An improved way to fight carbon dioxide

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The fight on CO2 continues...

Some say it's a problem, some don't care, some can't care. Yes, can't care. Most of the carbon dioxide is produced by power plants, and with all our television sets, computers and other household appliances, we can't live without electricity. Sure, they're not essential to our survival, but we simply need them. Even now I'm sitting here, in front of my computer with a light turned on, writing this post. So, the best thing to do is lower the carbon dioxide emissions without significantly altering our way of life. Sounds utopic, imposible even? Well, it's not!

What you see above is a catalytic converter. I'm sure you've heard of one before, but just in case you haven't, it's made of very thin layers of platinum group metals. They act as a catalyst in the reaction when exhaust fumes turn into water, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Wait, carbon dioxide?!?! Well believe me, the stuff that's in exhaust gasses is much more dangerous than carbon dioxide.

Using the same principles, a process of breaking carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonate was developed. Until now, this process required high temperature and pressure in order to be successful. Recently, a catalyst that could speed up the reaction between carbon dioxide and epoxide was invented. Moreover, the reaction can now happen at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, so the process is much cheaper. And if that wasn't enough for you, the cyclic carbonates, produced from emitted carbon dioxide, can be used in various industries, such as manufacturing of biodegradable packaging.

Other methods have been suggested to diminish the carbon dioxide levels. Filtering and storing it in containers is an idea worth considering, but no-one knows how much storage space will we need. We could also lauch containers with carbon dioxide into space, but maybe this is just my idiotic fantasy. Converting it to cyclic carbonates would produce material for chemical industries and reduce it's levels by about 4% in the UK. Applied in other countries worldwide, this would strike carbon dioxide pollution down by a considerable ammount.

Scientists aim to identify Earth-like planets




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We have the knowledge, but not the means

Finding out that we're not alone, stumbling uppon tracks of a different intelligent civilization - these are one of the many space researcher goals. But noticing a spaceship rushing towars us on a telescope is not likely to happen. So, researchers turn to simpler criterions. No water - no life. By that I mean that searching for other life-forms starts from finding habitable planets - not too close to it's star, yet not too far. You won't see space-people through a telescope. In fact, you'll barely see the planet, but there is a way to find out if it has water on it.

To better understand other planets, we have to look upon our own. Water reflects light and we see it best if the object with water is crescent. So to find out whether there is water on the surface of an another planet, scientists have to observe it for several weeks, in order to find out how the planet reflects light. If it's brightest when it's at crescent phase, there is water and we may have found a potential planet for life to evolve on.

Quite a simple process, isn't it? Well, the only problem is that we don't have a telescope able to find distant watery planets. Researchers hope that one will be released in to space in the following decades.