Nov. 23, 2018, 2:02 p.m.View more articles
On this week’s news update: a chemical sponge that might solve the problem of oil spills, the tropical islands that are protecting coral by banning sunscreen, and interactive, electronic tattoos.
When oil leaks out from oil rigs or tankers into the sea, it can be very harmful to the environment.
That’s why researchers in China have been trying to create a sponge that removes oil from water. Recently, they have had some success! The researchers used chemicals to create tiny holes in a piece of wood, then gave it a special coating that attracts oil. The wood sponge soaks up oil, but not water. It can even be squeezed out and re-used.
So far, the sponge has only been tested on a small scale. But one day, it could help to clean up after huge oil spills.
If you’re heading to the beach, it’s important to protect your skin from getting too much sun. You can cover up with clothes and a hat and use sunscreen.
But now, the country of Palau – which is made up of 340 tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean – has decided to ban sunscreens that contain certain chemicals. Palau’s many beautiful beaches make it popular with tourists, but when people swim in the sea, their sunscreen washes off.
Scientists are worried that chemicals in some sunscreens are harming Palau’s sea life – especially its young corals. They hope that banning these sunscreens will help to preserve Palau’s unique underwater environment.
Tourists can still protect their skin with sun-safe clothing and alternative sunscreens that don’t harm corals.
Temporary tattoos are a popular fashion accessory. But what if they also allowed you to wear electronic devices on your skin – like touchscreens?
Well, researchers have invented a temporary tattoo that might one day do just that! It’s made by adding a liquid mix of metals to thin, sticky film. This creates an electronic circuit – a path that electricity can flow along. The tattoos can be stuck to the skin with water like normal transfers, and they’re flexible – so they don’t break when people move or stretch.
The technology is still being developed, but eventually the tattoos could power touchscreens, gaming devices or medical appliances, such as heart monitors.
Oil spills can be devastating for the environment, so if we continue to drill for oil, we need to be prepared to try to clean up when things go wrong. Discover more about the dangers of offshore extraction with our Twig Film, Oil Spills.