Recently – in SCIENCE!

New Compound Removes Mercury from the Environment
A newly synthesized compound, sulphur-limonene polysulphide, containing a substance found in orange peels, has been shown to remove dangerous, bioaccumulating mercury from the ocean, even changing colour as it does so. The red polymer is produced from industrial waste – using sulphur waste from the petroleum industry and limonene from the citrus fruit industry. This is a fantastic discovery, as high mercury concentrations are responsible for birth defects and numerous other serious health problems in humans and other animals.

Scientists working to discover planets orbiting distant stars, searching for evidence of habitable planets and extraterrestrial life, may have found something fairly significant. “Swarms of megastructures” have been observed to be orbiting star KIC 8462852, between the constellations Lira and Cygnus. The masses orbiting the star wouldn’t be peculiar if the star were young, but as a middle-aged star, a disk of debris should have agglomerated into a planet, or been swallowed by the star. A concrete explanation is lacking, but some hypothesize that it could be evidence of an alien civilization using solar panels to harvest energy from their star.

Liquor Comet
Think you went through a lot of alcohol on homecoming? Think again! Comet Lovejoy, at its peak activity level, was releasing as much as 500 bottles of wine worth of ethyl alcohol into space per second, as it made its approach toward the sun. Along with this, scientists found 20 other organic compounds in the gas released by the comet, including the simple sugar glycolaldehyde. This is a fascinating discovery particularly because the panspermia hypothesis suggests that comet impacts could have supplied an ancient earth with organic compounds, contributing to the origin of life as we know it.