Walking Fossil Gives Insight Into Life on Pangea
Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and Humboldt University took a a nearly 300-million-year-old fossil and created a robot to mimic its ancient movements.
Experts believe that the Orabates pabsti first emerged about 350 million years ago, but it wasn't until the year 2000 that this particular fossil was dug up in a German quarry.
It's believed that this nearly 3-foot-long creature evolved into modern birds, mammals and reptiles.
Researchers wanted to know how the ancient animal moved, so the team worked with records of ancient footprints and added motors, 3D-printed and steel parts to the fossils to create the OroBOT. Of course, they didn't use the real fossils, but replicas modeled after each bone.
Working off of body movements inspired by a caiman, skink, iguana and salamander, the researchers tested multiple gaits that could match the footprints using four metrics: energy spend, ground reaction forces, matching the footprints and balance.
Because of the OroBOT, researchers now believe that the animal that once walked on Pangea used a more sophisticated gait. The work is part of an effort to gain a better understanding of extinct animals using evidence-based reconstructions.
Plastic Bags Cooked to Make Batteries
This year, five trillion plastic bags will be consumed. That works out to about 160,000 every second and more than 700 a year for every person on the planet. Of the five trillion, less than one percent will be recycled.
Now, researchers from Purdue University and the University of Technology (UTEQ) in Mexico have found a new way to upcycle plastic bags into carbon chips that could be used as anodes for lithium-ion batteries. According to the researchers, the batteries are comparable to commercially available batteries. In one example, they used the batteries to power a toy truck.
Researchers have tried to turn polyethylene into pure carbon in the past, but those processes were inefficient and expensive.
The team first immersed the bags in sulfuric acid and then sealed them inside a solvothermal reactor that heated them below polyethylene’s melting temp. After a few additional processes in the furnace, they were able to produce pure carbon, which they ground into a black powder, which was used to make the anodes for lithium-ion batteries.
According to the researchers, the "solvothermal upcycling approach totally gets rid of plastic waste, converting them into functional carbonaceous materials for multiple applications including battery anodes." The research has been published in ACS Omega.
No word on how many bags it takes to make a battery, but really any dent could make a positive impact on the global impact of plastic bags.
Reclaimed 'Bad Boys' Porsche Made Into Watch
REC Watches was founded by Christian Mygh and Jonathan Kamstrup, watchmakers who wanted to make high-end watches using salvaged parts from iconic vehicles, like a rare 1966 Raven Black Mustang and more recently a PT879 MK IX Spitfire aircraft.
Now, I always find the watches, and the stories behind them, to be interesting and elegant in their rarity. However, their latest work hit an entirely new nerve all together: Bad Boys.
Kenneth Thorsen was a young Danish teenager in 1995 when the action classic starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence debuted in theaters. It was then that Thorsen determined that he would one day own a Porsche 911, like the one Will Smith's silver spoon character Mike Lowrey drove in the movie.
In 2003, Thorsen could finally afford a 1976 Porsche 911, but to say it was a project car would be an understatement. Working with his retired father, a mechanic, Thorsen spent six months creating the stunning replica.
During the restoration, the father and son team swapped out the original hood, which the team at REC used to create the 901-01 watch. The watch's dial is cut right from the hood, the caseback inspired by the rims, and the rotor was designed to look like the drilled brake discs.
And for only $1,700, you could pick up one of the nine remaining custom timepieces. Bad Boys for life.