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Dangerous Chemicals Found in Thousands of Products for Children

Troubling news for the parents among us: Toys and other children’s products contain low levels of a wide range of “chemicals of concern”:

Via Scientific American:

Cobalt in plastic building blocks and baby bibs. Ethylene glycol in dolls. Methyl ethyl ketone in clothing. Antimony in high chairs and booster seats. Parabens in baby wipes. D4 in baby creams.

An Environmental Health News analysis of thousands of reports from America’s largest companies shows that toys and other children’s products contain low levels of dozens of industrial chemicals, including some unexpected ingredients that will surprise a public concerned about exposure.

The reports were filed by 59 large companies, including Gap Inc., Mattel Inc., Gymboree Corp., Nike Inc., H&M and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to comply with an unprecedented state law.

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Planet Earth

Life on Earth can be explained by asteroid-eating bacteria

A new study suggests that asteroids can be a food source for living things, more specifically a microorganism called  Metallosphaera sedula , a metal-eating species.

M. sedula Picture: Tetyana Milojevic

Metallosphaera sedula  is a species of bacteria-like microbes, originally isolated from a volcanic field in Italy. The first part of the name can roughly be translated as a “metal mobilizing sphere,” while the word “sedulus” means busy. This describes the efficiency of these organisms in mobilizing metals, including those found in asteroids.

According to research led by University of Vienna astrobiologist Tetyana Milojevic, these microbes derive their energy from inorganic substances through oxidation, and can collect energy sources faster from extraterrestrial rocks than from simple ancient terrestrial minerals. Milojevic explains that the study was conducted to find “microbial fingerprints” left in meteorites. “This should be useful for tracking life-seeking biosignatures in other parts of the universe,” she concludes.

This kind of research, according to the astrobiologist, can provide her colleagues with “little tips” on what they can look for in their search for alien life. “If there was ever life on another planet, similar microbial fingerprints may still be preserved in the geological record,” she said.

The team examined how Metallosphaera sedula  interacts with NWA 1172, a rocky meteorite found in northwest Africa that contains about 30 different metals. Using various spectroscopy techniques and an electron microscope, the researchers documented the signatures left by the organism. Thus, they found that M. sedula  is able to consume extraterrestrial material much faster than it does with terrestrial minerals, resulting in healthier cells.

Inorganic Compounds of Meteorite NWA 1172 (Image: Tetyana Milojevic)

While terrestrial minerals provide only a few nutrients for the microorganism, “NWA 1172 iron is used as an energy source to meet M. sedula’s bioenergetic needs  as microbes breathe due to iron oxidation,” Milojevic explained. The wide range of metals in NWA 1172 can also be used for other metabolic processes, such as accelerating vital chemical reactions within cells. And because the meteorite is so porous, it can promote M. sedula’s improved growth rate.

That means iron meteorites could have brought more metal elements and phosphorus to Earth, making life’s evolution easier, according to Milojevic. In addition, research may also support the panspermia hypothesis, an idea that cannot yet be substantiated, but it is not ruled out either, as scientists have not yet completely unraveled the origin of life on our planet. And Milojevic is interested in exploring this possibility: To do so, her team plans to “test the survival of  M. sedula  under simulated and real environmental conditions from outer space,” the astrobiologist said. The plan, however, will have to find the funding needed to send the microorganisms into space.

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Planet Earth

Latimeria found, lived on our planet long before the dinosaurs

The unique fish Latimeria chalumnae, also called “Coelacanth”, lived on our planet long before the dinosaurs. They were long thought to have disappeared around the same time, about 65 million years ago.

However, after 1938, when the first Latimeria was officially discovered by chance, it turns out that the Latimerians did not die, but live in the deep waters off the east and south coasts of Africa.

Later, a second type of Latimeria was discovered in Indonesia.

The oldest fossils of Latimeria are 360 ​​million years old, and the “freshest” are 80 million years old. At the same time, it should be known that there were a huge number of Latimerians, at least 90 different species. They have been distributed worldwide, in sea and fresh waters.

Latimeria stand out against the modern fishes with their unusual fins, more like limbs, and a wedge-shaped tail. Their bodies are covered with solid scales, similar to armor.

Latimeria are pretty big fish. They can reach up to 2 meters in length and weigh up to 90 kg. At the same time, the fact that no one has found them for so long is amazing.

Even after this species has been officially recognized as being extant, the Latimeria is still rare and can only be found through specific monitoring in the waters where it has been observed.

Latimeria swim slowly and feed on cephalopods and deep-sea fishes. Often, they were discovered in groups in underwater caves. They live to about 48 years. Females give birth to live individuals after a long pregnancy of 13 months.

The first discovered Latimeria

The history of the Coelacanth is the cornerstone that supports the belief of many cryptozoologists that the mysterious Yeti, sea monsters, Chupacabra and other cryptids, actually exist, but simply have not yet been found.

At least two species of Latimeria, and perhaps more, have survived to this day without hiding at all. In addition, as mentioned above, Latimeria’s “freshest” fossils date back to 80 million years.

Just imagine this huge period of time during which archeologists have not found a single skeleton of Latimeria, even though they existed all this time.

According to some reports, there are populations of 300-400 individuals near the coasts of Africa and Indonesia. This comes after several years of increased illegal fishing. In the 1980s, the Latimerians were hunted (supposedly) because of the healing properties of their meat, and before that there were probably several thousand of them.

But if they were initially much smaller, they would probably never have been discovered at all, still considered extinct.

And the rare stories of local fishermen about “fish with a foot and a shell ” would be considered the same fiction as the stories of Africans about living dinosaurs.

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Planet Earth

Humpback Whales Have Made a Stunning Recovery After Coming Close to Extinction

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

After coming dangerously close to the brink of extinction, the humpback whale population in the South Atlantic Ocean has made a stunning rebound, according to scientists.

Around 60 years ago, it was estimated that the western South Atlantic (WSA) humpback whale population had been thinned out to less than 500.

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