Nature News: Pokemon-Inspired Science, Plastic-Munching Enzymes, and Powering Up Without Coal

Here in West Yorkshire, the sun is out and the sky is clear. After a seemingly longer-than-usual winter, spring has finally sprung. Daffodils still nod their heads in time with the songs of birds and the movement of the gentle breeze, and soon the forested valleys will be blanketed with sweet-scented bluebells. 

Unfortunately, I’m a bit unwell at the moment – a bit of a bummer when all I want to do is go outside and play! I’ve been sure to get out for a short walk in my local park each day since I’ve been poorly, however; time enjoyed in nature is, in my own experience, just as important as staying hydrated and taking a bit of medicine to help sort your insides out.

While I’m resting up and sorting myself out, I thought I’d share a few feel-good news posts I’ve come across whilst I’ve been bundled up on the sofa these past few days, all about the great developments being made and strides forward being taken where protecting this shared world of ours is concerned. There are so many negative, shocking news headlines on TV and across the internet, it can be easy to get a bit down about the state of the world and humanity. But – there are really positive things happening too! So let’s check them out…

+++Pokemon Go Inspires Citizen Science Project+++

American hydrologists working with funding from NASA and inspired by the popular mobile game Pokemon Go developed Stream Tracker, enabling anyone with a smartphone and the app to help collect stream and river data. (Via NPR)

+++Researchers Accidentally Create Super Plastic-Munching Enzyme+++

Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory were investigating how an enzyme discovered in a Japanese waste recycling centre in 2016 went about breaking down PET, the type of plastic found in things like water bottles, when a tweak to the enzyme’s structure unexpectedly created a version of itself 20 percent better at breaking down plastic. Scientists hope that this more efficient form of PETase could be used as part of large scale circular recycling efforts, whereby plastic gets broken down and then reconstituted, potentially lessening our need to extract oil to produce new plastics. (Via Gizmodo)

+++Successful Coal-Free Nationwide Energy Test in the UK+++

The UK successfully powered its national grid for just shy of 55 hours this week using only solar, nuclear, gas, and wind generation. It’s a step in a more renewable direction. (Via Gizmodo)




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