The Science Behind Mold: Understanding the Fungi & How to Tackle It

By Jackie Edwards

Molds are a diverse fungi group that have been on the Earth for millions of years. Even though they can approximate bacteria in size, molds are eukaryotic organisms, meaning that their genetic material is enclosed within a specialized membrane that lies in the interior of the organism. Mold plays a fascinating role in the decomposition of organic material, but it also poses a health threat to humans who inhale mold spores in the air, leading to a range of respiratory illnesses.

Understanding The Fungi

Although there are many variations of mold, all molds are fungi that are microscopic in size. Like all fungi, molds derive energy not through photosynthesis but through the organic matter on which they live, meaning that mold needs a food source and moisture in order for the fungus to reproduce. Molds reproduce by releasing spores, which contain the genetic material necessary for the formation of a new organism. These spores can float through the air and, if landing in a hospitable moist environment, can germinate to form a new mold. Put simply, then, mold is caused by excess moisture, which is why surface mold arises in damp homes or places where moisture accumulates, such as the bathroom or kitchen sinks.

Health Effects of Mold

Mold is a natural part of the environment and plays an important part in nature by breaking down dead organic matter such as fallen leaves and dead trees. However, mold becomes a problem when it grows indoors, because the fungi is associated with various health risks for humans, particularly humans with asthma or a mold allergy. Public health research from the University of Berkeley has found that of the 21.8 million people reported to have asthma in the U.S., approximately 4.6 million cases are estimated to be attributable to dampness and mold exposure in the home. Because of their minute nature, the health dangers of inhaling mold come from mold spores in the air or, in cases of rotten produce, mold spores that grow on the surfaces of the food we eat.

Getting Rid Of Mold

To cope with indoor mold, bleach and scrub surfaces where mold appears. Bleach kills mold spores, effectively preventing the fungi from spreading. You will also want to shampoo linens (eg., curtains, towels) where mold can live in and shampoo carpets with a bleaching agent. Large-scale instances of mold on the wall can be remedied through mould-killing paint, which bleaches and kills the spores before masking them from your new property. Finally, sodium bicorbonate (or baking soda) is an effective, safe and low-cost mold killer. Place a bowl of baking soda in your home to gather moisture and discard and replace when the powder turns clumpy.

Mold is an important phenomenon across many ecosystems, albeit not one that most homeowners want to find lurking on surfaces after a rainy day. Fortunately, though, mold fungi are easily treated with a bleaching agent and can be controlled to protect vulnerable humans from respiratory distress.

Innovations Expected To Make Driving A Worthy Experience

BY JACKIE EDWARDS

The demand for automotive engineers was set to rise by 18700 in 2018, according to a survey by the Recruiter. This is not a shocking statistic considering that the automotive industry is one of the greatest markets in the world. The constant application of science to daily life in the form of innovations like machine learning is once again showing up in the manufacturing of cars. Cars are getting sleeker, more intelligent, and highly accommodating with each update. New innovations continue to improve the driving experience now and for the future.

Autonomous Vehicles

Also called self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles are finally here after decades of research and test drives. A self-driving car means you can have a hands-off experience on the highway. With the latest car diagnostic tools, it is only fair you have the best car to test them on. The level 3 automated driving Audi A8 is just the first of many. The science behind this amazing feature is a combination of sonar, GPS, radar, laser scanners, odometry, Lidar, and inertial measuring units. A combination of these features ensures that the car senses its environment, including the road structure, other road users, and approaching cars to adjust its speed. It may be a while before these cars are allowed on roads without a driver though.

Biometric Vehicle Access

Gone are the days when a key could help you access your car, and so are the days when you could break into a car using a hanger. The existing radio frequency key fob technology is awesome, but biometric vehicle access is even cooler. During its launch in the 2018 North American Auto Show, the Nissan XMotion showcased its fingerprint scanner that opens the door. Your car basically starts when you touch it. Biometric technology is already used in connected cars, and will be seen in more mainstream and futuristic cars in the coming years.

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The History of 3D Printing

by Megan Ray Nichols 

3D printing has taken the world by storm in the last decade, but the technology isn’t as new as you might think. Believe it or not, the idea behind that desktop-sized 3D printer in your shop dates back to the 1980s. Let’s take a closer look at the history of 3D printing and where it might go in the future.

The 1980s — The Birth of 3D Printing

The first attempt at creating a 3D printer occurred in 1980. Dr. Hideo Kodama filed a patent in May of that year. This new 3D printer relied on photopolymer materials — liquids that could be printed, then exposed to light to harden into plastic. While this plan does sound like a viable one, Kodama never commercialized the design, and the 3D printing industry seemed dead on arrival.

In 1986, Chuck Hull invented the SLA-1 — the world’s first 3D printer that could build objects one layer at a time. In this case, the SLA-1 used lasers to cause selected chains of molecules to link together, forming plastics or polymers. The next year, Carl Deckard of the University of Texas came up with a different type of 3D printing — Selective Laser Sintering, or SLS. Deckard’s machine built an object out of layers of powder, then used lasers to melt the powder, hardening it into the finished plastic.

In 1989, S. Scott and Lisa Crump, a married pair of inventors, came up with the 3D printing technology that we know today — fused deposition modeling. The machine would melt a polymer filament and deposit it onto a substrate layer by layer until it finished the design.

3D printing had officially been born, but these early models lacked something — an easy and user-friendly way to design things for printing.

The 1990s — Computer-Aided Design

Designing something for a 3D printer might seem easy now, but imagine doing it without a CAD program at your fingertips. That’s what the early 3D designers had to do — create plans to build their objects without the assistance of a computer-aided design program. Commercial CAD programs became more readily available throughout the 1990s, though purchasing a 3D printer was still often too expensive for the home inventor.

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