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Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions

Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. Their report on the device — 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper — appears in the journal Nano Letters.

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Combating Disease: A non-antibiotic approach for treating urinary tract infections

Today’s episode describes a potential new approach for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs) without traditional antibiotics.

13 Aug 2012

Rank #1

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Supplying Safe Drinking Water: New analysis of drinking water-related gastrointestinal illness

Today’s episode describes a study finding that the distribution system piping in U.S. public water systems that rely on non-disinfected well water or “ground water” may be a largely unrecognized cause of up to 1.1 million annual cases of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI). That illness involves nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The study is the topic of a report in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

26 Nov 2012

Rank #2

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Episode 5 – Our Sustainable Future

How some of the world's leading chemists are meeting the challenge of sustainability.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Pitx and mykleanthony (ccmixter.org); Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by kjackson, julayjb, bansemer, acclivity, TwistedLemon, vibe crc and gallagho.

20 Aug 2008

Rank #3

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Providing Safe Food: Children may have highest exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles

Today’s finding warns that children may be receiving the highest exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide in candy, which they eat in amounts much larger than adults.

16 Apr 2012

Rank #4

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Supplying Safe Drinking Water: Solar-powered nanofilters pump in antibiotics to clean contaminated water

Using the same devious mechanism that enables some bacteria to shrug off powerful antibiotics, scientists have developed solar-powered nanofilters that remove antibiotics from the water in lakes and rivers twice as efficiently as the best existing technology. Their report appears in ACS’ journal NanoLetters.

15 Jul 2013

Rank #5

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New Fuels - Biofuels: Meeting biofuel production targets could change agricultural landscape

Almost 80 percent of current farmland in the U.S. would have to be devoted to raising corn for ethanol production in order to meet current biofuel production targets with existing technology, a new study has found. An alternative, according to a study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science and Technology, would be to convert 60 percent of existing rangeland to biofuels.

29 May 2012

Rank #6

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Our Sustainable Future: An environmentally friendly battery made from wood

Scientists are reporting development and successful lab tests on the first potential drug to pack a lethal one-two punch against melanoma skin cancer cells. Hit number one destroys cells in the main tumor, and the second hit blocks the spread of the cancer to other sites in the body, according to their report in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

14 Oct 2013

Rank #7

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Our Sustainable Future: Rivers flowing into the sea offer vast potential as electricity source

Today’s solution is a new genre of electric power-generating stations that could supply electricity for more than a half billion people by tapping just one-tenth of the global potential of a little-known energy source that exists where rivers flow into the ocean.

23 Jul 2012

Rank #8

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Combating Disease: First dual-action compound kills cancer cells, stops them from spreading

Scientists are reporting development and successful lab tests on the first potential drug to pack a lethal one-two punch against melanoma skin cancer cells. Hit number one destroys cells in the main tumor, and the second hit blocks the spread of the cancer to other sites in the body, according to their report in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

30 Sep 2013

Rank #9

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Our Sustainable Future: Cotton offers a new ecologically friendly way to clean up oil spills

With the Deepwater Horizon disaster emphasizing the need for better ways of cleaning up oil spills, scientists are reporting that unprocessed, raw cotton may be an ideal, ecologically friendly answer, with an amazing ability to sop up oil. Their report, which includes some of the first scientific data on unprocessed, raw cotton’s use in crude oil spills, appears in the ACS journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research.

25 Jul 2013

Rank #10

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Episode 11 – Providing Safe Food (Part 2 of 2)

Blueberries, raspberries and grapes bursting with flavor. A luscious, silky morsel of chocolate melting into a mouthful’s rush of pure pleasure. Fresh ripe tomatoes. Years ago, people ate for that gratification. Food also provided the calories for people to work, and drove away hunger pangs. Today, people in industrialized countries are selecting food not just for taste and sustenance, but also for its potential effects in promoting good health.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) and M12 (ccmixter.org); Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by volivieri, digimusic, thedoctor, Dzork and agent.

23 Nov 2008

Rank #11

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Supplying Safe Drinking Water: The first caffeine-‘addicted’ bacteria

Some people may joke about living on caffeine, but scientists now have genetically engineered E. coli bacteria to do that — literally. Their report in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology describes bacteria being “addicted” to caffeine in a way that promises practical uses ranging from decontamination of wastewater to bioproduction of medications for asthma.

10 Jun 2013

Rank #12

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Episode 9 – New Fuels (Part 2 of 2)

Join Global Challenges as it investigates a suite of new fuels and energy sources that may help to power society in the years ahead. Scientists are developing these new energy sources to supplement the coal and conventional natural gas we now use to produce electricity for heating, cooling, and lighting. New fuels hold special promise as sustainable energy sources that minimize the release of carbon dioxide and combat global warming.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), vo1k1 and M12 (ccmixter.org); Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by rockdoctor, Percy Duke, Walter Odington, Robinhood76, pcaeldries, jamiedaniel, sinatra314 and Halleck.

30 Oct 2008

Rank #13

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Episode 8 – New Fuels (Part 1 of 2)

Amid growing concern about high gasoline prices, global warming, and limited resources of petroleum, scientists and engineers around the world are on a quest for new fuels — alternatives to conventional petroleum, natural gas, and coal. On their radar screens are new sources of familiar old ethanol that do not strain the food supply and futuristic fuels like “green gasoline” and “designer” hydrocarbons.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Darkroom and M12 (ccmixter.org); Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by LG, Halleck, Han1, Heigh hoo, Gorgee de biere, dkelly99, kjackson and reinsamba.

16 Oct 2008

Rank #14

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Promoting Public Health: Redefining DNA: Darwin from the atom up

DNA is the blueprint for every organism that ever swam, flew, crawled or walked on earth. Now, four billion years of evolution later, a few bold scientists have created a new genetic blueprint — with some profound applications.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod. Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu.

22 Jul 2009

Rank #15

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Confronting Climate Change - Stop-Gap Measures to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Big environmental footprints: 21 percent of homes account for 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions

Energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, scientists are reporting. Their study, which measured differences in energy demands at the household level, appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology.

28 Oct 2013

Rank #16

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Supplying Safe Drinking Water: “Miracle tree” substance produces clean drinking water inexpensively and sustainably

Today’s solution uses the seeds of the miracle tree to produce clean drinking water. The water-treatment process requiring only tree seeds and sand could purify and clarify water inexpensively and sustainably in the developing world, where more than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water, scientists report.

27 Feb 2012

Rank #17

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Episode 3 – Confronting Climate Change (Part 1): Stopgap measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Confronting global climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Neurowaxx and oldDog (ccmixter.org); Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by ERH, WIM, acclivity, Charel Sytze and Twisted Lemon.

23 Jul 2008

Rank #18

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Episode 12 – Promoting Public Health

Life expectancy in the 20th Century rose by about 30 years. Advances in protecting the public health were responsible for about 25 of those precious years. Vaccination programs. Improved sanitation to better control infectious diseases. The development of antibiotics. Better prenatal care. And much more. Scientists are making strides toward sustaining that progress by fostering continued improvements in the health of the population as a whole.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), DJ Rkod and Neurowaxx; Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by pfly, fogma, jascha, alienbomb, ERH and zerolagtime.

4 Dec 2008

Rank #19

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Episode 7 – Combating Disease

Despite the revolutionary medical advances in the 20th Century, great challenges lie ahead in our fight against disease. Heart disease, cancer, chronic diseases of aging, infection with the AIDS virus, and antibiotic-resistant microbes are just a few of those challenges. Fortunately, chemists and other scientists are determined to launch new revolutions in medicine — revolutions in the prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment of disease.Intro theme and music by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) and M12 (ccmixter.org); Creative Commons licensed audio from freesound.iua.upf.edu includes sounds by cognito_perceptu.

24 Sep 2008

Rank #20