Machine Learning Improves Enzyme Eating Plastic

A bacteria that eats plastic may sound too good to be true since we have so much plastic waste littering the planet. The rouble with plastic eating bacterias is that they aren’t efficient nor can they survive long outside the lab. So a research team turned to machine learning, or AI, to create a new enzyme that helps bacteria break down plastic. Of course, the best approach to eliminating plastic waste is not to use plastic in the first place.

Here’s the abstract:

Plastic waste poses an ecological challenge and enzymatic degradation offers one, potentially green and scalable, route for polyesters waste recycling. Poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) accounts for 12% of global solid waste, and a circular carbon economy for PET is theoretically attainable through rapid enzymatic depolymerization followed by repolymerization or conversion/valorization into other products. Application of PET hydrolases, however, has been hampered by their lack of robustness to pH and temperature ranges, slow reaction rates and inability to directly use untreated postconsumer plastics11. Here, we use a structure-based, machine learning algorithm to engineer a robust and active PET hydrolase. Our mutant and scaffold combination (FAST-PETase: functional, active, stable and tolerant PETase) contains five mutations compared to wild-type PETase (N233K/R224Q/S121E from prediction and D186H/R280A from scaffold) and shows superior PET-hydrolytic activity relative to both wild-type and engineered alternatives12 between 30 and 50?°C and a range of pH levels. We demonstrate that untreated, postconsumer-PET from 51 different thermoformed products can all be almost completely degraded by FAST-PETase in 1?week. FAST-PETase can also depolymerize untreated, amorphous portions of a commercial water bottle and an entire thermally pretreated water bottle at 50?ºC. Finally, we demonstrate a closed-loop PET recycling process by using FAST-PETase and resynthesizing PET from the recovered monomers. Collectively, our results demonstrate a viable route for enzymatic plastic recycling at the industrial scale.

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The FBI Wants You To Block Ads

blank billboard

The FBI finally agrees with culture jammers. Online advertising has gotten so bad that the FBI now suggests everyone should make use of tracking blocking software, also known as ad blockers. During the last big consumerism celebration in December, the FBI noticed malicious actors paying for ads to solicit unaware consumers to spend money on their products (many times the products were fake or didn’t exist). The easiest way to defend oneself against these malicious online attacks is simply to use an ad blocker like ublock origin.

Ad blockers are also tracker blockers which gives you further protection from profilers. Stay safe online and block people from following you around the web.

Ads are often placed at the top of search results but with “minimum distinction” between the ads and the search results, the feds say, which can look identical to the brands that the cybercriminals are impersonating. Malicious ads are also used to trick victims into installing malware disguised as genuine apps, which can steal passwords and deploy file-encrypting ransomware.

One of the FBI’s recommendations for consumers is to install an ad blocker.

As the name suggests, ad blockers are web browser extensions that broadly block online ads from loading in your browser, including in search results. By blocking ads, would-be victims are not shown any ads at all, making it easier to find and access the websites of legitimate brands.

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Futuristic Fusion Finally Fires Up

Fusion power has been just a decade away for decades, or at least that was the joke. Yesterday it became outdated because it was revealed that nuclear fusion was ignited, stabilized, and proven to work reliably. Fusion energy is carbon-free energy production which has the potential to revolutionize how we use electricity. Hopefully we will be able to replace major power plants with this carbon free fusion solution.

To be clear, there’s still a lot to do to get fusion energy connected to the grid. We still need to focus first and foremost on renewable energy sources.

“The pursuit of fusion ignition in the laboratory is one of the most significant scientific challenges ever tackled by humanity, and achieving it is a triumph of science, engineering, and most of all, people,” LLNL Director Dr. Kim Budil said. “Crossing this threshold is the vision that has driven 60 years of dedicated pursuit—a continual process of learning, building, expanding knowledge and capability, and then finding ways to overcome the new challenges that emerged. These are the problems that the U.S. national laboratories were created to solve.”

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NASA Starts Spotting Super Methane Emitters

Natural gas, AKA methane, is really bad for the planet, and since it occurs some places “naturally” we need to find these new sources to stop them emitting. A classic example of “natural” methane production is a garbage dump in which the organic compounds mix together and release natural gas, another example is cattle farming (cow farts).

NASA now has a satellite that can detect and therefore monitor these sources of methane. This is really important for two reason: it allows us to better model climate change since we can detect unaccounted for natural gas sources and the other reason is that we can then go and shutdown these previously unrecognized sources.

“Reining in methane emissions is key to limiting global warming. This exciting new development will not only help researchers better pinpoint where methane leaks are coming from, but also provide insight on how they can be addressed — quickly,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

Green and other EMIT team members gave some examples of the instrument’s sensitivity during the Tuesday media call. For example, the instrument detected a plume of methane — also known as natural gas — at least 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) long in the sky above an Iranian landfill. This newfound super-emitter is pumping about 18,700 pounds (8,500 kilograms) of methane into the air every hour, the researchers said.

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Use This App to Avoid Shady Companies

Argument analysis flowchart

Too many companies say they care about an important issue, sponsor events, and then turn around and fund organizations (or politicians) that actively fight the important issue. This behaviour by corporations is unethical and wrong. One person got so sick of companies claiming to be in favour of issues only to fund campaigns opposing it that he built an app to out the corporations. The Bobbele app allows you to scan a barcode and see what corporations fund behind the scenes, plus any controversies the companies are embroiled in.

A good example is Google since they gave up on doing no evil their controversy list is rather long.

From the creator of the app:

I use the wikipedia dumps that are provided monthly and go through all articles to filter out company and product related ones and all the relevant sections which might be controversial. I do a lot of post processing then to link all the companies based on the parent and owner information so luckily no manual labour and its easy to keep up to date!

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