Tag Archives: ocean

Spring Break: Is Florida Really the Best Place?

Every year, spring break rolls around, and every year, the most popular thing to do is go to Florida for the week. And what’s not to love about sun, sand, and surf? But is it really all that it is cracked up to be?

One of the problems with going to Florida for spring break is that everyone goes there. It becomes an extremely crowded place where you have to fight for every step you take. It seems a little ridiculous to have to deal with massive overcrowding when you’re trying to relax. Then there is the drive to Florida. Obviously, it differs depending on where you are, but here in Virginia, it is roughly a 10 to 12-hour drive just to get to Florida, and the time increases the further south you go into the state. Now some people like road trips, and some people don’t, but I cannot imagine anyone enjoying being in a crowded car on crowded highways for 10 to 12 hours.

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“One of the problems with going to Florida for spring break is that everyone goes there. It becomes an extremely crowded place where you have to fight for every step you take.” Photo from: https://www.washingtonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/bethany-beach-delaware_featured-994×559.jpg

I am not trying to say that Florida and going to the beach cannot be fun. Being able to relax on sunny shores and swimming and playing in the ocean is a great way to spend your time. There are also great places to eat down in Florida and, of course, plenty of fresh seafood. There’s a reason why Florida is such a popular place to go, and this is a well-earned title. However, I do not think it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Probably sooner rather than later, people tend to run out of things to do. There’s only so much beach sitting and ocean swimming you can do. And I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason everyone goes to Florida is because that’s just the thing to do. Everyone else is going to the beach, so why shouldn’t you? But, then again, not everyone enjoys the same things and if people have fun going to Florida and the beach, then why not? It’s spring break; do whatever you’ll enjoy doing.

Can swimsuits save the ocean?

California scientists have created an absorbent nano-sponge material that can be sewn into swimwear and wet suits to soak up water pollution in oceans.

Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Riverside, and her husband Cengiz Ozkan, who is a materials engineer, have been working on the sponge-like material for around four years. Originially, they desired to create an innovative way to clean up ocean oil spills. Their groundbreaking design is called the Sponge Suit.

The husband-and-wife engineering team that invented the material won an international wearable technology competition through a site called Reshape and will be recognized this week in Rome at the Maker Faire.

Can swimsuits save the ocean? Graphic from LorrindaBenavidesArt
Can swimsuits save the ocean? Graphic from LorrindaBenavidesArt

The swimsuit is padded with a sucrose-based material that repels water but sucks up harmful contaminants. This material could also be sewn into wet suits, letting surfers help clean the ocean as well.

The swimsuit’s net-like white shell surface is made of a flexible 3-D printed plastic that holds up a sugar-based material that mimics a sponge. The material is porous and can absorb contaminants up to 25 times its weight. When the sponge is full, it can be removed from the suit and heated to 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit to liquefy the material. The contaminants are removed, and the rest is recycled into a new sponge.

This way of removing contaminants from the sponge is brought into questioning, what energy source will be used to generate the 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit, plus the effort to separate the contaminants from the liquefied sponge. Can it be done without having a negative effect on the environment as well?

If you’re worried about the contaminants being so close to your skin. Mihri Ozkan has a solution for that. “The sponge material is made from sugar, and it is an environmentally safe material,” said Mihri Ozkan. “Any contaminant collected by the sponge will be trapped inside the nanoporous architecture of the sponge, and nothing will touch your skin.”

The design weighs less than two ounces and is very thin. Mihri Ozkan believes that the sponge material is cost-efficient at only about 15 cents per gram, the Sponge Suit would cost over 8 dollars of material. The material is lab-tested, and the Ozkan’s have videos of their sponge material cleaning light and heavy oil-like contaminants from water.

It’s doubtful that even if all 7.125 billion humans on earth would put a microscopic dent in the pollution of the ocean. The integrity of the idea is there, but there must be a better way to execute the solution to the problem at hand.

A lot of cities use common sewer drains. Whenever it rains, sewage bypasses the treatment plant and goes right into the ocean. Why not use this advanced sponge technology at the drains? Would that be more effective? Or even placing the sponge material behind all power boats, sailboats, cruise ships, tankers, etc. Would that do more than just surfers and swimmers that occasionally go in to the ocean every now and then?

Although the swimwear may not function as well as intended, the innovation is there and, if properly executed, could greatly impact the cleanliness of the ocean.

 

Marine Mammal Protection Act a success

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was first signed by Richard Nixon in 1972, and since then has been helping many different marine species bounce back from what was almost sure extinction.

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Such a magnificent creature. Photo from Creative Commons.

This law protects: “All marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears within the waters of the United States,” according to the Marine Mammal Center. Forty years after the law was enacted, many species that were thought to be going extinct have renewed their populations and are carrying on stronger than ever. Continue reading Marine Mammal Protection Act a success

The effects of recycling

From one non-recycler to another, the documentary film Tapped, is sure to change your perspective on how not recycling affects the Earth. This movie examines recycling and how our health and world around us is affected by taking this action seriously. Everyone knows that it’s a good idea to recycle and that by recycling we can help our planet. Yet, every month there is enough aluminum thrown away to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet. This doesn’t include all of the other materials that aren’t recycled. Continue reading The effects of recycling