Since their inception after World War II, synthetic plastics have left an indelible mark on society. However, plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to decompose, according to the U.S. National Park Service. While they do indeed break down eventually, plastics are not truly biodegradable. Instead, they accumulate in landfills and oceans, sometimes killing wildlife.
The winners of the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award 2013 have been announced. The prizes, each worth EUR 10,000, have been awarded by an independent scientific committee of the Bayer Science & Education Foundation. The Bayer foundation presents for the fifth time the international Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award to excellent young scientists in the early stages of their academic careers.
Combine shrimp shell and silk proteins and a miraculous new substance is born. “Shrilk” was invented by researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard, who layered the two components in a way that mimicked structures found in shells and insect cuticles. Shrilk is inexpensive to manufacture but has invaluable virtues: It’s tough, flexible, and biodegradable. In the future it may be used to make everything from wound dressings to trash bags to disposable diapers. And it might make many landfill-choking plastics obsolete.
Several members of the Wyss community played a leading role in the "World Summit on Innovation & Entrepreneurship: The New, Smarter Innovation Economy," held at the Seaport Hotel in Boston from September 26-28. The summit attracted a diverse group of nearly 600 participants from around the world, whose specialties ranged from smart energy to social media, education, medicine, and more.
Nature is very economical," says Javier Gomez Fernandez, a research fellow at Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. He is currently working with colleagues to develop another plastic alternative, this one inspired by a shrimp's shell and silk. The product is aptly named Shrilk.