Seven From Seven: Plastic-eating bacteria and Seoul’s moon mission
29th July 2022
Each week, we scour the worlds of innovation, tech for good and social impact to bring you seven of our top stories…
British scientists have used artificial intelligence (AI) to create a database of “the entire protein universe” which could help pave the way for a cure for Parkinson’s, as well as other scientific breakthroughs.
A motorway services is to host one of the world’s first hydrogen refuelling stations for lorries under plans developed by a company betting that the gas will be the future of transport. Developer Element 2 is installing the facility at Exelby Services’ Golden Fleece station on the M6 in Carlisle, as well as another of the company’s sites at Coneygarth, on the A1 in Northallerton.
Bugs with a taste for supermarket plastic bags could end the scourge of microplastic in lakes after scientists found some bacteria actually thrive on polyethylene pollution. Researchers at Cambridge University studied water from 29 lakes in Scandinavia and discovered that chemicals leached from plastic bags stimulate bacterial growth. Enriching waters with particular species of bacteria could be a natural way to remove plastic pollution from the environment.
Next week, South Korea’s first lunar probe will be on its way to the Moon. The probe, Danuri, which means ‘enjoy the Moon’, should arrive at its destination by mid-December and orbit for a year. Researchers are eager for Danuri – which took more than six years to build and cost 237 billion won – to reveal insights about aspects of the Moon ranging from its ancient magnetism to ‘fairy castles’ of dust sprinkled across its surface.
US researchers have progressed in creating an immunosuppressive ‘cocktail’ for people with blinding retinal disorders. The researchers – led by a team at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine – hope that one day one could simply introduce retina healthy photoreceptor cells derived in a dish from stem cells to restore sight.
In a town in Maharashtra, India, a women’s collective is protecting endangered forests and mangroves by putting on boat safaris for visitors, and foraging for edible wild plants to generate income. The group has also won financial support from the “Mangrove Cell”, a section of the Maharashtra State Forestry Department, and the UN Development Programme. The women work regularly to rediscover local knowledge about biodiversity, bird and marine life, as well as the conservation of mangroves.
Prosthetics start-up Unlimited Tomorrow’s TrueLimb – its next-generation bionic arm – has given hundreds of people in the US an affordable, non-invasive way to replace lost limbs. Now, a new initiative is taking TrueLimb to a part of the world where many people need it: Ukraine. Unlimited Tomorrow’s initiative aims to deliver prosthetics – which cost over $10,000 a piece – to over 100 wounded Ukrainians.