollution and saves water, too. And let’s not forget it prevents our consumer castoffs from languishing away in a landfill.

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Effective Nonviolent Resistance Against Tyranny

Using violence to fight violence isn’t the best approach, instead nonviolent resistance can be used effectively (and less ironically). In this TED talk Jamila Raqib explores what are the best forms of resistance to oppressive entities through nonviolence and how to think about nonviolent resistance. She uses her life experience and connects to the complex research based approach used.

We’re not going to end violence by telling people that it’s morally wrong, says Jamila Raqib, executive director of the Albert Einstein Institution. Instead, we must find alternative ways to conduct conflict that are equally powerful and effective. Raqib promotes nonviolent resistance to people living under tyranny — and there’s a lot more to it than street protests. She shares encouraging examples of creative strategies that have led to change around the world and a message of hope for a future without armed conflict. “The greatest hope for humanity lies not in condemning violence but in making violence obsolete,” Raqib says.

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Using Snow to Cool Buildings in Summer

During winter snow is cleared from the roads and put into massive piles to melt when warmer weather returns. This might seem simple enough, but it’s a big challenge dealing with the snow because of the sheer volume in colder climates like Canada. Researchers in British Columbia are proposing that the snow gets taken to special facilities that can benefit from all that snow – for cooling buildings during the summer.

It’s like a return of the once very profitable ice king.

Snow cooling technology is currently used several other countries, including Sweden, where a 60,000 cubic-metre pile of stored winter snow is used to cool the Sundsvall Hospital during the summer.

Hewage and his colleagues determined that in Canada, it would take about a playground’s worth of snow to cool a neighbourhood of 200 to 300 homes for the summer. In the winter, the snow could be compacted and used as a skating rink, he said.

With current energy prices, the system is more economically feasible in Ontario, where rates are high. B.C. has an abundant supply of cheap hydro power.

“But, of course, the environment has a price, too. So if you consider all of the aspects — environment, economic and also the social dimensions — I believe this is a good technology for Canada,” Hewage said.

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