February 19, 2013

Chalk it up to the Sea Urchin: An Unlikely Source of a Stable Mineral

I wish I had thought of this first, but apparently scientists have discovered that sea urchins convert CO2, that harmful stuff that’s trapping heat in our atmosphere, into chalk. Check out the article in Telegraph about it! Those little guys use nickel ions to transform carbon dioxide into exoskeletons for themselves. That’s cool on its own, but there is talk that we can adopt this urchin technology by suspending nickel nanoparticles in vats of water at factories, and in doing so, capture the carbon dioxide as it’s pumped through. The nickel can be recycled, and not only is the chalk useful (used to make cement, plaster casts in hospitals, etc.), but it’s also a stable mineral, so it poses no threat to the environment. You can find this study in the Catalysis Science & Technology academic journal if you’d like to investigate it further. I’m personally curious about just how much this could cut down on factory CO2 waste and how soon and easily we could begin to implement it globally!

And this is maybe not as pragmatic, but if you’re interested in some other unlikely (and incredible) animals that evolution may or may not have been playing practical jokes on, check out this Tumblr, WTF Evolution!

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    "The Next Forever" is a song from The Great Immensity. The footage was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by videographer David Ford. Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.
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