Infection-Fighting Antibiotics Found In Dirt

As new medicine continues to break ground, healthy life hacks are bringing to light the strangest ingredients. From avocado husks to curry powder, the spectrum of power foods seems never-ending. The fact of the matter is — there are no limitations. In a recent study, a team at the Rockefeller University (literally) unearthed a previously undiscovered antibiotic in soil samples.

Tests show the compounds, called malacidins, annihilate several bacterial diseases that have become resistant to most existing antibiotics, including the superbug MRSA.

With over 700,000 people falling victim to drug-resistant diseases a year, the discovery is a huge sigh of relief. Gene sequencing proved the antidote’s ability to cure skin wounds. However exciting, the wait is going to be a long one.

Dr. [Sean] Brady said: “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic.

“It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.”

In the meantime, stick to moisturizer, people — flower pot dirt won’t do you any good.

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Earthworms Born In Artificial Soil Used On Mars

As we should know by now, anything is possible on Mars. After all, we just recently discovered it snows there. In an unusual turn of events, researchers saw the birth of two earthworms living in sterile soil, made to simulate conditions on Mars.

“[Worms] grab organic matter from the top of the soil—eat it, chew it—and when they poo it out, bacteria can break it down further. Otherwise [without worms] you deplete the nutrients in the soil,” [Dutch biologist] Wamelink explains.

Trent Smith, who works on replicating Mars conditions, claims that the simulated soil is relatively accurate. However, the substance still lacks perchlorates, which is probably why the wigglers managed to reproduce.

To both Wamelink and Smith, figuring out a natural process to remove perchlorate from Martian soil remains the largest hurdle in the way of growing a sustainable agricultural system on the planet.

With much to remedy, NASA’s Veggie program has its hands full. But the space magicians never fail to surprise and hope, after worms, to bring in bumblebees.

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Cyborg Bacteria Can Create Solar Fuels

Science is going back to basics. By basic, I mean down to the atom. Thanks to advanced methods of structural revision, Australian researchers have successfully created a modified metal that can purify water in minutes. Now, scientists at UC Berkeley have trained cyborg bacteria to photosynthesize, allowing them to create solar fuels.

Scientists… taught bacteria how to cover their own bodies with nanocrystals, which function as tiny solar panels that capture more energy than plants can. The bacteria ended up having 80 percent efficiency, compared to about 2 percent for plants.

Moorella thermoacetica occurs naturally and produces acetic acid, which can be turned into fuels and plastics. To enhance their efficiency, scientists threw cadmium and cystine into the mix. The bacteria then synthesized both into nanoparticles.

The nanoparticles acted like solar panels, so the new hybrid organism produced acetic acid not only from carbon dioxide, but also water and light. This made the process a lot more efficient — even more so than natural photosynthesis — and it created zero waste.

All jargon aside, it’s important to note that this could be the end of fossil fuels and the beginning of a clean future.

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Swimming Robot Can Detect Water Pollution

There is no denying the value of robots. They have not only helped us perform difficult tasks like surgery — they have also assisted in data gathering and analysis. This swimming robot developed in Switzerland can detect water pollution and wirelessly send out information in real time.

The robotic eel is outfitted with sensors that make it able to test the water for changes in conductivity and temperature as well as signs of toxins. The robot is made of several modules, each containing a small electric motor and different sensors. The modular design allows researchers to add or take from its length and change the robot’s make up as needed for each task.

Not only are these robotic “eels” more efficient than manual measurement stations — they don’t disturb a lake’s inhabitants. They are also advanced enough to calculate biological changes. Bacteria in these sensors easily recognize toxins.

For instance, the bacteria will luminesce when exposed to even very low concentrations of mercury. Luminometers measure the light given off by the bacteria and that information is transmitted to a central hub for analysis.

As taken from its namesake, the robot can slither towards the polluting source in any body of water. While they are human creations, it seems about time to give robots some credit!

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Handrail Sanitizer Is Perfect For Germaphobes

We all have that one friend obsessed with disinfecting pretty much every public utility. Armed with a miniature bottle of rubbing alcohol and an arsenal of Kleenex, they couldn’t possibly be cleaner. While majority of bacteria remains benign, personal hygiene is still something to worry about. This handrail sanitizer is a godsend to every germaphobe out there.

LG Innotek and Clearwin developed a new sterilizer that claims to wipe out 99.99 percent of germs on a handrail through the process of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. Reportedly, it’s the world’s first.

It isn’t usually the case, but the spread of microbes can be an issue. This is what the new device hopes to eliminate.

The product blocks any sources of infection from spreading by completely destroying the DNA of germs via UV LED light having a wavelength of 278 nanometers.”

The process may sound complicated, but in reality is fairly straightforward and harmless to the human body. The device, meant for escalators, generates power from its constant movement. It boasts a battery life of nearly 10,000 hours. It’s a promising gadget, though I’m still all for hand-washing!

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