So Many Penguins in Anarctica; The Fastest, Best Artificial Photosynthesis

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Discovered in Green: A bunch of penguins, a better, faster, better artificial photosynthesis process, Indian food as heart medicine, and better solar cells in the distant, distant future. 

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  • There are a of penguins in Antarctica. Good news all around, for both the adorable-creature lovers and the animal activists out there. A satellite census has found twice as many Emperor penguins dwelling in the icy expanse than previously thought. "We are delighted to be able to locate and identify such a large number of emperor penguins. We counted 595,000 birds, which is almost double the previous estimates of 270,000-350,000 birds," explains researcher Peter Fretwell. The reason for all the excitement, beyond the idea of more of the cute animals on our planet, is that the outlook for this species of penguin doesn't look too good. "Current research suggests that emperor penguin colonies will be seriously affected by climate change," adds researcher Phil Trathan. Like, seriously in a probably bad way. [National Science Foundation]
  • An artificial photosynthesis world record. Approaching the speed of nature's photosynthesis process, which gets up to 400 turnovers per second, the rate of measurement for turning water into oxygen, using a constructed molecular catalyzer researchers have gotten the fake-deal up to 300 turnovers per second, setting a world record. Congrats! But more than bragging rights, this could lead to better efficiency in solar power. "Speed has been the main problem, the bottleneck, when it comes to creating perfect artificial photosynthesis," explains researcher Licheng Sun. "This speed makes it possible in the future to create large-scale facilities for producing hydrogen in the Sahara, where there's an abundance of sunshine. Or to attain much more efficient solar energy conversion to electricity, combining this with traditional solar cells, than is possible today," continues Licheng Sun. Win, win. [ExpertAnswer]
  • Indian food as heart medicine? Perhaps you're not a pill person, or don't like the idea of putting chemicals into your body. Here's a more natural way to protect the heart post-surgery: Tumeric, the tasty ingredient found in lots of Indian dishes. Extracts of the spice have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients that could help ward off relapse heart-attacks for those who just had bypass surgery. A very small 121 person study found that a much smaller percentage of those who took curcumin pills, medicine made of curcumin, the spice's yellow pigment, had post-op heart attacks. "Curcumin has for many years now been shown to reduce inflammation and to reduce oxygen toxicity or damage caused by free radicals in a number of experimental settings," explains researhcer Jawahar Mehta. "But that doesn't mean that this is a substitute for medication," he continues. [Reuters]
  • Better solar cells? This takes a bit of putting together, but this better X-ray technique could lead to a better structure of printable electronics which could lead to better solar cells. Basically, researchers found a new way to look at these materials on the molecular level, which gives a better understanding of how these materials work. "In the case of the solar cells, we discovered alignment of molecules at interfaces in the device, which may be the key to more efficient harvesting of light," explains researcher Brian Collins. Still sounds like they have a long way to go before any real break through. But, best of luck! [Nature Materials]

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