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Green Washing Machines

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Washing machines are one of those appliances that seem to get fancier-looking as time goes on without anything under the lid changing much; aside from digital readouts and perhaps the occasional touchscreen, the technology that gets your clothes clean hasn't changed a lot in the last few decades. Second only to the toilet, a conventional washing machine uses more water than anything in your house -- an average of forty gallons per load, or about 14% of household water use. More recent "energy star" rated machines use about half as much, but still -- that's a significant amount of water. Consider this: 26 billion gallons of water are used each day in the United States, 4.5 billion of which go to operate washing machines. Water aside, it also takes a lot of energy to run washing machines, which mostly comes from fossil fuels, and most detergents contain phosphates that end up in rivers and oceans once they're dumped. So what's the solution? For starters, a new washing machine called Wash2O can clean your clothes without detergent by using a little fancy chemistry. (Unfortunately it's only available in Europe right now, and will set you back about $1,000.)

On an even greener note, however, a prototype washing machine called the Xeros promises to clean clothes using only a single cup of water and just 2% of the energy of a conventional washer. How do they do it?

EcoGeek explains:

Basically, a user throws clothes in and starts the load, then a cartridge in the back of the machine drops in the plastic chips, and a cup of water including detergent is added. The water dissolves the stains and dirt, which is then absorbed by the chips. At the end of the cycle, a grill at the bottom of the machine opens to collect the chips. The process leaves clothes nearly dry, so using a dryer is not necessary.

Tests from the University of Leeds show that the machine can get rid of all kinds of everyday stains, making it as cleanly as a washing machine, and the chips can be used up to 100 times, which adds up to about six months worth of washing.

Whether or not it'll be available for the average consumer to use in their home is an open question -- but either way, it sounds like washing machine technology finally got a much-needed fast-forward into the future.

Photo from Star1950's Flickrstream.

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science
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.

1. SHE WAS BORN TO, AND FOR, GREATNESS.

A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.

2. HER PARENTS' MARRIAGE WAS A MODEL FOR HER OWN.

Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.

3. SHE AND HER HUSBAND WERE AN UNSTOPPABLE PAIR.

Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.

4. THEY FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE.

The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.

5. SHE WAS NOT CONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO.

Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.

6. SHE WORKED HERSELF TO DEATH.

Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like Delivery.com or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with Delivery.com or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]

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