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Yes, it was the kitty litter

The radioactive material release last year at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant nuclear waste repository in New Mexico was due to mixing of nitrate salt residues, organic sorbent (Swheat Scoop cat litter), and neutralization agent (triethanolamine), according to a Department of Energy summary of the investigation into the incident: The [Technical Assessment Team] concluded that chemically incompatible contents in Drum 68660, in addition to the configuration of materials in the drum, supported exot...

 
Interesting ideas from the ACS Council at the Denver National Meeting: no elevator clauses, National Meetings "a la carte"
Posted in Chemjobber

Pete Bonk is a Councilor from the Rhode Island section of the ACS and a friend of the blog. He wrote up some of his thoughts on this last ACS National Meeting in Denver and I thought it was worth discussion:...Council was livened up with an advisory vote of the Council to the Board, requesting that some of the built in escalator clauses for raising dues and meeting registration costs be held back.   I took an interesting turn as the financial health of the national meetings was discussed. &...

 
Interesting post on labor force participation at WSJ
Posted in Chemjobber

From the Wall Street Journal: A survey from the Federal Reserve last week provided some clues. Around 21% of people said their plan for retirement is simply “to work as long as possible” and the number of people giving this response increases by age. Conversely, the traditional way to retire – working full-time in a career until ceasing work altogether – is the plan for 35% of people in their 20s. But by the time they reach their 60s, only 15% say it will b...

 
Do you like good music?

When we’re in our teens, it’s common that we first discover the music we see as our own, discarding the vinyl our parents played, and kicking back on beats to our own tune. For me it was a migration from 60s pop to 70s prog and hard rock. But, when you get to middle age you might find yourself living in some kind of shack and you may ask yourself, well what do I listen to now, as you let the days go by? For me, I’ve revisited many of those “discs” my parents played...

 
Astronomers On the Hunt for Exomoons That May Host Alien Life

The search for alien life doesn't end within the boundaries of our solar system.Scientists are now search for moons orbiting alien planets that might play host to extraterrestrial life. A new project called the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK) is the first systematic search for exomoons, or moons that circle planets outside our solar system.HEK astronomers, led by David Kipping at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, simulate billions of possible star-planet-moon arrangements usin...

 
Smartphone camera hacks

Some nice tricks to deviate from the norm with your smartphone camera: Drive-by panorama, water-drop macro lens, armless selfies with your headphone cable, cardboard “tripod”, underwater housing, binocular zoom and more Smartphone camera hacks is a post from the science blog of science journalist, photographer and musician David Bradley Subscribe to our Email Newsletter...

 
Methane in drinking water unrelated to fracking, study suggests

Massive industry data set contradicts notion that leaky gas wells are a problem...

 
There may be treble ahead

A catchy pop song of 2014 had the refrain “I’m all about that bass, no treble” or somesuch throwaway line. The accompanying video, much parodied and pastiched, was popular on teh interwebz and was apparently all about raising body image awareness and itself a pardoy of the modern pop culture in which certain characteristics of the female and male form are emphasised in a modern grotesque.. Anyway, in the spirit of scientific endeavour I did a quick frequency analysis of the son...

 
Medieval Parasite-Filled Poop Found in Jerusalem Latrine

The excavation of a roughly 500-year-old latrine in Jerusalem has uncovered thousands of eggs from human parasites, including some that may have come from Northern Europe, a new study finds....

 
Antarctica's Ice Shelves Are Thinning Fast

Antarctica's floating ice collar is quickly disappearing in the west, a new study reports....

 
Porpoises use 'sound searchlights'

Porpoises finely adjust the size of the beams of sound they use to hunt - using sound like a searchlight to trap their prey, a study finds....

 
[Molecular Motors] Making a molecular motor fit for purpose

Dynactin is an essential cofactor of the microtubule motor, cytoplasmic dynein. Dynactin contains 23 subunits built around a short filament of an actin-related protein (Arp1). How dynactin – [Read More]...

 
VIDEO: Solar plane takes off in Myanmar

The Solar Impulse 2 plane has departed from Mandalay in Myanmar as part of its round-the-world flight, Kasia Madera reports...

 
New genetic link found for alcohol-related liver cirrhosis

In most people, any liver damage that might occur from drinking alcohol is reversible. However, in 25 to 30 percent of alcoholics what begins as accumulation of fat in the liver progresses to inflammation, fibrosis and ultimately irreversible cirrhosis, for which the only treatment is a liver transplant. A new study indicates that specific gene mutations might predispose some people to irreversible liver cirrhosis....

 
Highly Processed Foods Dominate U.S. Grocery Purchases

A nation-wide analysis of U.S. grocery purchases reveals that highly processed foods make up more than 60 percent of the calories in food we buy, and these items tend to have more fat, sugar and salt than less-processed foods....

 
Ozone air pollution could harm women's fertility

Many urban and suburban areas have high levels of ground-level ozone, an air pollutant that can adversely affect lung and heart health. New research in mice suggests breathing high levels of ozone could also affect women’s ability to conceive....

 
NASA Assures Skeptical Congress That James Webb Telescope Is on Track

The program will not repeat past mistakes, officials vow, and will launch as planned in 2018   -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com...

 
VIDEO: How porpoises use sound to hunt

Researchers in Denmark have discovered that porpoises can adjust the beams of sound they use to hunt....

 
The Space Station Gets an Espresso Maker

Talk about out-of-this-world coffee! -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com...

 
Readers Respond to "World Changing Ideas"

Letters to the editor from the December 2014 issue of Scientific American -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com...

 
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